I am David Dobbs, Director of Administrative Services and Conference Treasurer for the new Michigan Conference of The United Methodist Church.
As we have become one conference, one of the major hurdles that the conference needed to address what how to handle apportionments.
Recently, each local church’s treasurer and Pastor received their 2019 Ministry Shares announcement. The following is some of the frequently asked questions regarding those letters.
What are Ministry Shares?
Ministry Shares are what the Council on Finance & Administration of the Michigan Conference are calling apportionments. It was determined that the term apportionments sounded too much like a “bill” and not enough like the benevolent giving that it is supposed to be. Ministry Share helps to explain that the local church as part of the United Methodist Church is helping to do the ministry of the entire global Church.
How are Ministry Shares calculated?
The following is taken from the Council on Finance & Administration Policies found in the Conference Journal and were approved at the 2018 Annual Conference.
- For the purpose of establishing a uniform system of financing the Conference, all Ministry Shares made by the Conference and Districts shall be based on the Grade Figure System employed by the Conference for the common budget.
- The Council on Finance and Administration shall apportion the amount comprising the annual budget among the churches of the Michigan Annual Conference for the fiscal year (January through December.) These Ministry Shares shall be based on the Grade Figure System and in conformity with the requirements of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church and rules adopted by the Annual Conference.
- The Grade Figure System has been chosen because it allows Ministry Shares for the local church to be based upon the financial relationship of the local church to the total of the churches in the Conference. Each church is expected to assume its portion of the common budget. Giving in addition to Ministry Shares, such as designated special day offerings, authorized General and Conference Advance Specials, etc. is to be made in keeping with the Discipline affirmation that “payment in full [of the World Service apportionment] by local churches is the first benevolent responsibility of the church (¶812).”
- The grade figure for the common budget shall be determined by the current operating expense budget (lines 40 – 47 of the Local Church Report) plus non-United Methodist benevolent giving (line 38 of the Local Church Report), except that in any year when the Ministry Shares are paid in full, the non-United Methodist benevolent giving amount will be excluded from the calculation. Annual variances in the resulting calculation will be moderated by using a four-year rolling average of these numbers. (Note: the line numbers can change based upon changes to the Statistical Report.)
- Steps in determining the grade figure for the common budget:
- For each local church, for each of the four most recent years reported, find the sum of lines 40 through 47 of the Local Church Report (plus line 38 non UMC benevolences – unless ministry shares are paid in full). For each year that Ministry Shares were paid in full, exclude the amount from Line 38. Add the four annual sums and find the simple average.
- Divide the simple average by the Conference total (simple average) for the same lines.
Local church total 2017 = $89,750
Conference total 2017 = $57,147,624
Local church total 2016 = $86,317
Conference total 2016 = $58,487,020
Local church total 2015 = $71,725
Conference total 2015 = $56,025,720
Local church total 2014 = $75,726
Conference total 2014 = $51,369,385
Sum divided by four = $80,879
Sum divided by four = $55,757,437
Local church average $80,879 divided by Conference average $55,757,437 equals
grade figure of .001451; multiply by the total common budget to calculate the
- Benefits Ministry Shares provide funding for the following areas: contributions for the denomination’s retirement plan; premiums for the denomination’s welfare plan; all expenses related to operations of the Conference Benefits Office and Conference Board of Pension & Health Benefits. Therefore, every local church will be administered a Benefits Ministry Share in connectional support of these conference ministries. The calculation for Benefits Ministry Shares shall be separate from the grade figure for the common budget and shall be based upon the annual compensation paid by each local church to it Appointed Clergyperson or District Superintendent Assignment. The Conference Benefits Office will bill the Benefits Ministry Share to each local church monthly.
- Steps in calculating the Benefits Ministry Shares billing:
- For the purpose of Benefits Ministry Shares calculations, compensation includes base cash salary plus housing if provided. Twenty-five (25) percent of the base cash salary is added to the salary to determine compensation if a parsonage is provided. If a housing allowance is provided, the actual amount of the housing allowance is added to the salary to determine total compensation.
- A fixed percentage of total compensation is used to calculate Benefits Ministry Shares. The fixed percentage will be established annually by CFA in collaboration with the Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits.
- A reduced percentage will be used in situations of Retired Clergy Appointments, District Superintendent Assignments (DSA), or temporary situations of no appointment/assignment.
- Benefits Ministry Share amounts will be adjusted the first of the month following a change in compensation or appointment status.
