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Pastor leads by example with Apportionment Challenge

Posted: August 18 2022 at 11:06 AM
Author: Rev. Hyo Sun Oh, Roselle United Methodist Church 


Rev. Hyo Sun Oh, pastor at Roselle UMC.

I attended the 183rd Northern Illinois Annual Conference right after hearing the news from the Finance Committee that our church has been experiencing a $4,000 monthly deficit since January 2022. It was a shock to me since we had a successful stewardship drive that allowed us to reinstate the musicians’ salary (which was cut in half during the pandemic in 2020-2021) and to pay our apportionment 1/12th every month until June 2022.

The reality made me depressed, and I doubted my effectiveness in ministry. I prayed and focused on how to resolve the issues during the Annual Conference sessions. Then, there was a time when the Conference Finance Committee presented how Apportionments are distributed to fund the ministry and mission of the Northern Illinois Conference and the General Church with the seven funds using the pie charts. The presentation sounded like God talking to me, showing the answer to my prayers. 

Nic Fund

I knew about apportionments and taught every congregation I served about them. Yet, it made more sense to me, clearer than ever before. I shared the divine intervention with my lay leader and planned to present it to the congregation just as it was presented at Annual Conference. 

As I put more thought into it before Sunday, it did not make sense to me to teach about apportionments without modeling it. So I calculated the total amount of the apportionments and divided it by the giving units of the congregation. It came down to $300 per person or per giving unit, so I wrote my portion of the $300 check. 

After the apportionments presentation with the pie charts by one of the Annual Conference lay members during Sunday service, I shared my story that I’ve been giving more to the church than ever before due to the great needs of the ministry and mission of the church and that the Pastor does not only ask the congregation to give but also leads by example.

General Church

Then, I showed my check and challenged the congregation to give a one-time portion of $300, $50 monthly, or $12 weekly until the end of the year 2022 to strengthen the connectional system of The UMC. Without hearing the reactions or feedback from the people that Sunday, I returned home, pulled my hair, and regretted my action, thinking, “Are you crazy?" Why did you do that? No one seemed to be interested.” 

On the following Tuesday, when I attended the Trustee’s meeting, one of the members told me that he had already given $300 to the church. Really? The next day, one senior member approached me, saying, “what is the name of the $300 donation? “Apportionment!,” I said. “I will bring my portion this Sunday,” he replied. Wow! 

As time passed, I talked about the Apportionment challenge to the leaders at the committee meetings and urged them to do so. I wrote an article and put the NIC 2022 Apportionment insert into the bulletins. The Stewardship Committee embraced the challenge, and the chairperson also wrote an article on apportionments in the church Newsletter “Connections” and spoke about it during the Mission Moment in worship. 


Roselle UMC leaders accept the apportionment challenge from Pastor Oh with grateful hearts.

At the end of June, we collected $2,655. Wow! In July, the congregation gave $4,135 more to connectional giving. The Finance Committee has committed to talking about Apportionments monthly during worship, telling the congregation how the apportionments transform lives and strengthen The UMC connectional system locally, regionally, and globally, using videos on the seven World Church funds.

I heard from the Finance Secretary, “Don’t pull your hair anymore. It works.” And from the Finance Chairperson, “It is my conviction that the people will give, especially, when it comes from the Pastor with examples.”  

I initiated this challenge without much confidence about whether it was going to work or not. Yet, over the last year, I have learned there is power in asking for money. 

In my first year at Roselle UMC, I visited those who had not given to the church for a few years and found out they were in a health crisis. I prayed for them. By surprise, they gave their annual giving of $6,000. Upon hearing a rumor that someone wanted to donate a significant amount of money in memory of his wife toward the online ministry equipment, the Memorial Committee chairperson and I met and talked with him about his will for the project. A few months later, he gave $30,000 to cover the cost of live-streaming cameras, a computer, and a digital soundboard. When we asked the congregation to help the Ukrainians, we collected almost $5,000 for the cause.

Surely, there is power in talking about money and asking. Pastoral leadership, pastoral care, and pastoral modeling in giving and cooperation of the lay leadership inspire people to give generously to various causes, including the apportionments drive. Still, our church, an aging congregation, is struggling with finance after the post-pandemic. Yet, I am sure God is not giving up on us, the church. When we do our parts, God does work among us to continue to share God’s love and grace in and through our generosity locally, regionally, and globally. 

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