With tithe giving up worldwide, there was good financial news for the Executive Committee of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists as the members gathered in Silver Spring on Tuesday, April 10. Net assets are up, and depreciation funds were not touched in 2017, in spite of the vote taken at the previous meeting to make it possible to do so, given the dire financial picture at that time. Treasurer Juan Prestol-Puesan attributed the positive spring report to five things:
- U.S. market remained steady at the end of 2017 moving into positive territory,
- Total gross tithe by the North American Division in the 52 Sabbaths of 2017 was better than it was in 53 Sabbaths in 2016,
- Exchange fluctuation of overseas currencies remained steady,
- Fiscal discipline, holding expenses down, and
- Maintaining adequate liquidity levels.
Gross tithe giving is moving steadily upward. It stands at $2.4 billion, so reaching $3 billion by 2020 is probably possible, he said. The increased emphasis on stewardship in each of the divisions was seen as producing results.
The one major appropriation approved was for a comprehensive plan to establish 50 new congregations in and around a major metropolitan area in the Southern Asia Division. Currently there are four churches with 150 members in the area. The proposed budget for the effort there is $5.5 million, with the GC providing $2,232,410.
Looking ahead, Prestol-Puesan noted the plan to continue phasing in changes in the amount of the North American Division tithe percentage coming to the GC. In 2018, it will be 6.35%. That will drop to 6.0% in 2019, and in 2020 it will be 5.85%. The other world divisions send 2% of their tithe to the General Conference. In conclusion, he rejoiced in presenting the good financial news to them, noting that it might be considered boring, “but boring is better,” he noted, adding, “The most powerful transaction in the church is when a member gives. He creates a wave of energy around the world.”
It was a sparse crowd that gathered to hear this news. Union conference presidents are not expected to attend this meeting, cutting the size of the committee in half. The agenda, too, was slim, filled with routine changes in personnel and reports from departments.
Israel Leito, the longtime president of the Inter-American Division, who recently announced his retirement, was lauded, and then Elie Henry, the current secretary of that division, was elected to replace Leito. Leonard Johnson, currently president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union was chosen to be the secretary of IAD.
In other personnel news, Undersecretary Myron Iseminger has accepted a call to be president of the Egypt-Sudan Field in the Middle East and North Africa Union Mission. GC President Wilson made a major point of saying that this was a move that Iseminger requested, that he was not being pushed out of his position at the General Conference. Hensley M. Moorooven received the vote to take his place in the secretariat.
Norwegian psychiatrist Dr. Torben Bergland was elected as an associate in the Health Ministries Department. He comes from the Trans-European Division, where he was chosen to help the Division address mental health issues. Now the General Conference will benefit from his service. He takes the place of Fred Hardinge who has decided to retire. The Health Department also presented a medal of distinction to MuDr. Milan Moskala, a dentist who has devoted his life to mission service in Bangladesh.
The only discussion during the day came following the report from the Education Department about the meetings it has held around the world identifying needs and priorities for K-12 education in each of the divisions. Ricardo Graham rose to testify to the importance Christian education made in his life suggesting that he would not be there, if not for the years he spent in an Adventist school. Kathy Profitt pleaded for resources for schools. Ed Zinke thought the statement about biblically-based education that was brought to the floor for a vote was good, but needed slight editing to remove what he perceived as three philosophies running through it. Clinton Wahlen recommended that the Biblical Research Institute review the statement before final adoption. The three page statement was then approved.
At 5:45 p.m., the meeting was adjourned. With only three items left on the agenda, Wednesday will probably be a short day.Editor's note: The name of a city has been deleted from this story due to cultural sensitivities.
Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.
Image: Juan Prestol-Puesan, Treasurer of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, presents the financial report during the Spring Meeting of the General Conference Executive Committee in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. Photo courtesy of Adventist News Network.
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