BATTLE CREEK, MICHIGAN — Dual themes of mission outreach and organizational integrity were presented to delegates at the 2018 Annual Council of the Seventh-day Adventist world church on October 16.
Featured presentations included Adventist Health System, the church’s Hope Channel broadcasting network, and the General Conference Auditing Service.
AHS president and CEO Terry Shaw gave delegates a report on the system’s philosophy, accomplishments, and future goals. Their objective is to extend the healing ministry of Christ and fulfill His words in John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Through what Shaw called a “five-pronged vision,” AHS aims to be wholistic, exceptional, connected, affordable, and viable.
Shaw gave historical background on AHS, indicating that while its official founding was in 1973, a precursor existed in the establishment of three hospitals in Hinsdale, IL, Orlando, FL, and Denver, CO in the early 1900s. The system employs approximately 80,000 people, and annually, 5 million people are served by its various units.
Shaw also encapsulated the multi-dimensional nature of optimal health within the C.R.E.A.T.I.O.N. acronym (choice, rest, environment, activity, trust, interpersonal relationships, outlook, and nutrition). C.R.E.A.T.I.O.N. health products have been sent to nearly half the nations of the world, he said. Along the missionary path, AHS is actively involved in places like Argentina, Rwanda, Lebanon, Nepal, and the Philippines. He encouraged delegates to visit www.adventhealthtransition.com for additional details.
EVANGELISM FOCUS INCLUDES HOPE CHANNEL
Delegates heard several accounts of soul-winning endeavors, both by individual missionaries, outreaches to the world’s largest cities, and via Hope Channel, the movement’s global television system.
Amy Whitsett, representing the Global Mission Center for East Asian Religions, spoke of a church-planting project among the Buryat people, who are primarily Buddhist, in southern Russia.
The Global Mission report included a number of video vignettes highlighting amplified efforts in major cities including Tokyo, Japan; Beirut, Lebanon; and Vienna, Austria. (As reported earlier, Tokyo was host to a major evangelistic campaign earlier in 2018 which yielded continuing interests and baptisms.)Hope Channel president Derek Morris offered delegates a six-point circuit outlining a manner by which they can maximize missional outreach:
- Media consumption habits are changing fast
- Younger/Older generations are adopting/migrating from traditional media
- Financial resources are limited
- Traditional broadcast distribution mechanisms are expensive
- Metrics are needed for analysis and evaluation
- The “metastory” evangelistic dimension
Morris said Hope Channel is expanding its presence through a wider spectrum of media outlets, increasing the accessibility of its broadcast content.
AUDITING, INTEGRITY FEATURED
Paul Douglas, GC Auditing Service director, summarized 2017 results for the organization. He candidly revealed some concerning statistics, including rates of occurrences such as lack of evidence for accounts receivable (10 percent) and unsigned conflict of interest statements (13 percent). He ended his presentation with three recommendations:
- Emphasize the application of the SDA Financial Oversight System as a substantive and sustainable approach to promote organizational financial health
- Examine all financial policies and determine which have the greatest impact on organizational financial health and merit being tested as core policies by auditors
- Expect all leaders to become familiar with financial policies so their collaborative approach to mission-driven activities can be informed by best practices for collectively managing financial resources
This segued to a well-connected yet more broadly applicable discussion on transparency and integrity, which was moderated in tandem by Juan Prestol-Puesán, GC Treasurer, and Ann Gibson, Professor Emerita for Andrews University’s School of Business Administration. Prestol-Puesán asserted these two attributes are indispensable pillars that must uphold our ecclesiastical, professional, and relational practices.
Gibson introduced a handful of hypothetical scenarios and subsequent discussion questions to promote critical thinking and sharpen our ability to exercise proper, biblical ethics, in the face of difficult situations.
Consider the example below:
- Beginning of case: The Treasurer of the Division hails from a country within in the Division, but not the country in which the Division office is located. The Treasurer and some of his close family members have personal real estate investments, specifically two houses, which are located in the Treasurer’s home country. In planning for various itineraries throughout the Division, the Treasurer can route travel through his home country at very little extra cost to the division, as compared to direct travel. Doing so would permit the Treasurer to care for these properties while actually living in another country.
- What difficulties are likely to occur when leaving real estate matters to others when one moves to a new field? How can these difficulties be overcome (e.g. sell the property; put the property in trust; place the property under management by a property manager?)
- Assuming one chooses to continue to be responsible for personally caring for the property while living elsewhere, how can this task be accomplished? What issues arise if the care for the property occurs while traveling “through” the home country while on Division business?
- Or: The Treasurer decides to “volunteer” himself to be the Division representative to attend mid-year and year-end Union Executive Committee meetings in his home country because, after all, he is the one who “really understands the financial issues in that Union.”
- What are the usual procedures for assigning attendance at year-end meetings among Division officers? Should special preference be given to “home country” attendance because of a better understanding of the issues in that area?
- What are the implications if the Treasurer is found attending to personal business (i.e., his property holdings) so that his attendance at these meetings appears to be a “conflict of interest”? Is it a conflict of interest? If so, how should it be handled?
These and other ethical issues–unknown perhaps a generation ago–are now present realities for a church where leaders move from areas where they’ve accumulated personal holdings to other fields of service.