Adventist Church Leaders Grapple with Declining Income, Budget Cuts

Faced with troubling projections pointing to steep declines in contributions from most regions of the global Seventh-day Adventist Church as a result of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Seventh-day Adventist church leaders moved to recommend cuts in the world headquarter’s operating budget, including a reduction of some personnel.

The General Conference Administrative Committee (ADCOM) voted in a June 16, 2020 morning session to recommend reducing 2020 Office Operating and GC Administered expenses by approximately 7 percent, having previously surveyed all departmental and entity leaders in the world headquarters about possible areas where expenses could be trimmed. Reductions voted included General Conference departmental budgets, a 50 percent reduction in travel budgets, and the elimination of a previously voted 2020 cost-of-living salary increase. Total savings are expected to amount to more than US$5.5 million from the original 2020 World Appropriations and Allocations Budget. ADCOM recommendations for the elimination of budgeted staff positions will be considered at a previously called General Conference Executive Committee scheduled to meet on July 9.

According to the church’s financial officers, even though all departments will somehow be affected by the reductions, the bulk of budgetary savings will affect in-house operations, or the regular running of the world church headquarters. At the same time, leaders emphasized they strove to keep a strong, clear focus on the church’s worldwide mission.

“The Church is facing four areas of financial uncertainty: disruption of income, disruption of operations, worldwide economic slowdown and high unemployment,” said Juan Prestol-Puesán, General Conference treasurer and the chief financial officer of the 21.5 million member denomination. “The Church is going to be facing these issues for the next 24 months or longer. What is new is the urgency of addressing reductions immediately. We need to act deliberately. However, we deeply regret we have had to disrupt the lives of individuals who have served the Adventist Church faithfully for a long time in the Church’s headquarters because of the economic downturn.”

Human Resource director Lori Yingling affirmed support services were being offered to each affected employee, including a financial package, as well as emotional and spiritual support. “Decisions such as these are difficult and only done after a time of prayerful study,” she said. “We continue to lift up the affected employees and their families in prayer daily”.

Adventist Church president Ted N. C. Wilson, who chaired the June 16 ADCOM session, acknowledged that although these were not easy decisions, they were necessary given the present circumstances.

“This is a difficult experience for us all,” he stated. “Nevertheless, it is an opportunity for us to lean more and more on the Lord. He will guide us; He is not going to abandon His Church. In spite of difficult times, He’s going to see us through to the end. Even though we may face financial challenges, pandemic challenges, and more — whatever we face, we know the Lord is going to take us through because we are living near the very end of time.”

Today’s action is the third ADCOM decision in the last three months to recommend reducing costs at the world headquarters. The first, voted in early April, addressed the restructuring of General Conference income necessitated by the adjustments of tithe percentages received from North America and other world divisions that were voted in October 2019 at the Annual Council of the Executive Committee, the 340-member governing body of the denomination. A second stage of reductions came in May when administration recommended and ADCOM endorsed not filling certain positions which will become vacant when current employees retire or transition to other positions outside the headquarters at mid-year.

This article was written by Adventist News Network and Adventist Review staff and originally appeared on the ANN website on June 16, 2020. It is reprinted here with permission.

Image courtesy of ANN.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/10538

First to go would be the GC conference officers. All of them, no exceptions. The leadership of the world church should be assigned to a committee composed of all presidents of the 13 divisions who can elect their own president on a yearly.

Then expand the tent by validating the women folks and all those who have been marginalized for so long and for no reason.

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Defunding oppressive organizations is trending in 2020. The GC is the tip of spear. There is waste, fraud and abuse at all levels of the organization. Storehouse theology is as corrupt as selling indulgences to build massive edifices in Rome. The priesthood class needs to be eliminated and control returned to local elders and lay leaders.

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Now let’s imagine the savings that would be made if the whole GC were disbanded!!!

