West Virginia Conference Budget Update

By Jamion Wolford

The Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA), the Core Leadership Team, and other Conference leadership have been diligently assessing the financial landscape of the West Virginia Conference, considering church closures, Fair Share giving trends, and seeking God’s guidance for new and fruitful ministry approaches. Despite challenges, we remain committed to our mission.

In 2023, over 100 churches closed, impacting Fair Share apportionments by $400,000. At least another 50 closures are expected in 2024, adding $100,000 to the deficit. While most contribute fully, overall apportionment collections stand at just under 80%, with many congregations unable or unwilling to meet commitments.

After prayerful consideration, the CFA and Conference leadership recommend reducing the 2025 budget by an additional $600,000, after the $1.2 million health insurance funding shift. Each ministry team is directed to cut at least 5% from 2024 budget levels. Notable changes include discontinuing employment of campus pastors at three universities and reducing support to the WV Board of Global Ministries.

The Conference Higher Education Team will reduce their budget by $200,000, with the Conference no longer employing campus pastors beginning 2025. This will still leave the Team with $100,000 to facilitate ministries with college students in new and innovative ways. The Board of Global Ministries will reduce their budget by $125,000, and the seven Conference-affiliated mission projects will now receive support based on actual Fair Share apportionments received.

These reductions follow three years of cuts totaling $1.5 million, bringing the 2024 budget to early 2000s levels. The projected 2025 budget removes an additional $1.8 million, pending annual conference approval. In addition, the United Methodist General Council on Finance and Administration plans to recommend a budget for the 2025-2028 quadrennium that reduces at least 38% from the GCFA budget, likely impacting our general church apportionments.

Ministry teams are reviewing 2025 budget requests, due by January 31, 2024. Teams must demonstrate how funds will be used and their ministry impact. CFA will recommend the 2025 budget to the 2024 Annual Conference, shared in the April Annual Conference Workbook.

Every part of the Conference budget reflects our mission in action; our collective support for ministries that connect us all and expands our capacity to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Those assigned the ministry of guiding the budget planning count on your prayers and your witness in sharing how God is leading you and your congregation to support ministries that grow His kingdom.

Please review, pray, and send questions or concerns to jwolford@wvumc.org or 304-344-8331 Ext. 350. Your support is crucial as we navigate these changes to fulfill our collective mission.