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Iowa United Methodists just say "NO"
to misuse of Apportionments


updated 05/22/98


The Apportionment Reduction Initiative


DEAR FELLOW UNITED METHODISTS,

ARE THERE THINGS HAPPENING IN THE ANNUAL AND GENERAL CONFERENCES THAT CAUSE YOU GREAT CONCERN?

IF YOUR ANSWER IS YES, PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ ABOUT THE APPORTIONMENT REDUCTION INITIATIVE, AND TO JOIN US IN OUR EFFORT TO RETURN TO THE TRUE MISSION OF OUR CHURCH, WHICH IS, "TO MAKE DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST ."

The Apportionment Reduction Initiative comes from concerned members of The United Methodist Churches of the Iowa Annual Conference. We believe it is time to speak out and to take action to make changes that will help our Local Churches, our Annual Conference, and our General Conference be more effective in our mission, "... to make disciples of Jesus Christ." Our Book of Discipline not only states this as our mission, but goes on to say, "Local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs." (p.114)

We are increasingly concerned with the widening opinions on social issues and the re-interpretation of scripture that are promoted at the Annual and General Conference Levels, often in contradiction to The Book Of Discipline and Scripture. We realize that we need to be accountable to God for the programs and priorities our gifts are supporting, and it is evident that as individual members of our conference, we have little control over how our apportionment giving is spent. Therefore, we are compelled to take action in the form of The Apportionment Reduction Initiative.

Currently, the Annual and General Conferences request approximately 20% or more of each Local Church's budget. [Note: Not all churches pay 20% or more in apportionments in the Iowa Annual Conference. Some pay a few percentage points less. This Initiative does not affect the direct billing by the churches for the pastors' pension and health care funds.] This Initiative recommends that individuals designate only 10% of their total giving to the church to be used to support Annual and General Conference Apportionments. The remaining 90% of their giving will go to ministries and programs that have been prayerfully and specifically chosen by the Local Church to best accomplish our mission. In this way, we can each become more actively accountable for our stewardship.

As you read through The Statement of Principles and Pledge, you will realize this initiative will affect many programs. It is our prayerful desire that this action will give Local Churches the opportunity to REDIRECT these funds to ministries and programs that will further God's Kingdom, as prescribed by The Book of Discipline.

We ask you to join us in praying about how best to assume our stewardship responsibility in REDIRECTING these funds to ministries and programs which will help all people to become Disciples of Jesus Christ.

THE APPORTIONMENT REDUCTION INITIATIVE LEADERSHIP TEAM IN IOWA

On this page you will find several of the concerns that have led us to take action through THE APPORTIONMENT REDUCTION INITIATIVE. We do not have the time or space to list every concern. We have tried to highlight major issues where we have felt our United Methodist doctrines were not supported by our leadership and our apportionment dollars were not used in fulfilling our purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

  1. We are concerned that 15 Methodist Bishops at the 1996 General Conference declared that they could not, in good conscience, support the provisions of the Discipline of The United Methodist Church regarding homosexuality. We are further concerned at the action taken in the Nebraska Conference when they ruled a minister innocent of disobeying church rules for performing a lesbian unity ceremony.

  2. We are concerned when Bishop Jordan states that we need to "accept and affirm" all religions, such as; Buddhism, Mormonism, and Islam. He states further that we need to "accept and affirm" all "-isms", such as; New Ageism, Sexual Orientationism, and others. This was reinforced at the Iowa Annual Conference in 1997, when we included a Mormon representative in our ordination ceremonies. [Note: This statement was taken from Bishop Jordan's address at Morningside College on January 29, called "Building Community Through Building Bridges.] [This was reinforced at the Iowa Annual Conference in 1997, when we included a representative from The Reorganized Church of The Latter Day Saints in our ordination ceremonies.]

  3. We are concerned with the movement that is taking place at the General and Annual Conference levels to promote the re-interpretation of Scripture as evidenced in the recent UMW Lenten study book, Joshua and the promised land. The author declares, "We have been especially careful to move away from any literal interpretation, and have tried to show alternative ways of reading this well-known biblical story." (p. 84) Re-interpretation of Scripture moves us from the foundation of God's Inspired Word to the encouragement of editing or dismissing Scriptural texts to best fit our own perspective.

  4. We are concerned about promotion of events such as the Re-Imagining Conferences. At the 1993 conference, participants heard speakers who discredited the atonement, introduced the worship of the goddess, "Sophia'', (representing the Wisdom of God), and then offered a Eucharistic-type milk and honey ritual, complete with liturgy to "Sophia". Many statements of the speakers directly contradicted Scripture and The Book of Discipline. Yet, our 1994 Iowa Annual Conference "affirmed the diversity of worship and variety of symbols" used at this women's workshop.

