The Christian Methodist Newsletter

Volume 13, Number 3                                                Summer 2003

A Time for Reflection

       I thank you for praying for our troops involved in the fighting in the Persian Gulf; at the same time we mourn for those who were lost in the fighting and remember their families.

        This would be a good time for us to reflect on who we are as a church and what we are about. We should have a time of self-examination, especially as we plan for our annual conferences to elect delegates to the 2004 General Conference.

       We need to do some soul-searching in view of our church leadership's aggressive opposition to the war effort. There was much visible support against our country's effort to oust Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. The position of our bishops was not seen to be useful by President George Bush, himself a United Methodist, to such a degree that he refused to meet with them. The intelligence both prior and subsequent to fighting in Iraq, and the discovery of massive atrocities in that country, bore out Bush's position. Why did our leaders and some of the staff members go to such great lengths to oppose this war?

       In a related action mainstream news media refused to run a series of anti-war ads sponsored by the National Council of Churches in which Bishop Melvin Talbert claimed the United States had no right to remove the Iraqi dictator.

       The bishops have an important leadership responsibility in the spiritual life of our church. We have an additional problem: one bishop appears to be confused about who Jesus Christ is. Let us hope these problems are resolved soon.

       On a separate issue, the people in the pews, who comprise over 99.4% of the membership of the United Methodist Church, work hard to provide money to support the church. It is important for all of us to use money and other resources wisely in the Lord's service. Let us all examine who we are and ensure that we are doing all we can for the cause of Christ.

       This edition of The Christian Methodist Newsletter contains stewardship data on the finances in our denomination. The following chart [Not included in the online version of The Christian Methodist Newsletter] shows the various routes through which money goes to support activities at the general church level. It shows monetary giving in a previous year; the purpose of this chart is only to show the paths of financial support from the local church to the various general boards and agencies. We commend it to you for your information.                                                             - Allen O. Morris


A Stewardship Analysis

       Believing that the laity are unaware of much of what is happening within the United Methodist Church (UMC), we are presenting the following information on the expenditure of church moneys. This data is by no means comprehensive, but provides a means of showing what the priorities are of some of our denominational employees and agencies. It represents a compilation of stewardship data from financial reports published by the general boards and agencies themselves. Raw financial data will be presented coupled with how this money is used, analyses offered, and overall observations made, providing background information showing of what our United Methodist Church is doing.

       The adage "follow the money" holds true in giving a reliable indicator of what one, be it individual or institution, deems important. When a person is asked to give to the apportionment, it is necessary to understand the reality of how money is spent. The Bible tells us that we, both individually and church officials corporately, will be held accountable for the wise use of resources in doing His work (Luke 16:2, etc.). In other words, "How efficiently is the money given in the name of the Lord actually translated by the institution of the church into its intended purpose at its ultimate destination?"        Consider how complicated UM funding practices can be by using the chart on the preceding page. For instance, we see that the National and/or the World Council of Churches (NCC & WCC) are funded not only through the International Denominational Cooperation Fund but also through the United Methodist Women, and by World Service apportionments through general boards and agencies: the General Boards of Global Ministries (GBGM), Church and Society, Council on Ministries, Discipleship,  Higher Education, and Campus Ministry, and the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns. Following are selected data on just one, the GBGM, which is the largest board.

Selected Financial Statistics for The UM General Board of Global Ministries


Year:              1994               1995           1996               1997               1998                1999               2000               2001       2002

Assets:                 $295,956,199   $387,994,505   $409,210,898   $451,013,320   $485,333,518   $530,756,314  $500,793,417  $464,753,721   Figures N/A

Income:     $133,173,640   $173,348,658   $191,551,170   $187,536,100   $198,899,393   $204,193,966  $126,694,401  $144,613,389  $127,961,697+



and Grants to

organizations: $44,310,043  $70,734,241   $96,465,479    $69,178,316      $79,366,027     $94,018,217    $99,718,911     Figures N/A    $69,223,237


% of GBGM

income:        33.27%       39.02%       50.36%            36.89%           39.90%          46.04%           78.708%         N/A        54.097%


Direct Support

of Persons in

Mission:       $16,392,710   $22,731,586     $19,241,794    $18,867,604      $34,268,159     $32,861,249    $18,724,677      Figures N/A   $33,289,755


% of GBGM

income:        12.309%         13.110%          10.045%           10.06%           17.23%          16.093%         14.779%        N/A         26.015%


Direct Support of

Persons in Mission

 (World Div.): $11,361,989  $15,572,143    $10,787,894    $14,630,793*   $27,995,664*   $17,002,705*  $13,761,154*   Figures N/A   $28,827,666*


% of GBGM

income:           8.532%           8.981%           5.632%            7.80%         14.075%       8.327%       10.862%           N/A        22.528%


Women's Division

assets:          $ 92,911,935   $108,991,817   $110,983,970  $105,842,546   $111,740,127   $108,799,444  $ 95,865,966    $ 80,654,936    Figures N/A


Numbers of overseas1

career, long-term

missionaries:      320              303              287       Figures N/A     Figures N/A      Figures N/A          367                   367       Figures N/A


All figures are taken from the Report of the Treasurer of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) for each of the respective years except that taken from the GBGM's Financial Disclosure Reports and indicated with  a plus (+) symbol.

* The figures indicated by an asterisk reflect the category "Direct Support of Persons in Mission" for both the (World Division and the National Division since the GBGM had undergone a reorganization in the 1996-1997 time frame.

Figures N/A indicates that the figures were not available at the time this report was made.


The total value of UM church, land, buildings, and equipment as well as church-owned parsonages and furniture, as of the end of 1999 was $37,284,544,799, up from $24,079,027,2631 at the end of 1990. By the end of the year 2000 this had increased to $39,636,992,168.2 Total giving to the UMC in 2000 was $4,761,148,280 of which $490,835,2693 was given into the various benevolence funds. There appears to be a continuing of the accumulation of funds at the general church level, a trend noted in his study by The Rev. Ed Ezaki in a past report. Rev. Ezaki, CPA, is a past member of the Audit and Review Committee for the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA). In addition some local churches are experiencing increased apportionment problems, sometimes at a rate increase of 12% or more in a year, that are affecting their involvement in local ministries. It should be noted that one of the complaints addressed at the 2000 General Conference held in Cleveland, Ohio was that of the impact of apportionments on the local churches; it had been decided at that body to reduce the increase in askings from the local churches to a minimum.

1. Letter received from the GCFA, dated March 14, 2002.   2. General Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the UMC, 2001, p. 30.   3. Ibid, p. 31.


The General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM)

With offices at 475 Riverside Drive this board is designated by the United Methodist Church's Book of Discipline as the "missional instrument" of the UMC and has a primal responsibility in translating God's commands into action around the world. The largest agency in the UMC, it receives more money than does any other. The GBGM received $144,613,389 in revenues for the year 2001. It has total assets of $464,753,721, an increase of $168,797,522 ( or 57%) over its $295,956,199 assets in 1994.

       In the past, American Methodism fielded over 2500 foreign missionaries in the 1920s, far more than any other Protestant denomination. By the 1960s it had declined to 1500, and to 516 in 1985, 323 in 1993, 320 in 1995, and 287 in 1996. The present total of 367 missionaries for the World Division reflects a reversal of this downward trend. Financial support for this area was consistent with this apparent priority with $10,787,894 in 1996 (5.632% of income), down from $15,572,143 in 1995 (8.981% of income for that year) rebounding to $14,630,793 (7.80%) in 1997. In 1997-1998 the GBGM reorganized, combining the World Division and the National Division, so the increased totals of the money on the chart in the category "Direct Support of Persons in Mission" starting with the year 1998 reflect money to both divisions. These figures are consistent with the observation made by professors William H. Willimon and (the late) Robert L. Wilson of Duke University in their book Rekindling the Flame that only 13% of UM money was actually translated into true mission and benevolence in 1983, down from 16% in 1970. If one were to project that figure out to 1996 and beyond, the estimate would be 10%, which is consistent with these figures. Information from the GBGM Treasurer’s Report.


The General Board of Church and Society (GBCS)

With offices at the Methodist Building in Washington, DC, the GBCS had an operating income in 2001 of $4,578,123 with $1,788,006 coming from World Service benevolences. The GBCS engages in political activism by lobbying our country's national leadership to achieve what they perceive as the political agenda of the UMC. This is accomplished by individual actions and board resolutions. They have also exerted influence in each of five areas: Peace with Justice Program, Environmental Justice Program, human welfare, reproductive rights, and gun control. Recent activism by members of the GBCS are its active opposition to the war against Iraq with one staff member being arrested in front of the White House, and initiatives to overturn the United Methodist Church’s position opposing the practice of homosexuality1.  1. United Methodist News Service (UMNS); Washington; 10-28-71B{170}; March 25, 2003.


UM Bishops

One area of concern is that of Bishop Joseph Sprague’s denying basic tenets of the Christian faith at a speech given at Iliff School of Theology in Denver on January 28, 2002: virgin birth, death, burial, resurrection [of Jesus Christ], and the atonement. Dr. Don Wildmon, an ordained United Methodist minister and chairman of the American Family Association, has notified 15,000 local United Methodist churches of [this problem] and put supporting material on the website He adds that he has heard from other individuals and local churches that they plan to begin designating their giving1. Both Bishop Timothy Whitaker (Florida Conference) and Bishop Marion Edwards (North Carolina Conference) have issued definitive, orthodox responses to Joe Sprague's controversial statements. Charges against Bishop Sprague were dismissed [for denying essentials of the Christian faith] by UM Bishop Bruce B. Ough, president of the church's North Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops2. In a separate incident two bishops, among whom was Bishop Sprague, were arrested in an anti-war protest near the White House3.          1. Dr. Don Wildmon, AFA Journal, September 2002, p. 3. UMAction Briefing, December 2002, p. 1. Jim Brown and Jody Brown; AgapePress;  Oct. 3, 2002. Good News Magazine, Sept./Oct. 2002, p. 35.       2. UMNS; Kathy Gilbert; Nashville, Tenn.; 10-21-71BP{086}; Feb. 18, 2003.     3. Mark Tooley, UMAction.


The World Council of Churches (WCC) 

With offices at 475 Riverside Drive and representing a fellowship of 342 church bodies in more than 100 countries, the WCC has been controlled at times by advocates of liberation theology and supported movements throughout the world, to whom it has distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. The WCC general secretary surfaced problems in the institutional structure in 19961. WCC delegates later addressed the group's future at an Aug. 26-Sept. 3, 2002 gathering in Geneva. Dwindling financial support for the 54-year-old council is one issue. Lois Dauway, an executive with the Women's Division of the UM GBGM observed, "The world is changing....Perhaps the council should reshape itself to work in partnership with...regional ecumenical groups and not duplicate their efforts.” The WCC's chief executive, who called for a "new ecumenical configuration" for the 21st century during his opening report to the 158-member central committee, pointed out that the ecumenical movement is no longer drawing enthusiastic support from youth and has always been shunned by some conservatives within the church2.

1. Newscope, Sept. 20, 1996.  2. UMNS; Linda Bloom; New York; 10-32-35-71B{400}; Sept. 10, 2002.  

Book Reviews:

The Brother of Jesus

News of the most important archaeological discovery about Jesus - the inscribed, first-century ossuary found near Jerusalem - generated immediate attention from the media and the scholarly community alike. Andre Lemaire, an expert in ancient Semitic inscriptions at the Sorbonne in Paris, identified the box in Jerusalem last spring and published his findings in the November/December 2002 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review. Read about it in The Brother of Jesus.

The discovery of an Aramaic inscription on the ossuary, which reads “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,”

may be one of the most revolutionary finds in the history of Archaeology.


Hardcover Book: Cost is $24.95


Available from: HarperSanFrancisco, 353 Sacramento Street, Suite 500, San Francisco, California 94111-3653

Tel.: (415) 477-4400; FAX: (415) 477-4444

Website:          E-mail:


HarperSanFrancisco is a division of HarperCollins Publishers


New-Life Witnesses

In New-Life Witnesses read the stories of different people, from the royal palace of an African prince to the jungles of Colombia; a gang leader in the United States; and a world-renowned lawyer in Guyana. It asks some of the hard questions.

Real People speak to some of the hard issues:


What is really important in life?


What happens when I die?


What's it all about anyway?


Benefit from their experiences and perspectives

Softcover Book: Cost is $8.00 + $2.00 shipping & handling.

Available from Concerned Methodists: P.O. Box 2864, Fayetteville, NC 28302.


Newsletter Published by: Concerned Methodists, P. O. Box 2864, Fayetteville, NC 28302

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