Responsible Stewardship and Accountability
The Bible repeatedly emphasizes that God's servants are to be wise stewards and managers over the resources He provides. They are to recognize that those resources—financial, physical and human alike—actually belong to Him rather than any individual or organization. Accordingly, the United Church of God, an International Association, has put in place systems of checks and balances to avoid the possibility of abuses or financial improprieties.
Recognizing the biblical principle that "in the multitude of counselors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14; 24:6), a 12-member Council of Elders—made up of experienced ministers—provides overall leadership for the United Church of God. Members of this council are selected on a rotating basis for three-year terms at an annual conference of ordained ministers of the Church.
The Council of Elders, chosen mostly from pastors of local churches, carries out important responsibilities. Since it functions as the board of directors for the United Church of God, its most important role is to provide guidance and establish direction for the Church throughout its worldwide operations. It is also responsible for selecting the Church's president and for monitoring his performance as well as the performance of those on the management team the president appoints to oversee the Church's ministerial, media and financial operations.
Working in a team-based environment, committees of the Council of Elders regularly interface with key staff members in related operations. Other council committees focus on planning, doctrinal issues, education of ministers and other members, and other matters. Following the biblical example of the ministerial conference recorded in Acts 15, major issues and questions are resolved by collective discussion and decision by all of the ordained elders of the Church.
In areas outside the United States, similar boards, organized according to appropriate national laws, oversee activities of the United Church of God as needs require.
Financial integrity of business affairs is a priority of the United Church of God. The Church's work is supported by the voluntary tithes and offerings of members and other donors—following the biblical teaching of honoring God with one's substance as the means of supporting the preaching of the gospel and financing the work of the Church.
We do not solicit the public for donations or take up offerings in our regular weekly worship services. In line with Christ's reminder "Freely you have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8), our literature is distributed without charge or obligation to all who request it.
All donations in the United States and some other countries are legally tax-deductible, with receipts sent to donors. In the United States the Church sends donors quarterly receipts, with annual receipts issued at the end of the calendar year.
The Church maintains a system of internal auditing controls to ensure the integrity of all accounting systems and avoid any abuses of financial assets. The integrity of financial matters is of major importance. Church officers prepare annual financial statements according to generally accepted accounting methods. A carefully chosen independent accounting firm audits the Church's financial records annually. The resulting audited statements are then published for the Church's membership.
The budget of the Church is prepared through a system that begins with each department submitting its requests for the year. The Church's president and treasurer submit a budget to the Council of Elders.
A final budget recommendation, along with strategic and operating plans, is then submitted for approval to the General Conference of Elders at its annual meeting.
Regular financial reports are made to the Council of Elders at their quarterly meetings. These reports are then shared with the Church's members via updates on its Web site and a monthly member newsletter.
A finance committee of the Council of Elders works with the Church's treasurer to ensure effective use of funds and monitoring of all the budgets according to approved strategic and operating plans.
Preaching the gospel in today's world is a challenging experience, which keeps us on our knees in prayer, asking God not only for wisdom but for the financial means to continue moving forward. We are totally dependent on our Creator for our success. As He calls additional laborers to join in this work, we gratefully acknowledge their help. Together we move forward in seeking and doing His will.
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