Annual Conference Assessments : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

There is on thin I wish to discuss as many of us are entering or leaving Annual Conferences. Where does the money for the assessments go? I understand that the general budget must be paid, and that as a connection, all churches have a financial responsibility to uphold the denomination.

But I am getting tired of paying all types of money and never seeing anything from it. Smaller churches are supposed to receive finances from the general connection, general programming is supposed to occur, and it seems like we send money up but none comes down.

This is something that we need to address. What can we do to change the Annual Conference assessment system so that people receiving the money don't keep it for themselves, and we can actually do some work in the church?

-- Anonymous, April 24, 2004


I am sorry to say that, other than my husband and myself, my entire family (of approximately 40+ people) left our branch of Zion for the very reasons that you mentioned. They got tired of the funds going in one direction. They have all joined a very large, autonomous church that is a part of a major denomination. They are happy to report that they know the church budget and they know exactly how the funds are being spent. What is most interesting is that this free- standing church also has denominational assessments, and in addition, tithes 10% of its "earnings" to smaller churches and assists those in need in the community. Now, I am not saying this to be a cynic; however, I would stretch to say that the Annual Conference Assessment system is not going to change at all because, as of right now, the system benefits those that are in power. As long as the system is working for those that handle the funds, then no real changes will be made. The most that can be done is some kind of motion can be read on the floor of the General Conference. Even though everyone, including those that are in power, complain all the time that the connectional budget of the AME Church, which is at or around $8-12 million dollars " smaller than the annual budget of some free standing churches", the system that is in place "works" for those that are in power. This will sound cynical, however, if you are tired of "paying all types of money and never seeing anything from it", then I would suggest that you join a church a free-standing, autonomous church and pay your tithes and offerings there, where, immediately, you can see how your funds are being utilized, not only in the physical church but also in the community. Unfortunately, this complaint permeates among those that are members of a connectional system. When those members move on to autonomous churches, you often hear the opposite.

-- Anonymous, April 24, 2004

Well, this system that is in place works. The AME Annual Conference system is the best system that any Zion has in my opinion, when it is used correctly. What I want to say is that sometimes I cannot trust the people who are receiving the funds and running the system. How do I know that my presiding elder or bishop is assessing the right thing? How do I know they are handling it in a proper fashion? What do I tell my congregation who wants answers to these questions?

-- Anonymous, April 24, 2004

Rev. Harper and the Board, I did not write these statements and someone is using my name. That isn't even my email address. So there is someone out there using my name falsely.

Yours in Christ, Rev. Marcellus Norris

-- Anonymous, April 24, 2004

I have asked a similar question once before on this board. I asked if anyone knew of a bishop that provided an annula report to the annual conferences of his/her district that included income and expenditures. No one responded in the affirmative.

As a newly ordained itinerant elder, it breaks my heart to see what is in store for me if and when I am appointed to a charge. How can I be a faithful steward of the funds that my congregation entrusts to me if I cannot vouch for the way their hard-earned money is being spent?

I am intrigued by the suggestion that a petition of some sort be read from the floor of the General Conference. Having never been to one, however, I don't know if that is possible or how effective it would be. I gather that most of the people at the General Conference understand that this is how things are. I wonder how many regular folks in the pews know. I wonder what would happen if someone were to inform them. I suspect quite a few pocketbooks and wallets would close. The shame of it is that such action would only hurt the local church, and the people at the top would still be getting their money from someone else.

Is there a way forward?

-- Anonymous, April 27, 2004

In the 10th Episcopal District, both Bishop Bryant and Bishop Young present a written and verbal Financial Report at the close of each Annual Conference and at all of the 10th Episcopal District meetings. All Pastors and members of the Annual Conference, including ministers and delegates receive a copy. Rev. Norris, check your email, please.

-- Anonymous, April 27, 2004

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