Tithes and offerings are starting to rebound after taking a hit in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a financial report presented at the Division Executive Committee (DEC) of the South Pacific Division (SPD) year-end meeting. The session was held online from the region’s headquarters in Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia, on November 11, 2021.
According to the report, tithe grew by 8 percent in the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference (NZPUC) and 6 percent in the Australian Union Conference (AUC) from January to August 2021 compared to the same period last year. Tithe in the Trans-Pacific Union Mission (TPUM, a region that includes Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and other Pacific islands) is down 1 percent on last year, while in Papua New Guinea Union Mission (PNGUM) it is down 16 percent. However, the latter's result has bounced back, significantly recovering from the January to May period, when it was down 32 percent.
Presenting the report, SPD finance manager Andrew Wanke said a standout region was South New Zealand, where tithe is up 25 percent on the previous year. Samoa is up 20 percent on last year, and Eastern Highlands Mission (in Papua New Guinea) is up 16 percent.
“Overall, when we look at the trends, we received (AU)$148 million (about US$108 million) tithe in the division totally (in the) 2020 calendar year, and looking at the current numbers to August, (we) project out about (AU)$149 to $150 (million), possibly even more tithe in (the) 2021 calendar year,” Wanke shared with the DEC delegates. “So that is really good news for our division.”
Wanke said offerings have also started to bounce back. Major offerings per $1 of tithe were down to 6.1 cents in 2020 but are now at 6.5 cents.
Strategic project funding totaling (AU)$41.9 million was allocated throughout the division during the 2017-2021 period. The majority of the funds were allocated to AUC (22.4 percent), SPD Discipleship Ministries Team (21.5 percent), and Comprehensive Health Strategy (20.6 percent).
Wanke said low interest rates are continuing to impact the division’s budget. “A few years ago, we were at 3 percent; now it's down to 0.55 percent,” he said. “We are looking at about $3 million in the division budget that has been reduced because of the sharp decline in interest.”
Division CFO Francois Keet said he is thankful that the Adventist Church has weathered the storm of the past two years.
“We want to give all honor and glory to God for blessing His church in such a mighty way and want to express a special word of appreciation to you, our members, for your faithfulness during these difficult times. This demonstrates how resilient God’s church is to see us through the closing moments of this world.”