North American Division (NAD) Treasurer Randy Robinson’s report on Monday morning, November 2, was one of the more hotly anticipated parts of the division’s 2020 year-end meetings. And, all things considered, the financial news wasn’t that bad.

  • Robinson said 2020 was going well until COVID but painted a positive picture of how the church had responded with a major uptick in online giving via AdventistGiving after the pandemic hit (online giving went from 22% of total giving to almost 60%.)
  • The NAD’s $10 million stimulus to help churches and other denominational entities was matched, almost dollar for dollar, by funds from unions. This resulted in employees’ being largely retained and ministries’ continuing, albeit with adjusted budgets and using virtual platforms.
  • NAD operating assets, liabilities and net assets held steady through 2019.
  • The division was in a good place ahead of the coronavirus pandemic with 92% of recommended working capital available in 2019 and 234 days of cash available. This days-of-cash metric stands for how many days of operating expenses the NAD could pay for out of pocket at any given moment.
  • 2020 tithe figures (based on unaudited data) were surprisingly strong. Year-to-date tithe was only down 0.74%. Four unions actually had higher tithe this year than last.
  • Income this year is under budgeted levels by almost $5.7 million and net tithe income is under budget by about $4.5 million.
  • Expenses were contained and are under budget by over $1.1 million.
  • Total cash and investments sit at $76,178,605, up $11,177,531 from last year.
  • The NAD currently has 77% of recommended working capital, and 168 days of cash are available.
  • The division took in over a billion dollars in tithe annually from 2016-2019. The expected 2021 tithe is budgeted for over a billion.
  • Robyn Kajiura from the General Conference Auditing Service was up next, sharing the fun fact that the auditing service had a 50/50 gender split, as far as personnel was concerned.
  • Of NAD entities with completed audits, 89% had a standard/unqualified report in 2019, representing a 6% uptick from 2018.
  • Policy compliance was also better in 2019 than it was in 2018. That said, a full 71% of reports included violations in core financial policies. Time to turn that smile upside down?
  • After a lunch break there was a significant switch of gears featuring an afternoon discussion on biblical justice and ethics in the light of social unrest.
  • Panelists tacked this question: “What is the biblical response of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the North American Division in times of social unrest, discrimination and injustice?”
  • Dr. Peter Bath, vice president of Missions & Ministry at Kettering Health, called for the church to be engaged on social issues and not just in words.
  • General Conference Vice President Dr. Ella Simmons stressed the denomination was doing far too little to seek social justice, pointing to the irony of such inaction by a community that seeks distinction as a “peculiar people.”
  • Discussion panelists referenced Adventist pioneers who were abolitionists and who participated in the underground railroad. There was a strong feeling that the Adventist Church has strayed from this early focus on justice.
  • Dr. Leslie Pollard, president of Oakwood University, called for a “space for the Adventists who see activism as their calling,” saying “collective action on the part of the church is what is required at this time.”
  • A toolkit of resources for righting systemic racism has been compiled by the NAD and is available here: https://www.nadadventist.org/resources-racial-justice
  • “Let us not die the death of irrelevance in this trying time,” prayed the NAD’s Director of Human Resources, Orna Garnett, as the afternoon session closed.

Below is a video of the afternoon social justice discussion:

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