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April 13, 2012

The process of preparing the UMC’s 2013-2016 quadrennial budget to be recommended to the General Conference (GC) takes many months of work by many people.  The Economic Advisory Committee (EAC) of the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) met to review a variety of economic and other factors that affect how much local churches and the General Church can expect to receive.   They developed three scenarios of what they expect these factors to be: an “optimistic” estimate, a “pessimistic” one, and a “realistic” one.  Based on the “realistic” estimates, they calculated and presented to GCFA and Connectional Table (CT) members the amount of general church apportionments that would result in the highest percentage receipts.  GCFA and the CT approved this amount as the total budget amount to be recommended to the GC. 

At the same time this bottom-line total was being developed, all the General Boards and Agencies that receive apportionment funding were developing their own individual agency budgets for the quadrennium.  The General Boards and Agencies then met together to determine how to allocate the funds that were expected to be available.  Therefore, in May 2011, when the total budget amount was recommended to GCFA and the CT by the EAC, the detail as to how this total would be split among the seven apportioned funds (World Service, Ministerial Education, Black College, Africa University, Episcopal, General Administration, and Interdenominational Cooperation Funds), along with how the World Service Fund was to be split among the various agencies, was also presented and was approved by GCFA and the CT.

More information about the budget process can be found at

A summary of the recommended budget amounts can be found at

As this shows, all of the apportioned funds’ proposed budgets are less than for the last quadrennium.  The General Administration and Episcopal Funds’ proposed budget are 3.5 and 4.3 percent less, respectively, as they have more costs that are “fixed” under the current structure/disciplinary requirements.  The World Service Fund’s proposed budget is 6.5 percent less, and the other four funds are all 6.6 percent less.

GCFA and the CT met again in July 2011 and March 2012 to hear updated reports from the EAC and others regarding the recommended budget.  This updated information confirmed the earlier decisions, so no changes were made to the budget amounts recommended to the GC.

As a member of GCFA for the last 8 years, this is the second budget process I have participated in.  From my limited perspective, it appears that the General Agencies are doing a much better job of cooperating with each other in this process.  The General Agency Secretaries, Treasurers, staff, and members spend a significant amount of time and effort in developing their budget requests and in working to have them reflect both the four areas of focus of the UMC as well as disciplinary requirements of the agencies.  I believe we have made significant progress in the difficult work of changing our budget to reflect our missional priorities.  However, I believe we need to continue improving in this area, as it is clear that the across-the-board decreases for the majority of the apportioned funds, and for most of the agencies within the World Service Fund, clearly show that we have still not been able to fully prioritize among the apportioned funds as to which might be more or less critical to the current mission of the UMC.

Lisa King

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