October 15, 2015: Scheduled to continue today, the annual meeting of the Adventist denomination’s governing body, the General Conference (GC) executive committee, ended a day early last evening in Silver Spring, Maryland. A short agenda of policy revisions and organizational housekeeping sparked little discussion in the group and all of its work was done early, leaving members scrambling to move up airline reservations at a time when there were many delays at airports due to a disruption in the United States government’s air travel security computer system.
Some leaders went back to their offices around the world with new worries about next year’s budget. By the end of September, the GC had received $67.5 million in Tithe, according to a summary of the treasurer’s report in the online edition of the Adventist Review. This was “a decrease of $2 million compared to the same period last year. … World mission offerings amounted to $63 million, a drop of $2.5 million.” All together there was “a $15.3 million reduction to net assets in the GC financial statement.”
A major reason for the decline was the recent economic upheaval in industrialized nations. Pastor Juan R. Prestol-Puesan, the denomination’s treasurer, reminded the committee that the stock market in the U.S. had dropped 12 percent, the European market 21 percent and the Japanese market 20 percent. It operates in U.S. dollars, but 53 percent of the GC income is from other currencies.
There has also been adjustment in the level of the tithe from North America that is shared with the GC, as voted more than a year ago. The loss was not due to over-spending on the GC Session in July. A total of nearly $9 million had been budgeted for the large meeting, but it cost the GC only about $6 million because of extra income from groups the rented space in the exhibition hall, rebates from hotels and sales of printed materials associated with the event.
In addition, the GC raised $4.2 million from a special offering for youth evangelism called “Give Them the Keys” which culminated during the GC Session. These funds will be returned to projects in each of the denomination’s world divisions.
Prestol-Puesan said that he would wait until the end of the year to see where GC finances were at before making any recommendations related to budget cuts. Nontheless he warned the administrators from divisions and union conferences around the world, “It means it is unlikely that we will have supplemental budget appropriations for 2016.” These are extra funds for special projects, above and beyond the regular budgets for subsidies to the denomination’s world divisions.