Budget, budgets, budgets…!!!!!
We all prepare financial budgets, sometimes intentionally, sometimes by accident. Regardless, planning our finances is an essential part of today’s personal and business finances. In fact, lacking a budget, we wouldn’t be able to plan vacations, to save for major purchases or, most importantly, to share with God a very small portion of what we have gained through His grace.
For the majority of people, budgeting could simply be planning the payment of bills for the month. A few people may use software programs or engage financial planners to help with this work. It’s a nagging and, occasionally, a painful exercise, but none of us are ever free of some level of budgeting.
The Conference has a budget season, too. It’s upon us right now. All of the Conference missions and ministries are funded through the Connectional Apportionment system, which in turn is driven by the budgets prepared by planning teams and Conference leadership. At the end of this process these budgets are approved by the members of the Annual Conference. Right now we are budgeting for 2017. That may seem like a long way off. In reality it’s not that far away at all.
This process begins when Conference committees prepare budgets for their individual areas of ministry. These same committees then present success stories resulting from their ministry to the budget team. The stories and messages sensitize the Budget Committee to the needs and outcomes of our various mission and ministry programs.
The collective budgets are assembled and then the Budget Committee begins the hard work of aligning Conference resources with the expressed needs of the individual teams. This is a lengthy process that eventually includes the Connectional Leadership Table and the Cabinet, culminating in an approved budget. This forms the basis of the budget proposal to Annual Conference and the initial preparation of the Connectional Apportionment listings for local churches.
When all is done, we have completed the task of providing direction and support for a wide range of ministries in God’s Kingdom. The budget plan isn’t just numbers. It’s the enabler of plans and actions that strengthen and enliven our Connection. It’s the glue that binds our far- flung Conference together in a collective mission “to provide leadership, connection and resources to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
One other significant piece of our Conference budget is support for our world-wide connection. As a “UNITED” Methodist Church all of us are part of the reach of our global agencies and commissions. The Connectional Apportionments in Western Pa include our promise to the General Church to be faithful supporters of:
The World Service Fund, which supports the United Methodist Committee on Relief; the
Ministerial Education Fund; The Black College Fund, Africa University, the Episcopal budgets, the General Administration of the denomination, and Interdenominational Cooperation.
Faithful commitment to support our obligation to Connectional Apportionment, along with fulfillment of our pledges to our local churches, amounts to return of a very, very small portion of what God has provided to us.
Your support is the fuel that allows our Connection to thrive and grow. It makes plans achievable, and ministries vibrant. It brings true meaning to the word “UNITED” in the banner under which we all worship our Savior.