United Methodist Stewardship Creed



Approved by 1988 General Conference

“We believe in God, Creator of the world; and in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of creation. We believe in the Holy Spirit, through whom we acknowledge God’s gifts, and we repent of our sin in misusing these gifts to idolatrous ends.”

From “The Social Creed” of the United Methodist Church

We as stewards affirm the goodness of life. We rejoice in accepting the abundance with which God has endowed the earth. We commit ourselves to participate in God’s redemptive intention for the world: that all people should be able to live in peace and to enjoy the days of their lives free from hunger, disease, hopelessness, and oppression.

As stewards, we commit ourselves to love and justice among persons and nations in the equitable distribution of income and wealth. We affirm the ownership of property as a trust from God. We acknowledge the responsibility to share the abundance of creation. We regard the conditions created by poverty to be demeaning to the human spirit.

As stewards, we insist on the efficient management of human and natural resources in the production of the goods and services needed by the human community. We insist on conserving resources in order to sustain permanently the fruitfulness of the earth.
As stewards, we are committed to give generously of our time, money and service through the church to the world. We affirm the tradition of tithing as a disciplined practice of giving.
As stewards, we acknowledge the necessity of civil government. We encourage all people to participate in the activities of responsible citizenship.

We believe that Christian stewardship is a joyful response to God’s gifts: it is a spiritual understanding of the practical and economic aspects of all of life. Our stewardship affirms the redemptive power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and our confidence in God’s final victory in the world.


Apportionments One-Liners



Apportionments are our shared connectional ministries a way to reach out to transform lives beyond the reach of any single congregation.
Not a tax but real, live ministry! Through Apportionments, we sustain vital work through hundreds of channels nearby and around the world.
Thanks to our apportionments, more than 800 fulltime mission personnel work on our behalf around the globe, when disaster strikes, in ongoing ministry and self-development, as the Body of Christ at work in the world.
Giving is an act of faith: faith in God at work through the multiple ministries of the United Methodist Church in the world.
Ministry comes in extended forms, when we give for Christ’s work beyond our local community through Apportionments, sharing through our church’s worldwide connection.
Apportionments are people who serve others in the name of Christ on your behalf.
Apportionments change people’s lives, renew them, save them and give them hope.
Our network works! Apportionments are people committed to Christ through our connectional system of ministries.
Apportionments mean people of faith are in mission for Christ’s church in the world: our way of living out our faith.
“Apportionment” means “a portion meant for others”, in our district, conference and around the world.
Thanks to our Apportionments, the Conference Center is a gathering place for ministries beyond the work of conference staff. In any given year, dozens of groups use the building in West Sacramento, coming from our local churches, districts, conference and denomination. Thanks to you, we have a gathering place to share.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians that our good works cause others to praise God, for this is proof that your deeds are as good as your doctrine. Apportionments allow members of our faith to connect with one another in doing good deeds are the world, every day.
When an earthquake strikes San Francisco, the United Methodist Church is there with relief. When a typhoon hits Hawaii, or an earthquake tears apart El Salvador, the United Methodist Church is there with relief. When a hurricane blows through the Carolinas, or floods ravage the Midwest, the United Methodist Church is there with relief. Our Apportionments help clothe, feed and house people in need, all because of Jesus.

Mission Shares Part 2: The Local-Global Balance


Okay, so it’s an art keeping local and global ministries in a healthy balance. But paying our Conference Mission Shares helps us hugely on both fronts.

To begin with, Mission Shares help us fight consumerism. Yes, our whole society swims in those waters. But the consumer attitude can seep into our churches – like the view that when we give financially we’re buying the church’s services instead of participating in God’s work. We can see ourselves as recipients, even consumers, and that “if some services are good, more are better.” We can assume that the local church exists to serve us, and “you get what you pay for.”

But regular, intentional participation in our Mission Shares reinforces a different viewpoint: that it’s an honor to participate in God’s work in the world. As we hear how they support life-changing situations, they also give us a sense of hope, knowing that we are actually doing something specific to help transform people’s lives.

For example, Mission Shares empower Congregational Development work in this Conference: not only creating new worshipping faith communities, but also helping existing churches revitalize by reconnecting with their local communities. The “Nu Places for Nu Faces” course prepares members to strengthen new churches, while the Conference Lay Servant Ministry equips United Methodist to be a force for revitalization in their churches by teaching, training and leading in all facets of congregational life.

