RHPA Officers Re-elected At Constituency Session;
Board Size Trimmed

162-year-old Adventist publishing house staunching money losses, officials said

BY MARK A. KELLNER, News Editor, reporting from Hagerstown, Maryland

The Review and Herald Publishing Association, the 162-year-old book and magazine organization owned by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, is showing encouraging signs of progress in the face of years of financial decline, leaders said at a May 19, 2011, constituency session held at RHPA’s headquarters.

The meeting also saw the revision of the group’s bylaws, including a Board of Directors with 30 members, down from 44, and the re-election of top officers including president Mark B. Thomas. The change in the number of directors, RHPA board chairman Delbert Baker said, was to make the board easier to work with and more accountable.

Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the General Conference and a former RHPA president, attended the meetings and offered devotional thoughts in the morning. He predicted constituents “will feel a settled confidence in what God has in store for the Review and Herald, and for the publishing work.”

CONSTITUENCY SESSION: Mark B. Thomas, right, president of the Review and Herald Publishing Association, and Bill Knott, editor and executive publisher of Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines, address delegates to the 2011 RHPA Constituency Session. Thomas was re-elected RHPA president, and Knott re-elected to the RHPA Board of Directors. [PHOTO: Mark A. Kellner/Adventist Review]
Constituents represented numerous conferences and unions in North America, as well as representatives from church-owned Stanborough Press, Ltd., in Britain and the editor/executive publisher of Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines, which are printed by RHPA.

While reporting losses of $5.7 million for 2010, RHPA vice president and chief financial officer Graham Barham said the organization showed a small profit of $72,000 through April of 2011, versus a loss of $982,000 in the year-ago period. Product sales were $800,000 in the first three weeks of May 2011, and the firm is bearing down on a $1 million sales month, he added.

“The publishing work will go on,” Barham said.

The past few years have been a difficult time for the RHPA, which saw a steep decline in sales, revenues and profits from the previous quinquennium. Those challenges were not unique to Review and Herald; paper-based book sales have declined across a wide variety of markets. In fact, while the RHPA constituency meeting was taking place, Amazon.com, the titanic online seller of books and other media, reported that for every 100 printed books sold, the firm was now selling 105 digital volumes, known as “e-books.”

RHPA also found itself in a difficult situation with its line of credit from a local bank, which wanted to call the loan or attach some of the association’s real estate holdings. Barham noted, as reported earlier (see Adventist Review, May 26, 2011, page 9) that the General Conference has agreed to buy 47.53 acres of RHPA-owned land for $11.4 million, with 80-percent of that amount advanced before closing. That infusion allowed RHPA to retire a total debt of $7.174 million; the balance of monies provided will be invested with the Columbia Union Conference revolving fund, Barham said.

Constituents underlined their confidence in the RHPA management team appointed during a 2010 reorganization by electing the group’s officers to full five-year terms. RHPA president Mark B. Thomas was unanimously re-elected, as were all four vice presidents: Dwain Edmond, vice president, editorial; John Gay, vice president for graphics; Barham; and marketing vice president Dwight Hall.

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