No doubt many of our conference workers have not had the opportunity of reading the series of recommendations relative to the financial standards of the ministry which were passed at the Fall Council held in Chattanooga, Tenn., Sept. 28 to Oct. 5, 1927. Recommendations dealing with different phases of the ministry, such as evangelism, pastoral work, moral standards, et cetera, as passed at previous Councils, have been placed before our workers from time to time, but this particular series of resolutions deals almost entirely with financial matters. While union and local conference presidents who were in attendance at the last Fall Council will be familiar with these recommendations, we are glad to pass them on through the columns of The Ministry, for the benefit of the large number of workers who did not attend the meeting.
We believe that, generally speaking, our workers are careful to safeguard the interests of their personal finances, so as to avoid personal embarrassment and bringing reproach upon the cause of God. We also believe that our workers as a general class are faithful in paying tithe and, liberal in the support of the cause of God both at home and abroad. The leaders in attendance at the Council, however, felt that the high standards which have been established for workers in the denomination along financial lines, should be reiterated at this time, as a reminder to all, and as a warning and admonition to some who are prone to be careless in such matters.
The resolutions are as follows:
"Whereas, The standards of the ministry in all things should be maintained on an irreproachable basis in order that the ministry be not blamed,'
"We recommend, 1. That our conference and institutional workers refrain from all side lines of business, and give themselves wholly to the denominational work and the ministry of the gospel.
"2. We counsel our workers to arrange their personal financial budgets so as to live within their regular income; and where they do not succeed in so doing, that they be advised to take up some remunerative line of business outside of denominational employment.
"3. Believing that every worker should be a faithful tithe payer, we reaffirm the action of the De Moines Autumn Council of 1925, not to employ any worker who is not a faithful tithe payer. Further, that workers who are known to be unfaithful in tithe paying shall not be transferred to another conference without proper consideration of this standing of the worker.
"4. That workers who continually neglect or refuse to pay their just obligations be advised to take up some other line of work.
"5. And further, that proper and satisfactory arrangements be made by workers for all financial obligations before transference to another conference.
"6. While desiring to encourage every worker to make continuous effort for self-improvement, especially through correspondence courses, we recommend that full-time conference workers, or other denominational employees, do not take residence school work, or any line of study that would make inroads upon time that should be given to their regular duties, without first making proper arrangements with those in charge of their work."
The first of these resolutions is called for because there are, unfortunately, some workers who are not giving themselves exclusively to the proclamation of the gospel, but, for various reasons, feel that they are justified in engaging in some side line of business, which results in a divided interest, and diverts in a measure from whole-souled attention to the object to which they are supposed to be devoting their lives.
In this day of high cost of living, and the growing tendency on the part of the people generally to live beyond their means and to mortgage the future by buying on the installment plan, it becomes very necessary for Seventh-day Adventist workers to adjust carefully their living expenses to their regular income. As the cost of living has increased, the salary and expense allowance of our workers has been correspondingly increased from year to year. There has been an increase of from 80 per cent to 100 per cent over previous wage, while, according to Government figures, the cost of living-stands at an increase of 76 per cent. Therefore we believe that our workers are receiving a living wage, and that with careful planning and economy will be able to care for their families comfortably and avoid debt. As an aid to this desirable end, Resolution 2 recommends the adoption of a family or personal financial budget.
It is recognized without controversy that he who does not pay a faithful tithe is counted by the Lord of the harvest as robbing God. Truly it is most inconsistent to think of a minister of the gospel, or any other worker, who is negligent in this important matter, as being able to give clear, earnest, faithful instruction to the church of God in the matter of tithe paying. And so the Chattanooga Council felt it desirable to reaffirm the action of the Des Moines Council of two years previous, as stated in Resolution 3.
Resolutions 4 and 5 deal with the payment of just obligations. Surely every gospel worker will recognize that honest debts ought to be paid, and paid promptly. It is sometimes impossible to avoid debt. Sickness, unexpected emergencies, or heavy responsibilities, may come upon the worker, and cause him to be financially embarrassed. We would not take the position that it is a sin to be in debt, or that one who has financial obligations to meet is unworthy of a place in the Lord's work. Far from it. But we do maintain that it is the duty of every worker to pay his obligations promptly, or to make satisfactory arrangements with his creditor for the needed extension of time. If the extension cannot be secured, then it may be best to secure funds from some other source and see that the obligation is paid. We believe it is not only possible, but that it is the high privilege and the clear duty of every worker to maintain his personal credit to the highest degree. Every man should guard with jealous care his own good credit; and this can be done by meeting every obligation on time. It was the expressed conviction of the Fall Council delegation that the import of these two resolutions be strongly urged upon workers who manifest weakness along this line, and that failure to meet this standard be met in the specific manner suggested.
It is the desire and purpose that every worker be encouraged in the direction of self-improvement, through reading, study, the Correspondence School courses, the Ministerial Reading Course, and other legitimate and worthy means, but Resolution 6 cautions against the misuse of these helps, so as to guard against encroaching upon legitimate time and funds which properly belong to the active promulgation of the third angel's message.
It is hoped that the carrying out of the spirit and purpose of these resolutions will bring great blessing to the ministry and to the cause of God.
Washington, D. C.