Dec 03, 2021 | By Heather Hahn | UM News

What does a predicted denominational split and an unpredictable pandemic mean for The United Methodist Church’s bottom line?

The General Council on Finance and Administration board grappled with that question as members revisited the denomination-wide budget that will go before the coming General Conference.

The finance agency board already was preparing to send the lawmaking assembly the lowest budget in more than 30 years. On Dec. 1, by an 18-1 vote, the board approved shrinking the proposed four-year budget even further to a total of about $407.3 million for the years 2023-2026.

That marks a cut of nearly 33% — a third — from the budget General Conference approved in 2016 to support denomination-wide ministries.

The current proposal also would be the lowest budget submitted to General Conference since 1988, according to the denomination’s Commission on Archives and History. At the time, the denomination had about 3 million fewer members than today and had yet to establish Africa University, now supported by denominational funds.

Still, board members stressed that the budget proposal remains very much a work in progress and could change further.

They are trying to get a clear picture of what the denomination’s financial base will look like in the near future — and a fog of unknowns clouds their view.

After decades of intensifying debate over LGBTQ inclusion, the coming General Conference faces multiple proposals for a denominational separation.

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