Second, Mission Shares remind us that we are baptized into the global Church. When we were baptized, it was not into a single congregation or even a particular denomination. It was into the Body of Christ worldwide, beyond all partisan labels. When we pay our Mission Shares we give “a portion meant for others” (hence “Apportionments”) so the whole Body of Christ can heal, grow, and transform this world, both nearby and far away from our front doors.

And third, our Mission Shares help us express our United Methodist vows. The more aware we are of where our money goes and what ministries it empowers, the more we can pray for one another, be present to one another in direct and indirect ways, and offer our monetary gifts, our personal service of involvement, and our witness to the power of the gospel in our lives.

All this presumes that God – the true Sovereign of the universe and Redeemer of our souls – really does transform people’s lives through our connectional giving. If you’re still not sure of that, ask any Yellowstone Conference leader about where they see God changing lives, congregations and communities. Then check out http://www.umcgiving.org to glimpse where our General Conference Apportionments go. Through our Mission Shares, we participate in an exciting local-and-global ministry, spreading out from right outside our door, all the way around the globe!

Betsy Schwarzentraub

Written 7/2013 for the Yellowstone Conference UM Foundation

Mission Shares and the Local-Global Balance by Betsy Schwarzentraub is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Mission Shares Part 1: Long Arms and Jesus’ Feet


God doesn’t work just with United Methodists. We can glimpse God’s activity all around us! So why participate in God’s work through our Apportionments, or “Mission Shares”? For starters, it has to do with long arms and Jesus’ feet.

First of all, our Mission Shares really do support mission.  “It’s an amazing thing when people in rural Montana and Wyoming can be part of the things going on in Angola, Cambodia and Mongolia,” says Sally McConnell, our Yellowstone Conference Missions Coordinator.

Yes, our Mission Shares support hundreds of fulltime missionaries here and around the world, but Yellowstone has a special relationship with three of them. We know they’re real people in real situations, and they keep in touch with us. For example, Ken Koome, missionary in eastern Angola, will visit churches in our Conference this September 4 through 16, traveling from Montana to Cody, Wyoming within that time frame. Watch for dates and locations so you can hear him.

The “Mission Inside and Out” event this spring was another great example of bringing our mission connections home.  Jim Gulley, our missionary in Haiti, shared stories about the work being done and affirmed the long history this Conference has with them by providing money and sending mission teams. And local churches brought their contributions, as well. For example, the people from Missoula brought supplies for Family Promise, which helps homeless families, including school and health care supplies.

Second, Mission Shares reach beyond where a single congregation can go. Without our ministry connections, even the most mission-minded congregation only has one arm’s-length for direct, hands-on mission. But thanks to our worldwide network, all kinds of collaborative ministries are taking place, far beyond one congregation’s normal reach.

The Mission Extravaganza at Annual Conference Session this June not only raised a lot of money for Imagine No Malaria, but also raised awareness of human needs and of our great resources when we work together. Imagine No Malaria is an exciting second-mile effort (not part of our Mission Shares) where our denomination has teamed up with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others to wipe out malaria around the globe. But this “extra effort” would not be possible if it weren’t for our existing mission network already in place, church-to-church and Conference-to-Conference, across the United States and elsewhere.

Third, Mission Shares put Jesus’ priorities into action. Jesus’ life and ministry embody love of God through love of neighbor. His Risen Presence and ongoing witness urge us to pay particular attention to people on the margins of power. So our Mission Shares have much to teach us about the gospel (what Paul calls “spiritual blessings”), even as we share our material blessings with them.

For example, together we support the Blackfeet United Methodist Parish, by providing the salary for a pastor who serves three congregations on the reservation. The Parish has a strong youth group there, and provides a clothing bank and other community services.

Speaking of youth and young adults, Mission Shares also support Campus Ministries here in our Conference. The students gather not only for worship and fellowship, but also for personal mission. Just this past January, a campus ministry team went to Haiti to help out.

Fourth, Mission Shares help us guard against turning into a club. They sustain people who live and work in our Conference to help us make connections with others. They help us fight against the tendency to become inwardly-focused, and so keep us being the Church, Christ at work in the world.

