Oregon Conference Sends Letter To GC Regarding Tithe Dispute

`Ello lads! The Mouse here, reporting in on the dough in America, otherwise known as “moolah, lucre, cabbage, dosh and shillings.”

(Speaking of shillings, I loaned my 220-volt hedge trimmer to my curtain-twitcher neighbor Nigel Paulsgrove last Tuesday, and he returned it in need of a spot of repair. It’s a real clanger, as I was quite fond of that trimmer!) But I digress, let’s have a look at America, which is currently chockablock with disgruntled pro-WO codswallop. So with my notebook and feather pen, I offer these musings—about Oregon.

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The Oregon Executive Committee and President sent a letter on October 4th to the General Conference, concerned that some members were giving their tithe directly to the GC.

A Portion of the letter:

“It recently came to our attention that a member of the Oregon Conference returned tithe as a direct contribution to the General Conference.

The concern of our Executive Committee is not only for the tithe that bypassed our field, but more importantly for consistency in the exercise of tithe policy and protocol. The current General Conference Working Policy does not make provision for the General Conference to retain direct tithe returns for discretionary distribution to world divisions. General Conference Working Policy stipulates that tithe is to be returned directly to the local conference (or mission field or union of churches). The only acceptable reason for a member to return tithe directly through the General Conference is for helping the tithe-returner's identity to remain anonymous to their local field.

GC Working Policy V 09 05 5.c defines the process that is to take place when an entity other than the local church or Conference (Union/Division/General Conference) receives a direct tithe contribution. The policy states: “Since tithe is returned to the Lord, not given, it is inappropriate for that tithe to come with stipulations as to how and where it is to be used. After being receipted by the treasury where it was received, such tithe is to be returned anonymously to the local conference/mission field/union of churches where the member holds membership.” (Italics added)

Such tithe, irrespective of the dollar amount, is to be returned to the Conference field, so that it may follow the Lord's inspired direction for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The biblical tithe distribution system is a bottom-up sharing of tithe funds from the storehouse, rather than a top down discretionary distribution. This divine model has served the mission of the Church wonderfully throughout our history, resulting in the expansion of the Three Angels' Messages both locally and to the far reaches of the globe.

It is widely recognized that exceptions are sometimes made to policies for legal or practical reasons. Yet if members and entities begin to make their own determinations regarding exceptions to Core Policies such as our tithe policy, this divergence may result in an egregious effect to the mission of the Three Angels' Messages and the work of the Church. Because our tithe distribution system has been inspired by God, it is the sacred duty of leaders to protect and dispense this divine plan.

In light of these concerns, the Oregon Conference Executive Committee has taken the following action in its regularly scheduled meeting, August 30, 2018:

VOTED, to respectfully appeal to the General Conference administration to protect the sanctity of the tithe system of the Seventh-day Adventist Church by adherence to the tithe policy and protocol as specified in the General Conference Working Policy, with regard to receiving tithe contributions from local conference members, which includes tithe recently received directly by the General Conference from a member of the Oregon Conference.

Observations:

While we are not told the amount of tithe in this particular case, it must be a bomb to gather the attention of the local Executive Committee. Or, perhaps the Conference checkbook has gone a bit pear-shaped. We don’t know.

What we do know is that Church Policy, scorned and disenfranchised by progressive Church leaders when it comes to worldwide decisions regarding the ordination of women, becomes sacred to them when “Bob” is involved (and I don’t mean Barker or Dylan). I am referring to pounds, shillings and pence—CASH as the Yanks are wont to say. All of a sudden, Church Policy is the bee’s knees!

“Because our tithe distribution system has been inspired by God, it is the sacred duty of leaders to protect and dispense this divine plan.”

I would be remiss if I did not point out that our Church decision-making procedure is also inspired by God. Ahem!

"The greater the responsibilities placed upon the human agent, and the larger his opportunities to dictate and control, the more harm he is sure to do if he does not carefully follow the way of the Lord and labor in harmony with the decisions arrived at by the general body of believers in united council" (Acts of the Apostles, p. 199).

At a fundamental level, tithing is a conservative doctrine. First found in Genesis 14, the tithe (literally “tenth” in the Hebrew) is one-tenth of the believer's income or increase.  In Numbers 18:15-17, sacrifices of firstlings (of all animals that were regarded clean) were offered by priests.  Such offerings were brought by the believers.  First fruits from the harvests were also given by the people for sacrifices.  Leviticus 27:30 says that “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” In 2 Chronicles 31: 5-6, people tithed in Hezekiah’s days.  Other Scripture references to tithing include Malachi’s days (Malachi 3: 8-10), the New Testament (Luke 11:42; Matthew 23:23) and during the days of Nehemiah in Neh. 10:35-39; 12:44. Tithing is aligned with God’s blessings and personal faithfulness. As a doctrine, tithing has become increasingly diminished in our culture as liberalism challenges the practice as mere tradition and ‘legalistic’. The Wall Street Journal had an article on tithing that outlined these trends.

It is my observation that, and you may disagree, as Conference officers drift ever further towards liberalism and organizational insubordination, they are also distancing themselves from the good old-fashioned dependability of conservative doctrines—of which faithful tithing is one.

A large majority of believers in the North American Division continues to think of itself as part of world-wide Body. They give sacrificially of time & funds; they rejoice over every new field entered with the Everlasting Gospel, and they share the Message with their neighbors.

But increasingly, a large group of ‘leaders’ in the NAD values more a social justice hybrid of the faith. They find themselves embarrassed by direct evangelism, prefer humanitarian outreach to direct soul-winning, are uncomfortable with world-wide church organization, distrusts GC leadership, and prefers to give from their abundance rather than sacrificially—to projects which they can control the use of their gift.

Their motto appears to be “We don’t have to support the World Church but you have to give us your money.” This has led certain individuals to send their gifts of tithe to those whom they view as faithful to the Three Angels’ Messages, and to those who are supportive of the World Church. Elementary, my dear Watson!

Be faithful in your giving, dear ones, as this song says:

We will be watching this development from across the pond, as well as the Amazing Autumn Council in Michigan next week. Stand your ground, me lads!



Cheerio,

Sir ChurchMouse