Members for Church Accountability Inc.
1999 Second Quarter
This is the quarterly newsletter of Members for Church Accountability. The objective of this organization is to promote accountability within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. MCA itself is primarily an umbrella organization within which representative/agents and their supporters can work to further this objective.
Section 1 - Financial Report
Summary financial statement for second quarter 1999:
Section 2 – Trustees’ Reports
Norm Smith - Secretary Treasurer
For any of you that would like to contact us by e-mail our address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Our web site address is: http://www.advmca.org. Again we would like to encourage MCA members to read this web site and to invite their friends to read it. If you don't have access to the web, perhaps you could ask a friend who does, to let you read it. This is an economical means of spreading the word about MCA. Mailings are quite expensive by comparison. Information about a web site can spread quickly on the Internet. If each person mails the site address with their recommendation to several friends, and they in turn tell others, the word is soon passed to a large number.
Fortunately for your treasurer, this has not been a busy quarter as far as MCA activities go. I have been extremely busy due to serious illness in my family. Again, I am a bit late in getting out this newsletter, and I apologize. My father has Lou Gehrig's disease and has come to make his home with us. We enjoy his living with us although we, of course, wish it were under different circumstances. This circumstance does greatly reduce the amount of time available which my wife and I have to spend on MCA activities. I have a reasonable expectation of being able to continue doing the secretary-treasurer's work of bookkeeping and of getting this newsletter together. My wife has been mailing the newsletter and maintaining the member list. She hopes to continue keeping the member list and doing the sorting needed for the bulk mailing, but she will likely need to have the copy shop do more of the stapling, folding and envelope stuffing. We mention this hoping that members will be understanding regarding our tardiness in getting our work done and in answering correspondence. ( If the MCA membership would like to appoint another secretary-treasurer, that would be fine with us also. )
I would like to bring up another concern. All contributions of whatever size are welcome at MCA and are helpful in meeting the expenses of MCA. In the past I have written a receipt and have made the corresponding accounting entries for every contribution no matter what the amount. This has come to be a very time consuming process due to the large number contributions in relatively small amounts. In the USA, the IRS does not require record of a receipt for contributions of less than $250. Unless directed to do otherwise, in the future I will send receipts for all contributions over $250 and will send receipts for other amounts only if the contributor requests one. Actually, for the present it would work to set the criteria at about $50.
Section 3 - Amendments and Elections
Section 4 - Member Letters
This section is for printing the letters that members send in. It provides the means for members to communicate with one another. It is also one way that representative/agents can communicate with those in their group. Needless to say, these letters do not speak for the MCA organization itself. So far as time and budget allow, we intend to print all letters from members which appear to be written for inclusion in the newsletter.. We will print the shortest letters first. Where it seems appropriate, the editor will make comments in response to letters.
Roger Johnson writes (in part):
I do agree the church leaders should be answerable and accountable to God and the membership. ... It is very dangerous to the existence of this SDA Church when our people are blind to the apostasy that exists within its doors.
Janice Crouse writes (in part):
God did not give me the ability to earn money for me to throw it away for conference leaders to gamble with! God does not bless these actions, is my firm conviction.
Julia White writes (in part):
Regarding your letter of July 1999:- Writer 2 - No one in his right mind is interested, or should be, in a "bashing frenzy" but people should be held accountable for their actions, especially those who are handling sacred funds and, ostensibly, working for God. And the millions of tithe moneys that has been wasted by Robert Folkenberg in suing churches and his own litigations is horrendous and tragic.
E. E. Cobb writes (in part):
We here haven't yet detected any forward action to bring responsible officials to accountability. Would appreciate receiving your on-going account of your efforts to effect corrections.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: We can appreciate your concern over the slowness of progress. We believe that the lack of visible progress is due largely to the unresponsiveness of some conference leaders. Your letter brings up a point that should be stressed, however. MCA has been organized to provide a structure within which members may work to bring about change in the church's accountability practices. The MCA bylaws allow the MCA organization itself only to request to make independent audits of church organizations. This will be done when the time seems right for such request. The primary activities toward change are to be carried out by groups of members organized within the MCA legal framework. So far one such group has been organized - the General Conference Reform Group lead by George Grames and Stewart Shankel. Your editor views the efforts of that group as being very effective in working to raise awareness of the need for accountability reform among members of the church. This would seem to be an essential step in view of the lack of adequate response from conference leaders to the petitions for accountability sent to them from Grames, Shankel and hundreds of other church members. We hope that greater progress will be seen if greater numbers of MCA members contact George Grames and Stewart Shankel to offer their help in their work. The door is open to organize other groups to work towards church accountability also.
