by Adventist Today News Team
A new analysis of income to the Tithe Fund in the Seventh-day Adventist Church shows that over the last decade the share coming from North America has dropped from 61 percent to 41 percent. The share donated in Latin America increased from 18 percent to nearly a third of the worldwide total. The report projects that within five years the total Tithe income from Brazil will be larger than that from the United States.
Throughout the denomination’s history the majority of its funding has come from members in the United States, but that has come to an end. The new reality is not widely known and church administrators have only begun to think about its implications.
The central mechanism for Adventist Church finances has two key parts. Number one, members are taught to tithe—give 10 percent of their income—to a Tithe Fund. Number two, the fund is shared throughout much of the organization. In North America, more than 85 percent of the fund is spent by local conferences, with the largest share going to operate Adventist schools (K-16) and pay the salary and benefits of clergy. About seven percent goes outside North America to support missionaries and their work, while the remaining eight percent provides for the operations of the union conferences, division and General Conference.
Global tithe increased by more than 11 percent in 2011, the latest year for which an analysis is available. The analysis uses sophisticated math to enable an accurate comparison and aggregate view across currency differences from country to country, etc. The totals are reported in U.S. dollars and the report includes an overall index.
In the United States, income to the Tithe Fund increased by 3.9 percent during a year when the national economy grew by only 1.8 percent. It is one of six nations that have become the top sources of Tithe in the denomination, including Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Korea and Mexico. These six countries, out of about 200 nations, provide more than two thirds of the total income for the denomination, though they contain less than one in five members.
Tithe income in Brazil increased by 25 percent in 2011 and by 29 percent the year before. This kind of growth leads to a conclusion that if the pace continues as it did last decade, in about five years Brazil will become the largest single source of tithe in the denomination. Brazil’s economy is booming and rapidly developing while, at the same time, the Adventist Church is growing rapidly there.
The West Central Africa region showed the greatest increase in tithe income, year over year, with an improvement of 26 percent. Much of the increase in this region comes from Ghana, Nigeria and Togo, where booming economies, rapid development, and Adventist Church growth are all present. Southern Africa also had a significant increase of 21 percent in tithe income during 2011, with extraordinary rises in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Global Tithe Index is published by the Asia Pacific Research Centre at the Adventist Institute for International Advanced Studies, the university operated by the GC in the Philippines to educate church leaders throughout Asia and the Pacific region. The project is directed by Claude Richli, a church administrator with an MBA who is originally from Switzerland and has served in many parts of the world. The 2011 report marks ten years for the index and includes decade-long trends for the first time.
The entire 73-page report can be downloaded at the Web site: www.aiias.edu/gti/ There is also a searchable data base which allows readers to look up data on any nation in the world where the Adventist Church has a presence.