What Is Connectional Giving?
One of the unique and defining factors of the United Methodist Church is that we are Connectional. All of us giving together – Connectional giving – fuels our ministry and enables us to share the concerns of many people. This idea is grounded in our need to give in order to be spiritually healthy, complete children of God. The UMC giving structure ensures the generosity we display blesses as many people as possible in sustainable, strategic ways.
When United Methodists give to the church, we have a structure and process that demands the kind of strict accountability one would expect of gifts meant for God’s work in the world. We have a careful process in which United Methodist general funds are apportioned to the conferences and churches. Other special funds come from those participating in Special Sundays, The Advance and other second-mile initiatives.
After the general church budget is approved by General Conference, the responsibility for raising these funds is divided among annual conferences based on a specific formula. Each annual and central conference, using its own formula, divides these requests, along with conference and administrative fund requests, among its local churches.
In the past, central conferences have supported the Episcopal Fund through their giving. In 2016, the General Conference approved central conference apportionments that will be paid toward the General Administration Fund, Episcopal Fund and World Service Fund.
In addition, local churches, districts and annual and central conferences may make monetary gifts to the designated funds and support mission and ministry of special significance to them.
Together, apportioned funds and designated funds represent our connectional giving. By combining several smaller gifts into a larger amount, we can truly effect transformation around the world. We can do more, much more, in the name of Jesus Christ.
World Service Fund
The World Service Fund is the financial lifeline for core ministries of The United Methodist Church. The 2016 Discipline says that it represents the minimum needs of our general agencies, thus local churches and conferences should regard payment in full as the first benevolent responsibility of the church (Paragraph 812).
The following are just a few of the ministries supported by World Service contributions: building new churches, preparing clergy and lay leaders, increasing the number of young clergy, paying missionary salaries, expanding Bible studies, providing leadership for youth ministry, continuing our proud tradition of cooperation and dialogue with other faith traditions, expressing the church’s commitment to God’s reign through advocacy for peace and justice, encouraging church growth and discipleship, providing theological education for students in central conferences and helping God’s children everywhere.
Africa University Fund
This vital fund supports the first fully accredited United Methodist-related educational institution on the African continent. It draws students from 25 African countries, providing higher education of excellent quality, enriched with Christian values.
Africa University enrolls both women and men, developing visionary leaders for Africa and the world. The university is located in Old Mutare, Zimbabwe. Programs include agriculture and natural resources, education, health sciences, humanities and social sciences, management and administration and theology.
The Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance offers postgraduate diplomas and master’s programs. Gifts to the fund support general operating expenses, including faculty and staff salaries and infrastructure. Other donations through World Service Special Gifts support scholarships and the endowment fund.
Black College Fund
This fund helps support 11 historically black colleges and universities in the United States. These institutions have played a unique role in U.S. higher education. Their graduates include teachers and doctors, ministers and bishops, judges, artists, athletes and entrepreneurs who are recognized community leaders.
The United Methodist Church is proud to support the largest number of historically black colleges and universities of any church body in the United States.
The Rev. Kevin Kosh Jr., a United Methodist pastor and graduate of historically black Rust College in Mississippi, says that “because of Rust College, I was led to explore God’s call on my life toward ministry, and because of my continued work with the Lina H. McCord Program (a prestigious initiative funded through the Black College Fund), I was supported and encouraged through my seminary journey.
To be a part of the continued legacy of education, equality and forward progression reminds me to not only remember where I came from, but to leave society better for those to come.”
The Black College Fund provides support for:
- Bennett College, Greensboro, N.C. (www.bennett.edu)
- Bethune-Cookman University, Daytona Beach, Fla. (www.bethune.cookman.edu)
- Claflin University, Orangeburg, S.C. (www.claflin.edu)
- Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta (www.cau.edu)
- Dillard University, New Orleans (www.dillard.edu)
- Huston-Tillotson University, Austin, Texas (www.htu.edu)
- Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tenn. (www.mmc.edu)
- Paine College, Augusta, Ga. (www.paine.edu)
- Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Ark. (www.philander.edu)
- Rust College, Holly Springs, Miss. (www.rustcollege.edu)
- Wiley College, Marshall, Texas (www.wileyc.edu)
The Episcopal Fund
Our bishops oversee and promote the church’s interests, spiritually and in the world. They are elected and consecrated to a very important role to give oversight to ministry. They speak to the church and from the church, though only General Conference can speak for the church.
