The treasurer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Paul Douglas, told members of the General Conference Executive Committee (GCEXCOM) that he was happy to report that the state of church finances at the end of August 2021 is much stronger than it was a year ago.
“Several areas on our financial statement show positive trends year over year,” Douglas said, “for which we can only give God the glory.” Douglas’s report, his first since he was elected to his new position in April 2021, was part of the second day of business sessions of the denomination’s Annual Council on October 11.
Among the positive signs, Douglas mentioned a 26 percent increase in cash and investments (to US$53 million) and a 31 percent and a 66 percent decrease in accounts and notes receivable, respectively.
Douglas also emphasized that tithes are 5.2 percent ahead of August last year (7.4 percent over the amounts budgeted). Offerings are ahead 14.2 percent, he added (30.4 percent over the amounts budgeted). Support expenses (those needed to operate the GC headquarters and conduct activities to serve the world field) are 8.4 percent less as of August 2021 than they were a year ago (16.9 percent less than budgeted).
According to Douglas, the positive trends will continue. “Many of the treasurers from our world divisions are reporting year-over-year increases in tithes and offerings,” he reported. Those increases are positive not only against 2020 (a very unusual year), but 2019, he said.
A CONSERVATIVE BUDGET
Undertreasurer Ray Wahlen then discussed the budget for 2022, which, according to Douglas, follows a conservative approach while keeping a focus on the church’s mission.
In his opening remarks Wahlen said he believes that God has brought the General Conference “to a position that we didn’t even dare to dream about at this time last year.” It is something, he acknowledged, that has eased the picture for the 2022 budget, though some challenges remain.
According to Wahlen, one of the items that will most impact the 2022 budget is that the percentage of funds the General Conference receives from the North American Division is projected to decrease from 49 to 46 percent (equivalent to $13.5 million), primarily a result of scheduled tithe percentage reductions.
The office operating budget, or the money the world church headquarters spends to fund programs and activities onsite and around the world, has been capped at $45.6 million, which, according to policy, is 2 percent of gross world tithe from the previous two years. As a percentage, it has remained constant, Wahlen reported.
Finally, he explained that the result of the income and expense allocations is a projected loss of $16.4 million, which results in a deliberate plan to absorb from GC reserves (or net assets) a significant portion of the negative impact of the recent financial disruption. It represents, however, a $5.3 million improvement from 2021.
MISSION, A PRIORITY
In the last part of his presentation, Douglas reminded Adventist leaders and church members that amid uncertainty and turmoil, the mission stays the same. “All church leaders and members must remain faithful in their support of God’s mission with their means,” he emphasized. “When we make God’s mission our number-one priority, He [will send] tokens of blessing to encourage our efforts.”