Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, February 04, 2005

Tithe Change debate in Minnesota

Adventist Today Special Report

Revolutionary Change Debated in Minnesota

By John Thomas McLarty



Thursday, February 03, 2005. Enumclaw, Washington: In preparation for the April 17, 2005, Minnesota Conference Constituency Meeting, the conference constitution and by-laws committee has received from a congregation a proposal to change the way tithe funds are managed in the Minnesota Conference. The initial decision by the committee was to place the proposal on the agenda and to recommend against its acceptance by the session delegates. At the time of this writing, it is not certain whether the proposal will actually be included on the agenda for the constituency meeting.

The major changes called for in the proposal include: 1.) Qualifying two blanket statements that everything in the Minnesota Conference will be done in agreement with General Conference policies by adding the proviso, "unless otherwise expressly stated in these by-laws." 2.) Recognizing that local churches (instead of, or in addition to, the conference office) are appropriately designated "storehouses" for tithe. 3.) Requiring the conference to return seventy-five percent of tithe received from congregations to the congregations. This seventy-five percent would include the salary and benefits paid to clergy who directly serve the congregation. 4.) Explicitly stating that any use of tithe permitted in the administrative divisions of the church—conferences, unions, divisions, GC—is also a permitted use in the ministry divisions of the church—i.e. congregations. (For instance, since tithe funds are used to pay for secretarial and janitorial services in the administrative divisions of the church, local churches would be allowed to pay their secretaries and janitors with tithe.

Congregations do not often offer substantive input for consideration by conference constituency sessions, however, it is customary for conference administrators to invite input from their congregations in preparation for constituency meetings. Given the revolutionary political and financial implications of these proposed constitutional changes and the history of other congregational initiatives in North America, it is probable that leaders in all the relevant administrative divisions—Minnesota Conference, Mid-America Union and the North American Division—will work to prevent these proposals from being openly discussed on the floor of the session.



The full text of the recommended changes is given below.





Proposed Amendments to the Bylaws of the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

and the Addition of a New Article.



Motion #1: To amend ARTICLE II of the Bylaws of the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventist, as set forth below.

ARTICLE II RELATIONSHIPS

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43 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All purposes and procedures of this Conference
44 shall be in harmony with the working policies and principles of the General Conference of
45 Seventh-day Adventistsx, the North American Division, and Union Conference unless expressly stated in these Bylaws.



Motion #2: To amend ARTICLE XII of the Bylaws of the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventist, as set forth below.


ARTICLE XII FINANCE

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345 Policies. The tithes and all other funds shall be used in harmony with the financial
346 policies of the North American Division of the General Conference of Seventh-day
347 Adventists and the Union Conference except as permitted in these Bylaws and, in the case of
348 donations, its use shall be in harmony with the specifications of the donors and in accordance
349 with applicable state and federal laws governing the use of charitable contributions.



Motion #3: To add the following ARTICLE to the Bylaws of the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. The new ARTICLE shall be implemented and in full operation by September 1, 2005.



ARTICLE XX TITHE



In Malachi 3:8 God directs His people to bring "all the tithes into the storehouse". Notwithstanding any other article or provision in these Bylaws each local church or company is the collection point for tithe and each serves as an individual "storehouse".



Section 1. Handling of Tithe. One hundred percent of collected tithe shall be returned to the Conference Treasurer within 45 days of receipt. The Conference Treasurer shall account for these funds using Generally Accepted Accounting Standards and identify each storehouse from which the funds are received.

Section 2. Use of Tithe. A permitted use of tithe at the administrative level is a permitted use of tithe at the storehouse. As codified in the Working Policies of the North American Division (NAD) tithe may be used to sustain personnel who are directly engaged in soul-winning work and/or by people who serve in a supporting role. In addition, according to NAD Policy tithe "may be used for operating expenses" used by these personnel. In practice tithe is used and may be used for: salaries (pastoral, teaching, secretarial, janitorial); expenses associated with soul-winning and disciple making; operating expenses related to these activities.



Section 3. Distribution of Tithe. As a trustee and fiduciary of remitted tithe, and other assets belonging to storehouses, this Conference shall annually return to each storehouse a minimum of 75 percent of all tithe collected at that storehouse. Salaries and employee benefits paid to personnel hired by this Conference directly for each storehouse is included in this 75 percent. This Conference may retain a maximum of 25 percent of each storehouse’s tithe to cover expenses they incur in administering human resource functions and benefits for the sisterhood of churches, accounting, other administrative costs. The portion of the tithe this Conference retains may also be used to provide additional staff and resources for new missions or to provide additional support to churches and companies.

Section 4. Timing of Distribution. The portion of each storehouse’s tithe not expended for salaries and benefits paid to personnel hired by this Conference directly for each storehouse shall be returned to the storehouse within 60 days of receipt and an annual accounting of received and dispersed funds shall be provided to each storehouse by March 31st each year.



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3 comments:

Jeffrey Sonnentag said...

How about this as a tithe distribution scheme:

90% kept locally for uses decided by locals
10% goes to higher administrative levels
(9% to local conference and 1% to general conference)

A nice clean way to keep things from getting top heavy and bogging down progress. :)

Ron Corson said...

I moved this here since it is more related to tithing and money spend then as the start of a new thread.
At 5:03 PM, Jeffrey Sonnentag said...

Here's some wonderful news:

Loma Linda University Church . . .


Totals to January 29, 2005

Income Expense
Building Fund $6,973,272 $9,355,517

Now they print up glossy bulletins. . . . (Quite cost effective ones I'm sure.)

Al Corson said...

I like Jeff’s idea for dispersing tithe dollars. The work of the world church would be put back into the hands of the local congregations. The administration work would mainly amount to putting together list of world needs and the agencies meeting those needs. Local churches would decide where they will spend their money. It may not be so clean and neat, more like ordered chaos, but I think it would enliven the church as a whole.

I wonder why some don’t want these ideas to get discussed? If the present way is the best then make the case and I’m sure intelligent informed people will make the right choices. As most people don’t like change anyway, you may not even have to make a very good case. Just say, “Because this is the way we’ve always done it!”

I have my own way of voting on these issues. I decide where the store house is and I put it there. Not a popular idea with some but oh well.