For a totally unnecessary and worthless agency, the GC is very, very costly. It only exists due to tradition and to the fact that money pours freely. and generously in its coffers And what do they do, something that is really necessary and meaningful? Anything beyond planning, organizing, controlling, discriminating, and traveling? Not that I know…

I fully support our “par excellence” Dr. Cupino’s suggestion above. He is a pediatric psychiatrist, therefore he knows exactly how to deal with the GC people… :wink: :innocent:

So, if the money is short, let’s start eliminating the superfluous, the unnecessary, the worthless, the inefficient agencies right away. I know…, it’s not going to happen…, but it’s worth to plant an idea!
@elmer_cupino

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I deal with regressive behaviors, infantile thoughts and entitlement, egocentric thinking as is typically found among normal children but pathological when seen in adulthood.

:wink:

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I am not qualified to do psychotherapy with those guys, I have no experience with child counseling, I have worked only with adults… :wink:

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Leadership and sacrifice should always start at the top and in this situation should be spread across a large swathe of the organization.

I would like to know exactly how the austerity is being applied i.e. to whom and what criteria.

We should not be so dependent upon the clergy as @elmer_cupino has pointed out. We should use this as an opportunity to make sweeping changes in the organization and its methods to spread the gospel.

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On a purely pragmatic level…there is likely to be more “rounds” of lay-offs as the congregants in the NAD provides less and less income to the GC overall. No one knows exactly how long Covid is going to stick around nor how many people will permanently lose jobs.

However, like all good businesses (for profit or otherwise) there will always be contingency plan to cut expenses as needed. We all know that those at the top of the GC Food Chain will be the last to go and all those “expendables” will leave first.

But to further iterate on the comment about doing away with the GC…it should be rather easy to eliminate quite a few “redundant” jobs and still not feel a pinch. If they really wanted to “save” there are also “layers” beneath them that could also go. Just a thought… :smiley:

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Is there any current news how local NAD Conferences are dealing with tithe decline? I wonder if in the near future we will see many more pastors with 2-5 congregations? Maybe we should follow the LDS style of local congregations choosing a member to be their “bishop,” while continuing their own jobs and thus serving without pay.

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Tough sell simply because this was never divulged to EGW by God during any of their heavenly conversations.

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About 6 weeks ago the local congregation in our town in the Oregon Conference sent out an email to everyone on the email list stating that a conference call had occurred with conference officials explaining that plans were afoot to combine two or more congregations, each with their own pastor into districts with a single pastor, eliminate pastoral staff at congregations with more than one pastor, and change the status of some churches to that of a church company with no pastor.

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Uh??? Please clarify. I always thought Elmer is VERY independent. What do you know that I don’t?.. Is Elmer actually an undercover GC employee??? :wink:
@elmer_cupino

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oops I meant as he pointed out, sorry about that. I will edit my comment

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:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: I knew something was missing… just had some fun with it…LOL :+1::+1:

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Joseph Smith and Brighman Young must have received different “heavenly conversations,” concerning church structure then EGW.

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What concerns me is that normal church fellowship, which is more then half the reason people go to church, may not return to normal levels for a long time. The impact on church collections may be significant.

Hopefully we will do in time of need what should have been done years ago–scale down the function of Union and Conference administration. First reduce the Religious Liberty Department in half because they failed to declare worship essential and part of the solution to the Covid crisis. To publicly state that spiritually is essential, always has been, to human health and vitality.

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Or that all three received the same conversation but EGW had to reach out to others to describe what only she herself heard from God.

Unless Jeremy @vandieman has anything to contribute.

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Both Ellen and Joseph received the same vision/message…that all the other churches were wrong except for their group.

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On this I’m going to have to declare a disagreement and leave it at that, except to say, since you are addressing me with your opinion, that in my opinion Religious liberty has nothing whatever to do with not meeting, per government edict, amidst a pandemic. Those who believe that it does have a great deal to learn about what RL actually is and is not. No, I’m not going to address the issue further here. I’ve done enough of that over the last several months and have discovered that a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. There’s enough “addressing” everywhere else and the opportunities to learn the difference are readily available for the discerning mind.

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Let’s just quit sending money past the local conference. The bureaucracy will then figure out what it has to do.

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