Del Orser writes:
I just read you letter regarding concerns for the leadership of our
Adventist Church. I am concerned as well and will be a support only as
you can proceed with caution and allow the Holy Spirit to give clear
direction. You are dealing with an issue that requires sanctified
spiritual motives, in God's timing.
Rick Leach writes:
I am wondering how to get ahold of a copy of the letter sent by, I believe Dr. Grames, outlining in more detail the allegations against Folkenberg and the misuse of GC funds in funding a Canadian Media Venture? I lent my letter to another church member who has since lost it. Thanks for your help. Rick Leach
EDITORIAL COMMENT: We hope to have this kind of material available through our web site soon. As noted above, your treasurer has had a hard time keeping up with the regular business. There have been some generous offers of help from members that we soon hope to have the time to utilize.
David Elliott writes:
I do NOT want to receive any more of your trash. My God is in control and
He will take care of matters in his own time and way. We don't need the
likes of you to stir up things. He's able.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: We are sorry you think that way about our intentions. Have you read our web site?
Roland Lee writes:
Please send me the web site for 'MEMBERS FOR CHURCH ACCOUNTABILITY. I
tried the web site <http://www.advmca.org> and got a
notice that it couldn't be found.
This is the web site that was in the mailing I received from you.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: I don't know what the problem can be. That is the correct address. It seems to be working for us. Some of those who have offered help on our web site may be able to clear things up for us.
Gerhard Pudewell writes (in part):
I wholly agree in principle that there must be accountability for all church activity, particularly in financial matters. Total visibility for all transactions is necessary. This should not only be the norm at the G.C. level, but must encompass every management level up the ladder as well, starting with the local church. While I can appreciate your noble objective, the current approach of accomplishment when attempted as proposed by MCA will, however, remain ineffective because: No organization, public or private, will permit outside interest to arbitrarily audit its books. "Clean-up' must come from within the church family or churches through channels. Since there will be tremendous reluctance in doing this at all levels, as I suspect some wheeling and dealing at each level, it can only be forced by drying up the 'slush fund', i.e., in channeling the tithes through other than routine church channels.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: We agree that permission to make audits will be difficult to obtain. However, this seems to be the most direct approach. Please note that MCA members are SDA church members who are simply asking that there be adequate accountability within their church. As to alternate patterns of contributions, one might note that MCA does offer the provision for members to delay contributions by establishing holding accounts for larger amounts, as a means to encourage accountability.
Jennifer Walker writes (in part):
I'm sure I'm not the first to notice that there are numerous layers of church government in our Adventist system on which the local congregation has no say as to their function or existence. In the Southern Conference, a few positions were created within the past 4 years which result in more distance between the local church and the upper offices of the conference, but seem to be pointless as far as benefiting the church itself. Our pastor, having made the right connections, moved "up" to be Regional Director of the Southern California Conference, Eastern Division. What is that?! We notice that he now visits on a stealth basis--few ever see him or know he's been there--but we have no idea how he is helping us or any other of the 30 or so churches he visits. We do know that our tithes are paying his salary. Wasn't the purpose of the development of the conferences to provide better organization, unification, and ease the burden of the individual church?... Well, there's nothing like a good "thinking out of the box" to bring one back to the true purpose of the church. So, do we need hundreds of layers of government to spread the gospel of the kingdom--to be ready ourselves? I can't say what I am expecting from you, but I believe this organization is a collection of the thoughts of many who want more local control and who are tired of being in a powerless position while we financially support those who actively keep the power away from us. It seems even more ridiculous to see it in print.
Frank R. Lemon writes (in part):
Can you provide me asap with the complete present list of members? I personally
think this probably should be in hands of all members so each can see who
are their prospective compatriots. Thank you for expeditious help, if possible.
