Oregon Conference Executive Committee Approves $1.9 million Reduction to Budget in 2020

Editor’s Note: The following article originally appeared on the website for the Oregon Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and is reprinted here in full.

Have you ever wondered how an Executive Committee decides on the details of a Conference Budget? According to North American Division best practice, each year’s budget is to be based on a projected “income” of 98% of the previous year’s tithe. That’s the starting point.

Approving the proposed 2020 Conference Budget was the major item for the February 20 meeting of the Oregon Conference Executive Committee. The “starting point” made that item a major challenge. Since 2019 tithe revenue was much lower than projected, the finance committee recommended a 2020 budget based on tithe revenue of only $32.1 million. That’s close to $2 million less than the 2019 budget, a reality that forced the committee to find ways to reduce the cost of church ministry in the Oregon Conference by $1.9 million.

“The vast majority of our budget (78%) is in personnel costs,” explained Brent Plubell, vice president for finance. In practice, a reduction in budget means we must accomplish a reduction in personnel around the Conference. Here’s how the numbers work out:

• 12% reduction in staff at the Oregon Conference office (6 Full-time equivalents {FTE})

• 6% reduction in pastoral staff across the territory (8 FTE)

• 5% reduction in Oregon Conference Education (6 FTE)

To start, the focus is on streamlining operations so that services to members can remain steady even while staffing is reduced. For instance, two departments in the conference office have positions that have remained unfilled for the last year. Those positions will be removed from the budget. Other office reductions are being made through normal attrition. For local churches, the changes may mean a slight reduction in pastoral coverage. Less associate pastor positions will be available, and in some cases, 2-church districts will become 3-church districts. The goal is to complete these adjustments by June.

These budget challenges are not isolated to the Oregon Conference. At the end of 2019, 58% of North American conferences faced similar budget shortfalls. Looking further into the future, church leaders predict that shifting giving habits along with rising costs will mean the church must become accustomed to doing more with less. “We’re focusing on strategic efficiency for missional effectiveness,” says [Oregon Conference] President Dan Linrud. “The church structure we inherited may not be the one we will pass on to our kids. Yet our mission to represent Jesus remains the same.”

With all the talk of numbers, it is no wonder there have been some sleepless nights for our administrators.

“You want to know what number really keeps me up at night?” President Dan Linrud asked recently. “4.2 million. That’s the approximate number of residents in our Oregon Conference territory. How are 37,000 Seventh-day Adventists going to reach 4.2 million with the love of Jesus? How can we live a life so transformed by the love of Jesus that we naturally Know, Love, Serve and Share Jesus with others?”

It really is all about Jesus. He is the author of our mission. Because of Him, we have confidence that the mission will continue as strongly as ever.

Want more information on what this means? Check out this summary for more details.

WATCH The Mission in 2020: A Message from President Dan Linrud

This article was written by Jonathan Russell for the Oregon Conference. Image: Video still.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/10268
1 Like

I donated MEGA BUCKS to the First United Methodist Church in Portland, Oregon, in 2019 —- I donated ZERO to the Portland Sunnyside SDA Church ( 1200 members ).

Why? Because the senior pastor at the Methodist church is an ordained clergywoman,
—-their local Methodist conference president is a woman,
——their local Bishop is a woman.
The Methodists have been ordaining their clergywomen since 1956 !!

Plus this congregation posts in every weekly worship bulletin:

Our congregation welcomes FULL PARTICIPATION to all

FULL PARTICIPATION implies holding church office, or serving on the church board — not merely allowed to “ warm the pew “ .

When SDA Sunnyside Church posts such a statement in their weekly worship bulletin and ordains Kara Johnsson, and Shirley Allen, their currently un -ordained pastors, I might consider shunting a few dimes their way !

When in my Maui home I attend a church on that island where the pastor is Robin Lunn— a female Robin ! ( unlike me, — I was named after ROBIN HOOD ). She is also ordained !

I also donated mega bucks to her Congregational church and ZERO to the three SDA churches on the island!


Budget cuts are usually associated with individuals who will get terminated. Personnel are where the biggest numbers are located. However, some personnel are much more expensive than others. The administrator who has a big travel, food, and other expenses paid on top of their salary cost more than the “office staff”

It would be helpful to understand just which line items outside of personnel were reduced or eliminated. One thing SDA leadership has had a history of having is the inability to eliminate programs or close institutions. Many reasons for this but usually it’s because the program is tied to a special individual. There is a prime example in our schools including colleges. WWU, PUC, and LSU three struggling institutions, all have cut personnel in faculty or staff over the past twenty years. But don’t you dare bring up closing at least one of them. Instead they barrow from the Union(s) year after year after year.


Hey, if I start new Church, and make the proper statements… can I count on you too???.. :laughing:


I wonder if some tithe monies are being sent directly to the GC with GC “not remembering” to inform the Oregon conference. It happened once, and it could happen again. Does the GC have to be caught on its tracks to be held accountable or a diagnosis of neurocognitive impairment or dementia would get a pass?


A “pass,” uh? … Sure… :laughing:


If you are not an Adventist then it is entirely understandable why you would choose to send offerings to another denomination. If you are an Adventist then your response implies an attitude of resentment and offerings sent by you might not really be considered offerings at all but rather obligations of payment. It is best for you to listen to your heart and maybe just keep it to yourself.

