Adventist Leaders to Begin Shift
in Tithe-source Formula
Plans start to reduce North American Division’s contribution in 2013 (Posted April 19, 2012)
BY MARK A. KELLNER
, News Editor (The Spring Meeting Devotional Messages)
he formula for contributions by world divisions to the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists will change in 2013, if suggestions recommended by global church leaders on the concluding day of the movement’s Spring Meeting are adopted later this year.
TREASURER’S REPORT: Pastor Robert E. Lemon is treasurer of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Here, he delivers the Treasurer's Report during Spring Meeting at the Adventist Church headquarters on April 18, 2012. [PHOTO: A.Oliver/ANN]
By 2020, the North American Division would annually contribute 6 percent of its gross tithe receipts to the General Conference budget, down from 8 percent today. The question of whether the reduction in the contributions from the North American Division will be offset by some increase in the contributions from the other 12 divisions, which contribute 2 percent, or by a reduction in expenses and appropriations will be reviewed by a commission that is being formed to study the matter and report back to the 2014 Annual Council, said Robert E. Lemon, General Conference treasurer.
“This request will allow the North American Division to carry out its mission goals, and the funds will be used to advance the work throughout the division,” said Tom Evans, treasurer of the North American Division, in a statement. “The North American Division has been blessed in being instrumental in the growth of the world church since its inception,” Evans added.
Because an adjustment in the contribution percentage is a matter of policy, leaders explained, it can be voted only at an Annual Council, next slated to take place in October 2012 at the world headquarters. For now, church leaders have authorized the General Conference’s Treasury Department “to prepare the budget for 2013 based on the one half of one percent reduction included in the first year of the eight- ear phase-in of the proposal on the assumption,” that the change will be made, said Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson, General Conference president.
In explaining the move, Lemon said the North American Division, or NAD, the region where Adventism was born, “needs to remain strong. … In addition to that, every part of the world considers NAD to be their territory, and they come and raise funds in NAD. We have to understand the level of commitment NAD has given over the history of the church to mission and continues to give.”
After the measure was approved on a voice vote, Wilson said, “Let me underscore the appreciation on the part of the world field and the General Conference for the generosity on the part of the North American Division for decades. We do value it and appreciate it.”
QUESTION ANSWERED: Juan R. Prestol is the understander of the Adventist world church. Here, he addresses a question from the floor at Spring Meeting at the Adventist Church's world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States. [photo: Ansel Oliver/ANN]
In other actions, church leaders voted to approve a “Client Identification and Cost-Sharing Action Plan” for the General Conference Auditing Service, or GCAS, which would require all church entities to share a portion of the cost of their audits, which, other than for the North American Division, are born by the General Conference. In identifying the client list there may be some small organizations where employing local auditors may be appropriate and more economical.
The 35-year-old GCAS operation is currently tasked with financial-compliance audits of many church operations around the world, from divisions to remote clinics staffed by one or two people, said Lemon. While the North American Division pays for its audits, the General Conference pays for most of the rest, and the current level of funding is $8 million short of being sufficient to cover all the audits annually. Sharing the costs will help in providing the funds needed to assure all the audits are completed, he said.
“This is a very comprehensive and needed action, but it's complicated,” Wilson noted during discussion of the measure. Passed on a voice vote, further plans are to be discussed at Annual Council.
In other financial news, Lemon reported that even when adjusted for the change in exchange rates to the U.S. dollar and the extra Sabbath in 2011, tithe from divisions other than North America was up 10.3 percent and Mission Offerings up 12.3 percent over the previous year. In North America tithe was up 2 percent and Mission Offerings down 2.8 percent when adjusted for the extra Sabbath. He also reported that the General Conference operated in 2011 at $8.7 million below the operating cap for headquarters operations. The Spring Meeting leaders voted to allocate $15 million from the savings on the previous year’s operations to a variety of outreach and development projects aimed at reaching non-Adventists and strengthening church members in their faith walk.