The California-Pacific Annual Conference (Cal-Pac) within the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church (UMC) is creating options for congregations upset with General Conference 2019 to selectively redirect their apportionment giving away from non-LGBTQ affirming ministries.
In a letter sent throughout the conference, Bishop Grant J. Hagiya and president of Cal-Pac’s Council on Finance and Administration Howard Hudson clarified how apportionments work and outlined how individuals or congregations might resist General Conference’s decisions by redirecting their connectional giving.
“Most of the churches are just angry with the support of the Traditional Plan and do not want to support the General Conference and larger church in their own mind,” Hagiya told UMNS. The letter also acknowledged the “hurt and pain” that General Conference caused and called withholding or redirecting apportionments important acts of resistance against an unjust system.
Hagiya and Hudson clearly hope to avoid having local churches stop giving apportionments altogether, which would strain the budget of the annual conference, reminding their churches that 76 percent of their apportionments stay in the conference, one that is very progressive overall. Last year, California-Pacific was in the bottom fifth of US annual conferences in terms of percentage of apportionments paid.
For the remainder of apportionment funds that go to general churchwide funds, Cal-Pac is setting up an alternative World Service fund and alternative General Administration Fund. After receiving a breakdown of the denomination-wide World Service fund from the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA), the annual conference’s Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) will select ministries they approve to receive money. There is no provision in UMC church law for the CFA to redirect apportionment funding based on these types of values judgements.
It is revealing to see this colonial-like approach to relief, with the conference planning to share their wealth with the poorer parts of the global church only with conditions. Liberian United Methodist leader Rev. Jerry Kulah said at February’s Special General Conference that he and his fellow Africans would not sell their birthright in Jesus Christ for American dollars and “never, ever trade Jesus and the truth of the Bible for money.” Sadly, it appears likely that some United Methodist churches out west will intentionally refuse to fund growing biblically orthodox African churches.
Refusing help for needy overseas missions because the global church upholds biblical standards on human sexuality is a very poor Christian witness. As many United Methodists pursue an amicable end to current debates over sexuality, overseas churches should not be punished for upholding the same gospel that U.S. missionaries first shared with them.