One of these Conference resources is Sally McConnell, our Conference Missions Coordinator. She keeps churches connected and helps bring them together to brainstorm responses to mission emergencies both nearby and far away. She raises awareness of needs and resources, and coordinates our responses. “It’s not glamorous, but somebody needs to do it,” she says. “There are good things happening all over, but it’s hard to put it all into words.”

So Mission Shares aren’t just a practical way of doing ministry together. They support honest-to-God mission. They give us a whole network of ministries that extend our reach. And they keep us living as the Church, focused on Jesus’ priorities.

Betsy Schwarzentraub

Written 7/2013 for Yellowstone Conference UM Foundation
Mission Shares: Long Arms and Jesus’ Feet by Betsy Schwarzentraub is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Palpable Presence


What an outstanding experience I had recently — training the first half of our stewardship associates and meeting with all of them by phone! These nine people from across the United States will help teach stewardship and generosity in the local church.

The first event we are offering is a workshop called “Annual Funding and Extravagant Generosity.” The workshop shows church leaders how to develop a plan for cultivating generosity in their congregations, and it explains how an annual funding program fits into the big picture. It also introduces a great, new local church funding resource called Extravagant Generosity: The Heart of Giving. A stewardship associate will lead the first half of the workshop, and one of the Extravagant Generosity co-authors will lead the second half.

I couldn’t resist promoting the workshop we have to offer. But what I felt most when we gathered with the stewardship associates was the presence of God, right there with us. It reminded me of 2 Timothy 4:1 (NRSV), which says, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, . . . I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; . . . encourage with the utmost patience in teaching.”

Persistence and patience make a powerful combination, especially when we have a message — when we have a Person — who is true and loving and working through us (even despite us), right here and right now. The palpable presence of God, through a team of committed Christians — What a gift!

Your partner in ministry,
Betsy Schwarzentraub
Written 5/23/2011 for the General Board of Discipleship
of the United Methodist Church




This Sunday in worship, we received a special offering for Human Relations Day as well as our ongoing offerings for God’s work through the local and connectional (worldwide) church. This act reminded me of a conversation I had this week with a worship staff colleague about the role of the offering in our lives.

The words that we use about our offerings are important because they imply different worlds of understanding.

First, we “receive” offerings; we don’t “collect” them. “Collect” implies a billing approach and a contractual agreement for services rendered. It focuses on taking in money, not on receiving it in order to use it for others.

Second, we “give” our offerings; we don’t “present” them. The verb “to present” is part of the Old Testament language for sacrifices. That’s the whole point of Jesus’ gift of himself for us in his life, death, and Resurrection: thanks to Jesus Christ, no more sacrifices are needed or wanted by God. Jesus’ sacrifice was done once for all people and for all time. (See the Book of Hebrews about this.)

And third, we give “to God through the church,” not “to the church” as an end in itself. By being mindful about our language, we help shape our deeper understandings.

So our offerings are not three things: They are not our sacrifices for God. They are not a way to earn our place with God. (God already loves us as children of God.) And offerings are not just symbolic. Our offerings are meant to be substantial and to come from the substance of our lives: our time and energies, money from our work, our lived-out values, priorities and commitments, all given in gratitude for God’s love already given to us. Our offerings are substantial in another way, as well: they can make a substantial difference in the lives of human beings in this world.

Language is important, but ultimately it is what we do that counts. So when we give back to God some of the resources God has entrusted to us, we come with grateful hearts to participate in God’s substantial work all around us, by giving from the substance of our lives. May your offerings this week of your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness embody the substance of God’s love!

Your partner in ministry,
Betsy Schwarzentraub

Written 1/18/2011 for the General Board of Discipleship
of the United Methodist Church


