North American Adventist Publishing House Boards Asked To Consider Merger

On Wednesday, June 19, 2013, the General Conference and North American Division administrations forwarded to the boards of Pacific Press Publishing Association and Review and Herald Publishing Association a request for the two organizations to consider a merger in the near future.

Review and Herald Publishing Association

The proposal comes in response to church administrators’ analysis of the current publishing mission setting along with related distribution systems. It builds upon the work of several commissions and groups that over the past several years have studied the challenges and opportunities arising from rapid technology changes in publishing as well as changes in how society accesses information.

The boards of both institutions met separately Wednesday evening, and each, by overwhelming majority votes, expressed agreement to consider a yet-to-be-developed merger proposal. In addition, each board authorized its chair and president to represent the institution on a taskforce whose assignment will be to develop a detailed merger proposal for future consideration by the boards and constituents.

Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, affirmed that “publishing and distributing materials to advance the proclamation of the gospel remains a vital and integral part of the church’s worldwide evangelistic and witnessing program. We believe that restructuring the two General Conference institutions could serve even more effectively the future needs of the church especially, in North America as well as for more general assistance to the world for print and digital content that correlates with information in other media platforms.”

Review and Herald Publishing Association, located in Hagerstown, Maryland, and the Pacific Press Publishing Association, located in Nampa, Idaho, have been operating as General Conference institutions. The two publishing houses serve the General Conference, the global Seventh-day Adventist Church, and, more specifically the North American Division, as they derive the large majority of their operating resources from services to church members and denominational organizations in North America.

The proposal forwarded to the respective boards, through the board chairs, requests not only consideration of a merger of the two institutions but also a transfer of identity for these entities from being General Conference-sponsored institutions to that of being North American Division-sponsored.

The combination of restructuring envisaged in the request placed before the boards therefore involve two principal concepts with the expectation that both would be considered as a package and implemented together. The proposal envisions:

Review and Herald Publishing Association

A case statement presented to the two boards outlines a design for a positive, mission-oriented future for the church’s publishing ministry in North America. “It is a strategy in response to 21st century realities,” said Dale Galusha, president of Pacific Press Publishing Association. Mark Thomas, president of the Review and Herald Publishing Association, added, “Commercial and private publishing houses today are finding it necessary to redesign their business plans. We need to be proactive in addressing a rapidly changing publishing environment.”

The next step will be for a taskforce with representation from the General Conference, the North American Division and each publishing house to prepare a blueprint for merger. It is expected that a report from the taskforce would be presented to the boards by late September of this year. Each board will then have the opportunity to determine its response to the merger proposal.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church operates 63 publishing houses worldwide, each operating under its own board of governance. Review and Herald Publishing Association is the successor to the first publishing house, The Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, incorporated in 1861. The Pacific Adventist Publishing Association, established in California, was organized in 1875. It was renamed as the Pacific Press Publishing Association in 1904. A third General Conference-sponsored publishing house, Southern Publishing Association, merged with the Review and Herald Publishing Association in 1980.

General Conference administration asks that church members pray for God’s guidance upon church leaders and publishing house boards so that what is done in this matter will result in the most effective evangelistic print and digital publishing program to proclaim the three angels’ messages, advance God’s work through His power and hasten the second coming of Jesus Christ.

SDA Contributions come evenly from North America, other world regions

Oct. 16, 2012
Silver Spring, Maryland, United States
Elizabeth Lechleitner/ANN

Despite a mainstream decrease in religious charitable giving, Seventh-day Adventist financial officers say they’re not seeing a similar shift in giving patterns among church members.

Indeed, church treasurers continue to see stable – and in many regions, growing – tithes and mission offerings. Tithe to the world church headquarters from outside North America through September totaled US$20.7 million, a 5.6 percent increase from last year. Mission offerings from the same region were up 5.4 percent, to $45.1 million.

“In spite of challenges, God’s children have continued their strong support of His work through their tithes and offerings,” Adventist world church Treasurer Robert E. Lemon said in a report to Annual Council delegates this morning.

Historically, the Adventist Church has relied heavily on financial contributions from the church’s North American Division (NAD), Lemon said. The global Protestant denomination was organized in the Northeast U.S., and Americans supported much of the church’s initial mission work. But in recent years, a growing portion of the world church’s budget has come from tithes and offerings from outside North America.

Total income for the Adventist Church headquarters for the world budget is now split nearly 50:50, with NAD and divisions outside North America each contributing approximately half. As recently as 2006, that ratio was 66 NAD and 34 the rest.

“We have seen tremendous growth in the financial strength of our church around the world,” Lemon said.

But this growing reliance on funds from outside North America makes the church increasingly vulnerable to exchange rates, he added.

For example, tithe from Brazil grew 15 percent last year in local currency, but 30 percent in U.S. dollars. This year, however, a similar 15 percent growth in tithe translated to a mere 5 percent increase once exchanged to U.S. dollars. Because the church’s budget and appropriations are handled in U.S. dollars, church financial officers continually monitor currency exchanges, Lemon said.

“We have to remember that we face huge fluctuations now because of exchange rates,” Lemon said.

This year, church financial officers are also accounting for a shift in the percentage of tithe from NAD that goes toward the world church budget. Between 2000 and 2005, church financial officers adjusted this contribution from 10.7 percent down to 8 percent of tithe from NAD. This year, church treasurers continued to reduce the percentage, with a target of 6 percent projected for 2020. The other 12 divisions, by comparison, each contribute 2 percent of their tithe toward the world church budget.

