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A lengthy and lively discussion ensued during the 2016 North American Division Year-End Meeting (NAD YEM) tithe sharing report on Oct. 30. The report and subsequent conversation took nearly five hours (discussion was tabled and continued on Oct. 31) as the NAD Executive Committee asked questions and NAD and General Conference officers helped explain percentages, budgets, and adjustments — and made sure proper procedures were followed in regard to motions and voting.
Mike Jamieson, undertreasurer for the NAD, gave his report to demonstrate how NAD handles the funds entrusted to it — based on three functions: tithe, non-tithe, and projects. Jamieson said, “Appropriations and transfers are combined/netted in a practical way to make it easier to understand while remaining totally transparent. The vast majority of operations go through these three functions.”
Jamieson reported that 2015 North American Division tithe was $983.25 million; with $172.43 million remitted to NAD and $810.82 million kept at local conferences and unions.
Of the $172.43 total, Jamieson shared how that amount was divided: $157.35 million to the conferences; $8.82 million to the unions; and $6.10 million for special assistance.
After breaking down the numbers for 2015 North American Division use of funds, Jamieson (see chart) explained that $30,307,545 is left for NAD use (after monies sent to GC, tithe exchange, evangelism reversion, special assistance, Adventist Media Center, auditing services, the seminary, retirement, and NADEI/AIM, as noted above). That $30.31 million is 3.08 percent of the $983.25 million gross tithe.
Jamieson also described how the NAD appropriated that tithe percentage, $30.31 million, into ministries, administrative functions, and projects.
Daniel R. Jackson, NAD president, remarked, “Ministry occurs in multiple sites. The local church is the front line. But we need to make sure that we don’t limit our vision saying that ministry only happens at the local church. Ministry happens at the conference, union, division, and General Conference.”
Delegates unpacked the report with questions on spending and percentages for each line item. The percent of tithe sent back to the General Conference (GC), currently 6.85 percent, was also scrutinized.
One delegate commented on how they were glad for the opportunity to “take a close look at what it is we fund and how we fund it.” That delegate, and several others, questioned the tithe amount sent back to the GC, which is several percentage points higher than other divisions.
“It has been and continues to be the privilege of the NAD to fund and forward the work of mission in the world,” said Jackson. “We have built a lot of buildings around the world, with funding from the NAD.”
Jackson acknowledged, however, that “Missional interests of the NAD are being limited by policy; and at some point the world church is going to have to come to terms with reality in terms of equity.”
Throughout the discussion, the NAD Executive Committee expressed their continued support for the mission of the world church. And the executive committee voted to accept the report.
Near the session’s conclusion, a motion was made from the floor that the NAD transition to paying 2 percent of their tithe to the GC, just as the other world divisions. This would have called for a reduction from the 6.85 percent that is currently paid. Worried that such a rapid reduction would hurt the work of the church around the world, as the majority of the GC budget comes from the NAD, the delegates voted the motion down by a vote of 64 yes; 121 no.