By Paul Black
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Great Rivers Conference finished the calendar year 2020 with a budget surplus, thanks in large part by the generous, sacrificial giving of local churches paying their apportionments.
Total apportionment collection through Jan. 8 finished at 90.21 percent – a increase of 2.51 percent from 2019. Pre-audited revenue was $10,902,846 to fund a $12,086,196 budget. The increase resulted in $271,156 in additional dollars to fund ministry.
“Considering 2020 brought challenges unimagined when we first began the year, and through the difficulties the local churches of the IGRC experienced during 2020, here we are celebrating a higher percentage of apportionment giving than we experienced in 2019 and ending 2020 with a budget surplus,” said IGRC Director of Administrative Services and Conference Treasurer Mike Potts. “This is nothing short of miraculous.”
Potts credited the local churches for the encouraging news.
“It is a testament to the faithfulness of the United Methodist people of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference,” he said. “I stand in saw and humbled by experiencing first-hand the incredible acts of generosity through 2020. I am thanking God, and also thanking the wonderful people of the IGRC for their support.”
On the spending side, just roughly $9.4 million had been expended through the month of November resulting in a $200,000 surplus. It is projected that there will be a year-end surplus.
Conference spending also included $1.07 million distributed in a Forward in Ministry forgivable loan program aimed at assisting local congregations at a time of financial stress. The amount a church received was based upon a percentage of the apportionments paid in 2018 and 2019 and the percentage of forgiveness was based upon percentage of apportionments paid in 2020.
In all, 312 forgivable loans and six grants to non-apportioned mission congregations were approved. Of the 312 forgivable loans, 296 congregations paid its apportionments in full and the loans were fully forgiven.
In addition, another $72,000 in food ministry grants were distributed to 144 congregations to assist in funding food pantries and feeding programs within the local community.
And $60,512 in matching grants to assist congregations in upgrading technology to do online ministry were also awarded. The $60,512 was seed money for a $252,000 investment by local churches in expanding and establishing equipment necessary to provide ministry during and after the pandemic.
The 2020 annual conference approved a 2021 budget of $11,206,875 – a decrease of 7.38 percent reduction.