In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon wisely assesses, “To everything there is a season; a time for every purpose under heaven.”
As we approach the end of the calendar year, it is the time to consider finances. Tax reform was a major news item in December in the United States, as the president and Congress worked toward legislation to be instituted for calendar year 2018. Even without tax reform, individuals and businesses take the time to consider and review their financial status as “tax time” draws near.
In the Church it is no different, even though our fiscal year ends June 30. In August of each year, we engage an independent accounting firm to perform the annual audit of our financial statements and systems, but it is not until the December meeting of the Council of Elders that those audited statements are presented. In this issue of United News , the complete Audited Financial Statements (AFS) are made available. (You will find the AFS on pages 16-19 in the printed version of the United News ).
Budgeting, accounting, preparation and review of periodic financial statements and AFS are all in keeping with the several financial principles found in the Bible. Speaking of keeping a good accounting of the resources God provides, Proverbs 27:3 Proverbs 27:3A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both.
American King James Version×states, “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds.”
As we are now six months into the Church’s fiscal year, it might be useful to those who are interested to provide some highlights of our past and current fiscal year, which will assist you in your review of the AFS.
First, let me report that the Church’s financial condition continues to be very strong. We are thankful to God and to the members, donors, coworkers and others who faithfully support this work God has commissioned.
Here are a few items and statistics (with page reference number to the AFS, where applicable) that may be of interest to you:
• Unqualified Opinion: On pages 1 and 2 of the AFS, the audit firm states its opinion that, based on their audit of the financial statements, systems, and internal controls, the financial statements “present fairly the financial position of [the Church] at June 30, 2017.” This is the most desired opinion an organization can receive.
• Cash and Restricted Fund Balances: On page 3, the Statement of Financial Position, otherwise known as the “Balance Sheet,” discloses our asset and liability balances at year-end. Our cash position is strong at year-end (and continues to be), but bear in mind that the cash balances presented on this page include restricted funds as well. Restricted fund balances are disclosed on page 11 of the AFS, in Note #8. As an example, the Video Recording Studio Restricted Fund balance at June 30 was about $558,000. At Dec. 15, 2017, the balance in that fund was above $730,000.
• Income: The Statement of Activities, otherwise known as the “Income Statement,” provides an overview of income and expenses by category for the fiscal year. The Church’s overall “income,” which primarily consists of the tithes and offerings of members and others, increased slightly between the fiscal years. As of Nov. 30, 2017, five months into the new fiscal year, the Church’s income from general contributions is running 5 percent above prior year totals for the same time period.
• Donors and Coworkers: Related to income, at June 30, the total number of donors and coworkers (that is, non-members who make unrestricted donations to the Church) exceeded 15,000 individuals and/or families.
• Expenses: While the Income Statement shows overall expenses, if you are interested in more detail on how money was spent, please review the Schedule of Functional Expenses that are presented on pages 12 and 13.
• Assistance to the Needy (third tithe assistance): On the Schedule of Functional Expense you will note that, in fiscal 2017, the Church provided over $1,000,000 in “assistance to the needy.” A separate accounting of the Assistance Fund is maintained in our accounting records for those who choose to donate funds to be used for this purpose. (A separate accounting fund is also maintained for Feast of Tabernacles and other specific donations. For a listing of the various funds we maintain, click on the “Donate” button at the top left of www.ucg.org ).
Personally, it is a privilege and blessing to be able to serve God, the Church, the Council of Elders and you in the area of financial accounting, oversight and stewardship. God has richly blessed His Church, and all of us take seriously the responsibilities He has given us.
As you review the AFS, or if you have any questions about the finances of the Church, please feel free to contact me at any time.