As I write this near the end of December, the financial markets in the United States have taken a “nosedive.” Today they fell below 22,000 for the first time in almost two years, having lost over 12% of their value in less than a month, and standing at a loss for the entire year.
Some warn of an impending recession; others say the fundamentals do not support it, so the economy will continue to grow. Suffice to say, we live in strange economic times when things just don’t “add up.”
We know [God] will always provide the resources we need to complete the Work He has given us to do, and we will be successful in accomplishing His will, if we seek Him diligently.
In the Church, recent financial trends have led us to ask questions, too, about what is happening and why. Church President Victor Kubik asked members to fast one day in December as we seek God’s guidance and direction in preparing budgets for the next fiscal year, and to help us be wise stewards of what He provides.
This issue of the United News will show a certain contrast. On pages 16-19, the complete audited financial statements for fiscal 2018 (the year ended June 30, 2018) are presented. For the past fiscal year, contributions and donations to the Work (hereinafter called “income”) significantly exceeded budgeted expectations and prior year levels. In the Church, we have seen sustained growth in income for the past five years.
On the other hand, even with a continuing strong economy, peaceful Church atmosphere, and steady Church attendance, our income has been running about 9 percent lower during the first five and a half months of this fiscal year than over the same period a year ago. Why is that? Economic fears? Tax considerations arising from the new tax law? Perhaps an indicator from God to review how we utilize the resources He provides? Hence the reason we fasted this past December.
One thing we take comfort in: we know this is God’s Work and His purpose will be done. We know He will always provide the resources we need to complete the Work He has given us to do, and we will be successful in accomplishing His will, if we seek Him diligently (2 Chronicles 26:5 2 Chronicles 26:5And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.
American King James Version×).
With that preface, let me make a few comments about the audit report and the fiscal year past and present.
After reviewing the Church’s accounting records and systems, our external auditors again provided an “unqualified” opinion on the financial statements. This means, based on their reviews, that the income information and statements we provide fairly represent the financial condition of the Church. Outside vendors and banks rely on these financial statements, so this report and the annual audit are of value to the Church. No adjustments to our financial records, and no recommendations for improvement in internal controls, were deemed necessary by the auditors.
The attached audit report discloses how the tithes and offerings of members, donors and coworkers were spent. It is notable that the major cost centers of the Church—congregational care, public proclamation and media, Feast of Tabernacles, international subsidy and administration—all completed fiscal year 2018 within budgeted expense parameters.
Similar to expense categorization, donations to the Church are also segregated in our accounting system, based on donor intent. Primary categories of income include general contributions (primarily first tithe and offerings), Holy Day offerings, Festival Fund (formerly called “tithe of the second tithe,” which is used to support U.S. Feast sites), the assistance fund (used as “third tithe”) and estates and property donations. We also have Restricted Funds set up for the Video Recording Studio, Good Works and a general building fund. A full list of the types of funds to which one can contribute can be found by clicking the “Donate” button at ucg.org.
All undesignated offerings are categorized as general contributions. As such, they, along with Holy Day offerings, are used in whatever areas of the Work it is deemed necessary. Festival and assistance fund donations are used only for the specific purposes associated with those funds, as are Good Works, media and international fund donations.
It may be helpful to know that of the categories of donations we maintain, total annual donations never equaled or exceeded the amount spent in that category. For instance, in fiscal 2018, the Church expended over $900,000 in assistance to members in need, not including Festival assistance. By comparison, we received in donations only $370,000 to the Assistance Fund. As of the date of this writing, total donations to the Video Recording Studio have been about $913,000. The cost of the studio and equipment to date are more than $920,000. If you would like to earmark your contributions for a specific fund above and beyond tithes, be sure your donation is clearly marked.
As a Church, we recognize our responsibility and mission to care for the disciples God calls, to preach the gospel as a witness to all nations and to do the will of God. But please know that, as God’s Church, we do not limit our efforts based on the funds donated to a specific purpose, but use general funds to ensure that all elements of the Church’s Christ-given commission are met.
We appreciate the efforts of members and other donors to financially support God’s Work, and we recognize and are grateful to God Almighty who provides all our needs, and so much more.
As you review the enclosed financial statements, or if you have questions about our finances, please feel free to forward those to me at any time.