PS: Incidentally whenever you send out anything in the future to general
mailing, why not solicit E-Mail addresses from all members. Most
probably have them and this is a much more convenient and cheaper way to
make both individual and mass mailing contact.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Currently our bylaws prohibit us from intentionally distributing the MCA membership list. There are, of course, means for changing the bylaws if the members want the change. Also, there is no prohibition against a representative agent divulging the member list of those in his group only. Regarding email, our guess of the fraction of members with email would have been closer to one third, but it is only another guess. Even with database software, keeping accurate track of a member list and managing a large mailing is time consuming. Our thought is that for the time being, sending part by email and part by regular mail would be more trouble than it is worth. We are still at the awkward stage where we are large enough to be a lot of work but not large enough to set up and oversee ongoing office help.
Wayne P. Jones writes (in part):
I am totally sympathetic with your goals and will assist as I can in
Your report reminds me of a S. C. Conference Constituency meeting even
before Burbank, where a 29 yr. delegate from the Glendale City Church
and VP of one of the two large Calf banks, stood up in constituency
meeting and moved that there be an independent audit of the conference
books. Elder RR Bietz became apoplectic and began to talk down the young man,
and the man challenged Bietz to step away from the pulpit to address the
issue because he was not following Roberts rules of order....
It was hilarious as I look back and many people "bad mouthed" the young
man, but he stood his ground. It had an electrifying impact on the
meeting and 15 or more delegates came to the young man afterward and
supported his desire. This took place about 1960.
Now almost 40 years later, you are in a sense to the GC...that young
man. You have maturity and experience with you and many horrendous examples
to point to...Davenport being one of the first...so Good luck, carry on.
...I learned that accurate information was the best and most powerful
quiver in one's arsenal. To know the facts and to speak the facts to the
"public" scares the living begeezies out of those who live by public
image. I think you have started well and can accomplish much, as you do this.
Donald G. Morgan, President of International Laypersons Action Committee for Concerned Adventists, writes:
I enjoyed reading your quarterly newsletter and find it rather interesting. Kindly publish the enclosed copy of the letter to Dr. Jan Paulsen, President of the General Conference of S.D.A., in your next quarterly newsletter.
Dear Dr. Paulsen:
There are many Seventh-day Adventists, including this writer, who believe Elder David Dennis' allegations that (1) church officials engaged in corrupt practices as outlined in his 1995 suit against the Church officials of the General Conference and (2) that church officials defamed his character -- a case that is still pending in the Courts of Maryland.
Concerning the allegations of corruption, your office has received numerous requests from loyal and dedicated Seventh-day Adventists to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of the alleged charges. Thus far Church officials have failed to comply with any of the requests. In my letter of August 14, 1995 to then president, Elder Folkenberg, asking for an investigation (see enclosed copy) he referred my letter to his attorney Joel M. Savits, for a response. Savitz' response of August 29, 1995 was "I am confident that all of the concerns raised in your letter will be alleviated either through the judicial process or by Church leaders once this matter has concluded....
With reference to the Dennis suit, Church officials used and abused the separation of state and church clause to prolong, intimidate, and deny due process, thus preventing the truth from being revealed in the courts of justice, at a cost of millions of dollars to the Church. This money should be rightfully used for the further preaching of the gospel, helping needy students obtain a Christian education, and serving the needy humanitarian causes around the world. If Ellen White were alive today, such abuses would cause her to withhold her tithe a second time.
The disgraceful exodus from office of your predecessor was a gross embarrassment to the Church and is a partial vindication for Elder Dennis. The Church needs to complete the process by coming to a reasonable settlement with Elder Dennis rather than continuing this never ending illegal prosecution and persecution. This is a case which goes beyond David Dennis and affects every Seventh-day Adventist who has a just cause to exercise his/her rights for redress of grievances against the Church through the courts of justice.
Please save the Church from further public disgrace and embarrassment. It has had enough.
Donald G. Morgan
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Just a reminder that the MCA position regarding Mr. Dennis' allegations of misconduct by church leaders is that such serious claims should be publically investigated, regardless of whether the church leaders' allegations against Mr. Dennis prove true or not.
We include the following blank for use in recruiting new members. ( Make lots of copies to pass around. )
MEMBERS for CHURCH ACCOUNTABILITY, INC. (MCA) APPLICATION (nl1Q99)
/__/ I wish to be a member of the General Conference Reform Group
You will receive the MCA newsletter.
Send to: Members for Church Accountability, Inc.
PO Box 1072
Morrison, CO 80465