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Leadership In Action: News from the Pre-Spring Meetings

The pre-spring meetings happened in Silver Spring, Maryland, where the top church administrators hold organizational board meetings at the Seventh-day Adventist headquarters. The first big news was headlined by the hostile Adventist Review: “La Sierra University granted window to show its faithfulness to Adventist Church beliefs on origins.” 

As La Sierra University reports, “After lengthy discussion, the AAA Board decided to not accept the recommendation of the 10-member AAA team that visited the University in November 2011.  Instead, the Board has announced that they are extending our University’s current accreditation through December 31, 2012.”

The AAA team recommended a maximum term of Adventist accreditation for the university. But apparently something happened back at the Adventist headquarters. SPECTRUM will be reporting more on this in the coming days.

Today, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency board met. In a move that surprised many close observers, the board accepted the mass layoffs enacted by the new ADRA president, Rudi Maier.

According to reports, the meeting went long, but little was accomplished toward the goal of answering the questions raised by the firings and lack of administrative transparency. Given that Adventists interested in ADRA have received at first little and then shifting explanations for why the NGO is being reorganized, the ADRA press release provides scant information.

In an effort to address the questions raised by many of ADRA’s constituents the board of directors discussed the recent staff layoffs and realignment.


“The board values the dedicated employees who work to move the mission of ADRA forward,” said Board Chair Geoffrey Mbwana.


The board chair added that administration and the board do not anticipate any further staff reductions in the foreseeable future.


“The board of directors takes seriously its responsibility to ensure that the Agency operates with utmost transparency and integrity in all matters,” said Mbwana, “As ADRA moves forward, we want to provide the staff all the necessary resources to help meet the needs of the millions of vulnerable women, children, and men around the world whom we serve.”

In fact, the lack of evidence to support the rhetoric above raises questions about ADRA’s “utmost transparency and integrity.” For instance, why is the March 3 memo written by Rudi Maier missing from the ADRA website? Who is Michael Harris and how does directing the masters of divinity program at the seminary, where Rudi Maier taught, qualify someone to run human resources for ADRA? Also, why did ADRA justify the 20 percent personnel cuts by pointing to faltering finances when, as Spectrum reported, the “November 2010 financial statements show net income exceeding budgeted net income by $4.6 million.”

Speaking of finances, the following was missing from today’s ADRA press release. But the Adventist Review notes:

A financial report was due to be presented, Mbwana said after the meeting, but time did not permit it. ADRA spokesman John Torres said the agency would release an audited financial statement in June 2011.

It doesn’t require the life experience of Tom Zwemer to wonder what’s going on when an entity emphasizes how “seriously” they take their responsibility to ensure “the utmost transparency and integrity in all matters” but then doesn’t take the time to review the finances of the organization for which they are ultimately responsible.

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