  5. We are concerned that Mission Outreach Ministries in Iowa, such as camperships for our children, received only 54% of their 1997 approved budgeted apportionment money, while conference staff was funded at 96%. We are also concerned about a movement to further increase conference staff, by moving our lobbyist from part-time to full-time and hiring support staff for him.

This is just a small listing of the events and activities that are taking place at our Annual and General Conference levels that have brought great concern to us as we have faithfully tried to support the work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We believe it is time to take responsibility for our stewardship and REDIRECT our giving to programs that acknowledge the authority of Scripture and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We invite you to join us in prayer and action as we unite and stand together through participation in THE APPORTIONMENT REDUCTION INITIATIVE.

STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES: We believe in God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We believe that through God's grace, Christ died on the cross for our personal redemption and for the sins of the world. We believe that the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God and that it is an agent in changing lives today. We accept the principles of faith as ascribed by John Wesley and we accept the authority of The Book of Discipline in the administration and governance of The United Methodist Church.

Because the leadership in The United Methodist Church, at the Annual and General levels is promoting and participating in actions that are leading us away from these foundational beliefs, we find it necessary to take action in the form of: THE APPORTIONMENT REDUCTION INITIATIVE.


PLEDGE OF APPORTIONMENT REDUCTIONS

We, the undersigned members of the Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, do hereby pledge that starting June 1,1998, only 10% of our giving to the local church may go to pay our church's part of the Iowa Annual Conference Apportionments.

We further direct that this 10% is to be used for the Managerial and Administrative activities at the Annual Conference and General Conference Level in helping the local churches be more effective in reaching out into our world, and making disciples of Jesus Christ.

Our gifts shall be used for:

  1. The Managerial and Administrative activities at the Annual and General Conference levels that are clearly demonstrated to be necessary for the proper functioning of local churches and outreach ministries. This refers primarily to the hierarchical structure of District Superintendents and Bishops, and their associated staff personnel, at both the Annual and General Conference Levels.

  2. Activities at the Annual and General Conference Levels that are clearly demonstrated to be necessary for the recruiting, training, placing, developing and sustaining of adequate clergy and associated lay personnel to serve the needs of the local churches of the conference, and to activities that are not funded through the Local Church themselves, but help them in their mission of reaching out to lead others to Christ. (Such as, but not limited to, The Annual Conference Board of Camps and Retreat Ministries, The Annual Conference Board of Discipleship, or other Boards and Agencies within the Annual Conference whose primary focus is to help the Local Church achieve the mission of "making disciples for Jesus Christ".)

  3. This money can also be used for the Annual and General Conference funding of The Board of Pensions and Heath Care Programs and to support Missionaries through World Service Giving. . IF YOU AGREE AND WOULD LIKE TO JOIN US, PLEASE SIGN ON THE REVERSE SIDE.

(Make as many copies as needed and please share this with other UM Churches) As a supporter of THE APPORTIONMENT REDUCTION INITIATIVE, and in agreement with the STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES:

We, the undersigned, as Individual Members of the Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, do hereby pledge, starting June 1, 1998, that only 10% of our total giving to the local church may go to pay for our church's part of the Iowa Annual and General Conference Apportionments.

Furthermore, this money may be used only in the areas as stated in the PLEDGE OF APPORTIONMENT REDUCTIONS.

YOUR NAME: NAME OF YOUR LOCAL CHURCH:

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Please make copies of this page, with names, and give the original to your Local Church Treasurers, so that they may make the proper adjustments in paying your church's Apportionments.


Send one copy to the Conference Headquarters to show that we are UNITED in this effort and that our voices need to be heard. United Methodist Conference Center, 500 E. Court Ave. Suite C, Des Moines, Iowa 50309


And please send one copy to us for accurate record keeping: The Apportionment Reduction Initiative Box 394 Marcus, Iowa 51035


History of This Action

In October of 1994, after a long history of paying our apportionments in full, the Administrative Council of Grace United Methodist Church took action to withhold $2000 of our apportionment payments. This action was taken in response to our concern with six specific items:

  1. The decisions made by Conference trustees in regard to Camp Okoboji.

  2. The number of staff positions added at the Iowa Conference level.

  3. The 1994 Iowa Annual Conference's response to the Re-imagining Conference. (Legislative item 355)

  4. The Conference's call to reflect and study on what it would mean to become a Reconciling or Transforming conference. (Legislative item 357)

  5. The impact of increasing apportionment payments on local church programming.

  6. The new apportionment formula. (NOTE: This has been revised since that time.)

This information was communicated by letter to our District Superintendent, Rev. Balm-Demmel, on October 24, 1994. The District Superintendent responded to our letter and encouraged us to work through our lay delegate at Annual Conference.

On April 19, 1995, our Administrative Council unanimously voted to become a member of the Confessing Movement. This action was also communicated through letter to Rev. Balm-Demmel. We became more active in educating our lay delegate and congregation to the activities of the Annual Conference.

On October 24, 1995, we sent a letter communicating our intent to withhold another $2,000. We listed our concerns and asked for these questions to be addressed at our upcoming charge conference. Our charge conference, however, was held in the form of a worship service and there wasn't opportunity to discuss specific issues.

On April 8, 1996, a year and a half after our original inquiry, a meeting was held with Rev. Balm-Demmel, Don Mendenhall and Inez Dawes of the Iowa Council on Ministries. This meeting was to address the concerns that we had listed in our original letter. The Conference personnel were unprepared to answer some of the questions and information that was supplied was considered superficial. The meeting accomplished little in helping us understand the Conference's responses in these areas. There was additional information sent later to our pastor and ad council chairman, but no further dialogue.

In October of 1997, our pastor initiated District Praise and Prayer Services in our church. At these services, lay people and pastors of our district are invited to come together in a time of praise and prayer. In the November worship service, people made commitments to pray and fast for God's guidance and healing in our conference and denomination.

On December 10, 1997, at the end of our charge conference, concerns were again brought to our District Superintendent and she was asked if these concerns could be shared with the cabinet. To date, we have had no response.

At our March 11, 1998, Ad Council Meeting, we listened to an informational overview of our apportionment spending by Harold Zarr, the conference representative for the Sioux City District. While the apportionment breakdown of ministries was helpful, it was based on proposed budget numbers, rather than actual money spent, or even the adjusted 1997 budgets. He noted our questions and is attempting to get that information sent to us.

The previous discussion is the background of why the ARI task force was formed and the basis for the decision to inform other members of the conference of our concerns. This task force met for the first time in January of 1998. The task force requested and received permission from the Administrative Council to present its concerns to the congregation of the Grace United Methodist Church after services on March 22. After a lengthy discussion at the March 22 meeting, over 75% of the members in attendance endorsed the Statement of Principles developed by the task force and signed The Apportionment Reduction Initiative (ARI). Further, the task force was encouraged to send a mailing to all churches in the Iowa Conference explaining our concerns. This took place during the first week of April.

This Initiative does not suggest withholding money from the church. Instead, it lets people know that they can and do have the option to specifically direct their giving to where it can best be used to help make disciples of Jesus Christ. It encourages a continued 10% giving to apportionments, with the balance redirected to specific programs and ministries at the Local, Annual, and General levels. It is not our intent to divide our conference. It is our hope that we can continue to minister together, focusing our support on the programs which acknowledge the authority of Scripture and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

ARI Task Force
Box 394
Marcus, IA 51035
(712) 376-2649

After discussion with our District Superintendent on April 4, 1998, we would like to make these amendments to the original document: [already ammended in the above document]

Page 1 - Paragraph 3: "Currently, the Annual and General Conferences request approximately 20% or more of each Local Church's budget." Note: Not all churches pay 20% or more in apportionments in the Iowa Annual Conference. Some pay a few percentage points less.

Page 2 - Paragraph 3: add: "This statement was taken from Bishop Jordan's address at Morningside College on January 29, called "Building Community Through Building Bridges."

Page 2 - Paragraph 3: "This was reinforced at the Iowa Annual Conference in 1997, when we included a representative from The Reorganized Church of The Latter Day Saints in our ordination ceremonies."


The previous discussion is the background of why the ARI task force was formed and the basis for the decision to inform other members of the conference of our concerns. This task force met for the first time in January of 1998. The task force requested and received permission from the Administrative Council to present its concerns to the congregation of the Grace United Methodist Church after services on March 22. After a lengthy discussion at the March 22 meeting, over 75% of the members in attendance endorsed the Statement of Principles developed by the task force and signed The Apportionment Reduction Initiative (ARI). Further, the task force was encouraged to send a mailing to all churches in the Iowa Conference explaining our concerns. This took place during the week of April 1.

While we appreciate and respect that there are other opinions within our denomination, the task force and members signing the ARI felt it imperative to become more individually accountable in our financial stewardship. It is not our intent to divide our conference. It is our hope that we can focus on and support the programs which acknowledge the authority of Scripture and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

ARI Task Force
Box 394 Marcus, IA 51035
(712) 376-2649

Mavis Diment, Dwight and Barb Moats, Bob and Lorna Leavitt, Nancy Hier, Roger and Doris Henry, Jim and Belinda Leavitt, Hope Schlenger, Jerry and Barb Martin, Bob and Sue Cave, Tom Dorr, Renea Ogren

We apologize that our names were not listed on our original letter. We regret this serious oversight on our part. Please feel free to distribute this listing to those interested.


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