During the last four months of the fiscal year, much of the United States was under stay-at-home orders. Record layoffs occurred from businesses that were forced to close their doors if they were not considered “essential” and if employees could not do their jobs from their homes. Unemployment levels soared, the stock market began to recede and the nation plunged into economic recession.
It all happened so quickly. The coronavirus posed not only a threat to people’s individual lives, but it was also impacting and threatening the economy in a way that could not be foreseen.
How long would this last? Would the economy be able to recover?
Those questions still remain, but the answer to coronavirus from the Church’s standpoint is that “God will and has seen us through.” And He will continue to do so as we put our faith in Him.
Despite the coronavirus threat and the specter of an impending recession, the Church finished fiscal year 2020 in a very strong financial condition. God’s blessing on His Church and the faithfulness of Church members and donors is the only explanation for the very high income that poured in during the pandemic months, from March through June. We learned a powerful lesson, and we are deeply thankful to God.
Numbers on the fiscal year 2020 will be released after the completion of the annual audit, which was conducted during the week of Aug. 17, 2020. It will be published in the January 2021 issue of United News. But I am happy to report that overall United States-United Church of God income for the year finished six percent above budget and the prior year.
The “good news” on the income was spread across all types and categories of the donations we receive:
• Spring Holy Day offerings—all of which had to be mailed in or donated online—exceeded budget, but fell just short of amounts in the prior year.
• First tithes and offerings, which we classify as “General Contributions,” exceeded the budget by more than seven percent.
• Contributions to the Assistance Fund exceeded the budget by more than 10 percent.
• Donations to the Festival Fund (“tithe of the tithe” to support the Feast of Tabernacles) exceeded budget by more than six percent.
• Other categories including the Youth Camp Fund, Ambassador Bible College Fund, International Fund, Good Works, Stock and Estate Donations and even Interest Income (as we invest cash on hand into non-risk bearing instruments) all surpassed budgeted expectations.
Besides income, there have been other blessings hidden in this pandemic period. Out of necessity, “business as usual” paused for a while, giving the administration time to review methods of operation and practices that have been in place for years. Keeping the commission Christ gave His Church in mind during this period, we have seen and will continue to see expense reductions in some areas.
With strong income and expense control that was “assisted” by the pandemic, the Church again ends its fiscal year in a strong cash position, with unrestricted cash balances in excess of $8 million.
As part of our fiscal responsibility to God, His Church and His people, please join us in prayer, seeking God’s will and asking Him to show us and teach us His will, in the use and proper stewardship of the tithes, offerings and other donations entrusted to us by Him through Church members and other donors.