Brainstormed Ideas for Empowering Stewardship among Young Adults


1. Know who young adults are. Pay attention to them. Ask. Listen. Be willing to change, do differently
2. What motivates young adults?
3. Do we acknowledge “first gift”/commitment?
4. What is the mission of the church? How are resources devoted to achieving the mission?
5. Jesus did not ask for $ too often but did tell “stewardship stories”
6. “Pledging” versus “unpledged giving:” Is weekly offering out of sync with reality? Is “proportional giving” as a statement of faith more relevant?
7. Language of stewardship shift to thankfulness, gratitude
8. “Pledge” as promise? (Use word “promise” instead)
9. How does your gift make a difference? Tell the stories of impact each Sunday!
10. Ask questions about how young adults are in ministry, then tell the story using various media
11. Establish Stewardship Award
12. Work with other institutions / agencies / groups to promote stewardship
13. Promote stewardship as a leadership issue with clergy – Hold accountable
14. Focus on placing younger adults in leadership positions
15. Work to help reduce / eliminate theology school debt
16. Set accountability guidelines for churches to be good stewards
17. Open opportunities for younger leaders / pastors and not be threatened by the change this may bring
18. Communicate the stories of our campus ministries and how they help nurture present and future leaders – encourage “connection” through financial support
19. Offer life-skills class with financial emphasis which could include Freed-Up Financial Living / financial Peace University / etc. – Offer scholarship $’s
20. Encourage stewardship education in theology schools / campus ministries
21. Be in dialogue with young adults about what they need / want instead of what we think they need or want
22. District meetings to encourage churches to create and implement stewardship campaigns annually
23. Ongoing emphasis on stewardship: not budget-based
24. Quarterly ministry “celebration” stories sent by pastor along with monthly statements and notice of upcoming ministry opportunities which they can contribute to consistently. (May be especially helpful for those outside church)
25. Building upon the desire for people to be a part of something positive and one that sets expectations
26. Mentoring others along the “path to generosity”
27. Sharing stories of “giving warriors”
28. Focusing on leadership: capable, competent and visionary and matching Foundation / leadership initiatives with local churches and pastors) (Conferences and Foundations each move towards local church/campus from their side)
29. Creation of a culture that is more “connectional” than “competitive”
30. Development of training resources / advisory boards for local ministry sites
31. Youth serve on local church Stewardship Committees – stewardship planning, serving, Finance Committees
32. Seminary must address these issues to:
+ Develop stewardship curriculum,
+ Reduce debt load for young clergy via commuter costs and length of study,
+ Increase scholarship offerings,
+ Incorporate online education.
33. foundation teaching classes on Stewardship to Licensed Local Pastors and Residents In Ministry group
34. Online courses in Stewardship
35. Do more to talk about seminary – What is it; how to connect to local colleges; talk to congregation
36. Build scholarship funds to enable large scholarships to the best and the brightest (e.g., $15K versus $2K) – Point system
37. Appoint young pastors deliberately and missionally
38. Partnering Foundations and campus ministries for fund development and planned giving
39. Partnership with Foundation, Conference, campus ministry, and local church to strengthen campus ministry
40. Strengthening Intern programs in local churches and Foundations
41. Can we partner with young, promising pastors and the Foundations to mentor them / intern in Faithful Fund Development
42. UM Foundations participate in the U.M. Board of Higher Education’s “Dollars for Scholars” program (where $1,000 given becomes $4,000, when given to U.M.-related universities and seminaries)
43. Wisconsin UMF did a DVD of 6 filmed interviews about commitment to giving. Some interviews went on UMF Web site and the Conference has DVDs available for local churches
44. Example of Western North Carolina’s “Faithful Steward Award” (came out of the UMF’s Stewardship Committee)
45. Example: In North Alabama, the Bishop has focused on young adult clergy, and the four largest churches have pastors now who are under 40
46. Example: North Alabama encourages churches to put young adults into local church leadership; and requires Residents In Ministry two retreats to each have a Stewardship and Mission component and “How to Establish Stewardship in the Local church.” When appointed, all RIM pastors have to have a 90-day plan including engaging young adults
47. Address the parsonage system somehow
48. Open the system to young adult leadership. Help them “lead up.”
49. Help Annual Conference budget decision-makers make the connection with campus ministries impact (put on Web sites, emails, etc.)
50. Campus ministries send a story a month to the Annual Conference Communications people: how has it changed people’s lives?
51. Find out about what Annual Conference pays and who pays benefits for campus pastors and work to make it equitable with pastors
52. Include campus ministries in UMF mailings about stewardship events and opportunities. Example: Wisconsin UMF reimburses cost of Leader’s Guide for Freed-Up Financial Living
53. Invite young adult leaders onto UMF Boards. Example: East Ohio UMF
54. Stop negative talk about the future of the UMC. Focus on exciting stuff, not only in US but around the world; environment; etc.
55. Talk about money for young clergy, including campus pastors. You don’t have to be poor to be clergy.

June 23, 2010 – NAUMF Stewardship Gathering, at
 United Methodist Church of the Resurrection