Maintaining A World Movement

The financial support of the Seventh-day Adventist organization is derived largely from the tithes and offerings of its church members.

By CLAUDE CONARD, Auditor of the General Conference

The financial support of the Seventh-day Adventist organization is derived largely from the tithes and offerings of its church members. The tithe is used princi­pally in the administering of the conference work from the local to the General Confer­ence, while freewill offerings carry the burden of mission and special expenditures.

The offerings may be separated roughly into two classes,—those for the support of mission endeavor, and those for local and church en­terprises. For a number of years the offer­ings for missions raised in the world field have amounted to about twice the donations for local or home work; and the sum of all these an extra per cent of tithe. Another per­centage of the tithe, varying in different divi­sions, but now 9 per cent in the North Ameri­can field, is paid by each conference or mission through the union to the division or the General Conference as the sustentation fund. The General Conference uses the tithe of the tithe from the unions in its adminis­trative support, after paying into the general Sustentation Fund an equal percentage with the union and local conferences.

A number of the conferences and unions in various sections of the North Amefican Divi­sion have found it difficult to carry on aggres­sive work without financial assistance other

(See PDF for figures)

contributions has nearly equaled the total sum of the tithe. Stated proportionally, the tithe may approximately be represented by 3, the mission offerings by 2, and the donations for home or local work by I.

In 3929, which was the peak year in Sev­enth-day Adventist finance, the total of tithe, mission, and local offerings in the world field amounted to nearly $13,000,000. In 3933, which recorded the lowest receipts since 1922, the total was little more than $8,5oo,000. The year 1937 showed an advance again, with more than $12,500,000. Detailed comparisons of the three years, with percentages of the whole, appear on this page.

The Biblical tithe is a tenth of the personal income from labor or other natural increase. The regular channel by which the tithe passes from the individual is through the church treasurer to the local conference office. No portion of the tithe is retained in the local church, as local expenses are met by contri­butions of the members for those particular purposes.

The larger portion of the tithe is kept by the local conference for the support of its administrative and evangelistic work. Ten per cent, or a tithe of the tithe, is passed on to the union conference as its operating in­come. The union conference in turn pays to the General Conference a tithe of the tithe that it has received from the local confer­ences, and an additional sustentation percent­age, besides passing on the local conference sustentation per cent, and in some instances than that received in their own field. To se­cure funds for this purpose and for other requirements, the General Conference has ar­ranged with the local conferences to pay into its treasury, through the union offices, an extra percentage of tithe, varying with the amount which the field receives from its members. At the present time this proportion is 3 per cent from conferences having an annual tithe less than $26,000. The per­centage rate increases for conferences with higher receipts, up to a maximum of 20 per cent for those receiving a tithe of $130,0oo or more in a year.

An Example of Disbursement

Suppose we take an example in which an individual member in North America received an income of $too and paid his tithe of $10. This $to is passed intact through the church treasury to the local conference. And then $1, which is 10 per cent, or a tithe, of the $10, is sent to the union conference for its operations; and 90 cents, or 9 per cent of the tithe, is passed on as sustentation. Now, as­suming that this conference is one receiving an annual tithe of $8o,000, 15 per cent of the $1o, or $1.50, is forwarded to the General Conference through the union conference for the assistance of fields not able to meet their own full support. Thus a total of $3.40 is passed on, leaving $6.6o, or 66 per cent of the tithe, for the local conference operating expenses.

Of the $3.40 that goes to the union, the $1.50 for the assistance of other conferences and the 90 cents for sustentation, are passed on to the General Conference treasury. The union also sends on its own tithe on the $1 tithe received—or 10 cents—and 9 percent of its tithe—or 9 cents—for its contribution to the Sustentation Fund. The remaining 81 cents is used in the administrative work of the union.

Of this man's SID tithe, then, the General Conference receives through the union the extra percentage of tithe from the local con­ference, or $1.50; the accumulated sustenta­tion of 99 cents; and 10 cents of tithe for its administrative expense. Of the latter, it also pays 9 per cent, or nine tenths of a cent, into the Sustentation Fund.

Thus, of the $100 received by the individ­ual on which he paid a faithful tithe of $10, the church has retained nothing; the confer­ence has retained $6.6o; the union has retained 81 cents; the special appropriation fund has retained $1.50; the Sustentation Fund has re­tained 99.9 cents; and the General Conference for administrative purposes has retained 9.1 cents. This is here listed:

(See PDF for the numbers)


Outside North America, the individual tithe is likewise paid to the church treasurer; and the church treasurer sends it to the confer­ence or mission treasurer. The conference or mission treasurer passes on to the union conference or union mission treasury office a tithe of the tithe that he has received, and such extra percentages as may be required for division sustentation funds and other pur­poses according to the decision of the division committee. The union treasurer pays to the division office a tithe of the tithe that has come to him, also the sustentation and other funds that have been received to be passed on. The division officer retains all these funds except the tithe. Because the division office administrative expense is met by appropria­tions from the General Conference treasury, the division does not keep the tithe of the union tithe that it has received, but passes this on to the General Conference headquar­ters office.

—To be continued in September


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By CLAUDE CONARD, Auditor of the General Conference

August 1938

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