We work together. The relationship between bishops and members of The United Methodist Church is a reciprocal one — our bishops serve the church and your contribution to the Episcopal Fund makes their ministry possible.
The General Administration Fund
This fund underwrites and finances general church administrative functions. One example is General Conference, the legislative body of the church. The General Administration Fund is what enables the church to function most effectively. Another example is our church’s highest court, the nine-member Judicial Council, which executes its directive to uphold church law. The history that formed us, and can still guide us today, is also being preserved through this fund.
One of the reasons the General Administration Fund is so important is because of The United Methodist Church’s unflagging commitment to integrity. We echo Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the apostle Paul’s message to the church in Corinth, “[We don’t want anyone suspecting us of taking one penny of this money for ourselves.] We’re being as careful in our reputation with the public as in our reputation with God” (2 Corinthians 8:20-21, The Message).
This fund allows us to affirm our unity with other Christian communions all over the world as we witness to a common Christian faith, meet human suffering and advocate for peace and justice all over the world. This also gives us a voice in the activities of several national and worldwide ecumenical organizations, providing our denomination’s share of basic budgets of these organizations.
Ministerial Education Fund
Anyone who has benefited from the ministry of a United Methodist pastor has had his or her life impacted by the Ministerial Education Fund. The Ministerial Education Fund is central to preparing people to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The 13 United Methodist seminaries help students discover their calling through a challenging study. In this manner, the fund is a way of helping women and men answer God’s call.
In addition to seminaries, the fund supports course of study programs for local pastors and continuing education for active clergy. The Ministerial Education Fund supports our seminaries and helps meet the needs of people in ministry today. It helps enable our seminaries to lead efforts to proclaim God’s word to a world in desperate need of the message.
Our 13 United Methodist seminaries in the United States have educated outstanding clergy and lay leaders who have led the church and changed the world in the name of Jesus Christ. Detailed information is available at www.gbhem.org/education/seminary.
United Methodist Seminaries
- Boston University School of Theology, Boston (www.bu.edu/sth)
- Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta (candler.emory.edu)
- Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, Calif. (www.cst.edu)
- Drew Theological School, Madison, N.J. (www.drew.edu/theological)
- Duke Divinity School, Durham, N.C. (divinity.duke.edu)
- Gammon Theological Seminary, Atlanta (www.gammon-itc.org)
- Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Ill. (www.garrett.edu)
- Iliff School of Theology, Denver (www.iliff.edu)
- Methodist Theological School in Ohio, Delaware, Ohio (www.mtso.edu)
- Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas (www.smu.edu/perkins)
- Saint Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, Mo. (www.spst.edu)
- United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio (www.united.edu)
- Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C. (www.wesleyseminary.edu)
For more than 69 years, The Advance for Christ and His Church has been a lifeline for tens of thousands of missions around the world. United Methodists are blessed with this opportunity to build relationships with missionaries and projects to achieve common goals.
United Methodists are blessed with this opportunity to build relationships with missionaries and projects to achieve common goals.
Program categories range from missionary support, disaster response and relief, global health, construction, water and sanitation and, of course, sharing the word of God!
As the accountable designated giving program of The United Methodist Church, The Advance serves as the leading conduit that allows churches, individuals and organizations to support missionaries and projects throughout the world in order to strengthen and sustain one another.
The program ensures that 100 percent of each gift reaches its intended mission or ministry. The Advance works with church leaders around the world to ensure that approved projects are aligned with the goals of The United Methodist Church in local areas and to help develop partnerships that are mutually advantageous.
The General Board of Global Ministries receives and processes Advance gifts, which are disbursed once a month to the treasurer or area financial person in a region. Administrative costs are not deducted from Advance gifts and are covered by the World Service Fund.
World Service Special Gifts
This fund allows for contributions to approved projects of World Service agencies that do not receive funding through The Advance. General Conference of 1984 approved this channel of giving that continues today.
Some examples of beneficiaries include the Africa University Endowment Fund, the Methodist Global Education Fund, the National Anti-Gambling Project and the Lay Missionary Planting Network.
All general boards and agencies, except those units authorized to receive gifts through The Advance, can recommend projects specifically related to the agency’s Disciplinary functions. The Connectional Table is the authorizing body.
-From UMC.org and The United Methodist Handbook, 2016