- Example with Benefits Ministry Share percentage fixed at 12%:
- Compensation = $40,000 salary plus parsonage
Local church Benefits Ministry Share compensation is $40,000 + 25% of $40,000 or $50,000 x 12% = $6,000 annually, billed $500 monthly
- Compensation = $27,000 salary plus $15,000 housing allowance
Local church Benefits Ministry Share compensation is $27,000 + $15,000 or $42,000 x 12% = $5,040 annually, billed $420 monthly
- Compensation = $34,000 salary with no housing
Local church Benefits Ministry Share is $34,000 x 12% = $4,080 annually, billed $340 monthly
- Compensation = $18,000 with no housing for a DSA
Benefits Ministry Share percentage is reduced to 4% to reflect the DSA
Local church Benefits Ministry Share is $18,000 x 4% = $720 annually, billed $60 monthly
- Overpayment of a church’s Benefits Ministry and Common Budget Ministry Shares will be carried over to that church’s Benefits Ministry and Common Budget Ministry Shares for the following year.
- Special policies are further set out below for churches without a 4-year history:
- Calculation of Ministry Shares for new churches: a new church will be assigned Ministry Shares by the Conference and the District 20% of its “full” amount during the first calendar year after the effective charter year. During the second calendar year, the Ministry Shares will be at 40%; during the third year 60%, fourth year 80%; fifth year and thereafter 100%. Prior to the end of the year of their chartering, new church starts are expected to send a tithe (10%) of their giving receipts to the Conference on a quarterly basis.
- Calculation of Ministry Shares for merged churches: the statistics of the merging churches will be added together before calculating the Ministry Shares of the newly formed church for the ensuing year. Reasons for departure from this procedure will be reviewed by CF&A upon appeal, and adjustments may be made on a case-by-case basis.
- Calculation of Ministry Shares for vital merger churches: a new classification of merged churches will be “Vital Mergers.” Those mergers fulfilling the Vital Merger qualifications will be considered a new church start by the New Church Development Committee. As part of the Vital Merger process, the congregations involved will create a proposed budget for the merged church which will go into effect on the date the merged church begins worshipping and meeting as one congregation. This budget will be developed in consultation with, and given approval by, the District Superintendent and the District Committee on Church Building and Location. This budget will then be forwarded to the Conference Treasurers office to be used to formulate Ministry Share figures for the newly merged church. A new total base figure will be calculated for the merged church based on the formula outlined in paragraph 6. This new total base figure will be in effect until the actual financial records of the merged church are reported for the first full year of its existence and can be used to calculate a total base figure based on actual expenditures. The Vital Merger church will be assigned Ministry Shares by the Conference and District at 25% of its “full” amount during the first calendar year after the merger. During the second calendar year, the Ministry Shares will be 50%; 75% for the third calendar year; and 100% for the fourth calendar year and thereafter. The church must submit to the District Superintendent and Conference Treasurer’s offices and the Board of Pensions a plan for managed debt repayment for any conference pension or health care arrearages.
- As Ministry Shares are received during the year, the World Service apportionment from the General church shall be paid at the level of receipts.
- The portion of the Ministry Share for each local church designated for the Episcopal Fund shall be paid in the same proportion as the church pays its pastor. (¶818.3 of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2016)
12.Funds received in excess of expenses for the Conference fiscal year shall be placed in the reserves of the respective Ministry Share funds and maintained by the Conference Treasurer.
- During the Conference fiscal year, the Council on Finance and Administration, by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of its members, may use for the benefit of, or distribute to, Conference agencies and causes from the respective funds, such amounts as the Council by its action, upon concurrence with the Bishop, shall determine are required for use or distribution before the next session of the Annual Conference.
Why are we using expenses instead of income?
The Council on Finance & Administration looked at both systems and decided to use the same system that the General Council on Finance & Administration used to apportion each Conference their General Church apportionments. That system is expenses on a 4-year rolling average.
Expenses were chosen for many reasons, but three major reasons are: 1) operating expenses are usually not very volatile from year to year, 2) operating expenses can be controlled by the local church unlike income, and 3) operating income should always be equal to or higher than operating expenses.
Do these Ministry Shares include the Districts’ Ministry Shares or Pension Apportionments?
No. These Ministry Shares are only for the Conference budget. The Districts will be sending out their own Ministry Shares letters. The Director of Benefits and Human Resources has also sent out a letter detailing how the pension apportionments or Benefits Ministry Shares will be handled in 2019.
Where do you get the expense information for the calculations?
The financial information that we use to calculate the Ministry Shares comes directly from the Year-end Statistical Reports that each local church provides to the Conference Statistician each year. This is why it is so important that each local church reviews their statistical reports before submitting them.
What do I do if I see an error in the expense numbers or the percentage of Ministry Shares paid?
If you find out that there has been in error, please notify both the Director of Administrative Services & Conference Treasurer and the Conference Statistician. The correction will be done and a new Ministry Shares report will be created for you.