In these difficult times, amid a pandemic, wars, unemployment and inflation, God still acts. Even as the whole creation is groaning as in the pain of childbirth (see Romans 8:22), His mighty hand and generous care can be traced in the story of His church’s finances since our last session. This report is submitted in prayerful gratitude to the Giver of all good and perfect gifts (see James 1:17).
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March of 2020, all levels of the church braced for what was thought could be a 15-20 percent decrease in giving. In the Carolina Conference, plans were made to cut travel, cancel events, and reduce personnel through attrition. Every expense was examined, and significant reductions were made. It seemed that a story of financial hardship was about to unfold. Two years into the pandemic, it is clear that God rewrote the end of the story to reveal His great power and love. When His members are faithful and generous in their giving, He writes us into His story of generous provision.
Tithes, Offerings, and Reserves
The graphs in this report tell the story. By the end of 2021, instead of dropping by 15-20 percent, tithe had increased by 10.13 percent over the prior year. As a result, financial reserves (working capital) grew to exceed the amount recommended by North American Division policy. Instead of dipping into reserves to meet operational expenses during this crisis, reserves have increased by $2.7 million since 2016. This increase in reserves will provide a buffer against economic storms that are sure to mark the future.
After returning a faithful tithe, our members have had the privilege of giving freewill offerings. In addition to supporting the needs of the local church and worldwide missions, giving to the Carolina Youth Offering advances youth ministry in our territory. Giving to this fund averaged $226,000 each year. The graph on this page portrays how this offering is spent in support of the youth of our Conference.
Carolina Evangelism Fund
The Executive Committee has embraced the goal of raising $1 million for evangelism annually. While that goal was not met each year, the average raised per year was $1,002,702. The Carolina Evangelism offering is channeled back to our local churches to support public evangelism and other forms of outreach in response to the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20.
As a ministry of the Conference, Carolina Adventist Retirement Systems (CARS), has provided independent living villas, assisted living apartments, and skilled nursing care since the 1970s. For many years this ministry provided jobs for Mount Pisgah Academy (MPA) students, and a stream of income for MPA’s operations and capital. In a significant financial development, the Executive Committee authorized the sale of CARS in 2018. The proceeds of the sale have been placed in two endowments, one for student aid, and another for academy capital projects. The principal of these endowments will be left intact, with the return on investments being distributed to the benefit of the academy in perpetuity. In 2021, endowment distributions to MPA equaled $914,729. These endowments are generating an amount that is significantly greater than the amount generated annually when the Conference operated the facilities. God is to be praised for the vision and foresight of the founders of CARS for developing and nurturing this asset over the years for the benefit of Christian education.
As we look back over these recent years, it is encouraging to recount the generosity of our members and the providence of God. As we look forward, it is almost certain that there will be economic challenges ahead. These are days will that require faith and dependence on our Savior. Our mindsets can be like that of Paul who wrote, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19, NIV.
VP for Finance