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This is just my opinion but giving to the Lord and his acceptance of our gift is His and only His judgement. Not being a Bibical scholar myself, the way I read the Bible, I fail to see where we are told which church we need to be contributing too.


Yet, the big picture shows a proportionate increase in administrative staff compared to frontline pastoral/evangelistic workers.

What relief could struggling local conferences expect from the upper levels of administration insofar as tithe sharing is concerned?



You state that “ I should listen to my heart “ and that “ my offerings to the Methodists might not be considered offerings at all”.

Really ??
These Christians worship the same God / Jesus as we do,
so why would my offerings to this same God
be considered unacceptable by Him ??

the unparalleled humanitarian group on the planet
— will God find this unacceptable because I do not donate to ADRA ??

For years I would go to the First Methodist Church in Portland,
not to their worship hour,
but because as a classical music lover,
that was the venue for the COLUMBIA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, which used their acoustically good sanctuary for their concerts.
( And also gave the Methodist church some rental income )

Finally, I decided to see what the Sunday service was like in that church.

The worship hour was so SUBLIME that I have been attending ever since!
On a par, musically with our large SDA college church services, with the largest pipe organ on the west coast, a virtuoso organist, a superb choir and bell choir, and soloists…

The fact that the senior pastor is an ordained woman and that gays like myself are welcomed with open arms, has sealed my decision to give generously to this church.

Believe me, there is no “ attitude of resentment “ which you infer.

On the contrary, I am ecstatic, exuberant, exalted after every worship hour ( the 10-15 minute sermons better than the fifty minute boring SDA ones) and the sermons are memorable, non rambling, non repetitive.

Even our larger SDA congregations would do well to emulate this sublime, superb Methodist worship hour.

Plus their outreach to Portland’s homeless population is exemplary.

What more can I say ?

I am thankful to the Columbia Symphony orchestra for having introduced me to this fabulous find.


There are a number of areas we could make significant savings.

For instance divide the responsibilities among capable church members the VICE PRESIDENT of ADMINISTRATION, who is responsible for Oregon Conference membership and record keeping. Many a retired member would be glad to work at a very reduced salary.

There are 2 assistants to the President in the Oregon Conference, trust responsible members to offer their assistance. This would close the gap between Administers and members, which often know very little how the Conference functions.

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The great OVERLAP of redundant bureaucracy is the OREGON CONFERENCE and the NORTH PACIFIC UNION CONFERENCE, a mere hour’s drive apart, on the 205 Freeway.

Each with their own buildings, requiring heating, insurance, upkeep, each with their plethora of bureaucrats, secretaries, janitors, gardeners.

Each dates from the “ horse and buggy age “ pre freeways, pre internet, pre airplanes and pre modern ease of travel, pre ease of communication, making one or the other REDUNDANT.

But each has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

We should be funding pastors / evangelists / missionaries—- not


The First United Methodist Church, Portland,
not only
“ makes the proper statements,”

they also actively demonstrate their outreach
to the LGBT Portland community.

It is poignant to watch elderly heterosexual members
of this congregation, marching in the annual Portland
Gay Pride Parade, holding up their banner,
proclaiming that First Methodist Church is an inclusive,
loving congregation.


Given the trend of Admin/conference cuts across North America, I’d like to see the breakdown of this trend line by division. My guess is a lot of “new Union offices” primarily in the global south are the driver of the recent rise in the Admin line. And surprise surprise, they vote at the next GC… :frowning:


Years ago, the Pacific Union down one state or so to the south decided to cut its duplicitous administrators, leaving it the smallest staff of all NAD unions. The large California conferences were fine, but the smaller conferences surrounding may not have had similar support. Over the years even the CA offices have trimmed staffs.

I am not going to comment on Robin’s @ezbord benevolence to another Christian Church because I don’t want to sound like I am judging his motives. I never met him, we only related online so far. So, I don’t want to be a judge on any of his actions since I do not consider myself one of God’s exclusive representatives who think that have the right to criticize others. I will defer to those who have some “godly blood” running in their veins… :roll_eyes:


"Instead they barrow from the Union(s) year after year after year."

Yes, until the various entities have no more resources, legal recourse, or patience. Remember AUC…


Just curious…what would be the name of your new “church”? :laughing:


It would be safe to say that “shshsh” is most likely SDA and not inclined to suggest giving to those churches not possessing the “Truth”. :slight_smile:


You don’t have to say anything else,. Most of us already got it, most of us, I am sure.
My problem is contributing to a Denomination that discriminates people, especially women. Whatever Denomination that does this is a fake Christian Denomination.
My local church, LSU, does not discriminate, so they get some contributions on a local basis (local budget). I am proud to be part of Lawrence Odonell’s K.I.N.D. project, Kids In Need of Desks. In Malawi. Besides desks for schools I also sponsor his project of annual tuition for girls - all through UNICEF.

All this running the risk of @shshsh calling me a non-Adventist. Well, in the past 40 years I have been, indeed, a Christian before being an Adventist. Which I still am anyway! His judgment of our Christian pedigree remains irrelevant though… :wink: