California-Nevada Sets New Record in Giving to the AUF

It’s the middle of the financial year and there are already two firsts for the California-Nevada Conference and Africa University to celebrate. California-Nevada has invested 100 percent of its asking to the Africa University Fund (AUF) apportionment. It is also the first annual conference to achieve this milestone for 2016.

“Africa University is one of those ministries that really touches people’s hearts and helps them to see the impact of their giving,” said Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr., who is preparing to retire on August 31st after serving the San Francisco Episcopal Area for the past eight years. 

Conference treasurer, J. Diane Knudsen agrees that in California-Nevada, support for the university is strong. “Africa University has a solid reputation,” said Knudsen. “United Methodists are still proud of it.”

The California Nevada Conference took deliberate steps to strengthen giving to the Africa University and other connectional ministries. The conference prioritized increasing the level of support for general church funds in its budget process. Led by Bishop Brown and its Council on Finance and Administration, California Nevada implemented a tithe model for local church giving in 2014. Instead of a fixed apportionment figure based on operating expenses, churches were asked to tithe—that is, invest 10 percent of their operating income at the general church level.

“The change to a tithe decreased the amount we were asking from most large churches, so that decreased receipts immediately,” said Knudsen. “But the tithe model has created goodwill that motivates more churches to participate more fully in their connectional giving.”

For California Nevada, the overall effect of these changes has been positive. Leaders note that congregations are investing more in ministry beyond the local church and that generally, there’s more trust and better stewardship. At the end of 2015, the conference found that it had budget savings and decided to invest a portion of those funds in the Africa University Fund apportionment for 2016.

With success on its goal for Africa University, there’s growing confidence in California-Nevada that if every church participates in tithing, the goal of investing at 100 percent in all the general church funds will be realized.