• The I Will Go slogan for the current General Conference strategic plan may as well have doubled as the theme for the 2021 General Conference Spring Meeting as two major retirement announcements preceded the April 13-14 Zoom event.
    • On April 12, Adventist News Network (ANN) tweeted the news that Juan R. Prestol-Puesán, the GC treasurer, would be retiring.
    • The announcement was the second senior GC retirement announcement in less than a month.
    • On March 31, General Conference Executive Secretary G.T. Ng announced he would retire on June 1, 2021.
    • Both leaders were recognized early in today’s (April 13) meeting by GC President Ted Wilson who admitted: “I’m feeling a bit alone right now.”
    • Ng joked it was his philosophy that it is best to retire while one is still alive: “When you’re dead, it’s too late.”
    • “Come June 1 I will be down to only one master, and that one master will be my wife,” said Ng.
    • Nominating and voting on replacements for both Ng and Prestol-Puesán will take place during this year’s Spring Meeting.
    • The pandemic’s effect on denominational finances was a big focus today: “We started 2020 with an approved In-House Budget of slightly more than U.S. $50 million. With the sudden changes happening in the early months of the year, the GC took measured steps to reduce its operational budget. These actions, taken in the second quarter of the year, had the effect of reducing the operating budget to U.S. $46.5 million. These cuts were painful,” said Undertreasurer Ray Wahlen, reporting on 2020 finances.
    • Tithe income for the General Conference fell by 3 percent ($2.7 million) in 2020.
    • Some reasons given for this drop in tithe include a pre-planned reduction in tithe by the North American Division (from 6.1 percent to 5.85 percent) and major currency devaluations in Brazil and Mexico.
    • “When comparing 2019 to 2020, we can see that the U.S. $29.9 million decrease in income was offset by reducing expenses U.S. $17.1 million and shifting transfers by U.S. $7.1 million. This provided a bottom line that was U.S. $5.7 million less than 2019 but still slightly more than break-even for the year,” said Wahlen.
    • World Mission Offerings were dealt a severe blow during 2020. The total was down $14.9 million, a drop of 20 percent from 2019.
    • “This area of giving merits urgent, comprehensive study to determine the causes – such as the possibility of changing attitudes regarding donations to mission and the need for giving-opportunities that disappear when on-site worship services are cancelled,” said Wahlen.
    • Church leaders voted on a plan to convene a Special General Conference Session on January 18, 2022, “for the sole purpose of amending the General Conference Constitution, Article V, by adding a new Sec. 4. to allow for electronic participation.”
    • This proposed amendment would allow for electronic participation to count as presence in person and attendance at GC Sessions. It would also allow votes cast remotely the same validity as on-site votes.
    • The motion to convene the special General Conference Session on January 18, 2022, was approved 168-3.
    • A motion to reduce the total number of regular and at-large delegates to the January 18, 2022 special GC Session to 400 was approved 170-1.

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