Inter-American Division Treasurer Ivelisse Herrera beings her report during Inter-American Division’s Mid-Year Executive Committee Meetings on the finances of the church on May, 2, 2023, in Miami, Florida, United States. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

May 3, 2023 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

“The financial position of the Division is strong,” stated Ivelisse Herrera, treasurer of the Inter-American Division, at the start of her financial report to the dozens of church and institution administrators, department heads, and laypersons who gathered on day two of the Inter-American Division’s  Mid-Year Executive Committee Meetings in Miami, Florida, United States.

“We should stop for a moment to praise the name of God because we can see evidence that He never tires of providing resources for His Church,” said Herrera.

She credited fellow administrators Pastor Elie Henry, president, Pastor Leonard Johnson, and Filiberto Verduzco, former treasurer, for their vision and strong financial leadership.

Committee members were briefed on financial indicators that affected operations before and after Covid.

Committee members look at financial statistics presented during the treasurer’s report. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

Increase in tithes and offerings

Herrera pointed to the tithe growth across the 24 unions, or church regions, in the IAD, under one of three categories during the 2020-2024 period.  Nineteen unions were on the green category—growing solid and strong, which reflects an equal or greater than 5.6 percent tithe growth average in US dollars, she said. Two unions were on yellow—growing but have an average growth, with between 5.6 percent and 2.4 percent, and two unions in red, which indicates there is an increase but no growth with 2.4 percent of tithe growth average. The goal is 7.8 percent for tithe growth, she said.

For the Offering Growth Average, there are 17 unions in green with equal or greater than 5.79 percent, three unions in yellow between 5.79 percent and 2.89 percent, and three unions in red which are equal to or less than 2.89 percent.

Offering to Tithe Relation Average saw 11 unions in green with equal or greater than 36.66 percent, two unions in yellow between 36.66 percent and 33.34 percent, and 10 unions in red with equal to or less than 33.34 percent.

Administrators of the North Mexican Union share a moment during the treasurer’s report. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

In 2020, there was a minus 9 percent tithe growth. In 2021, there was an increase of 7 percent, and in 2022, there was a tithe growth of 16 percent. Offering growth saw a minus 15 percent in 2020, zero percent growth in 2021, and 12 percent growth in 2022.

“We thank God for the faithfulness and generosity of the church members, the remarkable growth in tithes and offerings in the IAD territory, and the soundness of the financial system that supports the fulfillment of the mission of the church in the territory and worldwide,” said Herrera.

Service programs and appropriations

As far as providing assistance to unions in various support and service programs, the Division has been going over the budget especially during the challenging years since 2017, said Herrera.

From 2017 to 2022, appropriations to unions went far beyond what was budgeted, especially in 2019, at the start of the pandemic in 2020, through 2021, and into 2022. Appropriations received from the General Conference since 2017 have been matched by Division funds for disbursement to unions and local fields at a straight line, statistics showed.

“Faithful to the Task” is one of several books that have been provided to the church membership as an initiative in partnership between treasury and stewardship departments. [Image: IAD Screenshot]

“We have had years that we are not doing so bad, but we have had years that hit us very hard, like in 2017,” said Herrera as she spoke on the operating expenses of the main office. By 2021, the expense reached 92 percent of the budget and in 2022, 98 percent was reached.

With currency fluctuations resulting in some losses of funds throughout the territory, none was more evident than in 2021, when nearly one million dollars was lost, said Herrera.  There was also a decline in returns of investment for the fiscal year of 2022.

For several years now, the Division invested funds in integrating its treasury and stewardship departments, producing books and resources each year so that every church member can understand the principles of stewardship and how tithes and offerings are managed in the church, explained Herrera.

Higher numbers in 2023

As of April 2023, Herrera reported that there has been an increase of 15 percent of tithes in comparison with 2022. As of April 2023, there was also an increase in offerings of 17.9 percent, in comparison with the first four months of 2022, she reported. “I am sure that the Sabbath School quarterly on stewardship has influenced the increase,” said Herrera. “We have heard many testimonies of how the fields have seen a significant difference, so that tells us that we have to keep stewardship concepts and studies close to church members.”

Pastor Elie Henry (center), president of the inter-American Division chairs the executive committee before approval of the treasurer’s report. Ivelisse Herrera, (left) IAD treasurer and Pastor Leonard Johnson (right), IAD executive secretary look on.[Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

As Herrera concluded her report to the committee, she reminded church leaders that God “has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind,” as 2 Timothy 1:7 states.

“Let’s continue working with optimism, not because we think we are self-sufficient but because we are convinced that the Spirit of God is with us and that He is in control,” said Herrera.  “We must be intentional about the mission, knowing full well that the Lord will provide the resources.”

She reminded leaders to be prudent in managing finances, continuing in faith even amid the pressing challenges, fiscal restrictions, and economic threats.  “We must be prepared when the devaluation and fluctuation challenges hit us and work cautiously, keep an ideal level of contributions to the Employee Benefit Plan and be ready to respond during natural disasters,” added Herrera.

“Do not forget that the Lord is in the boat—His church. He is leading the boat and will place everything in order. If there is something to adjust, God will be there to guide us. Let us move forward with that assurance,” Herrera said.

Committee members pray for God’s continued blessings on church members and the work of the church across the Inter-American Division at the close of the treasurer’s report on May 2, 2023.  [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

Herrera informed committee members that an upcoming union treasurers’ advisory would study work procedures and management for the next few years. Executive Committee members voted to accept the treasurer’s report for 2022.

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