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May 12, 2000 GC-078

United Methodists set $545.7 million budget for 2001-2004

CLEVELAND (UMNS) – A $545.7 million budget was created for the next four years of United Methodist Church life when the 992 delegates to the denomination’s highest legislative assembly agreed to figures that incorporated several new ministries and extended a number of pre-existing ones.

The much-revised budget was brought to General Conference May 12, the final day of the 11-day session. It was refigured frequently during the final days to incorporate nearly two dozen additional items that emerged from proposals brought to the conference through its legislative process.

The new budget amount will be divided among the annual (regional) conferences of the church. This apportionment process was continued by vote of the delegates. The General Conference adopted a new formula developed through a four-year study by a task force mandated by the previous General Conference, modified somewhat during the conference.

Roughly half -- $278.4 million – of the new budget supports the World Service Fund, the denomination’s primary means of churchwide mission and ministry. Six other funds provide for special ministries and administrative costs of the denomination.

The new ministries funded include a study of the need for resources in Asian-American languages, $1.6 million; leadership development and new ministries among Korean Americans, almost $2.9 million; and theological education in Europe, $3 million. Largest ticket item among the new programs is Igniting Ministry, a national media campaign with an authorized budget of $20 million total for four years.

The many existing ministries that are being extended through the next four years include ministries by and with young people, $3 million; black churches, $2.1 million; Hispanics, $3.2 million; Native Americans, $1.1 million; deaf people, $149,000; and older adults, $450,000.

A global program on substance abuse and related violence was budgeted at $3.2 million. Apportionment for Africa University was approved at $10.1 million; the Ministerial Education Fund at $113.1 million. Delegates also approved $1.1 million for Communities of Shalom, an urban ministries program.

The United Methodist Church also will provide $600,000 over the next three years to the autonomous Methodist Church of Puerto Rico. The amounts will decrease each year, from $300,000 in 2001 to $100,000 in 2003. The Puerto Rican church became autonomous from the larger denomination in 1992.

Provision for General Conference itself will include allocations in line with increased travel and accommodation costs, and will provide for more translators and translations of printed material for the growing number of delegates who come from countries outside the United States.

With a 534-301 vote, the delegates rejected an earlier proposal to reduce six annual "special Sunday" offerings to four.

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-- Joretta Purdue

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