3/19/2011

Gone With The Wind: The Money

Mr. Kilough writes in his March 15 letter:
We can be thankful that with the tremendous Internet capability and potential we don’t have to wait until we accumulate certain high levels of income to start.
On the other hand, no effort to spread the gospel comes free of charge, and neither does Internet development. That brings us to the next matter of income and financial management. In this arena we started with nothing and knew not what to expect. On the positive side, due to the generosity and support of a large number of members, our current income stream is covering everything we have committed to so far—subsidies to international areas, congregational expenses, member and retiree assistance, salaries, ministerial expenses, and special programs such as camps and the feasts. Otherwise, we would not have made the commitments we have.
On the downside, it’s still challenging to ascertain income trends with enough firm data to make long-term projections and budgets. Plus, the commitments made and some yet to be made are quickly laying claim to the income we have. But realistically, for a three-month-old organization just beginning to walk, and considering the fact that January through March is historically the lowest income period of the year, such a level of uncertainty should probably be expected... 
First, we are looking for better, more efficient ways to do things. Starting over gives us a fresh opportunity to look hard at everything we do and ask key questions: Are we making the best use of the human and financial resources we are blessed with? Why do we do things this way? Is there a better way? Can a different approach achieve a better outcome? Can we engage more volunteers? How can we better use resources without sacrificing quality and effectiveness?
Second, we are implementing two budgets this year: one with a short-term view for income and expenses until the end of June, the second for the last six months of the year. Why two? Let’s start with the second one. Come midsummer we will have a much clearer picture of both weekly and holy day offering income trends. By waiting until then we can more confidently plan for the long term, knowing how well we can cover expenses, especially in preaching the gospel. It just makes better sense to wait and develop a long-term budget based on more accurate information than we currently have. The short-term “saving and setting aside” budget aims to lay a good foundation for the future. We need to immediately set aside a prudent amount of resources for preaching the gospel, and we must look hard for more ways to save.
The ministry is on a “go lean” program for the next three months—a financial diet, if you will, strictly monitoring expense “calories” and brainstorming for ways to trim. Our pastors have recently demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice. Many went weeks without salaries, and when rehired many took significant cuts; mileage reimbursements were cut in half from what they used to be and recently raised only slightly, meaning they are losing money in the long term due to the increased costs of gas and upkeep. But no one has complained, and we know they will continue to be diligent stewards.
Third—and this is something we are delighted to announce—we are dedicating the first holy day offering of the Feast of Unleavened Bread entirely to preaching the gospel. This will provide the “seed money” for sowing our future efforts. In a time when we don’t have an annual budget in place and there are many hungry mouths, it will also assure that the gospel is guaranteed its seat at the resources table and that its share isn’t gobbled up before it even has a chance to get started. We are very grateful that we can make this type of commitment in advance, and we trust that you will be 
pleased with this too.


--
Mr. Kilough must realize what Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong did. The Passover and Fall Festival Holy Day special offerings are a cash cow windfall for the ministry! Mr. Armstrong wrote about this in a monthly co-worker financial crisis collection letter: 
Formerly we had to borrow a million dollars in January and pay back out of Passover special offerings. Then we had to borrow another million in July to be paid back from the Fall Festival offerings. 
Will Mr. Kilough collect a million dollar "special" sacrificial cash offering over Passover? One thing is certain. Third tithe is not now being spent on church jet(s), maintenance, insurance and fuel burning up thousands of dollars each minute airborne. The COGaWA ministry class is economizing by having to drive it themselves or fly on commercial aviation to warn the world the end is nigh. But how IS the offering money really getting spent? Church of God financial statements in the past have been usually secretive matters, deceptive, or substantially uninformative. Salary information, too is kept hidden from donors.
  
Restricting the first holy day offering of the Feast of Unleavened Bread entirely to preaching is really a grandstanding gesture, intended to prime the COGaWA pump. But what one hand giveth in accounting the other can taketh away, without too much slight of hand. Just ask church auditor Arthur Anderson.  Without detailed financial statements or tracing the cash account journal entries, what this holy tranche of passover money actually pays for is anybody's guess.   

And Ralph Levy writes about the Abolition of Slavery on March 14th: 
Slavery—we often think of it as a relic of the past. The children of Israel came out of it when they left Egypt. The United States supposedly saw the last of it at the time of the Civil War. It’s something that existed in ancient Rome, in the medieval age, in the colonial eriod. But it’s now gone, right?
Wrong. Sadly, slavery is still with us. The International Labor Organization estimates there are at least 12.3 million people in some form of forced labor in the world today. That is, over 12 million people are “treated as property and are forced to work” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery). They may be “held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation” (ibid.).


The modern world has not seen the last of slavery. Debt slavery is common in South Asia; it involves depriving vulnerable people of their freedom and forcing them to work to pay off real, invented or exaggerated debts.


A recent feature on CNN.com highlighted this situation in parts of India, where, for a debt of as little as 1,000 Indian rupees ($22 or 16 euros), poorly educated, sometimes illiterate people are kept against their will and forced to work with few or no freedoms and no apparent prospect of paying off their presumed financial obligations (http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2011/03/08/cfp.sidner.india.slave.labor.cnn?iref=allsearch). This kind of debt slavery also exists in African and Middle Eastern countries such as Mauritania, Sudan, and the Ivory Coast. It often involves child slavery, with whole families at times forced to perform menial tasks, such as making bricks.
If they only knew what Ralph Levy knows. Triple tithing, tithe of the tithe, and special offerings to the Church of God - would completely end their financial slavery! 

2 comments:

Douglas Becker said...

Given that the whole Armstrongist venue is built on psychotic delusions and distorted perceptions, built by a hypomanic alcoholic with barely more than an eighth grade education, who rebelled against his first church administration because he wanted to be in charge and went forth in heresy to become a false prophet, wouldn't it be so much better if the whole group admitted failure, told people they were incompetent and didn't know what they were doing and close up shop?

Why wait for better days when there is no Scriptural basis for tithing on wages and there is no Biblical Basis for Second and Third Tithe? Isn't that like idolatry or something? I mean, who would expect a righteous God of justice, judgment and equity to support such deviations from the Biblical standard?

And furthermore, what ever makes this group that it will fare any better than the one upon which it is patterned? Is there something magical and mystical which will transmogrify their lemming like march of madness to a raging success?

And where is their faith? Why discuss it at all? Don't speculate: God will provide. Unless He doesn't. And if He doesn't, wouldn't that tell you something?

So why don't they just go forward in the Faith of Jesus Christ, expecting that He will provide everything they need as long as they have a good heart, fast and prey... er... pray?

Unless, they're in it for just the money.

What was the issue again?

Stan said...

Doug,

I think you're on a roll. :)


Stan