Follow the Money:
SECC Helps Equip Churches and Members


Part 2


If a conference’s allocation of tithes and offerings reveals its priorities and values, then it is clear that Southeastern California Conference places high importance on local congregations and their members. Of the $47.9 million budgeted income for fiscal year 2010, SECC allocated nearly 11 percent to the ministries and departments that serve and equip congregations and to support congregations’ own ministries. What follows is a portrait of the services and ministries funded by tithes and offerings and how each impacts local congregations within SECC.



Ethnic Ministries


Southeastern California Conference is highly ethnically diverse. The conference meets the needs of its ethnic congregations in part by funding its Asian-Pacific, Black, and Hispanic ministries. There are 43 Hispanic congregations, 41 Asian-Pacific congregations, and 17 Black congregations in SECC. Money set apart for these ministries funds seminars, retreats, Weeks of Prayer and other convocations specifically for Asian-Pacific, Black and Hispanic constituents. Scholarships and air travel funds are available to minority students enrolling in Adventist colleges, and monies are set aside for use in ethnic congregations for local church projects.


Support for Evangelism


SECC employs three full-time and three part-time evangelists who conduct outreach meetings within the conference and who lead in literature outreach in concert with La Sierra University students. The department of church growth and discipleship coordinates their ministry. Congregations that apply may also receive funding for local evangelistic events from the church growth and discipleship budget.


Equipping Local Leaders


The Sabbath school department trains leaders to effectively lead Sabbath school programs and discussions and helps to provide materials for Sabbath school classes. The conference hosts annual conference-wide training seminars along with several regional and congregational training sessions each year.

Adventist Community Services seeks to meet local communities’ needs in Jesus’ name. In SECC, ACS trains congregational leaders to minister in communities throughout the conference territory. The community services department hosts an annual community services retreat at Pine Springs Ranch.

Southeastern California Conference is home to one of the finest health institutions in the world, and the conference’s active health ministries department complements healing ministries by hosting, promoting and financially supporting smoking cessation programs, stress management seminars, nutrition and cooking classes, hygiene and communicable diseases awareness, health fairs, health screenings and more.

The upcoming “Faith and Freedom of Conscience in an Age of Terrorism” seminar in early February is an example of the conference religious liberty department’s active participation in promoting religious liberty through education, legal services and advocacy. The religious liberty department is a local chapter of the North American Religious Liberty Association.

SECC’s prison ministries and disabilities ministries office equips members to minister to prison inmates and disabled persons, providing training on how to interact with and witness to them.

Women’s ministries mentors and nurtures women's lives and their gifts in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus. Besides providing leadership training events in San Diego County, Orange County, the Inland Empire and the desert area, the department offers resources for women who minister in local congregations.

Family ministries, which also includes men’s ministries and singles ministries, provides resource materials and seminars to promote healthy families in SECC.


Communication


The communication department in SECC acts as an intermediary between conference leaders and local congregations, providing news and event schedules from congregations and dispensing announcements and stories from the conference headquarters. The communication department also maintains the SECC website with its growing cache of news, resources and multimedia content, and oversees emergency and media communication.


Youth


Under the broad umbrella of youth ministry in SECC are several departments that minister to younger generations. Youth Rush, children’s ministries, youth ministries, Pathfinders and Adventurers and young adult ministries are some of the many ways in which the conference promotes the spiritual well being of its youth. The conference provides more than $45,000 to local congregations for Vacation Bible School programs. Bible conferences, jointly sponsored by the youth department and office of education, often are held at Pine Springs Ranch to offer teens opportunities for spiritual growth with peers.


Education


The office of education with its eight K-12 schools and more than 20 elementary and preschools, will be considered separately in a future edition of Conference Priorities.


Property and Trust Services


The conference’s Property and Trust Services is an entity that provides valuable resources to constituents and provides a source of revenue beyond tithe and offering income. Here, conference representatives act as liaisons between church members and attorneys for members whose estate plans include the conference or beneficiaries in its territory. The conference pays legal fees, and in turn, receives an average of $1.5-$3 million from bequests annually, which is allocated according to benefactors’ specifications. Other Property and Trust Services activities on behalf of churches and members also will be covered later in this series.


Following the Money


Following the flow of tithe as it is put to use in service of Southeastern California Conference’s mission tells a story. A vital part of the story is how the ministries and departments within the SECC headquarters provide resources, training and funding to local congregations to equip and empower churches throughout the conference.

(Originally published in the March 2011 issue of Conference Priorities)

By Jared Wright




Follow the Money

Where Do Tithe Funds Go? - Part 1

SECC Helps Equip Churches and Members - Part 2


Intangibles Measure the Value of Pine Springs Ranch - Part 3