Economy Forces Economies
in Church Operations
Salary increases to be sidelined in 2009, leaders say
BY MARK A. KELLNER, News Editor
mployees of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America – including workers at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland – will not see a cost-of-living increase in 2009, divisional church officials decided November 9.
The move came during the North American Division’s year-end meeting, a gathering of local church leaders and lay members from the home division of the world church. Because General Conference employees follow the NAD wage scale, decisions made in the division affect GC salaries.
“We will not do anything reckless, we are in uncharted waters, but we do need to make some adjustments to our budget,” NAD Treasurer G. Thomas Evans said in presenting the budget report. “It’s time that we begin to pull back.”
Invited to address the group, Robert E. Lemon, General Conference Treasurer, affirmed the importance of NAD’s contributions to the world church’s financial picture: “I would like to express great appreciation on the part of the world field for what NAD’s generosity means to the work around the world,” he said.
At the same time, Lemon acknowledged that the planet faces a difficult time: “The economy as it is right now is certainly having a great effect on North America … . We’re so interrelated with out economies now, and with importing and exporting; if the United States sneezes, the world catches a cold.”
Although NAD recorded $896.6 million in tithe for 2007, a 57-percent increase from $569 million in 1998, it’s not known how 2008’s tithe picture will develop. A national recession, in which unemployment rose to 6.5 percent in October with 10.1 million Americans out of work, will have an impact on the million-member Seventh-day Adventist family.
Missions giving remained firm, Evans noted: in 2007, Seventh-day Adventists in North America gave $24.1 million for missions, a slight increase over the $22.3 million donated in 2006.
Del Johnson, an NAD associate treasurer who manages the church’s retirement program, said the defined benefits pension plan, which covers about 15,000 retired NAD and GC workers is not reaching its investment return goals in 2008, but said his group would wait a year before determining whether or not to ask the division for a larger financial contribution to cover costs.
In response to a question, Johnson said the NAD contract with American International Group’s VALIC unit – a Texas-based firm that manages GC pension-fund accounts – was up for renewal in 2009, and the retirement board would decide whether a new manager would be necessary. Johnson stressed that VALIC’s assets were insulated from the reach of parent AIG, which is receiving $150 billion in financial assistance from the U.S. government.