by Monte Sahlin
From AT News Team, April 28, 2014
Last year in June the leaders of the General Conference (GC) of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination and its North American Division (NAD) asked the boards of Pacific Press and Review and Herald Publishing Association (R&H) to consider a merger that would result in publishing and production efficiencies. The boards of both publishing houses expressed a readiness to study and respond to a detailed merger proposal and a taskforce was convened to develop the details of the plan, including GC and NAD representatives as well as management from both publishing houses.
On August 4 it was announced that the taskforce had been cancelled. There were still significant problems with the viability of the publishing ministry, as outlined in a confidential report that Adventist Today obtained a copy of and summarized in news reports. For reasons that were not clear the development of a merger plan was ended.
More than one opinion piece in Adventist Today and other publications pointed out that if the number of publishers in the Adventist community were reduced, it might result in less information, fewer viewpoints available to the membership at large as well as pastors and church administrators. There was little evidence that this concern was widely shared among denominational leaders.
Early in 2014, the board of R&H adopted drastic cuts in budget, personnel and new titles. In reporting this news, Adventist Today also found that the GC had arranged a cash infusion in the Fall by using reserve funds to purchase some of the land on the R&H campus.
In contrast to the situation at R&H, Pacific Press announced last week that it had a fund of $1 million available to invest in "new, creative, and/or innovative" outreach projects in partnership with "ministries" that seemed to include both denominational units such as congregations, conferences and institutions and independent ministries affiliated as "supporting" groups through Adventist-laymen's Services and Industries (ASI). The funding program was named, "A Million Streams of Light," according to the announcement from Pacific Press, and an application form and grant guidelines are available on the publisher's web site.
On Friday (April 25) a news release from Pastor Orville Parchment, assistant to the GC president, announced that a proposal is under development to maintain two publishers, "one attached to the General Conference and the other attached to the North American Division. The unit attached to the General Conference would not operate printing and production facilities. Instead, the printing and production needs of this house would be entrusted to the North American Division’s publishing house."
The announcement stated that on the previous day the GC and NAD "administrations" had asked the two publishing house boards "to indicate their readiness to receive a formal proposal" in a written request signed by both Wilson and Pastor Dan Jackson, the NAD president. The two presidents stated that “the publishing ministries will be a dynamic part of the [denomination] and neither … the Review and Herald nor the Pacific Press, has a strong future without an integral involvement with the NAD and its mission outreach.”
It is unclear if there was some kind of joint meeting last week, perhaps a teleconference or Web conference, but the news release stated that "both boards have responded positively." It concluded, "Within the next few weeks the specific details of a re-structuring plan will be completed and submitted to the boards for their response."