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DYK? Churches go the extra mile

Posted: January 22 2020 at 06:06 PM
Author: By Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Asst. to the Bishop/Dir. of Connectional Ministries


When I was denomination shopping as a young adult, one of the aspects of The United Methodist Church that attracted me was the balance between personal and social holiness. This tightrope between personal spiritual development and faith in action drew me in. At the time, I wasn’t aware of how young The United Methodist Church was as a denomination. Although it was just over 20 years old, the church was steeped in Methodist traditions and shaped by a deep understanding of discipleship.

Today we are at the crossroads. Although we are still young by denominational standards, we are now talking about reforming the church in the coming years. Key to the journey is the question of how we continue to live into our Wesleyan heritage of social and personal holiness. As we plan the future, we look at the best of who we are and find ways to capture those core values for the next expression of our beloved United Methodist Church.

In the Northern Illinois Conference, we live out this expression in many ways: campus ministries, camps, work with immigrant populations through Justice for our Neighbors, local church homeless ministries, food pantries, prison ministry, sending out missionaries, interfaith work, inclusion, and engaging in actions to change systems that are unjust.

Another way we engage is through giving. Apportionments are our “first” ask as a conference. The funds in this first response to our faith support the ministries noted above, provide the support and infrastructure for our churches and our pastors, and extend beyond our conference into our denominational witness. These “first mile” gifts provide the foundation for all of our general work around the world. Our “second mile” giving includes twelve Special Sunday Offerings, the Rainbow Covenant and our Annual Conference Bishop’s Appeal. These justice and mercy efforts supplement the first mile efforts and take us into a broader and deeper witness as they help us balance our internal and external actions as disciples.

This past year was one of the most financially challenging on record in the Northern Illinois Conference. With the unrest in the denomination, many churches have experienced financial repercussions. Some churches have lost members; others are uncertain or angry and have withheld support.

As apportionments have dwindled, we have cut back on conference ministry and our support of the general church has been severely limited. Yet, we have been strong and faithful in our care for others, in our heart for missions. We have clung to our core value of reaching out to the marginalized and engaging both mercy and justice. In 2019 we gave over $500,000 to these efforts beyond our obligations in apportionments. We collected more than $80,000 in special appeals. This was lower than our 2018 giving by $96,000 but is still a strong witness to our faith. Thank you to all who continue to take pride in the witness of the UMC. As the future becomes clearer throughout 2020, may our resolve to be those who make a difference in the world continues to be a high priority through our actions and gifts.

For apportionment and giving resources, visit umcnic.org/apportionments.

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