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Oregon Conference Executive Committee Approves $1.9 million Reduction to Budget in 2020


Editor’s Note: The following article originally appeared on the website for the Oregon Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and is reprinted here in full.

Have you ever wondered how an Executive Committee decides on the details of a Conference Budget? According to North American Division best practice, each year’s budget is to be based on a projected “income” of 98% of the previous year’s tithe. That’s the starting point. 

Approving the proposed 2020 Conference Budget was the major item for the February 20 meeting of the Oregon Conference Executive Committee. The “starting point” made that item a major challenge. Since 2019 tithe revenue was much lower than projected, the finance committee recommended a 2020 budget based on tithe revenue of only $32.1 million. That’s close to $2 million less than the 2019 budget, a reality that forced the committee to find ways to reduce the cost of church ministry in the Oregon Conference by $1.9 million.

“The vast majority of our budget (78%) is in personnel costs,” explained Brent Plubell, vice president for finance. In practice, a reduction in budget means we must accomplish a reduction in personnel around the Conference. Here’s how the numbers work out:

•   12% reduction in staff at the Oregon Conference office (6 Full-time equivalents {FTE})

•   6% reduction in pastoral staff across the territory (8 FTE)

•   5% reduction in Oregon Conference Education (6 FTE)

To start, the focus is on streamlining operations so that services to members can remain steady even while staffing is reduced. For instance, two departments in the conference office have positions that have remained unfilled for the last year. Those positions will be removed from the budget. Other office reductions are being made through normal attrition. For local churches, the changes may mean a slight reduction in pastoral coverage. Less associate pastor positions will be available, and in some cases, 2-church districts will become 3-church districts. The goal is to complete these adjustments by June. 

These budget challenges are not isolated to the Oregon Conference. At the end of 2019, 58% of North American conferences faced similar budget shortfalls. Looking further into the future, church leaders predict that shifting giving habits along with rising costs will mean the church must become accustomed to doing more with less. “We’re focusing on strategic efficiency for missional effectiveness,” says [Oregon Conference] President Dan Linrud. “The church structure we inherited may not be the one we will pass on to our kids. Yet our mission to represent Jesus remains the same.” 

With all the talk of numbers, it is no wonder there have been some sleepless nights for our administrators. 

“You want to know what number really keeps me up at night?” President Dan Linrud asked recently. “4.2 million. That’s the approximate number of residents in our Oregon Conference territory. How are 37,000 Seventh-day Adventists going to reach 4.2 million with the love of Jesus? How can we live a life so transformed by the love of Jesus that we naturally Know, Love, Serve and Share Jesus with others?” 

It really is all about Jesus. He is the author of our mission. Because of Him, we have confidence that the mission will continue as strongly as ever.

Want more information on what this means? Check out this summary for more details.


WATCH The Mission in 2020: A Message from President Dan Linrud


This article was written by Jonathan Russell for the Oregon Conference. Image: Video still.


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