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Annual Council News Roundup

It’s annual council time for the Seventh-day Adventist World Church. Reports are being shared and significant decisions are being made. “Annual Council is attended by the church’s full Executive Committee voting body, and is the only meeting in which church policy is voted. Up for discussion are topics ranging from the church’s structure to the appropriation of its funds, as well as progress made in the church’s mission efforts and its global AIDS ministry.” ANN has been releasing news each day and here is a reader’s digest roundup of what’s happening.

Adventist Church president emphasizes ‘global family’

The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s “message of hope” and commitment to scripture marked the opening of the denomination’s fall business session, Annual Council, in Manila, Friday, October 10.

Seventh-day Adventist Church President Jan Paulsen (pictured) greeted more than 300 meeting delegates and hundreds of church member guests from Manila during a live broadcast from the Philippines International Conventions Center at the start of the meeting, which runs through October 15.

“We are one global family,” Paulsen said. “This is why we plan together. This is why we spend quality time in deciding an agenda and using our resources in accomplishing what God has in mind for His church.”

Church budget adjusts for tough financial times

The financial situation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is under pressure from the turbulence rocking world financial markets, church financial officials report, but world church leaders are taking what they call prudent steps to manage during the crisis.

On Oct. 13, the Annual Council of the Seventh-day Adventist world church voted to accept a 2009 budget based on 2007’s income levels, along with a resolution allowing the world church to make interim adjustments to the budget. . . . World church treasurer Robert E. Lemon, addressing Annual Council delegates, noted that tithe received by the world church in 2007 amounted to U.S. $1.78 billion, an 11 percent increase over 2006’s $1.6 billion. Worldwide mission offerings for 2007 totaled U.S. $63 million, approximately a 10 percent rise over U.S. $58 million received in 2006.

Though much of the increase has come from increased giving in local currencies, Lemon said a “major portion” of the increase is attributed to conversion into the U.S. dollar, which has weakened.

. . .

Perhaps the most poignant moment came when appreciation was expressed for the grant of U.S. $300,000 to the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean region for use in Zimbabwe, which is facing a rate of hyperinflation unseen since the days of Germany’s Weimar republic.

Norman Maphosa of Solusi University in Zimbabwe expressed his thanks to the world church for this grant, noting that the “situation is deteriorating” in his country.

In other financial news, church leaders said the “extraordinary tithe” reported earlier as the proceeds from a family’s sale of a private business has reached just under U.S. $102 million, to which another U.S. $2.8 million in interest has been added. Of the U.S. $104 million available for allocation some U.S. $75.7 million has been allocated to world regions, as well as church institutions and programs aimed at world evangelism. Another U.S. $15.7 million is reserved for future allocation, leaders said.

Four leaders appointed to new positions

+G. Alexander Bryant – associate secretary for the world church and executive secretary of the NAD.

+John Rathinaraj, secretary of the church in Southern Asia, was elected president of the region, based in Hosur, near Bangalore, India, and provides administrative oversight for the church in India, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives. He replaces Ron Watts who resigned from the position earlier this year because of family health matters. . . . Rathinaraj said he is encouraged by the world church voting this week a $225,000 appropriation to establish a seminary in Nepal, a country with some 6,000 Adventists.

+Homer Trecartin, current planning director of the church’s Office of Adventist Mission, was appointed to head up Adventist Volunteers as a world church associate secretary.

+The Executive Committee also voted Barry Bussey, an attorney and Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) director for the church in Canada, as the new associate director for the world church’s PARL department. He’ll serve as the church’s liaison to the United States Congress.

In 2004, Bussey argued the position of the Adventist Church on the same-sex marriage reference case in front of the Supreme Court of Canada. He also led the campaign for Canada Post to issue a stamp commemorating the church’s world session, held in Toronto in 2000.

Seeking efficiency, Annual Council votes administrative changes Mark A. Kellner, Adventist Review/ANN:

Leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist world church have voted to ask the next world business session for broad authority to change church departmental structures and hiring, as they pursue greater efficiency than the current process. . . . A key rationale for allowing the Executive Committee to make departmental changes between sessions is this need for flexibility in changing times. The decision to ask for a change in the way associate directors and associate secretaries are elected is designed to relieve pressure on Session nominating committees and newly elected departmental directors, some of whom have had to choose their associates with very little time.

The church did “not give up anything that is valuable” in taking the action, Paulsen said, but rather is enhancing the ability of church leaders to manage in a more dynamic fashion.

He noted that while “we have done things in a given way for so many, many years, perhaps there is another way.”

The potential for “another way” may also extend to the operation of two church-owned publishing houses in North America, the Review & Herald Publishing Association (RHPA) in Hagerstown, Maryland, and the Pacific Press Publishing Association (PPPA) in Nampa, Idaho.

. . .Paulsen said on October 13 that “publishing is also a business,” and “from time to time we have to ponder the question if we have the best arrangement of publishing institutions.”

Paulsen asked, “Have we put together the best publishing structure to serve the church?”

To find out whether that’s the case, Paulsen proposed — and delegates accepted — the creation of a commission that would have “the task of assessing publishing realities.” With members principally drawn from North America, the goal is to have the commission’s report ready for the 2009 Spring Meeting at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama.

Though the motion passed easily, Robert Smith, RHPA president, noted that world church headquarters has studied the North American publishing system previously.

He urged that the new commission would not “study us to death and make the cure worse than the disease.”

Smith asserted that RHPA made a profit of $100,000 in the year ending September 30. He said that if world church headquarters “would give us all the work that is justifiably ours,” the press’ business would be stable.

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