Adventist Church treasurer Juan Prestol-Puesán highlighted his team’s sense of deep gratitude to church members and God in his presentation of the 2018 Financial Report to the members of the church’s Executive Committee on April 9, 2019. His report, entitled “The 2018 Financial Story,” told a story of trust in what he believes is God’s past, present, and future leading.
“The audited financial statement indicates the blessings we received, and the guidance of the Lord,” he told church leaders from around the world who met at the Adventist Church world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States. “I am glad to report… positive operating results for the year 2018,” he announced.
How the Church Did in 2018
In a year marked by volatility in financial markets and weakness in some key foreign currencies, Prestol-Puesán said the finances of the Church world headquarters did well thanks to an increase in worldwide tithes and a consistent control of expenses.
“Tithe increased 3.6 percent, or USD$89 million, for a total of USD$2.5 billion,” he said. “It includes a USD$55 million increase in tithe in the North American Division, for a total of USD$1.077 billion.”
Prestol-Puesán’s report also highlighted that mission offerings reached more than USD$88 million, a figure that does not include church members’ contributions to their local churches.
On the other hand, General Conference expenses—or the money spent to run the world church headquarters—are down for the second straight year, reported Prestol-Puesán. This includes savings of more than USD$1.1 million in travel expenses, he said.
Adventist Church associate treasurer Ray Wahlen reminded Executive Committee members and those following the proceedings online how this works.
“The General Conference operates on a cap of 2 percent of total gross tithe,” he said. “In 2018, the world church headquarters operated USD$4 million under the budget and more than USD$7.2 million under the 2 percent cap.”
Wahlen also referred to total operating expenses, noting they were significantly under the maximum allowed per voted policy. “In percentage terms, actual office operating expenses were only 85.64 percent of the cap,” he said.
Overall, Prestol-Puesán reported that the average giving per week in tithe and mission offerings (excluding offerings for the local church) reached USD$50 million dollars.
What Could Happen in 2019 and Beyond
Church financial leaders anticipate that currency volatility might still affect the financial operation in 2019 and beyond. “We will continue doing our best to anticipate and minimize the negative currency fluctuation impact on our income,” Prestol-Puesán said. “Expenses and allocations will be carefully monitored as well.”
But beyond market cycles and currency fluctuations, Prestol-Puesán said that he felt “a deep sense of gratitude” for the faithfulness of church members and God’s guidance.
“We thank [God] for His blessings,” he said. “And we thank our members for their generosity.” And he added, “If we are faithful and we are careful, we believe the Lord is going to bless us and we’ll be OK.”
Prestol-Puesán also renewed his trust in what he called “God’s ongoing assistance.”
“He understands our seasons, our times, and our needs,” Prestol-Puesán said. “He will guide us, and He will provide for us according to what He considers to be the best for us.”
It is the reason, Prestol-Puesán emphasized, leaders would do well in sleeping well at night and…being energetically engaged during the day.
“[God] will keep us in perfect peace,” he said.