General Budget Fund allocations (aka "Conference Claims" : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

Page 291 of the 2000 "Discipline" states in part, "It shall be the duty of every minister holding a charge to collect the sum allocated to his/her charges annually for the maintenance of the church treasury."

This refers to what is commonly referred to as "Conference Claims". Although officially, this term is obsolete, it still is in general use. Specific penalties or procedures are stated for those pastors who fail to collect their assessments.

My question - how much are you, i.e., members of your congregation, asked to contribute annually for "conference claims" for the ongoing work of the AME Church? Also indicate your District

For several years, our congregation (3rd District) has asked each member to contribute the sume of $75.00 per year, a sum which does not raise the $19,000+ that we must give twice a year. This year, the base sum is still $75.00 which a request for those who are able, to double the amount. Organizations are asked to contribute, but no specific amount is requested.

-- Anonymous, April 19, 2004


When I was a young child, up through highschool, I remember hearing about "Conference Claims" all the time. When I was young, the conference claim amount was $100.00 and it was a really, really, really BIG deal for folks to be able to pay that $100 per year. Some people would pay $10 per week, etc. The folks that paid the $100 per year were put on somekind of "Church Supporters" list and they were really made over. I thought conference claims were "biblical" the way they were emphasized throughout my young life. I am ashamed to say that when I went away to college, I met some friends who were Baptists. I remember those kids sending home 10% of their income from college jobs to their church. The kids explained to me that they were tithing. As a young child/young teen growing up in the AME church in the 1960's/1970's, I vaguely heard of "thithers" but they were so unusual and so few and far between that I thought it was just something that these people "wanted" to do. I had no knowledge of tithing and how it relates to the scriptures. I remember telling my Baptist friend that I felt that "tithing was a Baptist thing. We AME's don't have to pay tithes. WE have to pay Conference claims". Let's just say that I was schooled very, very quickly. I did not understand the true necessity of tithing until my brother pastored. It was not the Conference Claims that paid the assessments, bills, community outreach, etc. It was the committed tithing contributions that overall saved the financial condition of the church.

I know that your question was how much do our churches pay? I would just say that if 1) Pastors would tithe 2) Pastors would educate themselves on the benefits of tithing, educate their congregants on the benefits of tithing and would encourage their congregants to tithe, then paying assessments would be no problem. 3) Also, since being an officer of the church (i.e. steward/trustee) is supposed to be an honor and a privilege, it should almost be mandatory that officers of the church pay tithes.

A pastor friend of mine, who has an almost 100% tithing church, encourages the trustees to take 10% of the offering toward the payment of the assessments. That takes care of everything. Also, this same church tithes 10%, which means they take 10% of their offerring and give it to other organizations, churches, people that are in need. As a result of that institutions giving, they are rarely in need of anything financially.

Just a few nuggets to think about.

-- Anonymous, April 19, 2004


First A.M.E. Los Angeles (5th District) - $30 every 6 months ($60 for the year). Keep in mind that we have 18,000 people on the rolls, so our nut is a little over 1 Million. The appeal goes out months before they are due.

Now, ponder this: If the 3 million gave $60 per year for Conference Claims (which would support our 13 A.M.E. Colleges and Universities), think of the number of children we could send to school for free.

Now, ask yourself how Morris Brown ran afoul financially....

-- Anonymous, April 19, 2004

The historical lesson concerning human free will shows that such freedom is both a blessing and a 'curse'. As long as church membership is NOT revoked due to non-payment or partial payment of financial obligations, folks will not pay the full amount. Neither conference claims or tithes are "compulsory" hence the high variability among members who make such payments and those who choose not to subscribe. The key to maximizing any form of "giving" is to provide the donor/giver with something of equal or higher value. Most people who make philanthropic donations expect to receive a return on their investment. QED

-- Anonymous, April 19, 2004

In the AME church (5th) where I have just recently withdrawn my membership, the Pastor did not ask for Conference Claims separate from our tithes. It is his thinking that if all of the members gave their 10% in tithes, God would bless us to pay all of our financial obligatons wether to the Connectional church or for the local church needs. The only problem with this was that this same Pastor arbritarily reduced the church's assessment, which put a strain on the other churches in the Presiding Elder's District and on the Conference as a whole. Mind you, he did not do reduce the fair share at the Annual Conference, he does it when ever it is time to pay at Mid-Year and the Annual Conference time.

