UMDATA.ORG replaces General Minutes as UM stats resource
The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) is announcing that general statistical information about the church, formerly contained in the printed General Minutes, is now available at www.umdata.org. The IT and Data Services Departments of GCFA, working throughout the connection, collects statistics and has developed a free, online resource that anyone can use to access public information about local churches. Because of the timeframe for vetting information and producing a bound copy, the General Minutes is no longer in print. The General Minutes, first published in 1785 and most recently published in 2008, has been a tool used by church leaders, ministerial students, statisticians and the general United Methodist church for access to public church statistics. The General Minutes was usually a two-year production process that has been shortened because of the development of the UMData site.
Information available at www.umdata.org includes:
- Local church statistics as users of the site can look up individual church information on church leadership, membership, and statistical history.
- A much quicker way to locate pastors that includes historical information on appointments.
- Available annual conference leadership information not previously contained in the General Minutes.
- Quick Facts that give users the ability to select an annual conference and find membership by district, conference or jurisdiction as reported on the local church statistical reporting forms.
Michael Cook, Chief Information Officer for GCFA, said “The development of UMData.org included an intensive review of what we have provided to the Church in the past. This online tool allows us to move forward and provide up to date information. We want to thank Dale Owens and the team of developers at GCFA for their work in developing this resource.”
2014 Statistical Data Released
GCFA has vetted and released the 2014 United States statistical data on local churches in the U.S. The Data Services Department holds the responsibility for receiving, vetting, and publishing the information each year. GCFA Data Services reports there are over 32,000 local churches. There is a slight decrease in African-American and White membership in the Church. The largest church in the U.S., Windsor Village, located in Houston, Texas reported 17,676 members. The highest reported average worship attendance is nearly 9,000 worshipers a week at Church of the Resurrection in Kansas. The United Methodist Church experienced an increase of 8.5% in multi-racial members. Pacific Islander membership increased 6.24%. Asian, Hispanic, and Native American membership grew as well. Globally, The United Methodist Church reports 12,428,000 members.
The Data Services Department will post more reports on attendance and related statistics online within the next few weeks. Much of the data is also available at www.umdata.org
New Treasurers Training
October 26-28 marked the dates of the first ever New Treasurers Training hosted by GCFA. Treasurers, controllers and other financial staff from 27 annual conferences were in attendance at the event hosted in Nashville, Tennessee.
Training and discussion occurred on various topics relevant to the work of an annual conference treasurer and to the relationship with GCFA. Topics included annual conference apportionment calculations; pension fund and benefit plan funding, various tax issues, episcopal expenses, and property trust issues – all as they relate to the role of the treasurer as defined in the Book of Discipline
The training event, which complements the quadrennial training event for several annual conference leadership roles, covered the work of GCFA and the treasurers interact in reporting statistical information and featured speakers on various other topics including being a Christian leader and other topics facing treasurers in their role.
Staff members of GCFA were part of a panel discussion on new developments in software and the Shared Services offered by GCFA.
Virtual Appointments Workbook Software Focus Group
District Superintendents from Baltimore-Washington, East Ohio, North Georgia and Northwest Texas, along with IT staff from the Texas Conference and Bishop John Hopkins, met on October 29 to hear plans for the development of a program that will assist bishops and their cabinets in the appointment process.
The program would replace the pen-and-paper or spreadsheet-driven current processes. It will also allow for placements providing “what-if” scenarios while also getting a view of the impact on appointments. It would provide decision-makers a program that is easy to use. It is scheduled to be ready for the 2017 appointment season.
This meeting is the first of several conversations about this initiative.