Lemon said the adjustment reflects growing needs in North America. Demographics in the region, he said, are changing “dramatically.” A majority of new believers in North America now come from immigrant backgrounds, and many of them don’t have large earning power, he said.
Oct. 16, 2012 Silver Spring, Maryland, United States
Elizabeth Lechleitner/ANN

“There’s a tremendous mission field now growing in North America,” Lemon said. “We need an adjustment that allows this region to remain strong.”

Annual Council delegates also accepted a report by Lemon on the Use of Tithe Study Commission, a group of nearly 100 people who have met since 2005. The Commission determined that housing for pastors and other church ministers supported by tithe is an appropriate use of tithe, either through the renting, purchasing or building of houses.

The Commission also is recommending a new policy that organizational bodies such as conferences and unions shall report to the world church’s Executive Committee how much tithe was used in pastoral ministry, administration, education and literature evangelism in their respective regions.

Finally during today’s Treasurer’s report, Annual Council delegates voted to approve the 2013 operating budget of $174 million.

Delegates also approved several recommendations from the world church’s Strategic Planning and Budgeting Committee. Among the recommendations: Hope Channel Ukraine, part of the church’s official television network, will receive a $490,000 allocation. The network received a broadcast license from the government of Ukraine. An additional $400,000 will go toward modernizing netAdventist.org, a Web-based communication software platform.

Growing in Christ

Oprah Learns about the True Sabbath

God as Artist

So far we’ve looked at various aspects of the Lord: the Trinity, God’s holiness, and God as Redeemer. There is one picture of God in Scripture, however, that is rarely given attention-God as artist.

 

Many people claim they have no interest in art Many Christians know little about it They may know what they like, but that is noth­ing more than knowledge about themselves. Others acknowledge that art exists, but they never consider its value or relevance. Christianity has often been ambivalent about the arts. At times, the arts have been denounced as irreligious and evil; other times, aesthetics have become a secular “religion” with serious devotees. There are also plenty of Christian writers, but they have seldom made attempts to relate the concept of “beauty” to the central Christian doctrines.

 

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” wrote poet John Keats. While Keats certainly overstated the case, God is indeed Truth, and the Truth is beautiful, Creation itself testifies to the fact that God is an artist and a lover of what’s beautiful.

The Promise of Prayer

Ellen White gave us these words on the issue of prayer: “Our heavenly Father waits to bestow upon us the fullness of His blessing. It is our privilege to drink largely at the fountain of boundless love. What a wonder it is that we pray so little! God is ready and willing to hear the sincere prayer of the humblest of His children, and yet there is much manifest reluctance on our part to make known our wants to God. What can the angels of heaven think of poor helpless human beings, who are subject to temptation, when God’s heart of infinite love yearns toward them, ready to give them more than they can ask or think, and yet they pray so little and have so little faith? The angels love to bow before God; they love to be near Him. They regard communion with God as their highest joy; and yet the children of earth, who need so much the help that God only can give, seem satisfied to walk without the light of His Spirit, the companionship of His presence - Steps to Christ, p.94

That about sums it all up, doesn’t it?

The Bible and History

Is human history a meaningless series of events, or is there a central direction toward a specified goal, all according to a plan? The Bible makes it clear that the latter is true. Bible writers in both testaments insist that God directs history and reveals Himself in it.

Yet, not all history reveals God’s will: humans are free to make bad choices, choice that influence history. The point is that just because of God works through history doesn’t mean He causes all that happens. What it means, instead, is that, despite the machinations and evil of human beings, God is there, working out His ultimate will and that He will bring human history to a grand and glorious close.

Biblical Christians believe that the Bible writers operated within the framework that God had revealed and that He inspired them to record the most significant events in human history. God often even provides the interpretation of these events so that we can understand what they mean.

This week we’ll explore a little of how God has worked in and through world history

Creation Care

What should we, as Seventh-day Adventists, think about the environment, especially because we know that this earth is corrupted, will continue to be corrupted, and will one day be destroyed, burned up in a great lake of fire: “and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2Pet. 3:10)? Add to this the biblical injunction about humans having ‘dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all earth” (Gen. 1:26), and it’s no wonder that, at times, we struggle with how to relate to environmental concerns.

At the same time, as stewards of all God’s gifts, don’t we have an obligation to take care of the earth?

Lord of the Sabbath

Key Thought: The seventh-day Sabbath, in every way, points us to Jesus, our Creator and our Redeemer.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which” ‘were bom, not of blood , nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:1-13).

These verses are, of course, pointing to Jesus, Jesus as the One who made “all things” and Jesus as the One who gives salvation to those who “believe on his name.” That is, Jesus as Creator and Jesus as Redeemer.

God the Lawgiver

As Seventh-day Adventists, we often hear the idea that the law is a transcript of God’s character. (If so, then because God doesn’t change, the law-which reveals His character­ shouldn’t change either.) What, though, does that mean?

 

Suppose you lived in a land with a king whose word was law. (“The state, that’s me” one French king famously said.) Now, suppose the king issued laws that were repressive, nasty, hateful, unfair, discrimi­natory, and so forth. Would not those laws be a good representation of the kind of person the king was; would they not reveal his character?

Think through some of history’s worst despots. How did the laws they passed reveal the kind of people they were?

 

In this sense, the law reveals the character of the lawgiver. What, then, does God’s law reveal about God? When we understand God’s law as a hedge, a protection, something created for us, for our own good, then we come to understand more about what God is like.

This week we’ll take a look at the law and, by default, the Lawgiver