Not too late to report for Ingathering 2016

Drop in numbers attributed to decrease in completed forms, not decrease in actual giving

By Amy Forbus
Editor

While hundreds volunteered on-site for Ingathering 2016, held Nov. 19, many more United Methodists of Arkansas served and gave throughout the year. Much of the focus of Ingathering surrounds one specific day, but Ingathering also tracks year-round service and giving by churches throughout Arkansas. It’s a task that’s getting more challenging, says Conference statistician Melissa Sanders.

“We’ve been seeing more under-reporting from local churches in recent years,” Sanders said. “I have no doubt that our churches are doing good work and serving their neighbors, but when the numbers don’t arrive in our office, we can’t get an accurate representation of it.”

The one-page form, available online (https://goo.gl/gGJ48v), should be sent to the Conference treasurer’s office each year—either by bringing it to Ingathering in November or by mailing it to the address printed at the bottom of the form. It can be completed by any member of a congregation who has access to the church’s information. The tally includes:

  • Non-cash items (such as disaster relief kits for UMCOR)
  • Estimated hours spent in mission and service activities
  • Gifts distributed locally by the church (such as giving to food banks, medical clinics and assistance funds for those in need)
  • Donations sent to the Conference treasurer’s office throughout the year for support of specific ministries (includes a listing of various ministry partnerships and Conference initiatives, such as 200,000 Reasons to Fight Childhood Hunger).

The highest reported dollar amount given to mission in the past decade was in 2009, with records submitted totaling $3,065,788.24. By comparison, the 2016 giving numbers currently stand at $1,937,271.89, the lowest amount of giving reported in the history of the Arkansas Conference since the unification in 2003 of the Little Rock and North Arkansas Conferences.

To view scenes from Ingathering 2016, including interviews with individuals and groups who participated, visit the Arkansas Conference Vimeo channel.