Financial Reports Top the Agenda at Spring Meeting

It was a relieved General Conference Treasurer Juan Puesan-Prestol who told the Spring Meeting of the General Conference Executive Committee that God had turned around the dire financial situation in which the church found itself last fall. Thanks also to a shift in financial markets there was a $21 million swing in the church’s fortune. It went from a negative $20,180,003 in net assets at the end of 2015 to a positive $1,011,538 at the end of 2016.

North American Division tithe topped a billion dollars in 2016, the first time any single division had passed that level. Total world tithe was $2,270,076,919.

That good news was tempered by the chart showing the growth of expenses at the General Conference headquarters operation in Silver Spring where it has seen a 12% increase in the last two years, in spite of extreme efforts to cut costs. The budget for the GC is “capped” at 2% of the gross world tithe (in US dollars without respect to the division in which it was received), and thus referred to as the Operating Expense Cap. In 2016, operating expenses hit 99.20% of the cap, up from 98.04% in 2015.

The Executive Committee was asked to increase the cap for 2017 to 2.12% and to 2.13% in 2018. The request was approved. Prestol said projections for 2017 look just as challenging as they were in 2016. Part of that challenge comes from the fact that the tithe going to the GC from the North America Division will continue to decline for the next four years. He reminded the committee that they had voted for this decrease, because NAD pays the highest proportion of its tithe to the GC of any of the Divisions (approximately 6% vs. 2%). “We are going to have to do more with less,” he said.

In other financial news, the Treasury Department unveiled a new report: “Accountability for the Use of Tithe” that shows the breakdown of how tithe is being spent. Such reports are going to be required of conferences and unions, too. A pie chart of how the General Conference uses tithe dollars accompanied the financial documents. It lumped together in a category called Other the appropriations to the Divisions, other appropriations, ISE funding, GCAS funding, spending on the 10/40 window, major meetings, Adventist Mission, and $5,778,709 million in other expenditures. That accounted for the largest portion of the pie—58%. Headquarters operating expenditures made up 28%, education got 3%, media outreach 9%, and the retirement fund contributions 2%.

Prestol closed his presentation by reciting the Psalm, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” On the screen at the front, a slide carried the reminder that $45 million is needed every week in tithes and offerings to operate the world wide church.

Bonnie Dwyer is Editor of Spectrum.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7962

I can’t help but wonder why the church’s armory is so intimately connected to financial markets that a “shift” would bring about a $21 million windfall. Is this based on the strength of the U.S. dollar, U.S. stock market, or both? What’s going to happen when the markets shift downward? I also have to wonder which budget category includes legal and lawyer fees.

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The General Conference’s dire financial predicament has been salvaged by none other than a Presbyterian!

The massive post election stock market rally has added three trillion dollars to the pocket books of Americans, and presumably elevated the Adventist church’s bottom line.

As wages go up, ( due to less undercutting by undocumented workers ) , as company profits go up ( due to huge lowering of corporate taxes ), as companies bring back factories and jobs, as middle,class taxes are lowered, with more consumer spending money, the TRUMP RALLY will expand, further improving the financial stability of our church.

So Donald Turmp has salvaged not only Appalachian coal miners, but Adventist finance officers in Silver Spring, Maryland!

RESPONSE TO JEREMY’S "sarcasm "

Jeremy, you clearly did not read my post.
I said there was a massive post ELECTION stock market rally, not a post INAUGURATION stock rally.
The DOW was 18,333 on Election Day, November 8
It closed 2016 at 19,762.
Plus in those few weeks PRE- inauguration, Trump had cajoled numerous companies to remain in USA, or bring back jobs from Mexico!
No wonder we have seen a three trillion dollar gain, in the stock indices post ELECTION!

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Financial stability and health is intimately related to management structures and style. Why can we not revolutionize our structure and style and thereby get cost efficiencies which can translate into more effective outreach?

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If I put this together with one of the observations in the comments[quote=“ezbord, post:3, topic:13302”]
Donald Turmp has salvaged not only Appalachian coal miners, but Adventist finance officers in Silver Spring, Maryland!
[/quote]

I get quite a hillarious result.

Unfortunately the whole matter isn’t quite that funny. Round about 20 million loss last year, round about 20 million gain this year … Indeed @ProfessorKent is right when he wonders about the volatile situation which apparently can change rather quickly - too quickly for my liking.

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“It went from a negative $20,180,003 in net assets at the end of 2015 to a positive $1,011,538 at the end of 2016.”

At the end of 2016. Trump’s such an amazing businessman he somehow managed to save us all before he was even in office. That’s truly amazing… This was sarcasm in case that needs to be pointed out.

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I think we should save this post for comment in a couple of years time, when the true impact of Trump and his policies are known. At the moment it is largely partisan hubris.

As for the increased spend of 12 percent over two years, this appears to be reckless lack of control. USD based expenses should not move much, and movements in other currencies should be offset by receipts in other currencies. I would have expected a real explanation as to the cause of the cost increases, not this sanitised version.

Tithe contribution has increased by 6 percent. Next year if costs are contained the GC will report another surplus. At the expense of the unions and conferences, and the local church.

@ezbord, do you think that the movement of the Dow Jones Industrial Average under Obama, from 8281 to 19827 is also impressive, or is it only noteworthy and noticeable when Trump achieves movement?

@DavidJ not sure if I am missing something, but if total world tithe is 2.2 billion, the GC share at 48 billion is somewhat impossible.

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Too bad it doesn’t “trickle-down” to the rest of us–corporate employees and church employees. Also Adventist retiree Healthcare finances could use a “windfall.”

I can only endorse what James Londis has said. We have a cumbersome structure from the 1901 General Conference restructure serving a 2017 church. Not sure if anyone did the maths - but the vote to increase the cap to 2.12% takes the legitimate operating expenses from $45,401,153,838 to $48, 125,630,828.

I cannot help but wonder if any of the GC Executive actually challenged the motion. It seems to be a bit like Parliamentarians voting their own pay-rise! Surely we could down size the GC to a steering committee with a representative or two from each Division only. Put power back at the Division level and lets actually get on with putting money into the field rather than a very top-heavy administration.

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Tirade lurks in sectarian financial perdition. The General Conference puritan versus the Seventh-day Adventist faithful followers cynic . GC make us do as they think for fear that someone, somewhere, maybe happy. This is always on the suffering side to the cynic of poured sewage righteous indignation push into their ears. Yet, “How long has it been!” since 1901 GC restructure? The cynic who since then smelled suffering, yet, LOL, never smell GC coffins to nail …What fickleness!