When the members of the General Conference Executive Committee gather next week, money will be the focus of the meeting, as is generally the case for their Spring session. This year, however, there will be more to discuss than just the currency exchange rate. The percentage of tithe the General Conference receives from the Divisions is on the table for discussion, because of the vote at the North American Division 2018 Year-end Meeting that the NAD lower its percentage of tithe sent to the General Conference and the suggestion that other divisions raise theirs so that there is parity among all the divisions.
One of the conversations about how this could be accomplished took place in Jamaica during the Global Leadership Summit meeting in February. According to attendees at that meeting, while the other Divisions had no objection to NAD bringing down its percentage of tithe, they had no interest in upping the percentage they give.
To understand what this means, if you look at the 2019 General Conference budget and move the NAD’s contribution back to 3.8% you would take out of the GC budget $23,475,459 which is about the amount of the tithe budget for the other divisions. Then, if you raised the other divisions to 3% and left NAD at 3.8% you would only raise $12,746,500 from the divisions or a net loss to the GC 2019 budget of $10,728,959. The GC could survive that hit, but if the NAD went to 2% and the other divisions stayed at 2%, it would be almost catastrophic for the GC. That is why the conversation of the Division Treasurers in advance of Spring Meeting is very important. What will they decide to recommend?
Meanwhile, the Compliance Committees that were created at Annual Council in 2018 have yet to meet. With the discussion of money front and center, it is probably not a good time to be calling out the various Divisions and Unions for non-compliance. Also, people are beginning to think about the elections that will take place in 2020 at the General Conference Session. That topic is beginning to be talked about in private conversations, too.
While the church leaders are in Silver Spring, there is also a Nurture and Retention Summit scheduled to address the membership losses the denomination has sustained in recent years. It seems there is much to consider this April.
I can sense that the consensus and the underlying message from the world church divisions is to eventually eliminate the GC altogether. It makes sense as the GC in the recent past has morphed into a papal-like authority that has polarized our church. I would be supportive of such move to eliminate the GC layer. It would only be appropriate for the NAD to assume essential services that would be lost with the closure of the GC. Perhaps, the GC president as we know it now would be “promoted” to be NAD VP for world evangelism.
The third world divisions with their tribal, patriarchal, macho, misogynistic, medieval mindsets stymie the more enlightened divisions desire for ethical treatment of, and equality for our clergywomen.
If these obstructing entities wish to have equal voting rights at the GC they.need to ante up an equal percentage of their tithe to the GC as do our western divisions.
You want equal input of ideas/ votes / clout , brethren, then pay your EQUAL fair share to the GC budget!
The Boston Tea Party initiated this equity / fair shake / good faith idea centuries ago.
It would be great if this NAD tithe shift were the smaller snowball that rolls downhill, gaining momentum and more snow as it rolls, becoming a big snowball.
I believe we are upside down with our financial model. Instead of sending fixed percentages of tithe along to other organizational layers, we should assume the money belongs close to home. We need to be making financial allocation decisions close to the givers, not far from the givers.
For one possible example, maybe all the tithe needs to reside in the local Conference. The GC, Divisions, and Unions would propose operating budgets that would be approved by the Conferences collectively. That would be all the money the GC, divisions and unions would get on which to operate. Every layer would have to justify itself and its activities continually. Everything else stays close so, in effect, the collective churches would have control of the money stream of the whole church. I suspect there is a lot of money spent on a lot of stuff in the bureaucracy that the churches would kill off if they had the vote.
There could be other desirable examples, but any model should have the money close to home, not with distant decision makers. It would be interesting to see what kind of programs,advocacies, offices and functions would just vanish in this sort of model. And who would miss them?
The conference and union conference structures in NAD were set up more than one hundred years ago. Pre automobiles, pre freeways, pre air travel. Travel in those distant times was arduous and time consuming. Hence it made sense to have conferences offices located close to constituents.
With modern communications, internet, fax, Skype, telephones, it is possible for a stockbroker to live in a Caribbean island —no need to be on Wall Street, Manhattan.
Simarlarly, , Adventist administrative entitles could be consolidated with minimal adverse impact on constituents nor congregations.
These multiple LAYERS consume not just extra salaries, but extra maintenance costs for buildings ,utilities etc.
The problem in trying to rectify this colossal wasteful consumption is entrenched interests trying to protect their own turf.
I thought you were busy enough at your work…
Suggesting that the GC should be eliminated may create a generalized panic in that splendid building, many people going completely nuts and needing to see a psychiatrist right away. Are you sure you have enough oppenings to see them all?..
Not busy enough to ignore our “beloved” church. Just imagine taking over the whole GC building for a mental health clinic, with easy access for our church officers. Each of us with Kim @cincerity and Patti @pattigrant can occupy one whole floor.
NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a group of 29 countries in North America and Europe.
Donald Trump, rightly pontificated that the USA was paying a hugely disproportionate share of the billion dollar costs of running this organization. Pitifully few of the European. countries were donating 2% of their GPD to the defense costs. Now, with intense pressure and condemnation from Trump, more countries are paying their fair share
Simarlarly, the NAD has been burdened with a disproportionate share of the GC expenses. Time for the other divisions to belatedly ante up their equitable share.
I don’t know if there are any prophets around here, but once in a while we see some demi-gods landing on this terrain. They are usually LGTarians who come expecting to poison the site with perfectionist ideas. But it’s always a short stay since they are easily and quickly caught, then they just disappears again.
It is very disingenuous of people to blame the Europeans (and other Divisions) for not paying their “fair share” of NATO (tithe) expenses when they are in fact paying what was agreed to as their fair share. The US (NAD) agreed to shoulder the burden of the major expense when the NATO charter (current funding model) was agreed. If circumstances have changed, renegotiate the agreement but don’t criticise them for paying what was agreed.
You hit the nail on the head about entrenchment of practice. Back in the 70’s 80’s when the discussion of downsizing Administration in North America, a few unions did downsize by combining conferences and closing academies, but not as much as was practical. Some presidents of conferences were for downsizing Unions, until they became union presidents.
If businesses spent as high a percentages on administration as the church they would go bankrupt.
Regarding the current issue of compliance I was and am amazed that the GC chose regarding a non doctrinal issue to bite the hand that feeds it,----- the three non complying division.
I am not sure why the NAD is objecting to paying a higher percentage of their tithes to the GC. To whom much is given much is required. God has blessed the NAD and we should be delighted to be able to give more to the cause of God.
In the scope of US law the excuse is pragmatic… Since church becomes 501c3, then members are not liable. The church becomes an artificial person that can be sued, and can own assets and property, like buildings… And can copyright IP and enforce trademark law, like logos and brand, which GC does.
So, all of the church buildings are likely owned by the conference. Most people don’t know that as they are paying local offering.
I think people can fairly question the viability of sending most of the collective cash upwards… to an organization that’s far detached from local needs.
For example, our conference channeling back some of the evangelism funds for church planting, which few people in our church would like to get going with… and it’s a year-long application process to get $7500. It’s a joke! Our congregation funnels almost twice that much in evangelism offering alone. Not even speaking about tithe. And then we have to gravel and beg for some of that money back and have to prove ourselves “responsible Stewart” to get that much? It’s absurd!