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ALCOA, Tenn. (Feb. 16, 2015) -- Churches gave $9.3 million in tithes during the 2014 year, which covered 91 percent of the $10.2 million budget for Holston Conference, according to Treasurer Rick Cherry.
Twenty-one percent of local-church giving toward the 2014 budget was received in December and the first two weeks of January, which was impressive, Cherry said. In 2013, 15 percent of the total budget was received at the end of the year. “We did have a rally of giving toward the end of this last year,” Cherry said.
However, the 9 percent giving shortfall means there was a $919,349 deficit in 2014.
Holston Conference has historically collected about 91 percent of its budget through the giving of local churches, which in return receive their gifts from members. In 2013, Holston Conference moved from a formula that determined the amount each local church gave to the conference budget (known as the “Fair Share” or apportionment) to a 10 percent tithe based on a local church’s offerings.
The newer 10 percent system is “more transparent,” Cherry said, but makes it more difficult to accommodate shortfalls in giving.
“We’ve been budgeting at true cost. There’s no fluff in the budget,” he said. “Before, we factored in the uncollectible amounts. Now we’re dependent on receiving 100 percent of the budget or we have to draw on our reserves.”
At the end of 2014, Holston Conference met its shortfall by drawing on interest earned on a current total of $5.9 million in reserves. After the interest earnings were depleted, $610,000 was drawn from the principal, Cherry said.
Holston is already two months into a 2015 budget, approved by the 2014 Holston Annual Conference at $10.46 million. The Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) and ministry leaders are currently working on a 2016 budget to present to the Annual Conference, which meets June 7-10 in Lake Junaluska, N.C.
Cherry said that at the CFA’s next meeting in March, he will propose a task force to study spending and ministry priorities. Comprised of the CFA, ministry leaders, and district superintendents, the proposed task force would present budget cuts and priorities to the 2016 Annual Conference for approval.
“Our local churches made sacrifices and tough decisions when the conference went to a ‘direct billing’ system,” Cherry said. “This conference is going to have to decide what is important and what we need to do to equip the local churches while living within our parameters. It’s going to take sacrifice on everybody’s part.”
"Just give 10 percent: 5 questions about the proposed apportionment" (The Call, 6/9/10)
"What will it take to get Holston churches to pay 100 percent?" (The Call, 9/12/03)
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.