December 8, 2022
This last month of 2022 is shaping up to be very busy, but in reality, this entire year has been busy! Coming out of the pandemic, we’ve begun traveling again, which has added significantly to the calendar, especially since the summer! In August we had the International Leadership Program, Phase 3 (ILP3) conference in Barbados. In October we celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles in more than 40 locations around the world. The Feast was followed by the ILP3 conference in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. Then in November we had all the camp directors in for meetings to discuss our youth camps for next year, followed by the annual meeting of the Feast coordinators.
And now, here it is December, the last month of the calendar year! During this first week of the month, we have had the annual meeting of the Ministerial Board of Directors. This will be followed by the ILP3 conference in the Philippines and then the Winter Family Weekend in Louisville, Kentucky. God willing, I plan to be at all of these December activities.
The Ministerial Board of Directors (MBOD) meets annually during the early part of December. Their responsibility for oversight requires approval of each year’s budget and strategic plan. The MBOD is composed of seven members, selected by the elders for eight-year terms. The next selection of board members will take place in 2023 and those selected will begin serving in the fiscal year 2024. The current board consists of David Baker, Arnold Hampton, Joel Meeker (chairman), Larry Salyer, Richard Thompson, Leon Walker and Lyle Welty. Each year I begin the meetings with a “State of the Church” report. I submit this report to the board two weeks in advance of our meetings and then go over the report in person during our meetings. Here is a portion of this year’s report that was sent to the board on Nov. 21:
The Church of God, a Worldwide Association, will celebrate 12 years of operation on Dec. 23, 2022. And January 2023 will mark the beginning of our 13th fiscal year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the last two years have been extremely challenging, but in spite of these challenges, God has blessed us in so many ways. Our financial position is not just good, but very good and beyond what we expected.
There are some obvious reasons for our strong financial position—increased income, record holy day offerings and diminished expenses. But adding all of these together does not fully explain our current financial position. God’s blessings have been obvious and consistent. It is impossible to explain how we have arrived where we are without God’s involvement. I never thought it was because we are so smart or so gifted in management, but because God has been merciful to us and blessed us beyond what we deserve.
Another part of this year’s “State of the Church” report is an update on the possibility of constructing an auditorium/education center on our McKinney property. Here is what I wrote to the MBOD in November:
When we purchased the 7.4 acres of land in the city of McKinney, we were required by the city to submit a master plan for the lot. We knew that we wanted an office, but beyond that we had no definite plans. As required by the city, we put together a master building plan that included an auditorium/education center on the northern portion of the lot that could be used for church services by the local Dallas congregation. Because of the excellent income during the 2021 fiscal year, we reopened the auditorium discussion this past summer. This discussion included the administration, the MBOD and a group of Dallas members, including the local pastor, Andy Burnett. The administration, in consultation with the MBOD, agreed with the wisdom of taking the preliminary steps that would be necessary prior to construction, but would not require a commitment to build.
With approval from the MBOD, the Church entered into a contract with a local architectural firm, Alliance Architects, to produce a full set of plans for constructing a 12,000-square-foot building, capable of seating 500 people. When the contract is completed (sometime in early 2023), we will have all the building and civil engineering plans needed to go to the city of McKinney to seek the permits for construction. At that point we will need to make a decision. We can take the plans from the architect and just hold on to them, or we can take the plans to the city to get approval for construction and then choose a builder to begin the actual construction. Based on our current financial situation, I believe that we could construct the auditorium/education center without affecting our cash reserves to any serious extent. Even with this expenditure, we will continue to maintain eight to 10 weeks of reserves. Because of the uncertain economic climate in our nation, if we decide to build, we do not plan to incur any debt.
We have truly been blessed. Our income for this year has shown a steady increase over 2021; the Feast of Tabernacles set a new attendance record; and each holy day offering during the year set a new record for the amount, with a total increase of more than 10 percent over the previous year. And, in addition to the financial blessings, we have seen small but steady membership growth in the different regions of the world. Our U.S. attendance is steady with a slight increase since 2021.
In Colossians 2:6-7 Paul wrote to the congregation in Colosse: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”
In light of the recent Thanksgiving holiday and the abundant blessings we have received, this scripture made me think about the need to be “abounding in it with thanksgiving.” We have so much to be thankful for at a time of extreme darkness and trouble in the world. Our calling and understanding of the truth are at the top of that list of things to be thankful for. Paul admonishes us to be “established in the faith, as you have been taught.” The truth is precious and should be passed along to each succeeding generation. God called us out of this world and made us part of this most amazing work here in the end time. To please God, Paul admonishes us to remain faithful as we have been taught and to abound with thanksgiving!
Sincerely, your brother in Christ,