Day two of Inter-America’s Year-End Executive Committee virtual meetings saw dozens of church administrators praying for the hundreds of victims of Hurricane Eta in Central American countries and a few Caribbean islands, the ill among the membership and the hundreds of victims of the Covid-19 pandemic across the church. Leaders also prayed for the Adventist school system, its students and teachers.
Filiberto Verduzco, treasurer of the church in Inter-America, began his financial report reminding administrators and financial officers present in the Nov. 10 meeting, that they bear a great responsibility to take care of the resources God has placed in their hands.
“I believe that the financial system of the church has been led by the Lord to fulfill the task of funding the mission,” said Verduzco. “The Lord continues to help us as we face the problems we are living in right now, we need to let Him lead us and give us wisdom to do the things He wants us to do.”
Eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many lessons learned and there are more challenges to face in the weeks and months ahead. “Just remember that in God we have our only hope, and we will continue to move forward facing whatever uncertainties comes our way,” said Verduzco.
“The uncertainty, the risk, and not knowing when and how much income will be received is all part of the new normal, the new reality that we must learn to operate,” he said. The new reality teaches to live within a framework of financial discipline without losing sight of fulfilling the mission and always making provisions as a priority, he added.
The church member makes mission possible
One thing is clear, he said. It is the church member who funds and expands the church and makes the mission possible. Verduzco reminded church leaders that they must continue embracing technology to optimize resources and operate the church organization effectively. “There will be a need to build a financial platform more in line with the new reality and more sensitive to the challenges of the next five years,” he said.
That new financial platform requires careful decision-making to minimize personnel to appropriately finance the mission of the church, and look into ensuring the 4,000 retirees are protected and continue being part of the benefit plan.
AD Treasurer Filibeto Verduzco shows the comparison of the IAD membership and tithe by decades since 1922.
Reduction of tithe and offerings
As of the end of October, there was a reduction of 22.54 percent in tithe income received, and 28.63 percent of offering funds received compared to 2019, reported Verduzco. It’s already obvious that there will not be an increase in tithe and offering funds coming in during the next two months, he said. He said this is a significant decrease not felt in the division territory in the past 38 years.
Adjustments have to be made to the 2021 operating budget of the Division to reflect a decrease of 22 percent. “It’s not easy to face this financial challenge now and try to fund a major strategic plan for the mission of the church in the next five years, but God has not failed His people and we cannot forget that the heart of the I Will Go initiative this quinquennium is the church member,” said Verduzco.
Appropriations to the fields have continued to roll out. It is a reminder that the church in Inter-America needs to continue to focus on a culture of mission-giving to not only expand throughout the IAD territory, but keeping in mind that mission is about taking care of others around the world church, said Verduzco.
Strengthening the spiritual environment of the member
Verduzco reminded administrators and financial leaders that the focus continues to be on the church member, ensuring that he or she is provided with a spiritual environment that strengthens his or her faith, and an ongoing stewardship program that continues to grow.
A new book entitled “How God Sees Us”, by Vladimir Polanco, focuses on a clear concept of stewardship. The book includes a study guide and resources, and will be distributed across the territory at the start of the new year, said Verduzco.
“Treasury and stewardship work very intricately for the success of financing the mission of the church in our territory,” said Verduzco. “We need to continue to ensure that stewardship is key to strengthening the member and the financial system of the church.”
Executive Committee members approved the Operating Budget for 2021, and the financial statement up to the month of October.
As of October 2020, Inter-America’s working capital was 175.82 percent and its liquidity 153.34 percent, reported Ivelisse Herrera, under treasurer for the church in Inter-America. The auditing committee also voted to approve the audited financial statement for the year ending Dec. 31, 2019, as well as the policy compliance report with its accompanying annotations.
Additional Items voted
Church leaders also voted on numerous policy amendments, were briefed on new action plans of the I Will Go Inter-America strategic plan, and listened to spiritual messages. In addition, new resources on discipling, nurturing and retention were introduced.
Committee members were presented with union video reports on growth and how God has and continues to protect and bless the work of the church during the pandemic.
For additional updates on Inter-America’s Year-End Executive Committee Meetings, visit us at interamerica.org.
This article was written by Libna Stevens and originally appeared on the Inter-American Division website.
Images courtesy of Inter-American Division website.
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