Since this Pastor has done this every year for the past five years and seemly has been allowed to do so without any disciplianry actions, our great church will contniue to experience a short fall in revenue. This is because, this pstor is not the only one who has and is doing this.

-- Anonymous, April 19, 2004

Wow. I was always of the understanding that if a Pastor did not deliver the full amount due at mid-year & annual conference, he or she ought to expect to be replaced.

Perhaps that Pastor had an understanding with the Presiding Elder, or your church may have overpaid at an earlier date to make up another church's shortfall and are now getting paid back?

I've been an AME for 16 years and one consistent feature of our church - across all district/conference lines - is that if you're not financial, you're not going to be around.

-- Anonymous, April 19, 2004

There is more to that than meets the eye. Short on conference claims means no job. We treat the conference claims just as we do the utility bill; its got to be paid to keep the lights on.

What bothers me is the additional "stuff" that the PE and Bishop expect us to support. For example, my PE now is asking an additional $500.00 that he has no authority to ask, except the implied threat to "move" you or not recommend you when an opportunity arises. That does not seem like much but it represents 0.75% of our total income.

-- Anonymous, April 19, 2004

"...this was that this same Pastor (that) arbritarily reduced the church's assessment, which put a strain on the other churches in the Presiding Elder's District and on the Conference as a whole..." I didn't know that pastors had the power to reduce a church's assessment????? I thought that was the Bishop and/or Presiding Elder's call? This guy or gal must have a lot of power.

-- Anonymous, April 20, 2004

Hi, just want to clearify something. The P.E. that is now asking for more money is not the P.E. of the pastor who has reduced his conference claims amount. After being in the AME Church for many a year, I also was under the imprssion that failure to pay all of your fir share meant failure to keep your appointment. Well not in this case. This pastor also reduced the WMS, YPD and Lay Organization by 40% of whatever assessment these organizations were given by the Conference.

This is just one of the reasons that the AME church as a whole needs to tke a good look at the General Conference this year. We can ill afford to continue business as usual.

-- Anonymous, April 20, 2004

Rev. Paris -

"What bothers me is the additional "stuff" that the PE and Bishop expect us to support. For example, my PE now is asking an additional $500.00 that he has no authority to ask, except the implied threat to "move" you or not recommend you when an opportunity arises. That does not seem like much but it represents 0.75% of our total income."

My PE is very good about NOT doing that (she remembers when she was a Pastor and has mercy on us!), but there are plenty that do. The bigger issue for me is the mandatory conferences/workshops and meetings that take place hither and yon. My charge is very small, so I pay my own expenses to go to out-of-town planning meetings, midyear conference, workshops, etc. Airfare, hotel and the obligatory $50-$100 offerings they want Pastors to give - often two or three times at one conference - are murder.

Factor in bringing my wife once or twice (plus her dues for Clergy Spouse Assn, WMS, Lay and 3-4 other things) and it becomes a huge sacrifice.

-- Anonymous, April 20, 2004

This is very interesting because it seems that many in our church are not educating their congregations. What a shame someone who grew up in the church didn't understand the difference between tithing and conference claims.

Conference claims must be looked at as the responsibility shared by every church to support our connection. The universities, administrative costs, bishop's salaries, retirments etc. are all expenses that must be made collectively. It's what makes us a connectional church. Other denominations are often self governing. Because of that, tithing is their focus.

I was taught that conference claims is what allowed me the opportunity to take pride in my Zion. I feel that I am a stockholder in the colleges and universities owned by our church.

Our churches need to focus on financial tithing and personal giving of time and talent. That is how local churches can provide ministries and programming to lift their communities.

Conference claims is what we can do uplift our society.

To answer your question. Each adult member of our congregation is asked to pay $50 bi-annually and children to age 18 $25 bi-annually. This money is used to cover the church's assessments.

Tithes are used to cover the expenses and ministries of the local church where the members and community receive immediate benefit.

I agree, the AME church should institute some type of financial programming for members in "good financial" standing who want to attend an AME owned college or university. Think about how many of our children would attend Morris Brown, Edward Waters, or Wilburforce if this was possible.

-- Anonymous, April 21, 2004

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