“Tithe is sacred,” noted Juan Prestol-Puesán, treasurer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, “and we do not deal with it trivially.” Prestol-Puesán comments were made as part of an update for the General Conference Executive Committee on the Church’s use of a large tithe return that began in 2007.
An Unexpected Commitment
Prestol-Puesán’s financial report briefly rehearsed the history of this “extraordinary tithe,” a term used to designate sizable tithe returns given under special circumstances. In this case, in early 2007 church leaders were notified by an Adventist family of its intention to sell the assets of their international businesses. The family had committed to faithfully return tithe on the profits of the sale as they were realized.
“The amount was extraordinarily large,” explained Prestol-Puesán, “so they first consulted with their local conference about where to return the tithe.” In subsequent meetings, local conference and union leaders, officers of the Adventist Church in North America and world church leaders, met to discuss the best approach to receiving the funds.
The consensus within the church was that those tithe funds should be remitted directly to the General Conference. Two primary factors drove the decision.
First, it was agreed by all parties that such a large sum of tithe would dramatically distort the ministry structures of the local conferences involved. According to Church policy, tithe may only be used for certain ministry purposes related directly to kingdom growth. A large organization operating on a global scale, they reasoned, could most effectively apply these funds appropriately.
The second factor was the international scope of the company being sold. “The business was multinational in nature with the funds having been earned across multiple geographic areas, encompassing multiple regions of the world,” explained Prestol-Puesán. “It was felt that the General Conference, rather than the local conference, was in the best position to administer these funds.”