Emily Graber Elected as New Conference Treasurer at AC2023

Emily Graber Elected as New Conference Treasurer at AC2023

June 14, 2023

It’s official! Emily Graber was elected Treasurer of the Iowa Annual Conference at the 2023 Iowa Annual Conference Session with an overwhelming majority vote. Her election was effective immediately. Graber has been the Interim Conference Treasurer/Director of Administrative Services since June 2022 after Maggie Biggs retired. 

Graber has worked for the Iowa Conference since 2014 as a Senior Staff Accountant and was promoted in 2020 to Controller and Assistant Treasurer. She graduated from Buena Vista University and became a Certified Public Account in 2000. Prior to working for the Conference, she worked as an accountant, internal auditor, and controller.

“This past year has been a season of change for my family, for Conference Staff, and for all of you serving as clergy or lay at our local churches,” said Graber in her report to the Annual Conference.

Graber recalled how she thought she would be more prepared for a season of change when her second son, Gabe, graduated high school in May but quickly learned that seasons change no matter how you prepare. She compared that to transitioning into the Interim Treasurer after Biggs retired. 

“Maggie did an excellent job as Conference Treasurer and left big shoes to fill. Unlike having another high school graduate, I KNEW I wasn’t fully prepared for this role, but I also knew with the support of my coworkers and board members, I would have the tools that I needed,” said Graber.

Graber thanked the Administrative Services team, the Committee on Finance and Administration Board, the Board of Trustees, and the Audit Committee for their support.

“Very soon after I took over as Interim Conference Treasurer in August, it became clear that this was going to be a season of Disaffiliation for the Iowa Conference,” said Graber.

As of May 23, 2023, Special Called Annual Session, 84 churches have been approved for disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church, effective June 30, 2023.

Graber said this represents 11% of the Conference and is consistent with the average percentage of churches disaffiliating across the United States Conferences. She anticipates more in November, but based on requests for estimates of the cost of disaffiliation, she feels this will be a smaller number than those that have already disaffiliated. The Conference will receive about $2.2 million in apportionments related to these disaffiliations, and CFA has approved including 50% in each of the 2023 and 2024 budgets.

“As a Conference Staff, we don’t take these disaffiliations lightly. Each request made, and churches that pursued disaffiliation weighed heavily on all of us. As with my son’s high school graduation, I feel a deep sadness for those churches ending their time as a United Methodist congregation but also want to wish them nothing but the best as they continue God’s work outside of the Iowa Conference,” said Graber.

Graber went on to highlight other changes in the seasons in 2022 where the Iowa Conference:

  • Ended the Contingency Plan midyear 2022 and moved into a season of granting funds based on actual apportionment receipts
  • Local churches paid $5.9 million, which was 72% of the total apportionment ask in 2022—down from 80% collected in 2021
  • Forwarded the actual General Church apportionments received, about $1.5 million in 2022
  • Ended 2022 with $5.7 million in working capital reserves

As for Apportionment data, Graber reported that out of 724 churches, 437 paid 100%, representing around 60% of all of the churches in the Iowa Conference—very similar to 2021. Eighteen paid greater than 80%, one hundred paid greater than 20%, forty-four paid up to 20%, and one hundred and twenty-five churches paid $0 of their total apportionments. The Finance and Administrative staff analyzed the churches seeking disaffiliation and unpaid apportionments during the disaffiliation process. It was common for most of them to fall in the zero or up to 20% of apportionment paid categories. Based on this analysis, she is hopeful for higher apportionment collection rates in 2023. 

Graber presented a high-level analysis of apportionment dollars spending at the Conference level. In 2022, the Iowa Conference spent 34% of its total expenses on Support Services and 66% on Program Services. And following the Contingency Plan, the granting agencies limited funds granted based on actual and projected apportionment receipts, which was 72% for the year. She said the 2022 financial audit is finalized and can be found here.

“Seasons of change for the Iowa Conference isn’t something new to us or other Conferences. Since 2012 we have reduced Conference Staff FTEs, or Full-Time Equivalent employees, from 53 to 39, a 28% reduction,” said Graber. 

During that same period, the apportionment budget decreased from $15.6 million to $8.6 million, a $9 million decrease and a 45% reduction. Despite an 8% decrease in actual apportionments received and also accruing the full Boy Scouts Survivor Fund payment of $526,000, the Iowa Conference maintained a $5.7 million balance in the working capital reserve, thanks to the PPP loans received and the time the Conference was on the contingency plan.

“As Conference Staff, we take the responsibility of being good stewards of the resources entrusted to us very seriously. While we reflect on the past and look forward to the future, I consider it a blessing to serve the Iowa Annual Conference as Treasurer during all of these seasons,” said Graber.

View the presentation graphics here:

Treasurer’s Report to AC 2022 - PowerPoint Slides

Treasurer’s Report to AC 2022 - Statistical Graphs