Money, Mission and Management

Speaker: Categories: Jan 13, 1996


[1hr, 11min, 26sec / 1hr, 8min, 12sec]


There was a time when planning sessions within the structure of Adventism addressed the challenges associated with growth. Increases in membership necessitated increased or enlarged facilities for worship services. And new or enlarged church groups required additional pastoral staffing. The future was bright, almost glowing.

But more recent discussions use such terms as down-sizing, merging, districting, even closing! Rather than being concerned about finding sufficient numbers of pastors to staff an ever-enlarging constituency, field workers have been asked to take on more than one role -- perhaps pastoring more than one church in a district, perhaps assuming some administrative function within the conference office.

What's happened to the dream? What's happened to the ever-expanding growth of Adventism within the Southeastern California Conference? The more pressing question: What's happened to the tithe base which is essential to the continued operation of the Adventist church in the largest conference in membership in North America?

Thomas Staples, Southeastern California Conference treasurer since February, 1994, will address these issues at the January 13 Forum meeting. He will provide a five-year comparison of the Conference operating budget. He will note particularly the past year, 1995. An analysis will be made of trends, both internal and external, with a special focus on overall tithe, per capita giving, and the consumer price index.

By now some readers may be asking why a topic such as this would be a Forum subject for discussion. Are there not more pressing, even more controversial subjects which deserve attention? Is there really anything about which to get excited when looking at the giving patterns in Southeastern?

Perhaps the major matter to be addressed has more to do with Conference goals and fund allocation/management. What programs might need to be re-examined and reassessed? Who should make such decisions? When should such decisions be made? What financial risks are safe? How is sound fiscal leadership demonstrated in times like these? Is the mission of the church in Southeastern the same today as it was twenty, thirty, or forty years ago? And what about school subsidies and tuition assistance? How do these interface with tithe per capita, with mission giving, and with church operating budgets?

Tom Staples will report on some recent strategic planning endeavors within the Conference. He'll propose some solutions to meet the challenges facing this constituency. And he'll discuss these against a backdrop of the Conference mission statement.



Born in Zaire (Belgian Congo) of Adventist missionary parents, Tom Staples was home-schooled for seven years prior to going to Helderberg in South Africa to complete his elementary and secondary education and his freshman year in college. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Pacific Union College in 1967 with majors in Business Administration and Religion. His Masters in this latter field, with a marketing emphasis, was completed at La Sierra in 1994.

He has served as Accountant in both Northern California Conference and in the Afro-Mideast Division located in Beirut, Lebanon. Following this he served as Secretary/Treasurer for the Ethiopia Union in Addis Ababa for three and a half years and in the same role in the Middle East Union for five years. He then became Treasurer of the Southeast Asia Union (Singapore) where he served for nine years. For the past nearly two years he has provided financial leadership to SECC as Treasurer.

He and his wife, Karen, who is a Learning Handicapped Specialist in the Alvord School District (Riverside), have three adult sons who also reside in the Riverside area.

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