Comments about ‘Elder David A. Bednar: 'The Windows of Heaven'’

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Published: Saturday, Oct. 5 2013 11:35 a.m. MDT

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cpafred
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

" Second, a portion of the annual income is set aside as a reserve for contingencies and unanticipated needs."

Where does this "set aside" money go? Is it leant to the massive "for-profit" ventures of the church at below-market interest rates so they can have competitive advantage against their competitors? How much is "set aside" while so many in the world are suffering? Why is their no stewardship (reporting back) regarding these "set aside" funds?

the truth
Holladay, UT

@cpafred

In a word "no."

The money is set aside exactly as they have said for contingencies and unanticipated needs, there is wisdom in that.

The church is doing all it can to alleviate suffering.

But there are realities suffering and hardship living in this imperfect world. As the scriptures say we must endure all things, and endure to the end. God will not take away all our sufferings in this life.

Thinkman
Provo, UT

How do we know that the LDS church is using the tithing and other contributions properly and prudently? Are we supposed to just have faith in man (arm of flesh)?

Northern Lights
Arco, ID

Thinkman,

Church finances are audited. Each year during the Annual General Conference, the senior Church Auditor presents a report on the findings of the audit. The Audit Department consists of experienced, professional CPAs. Otherwise, I don't understand what your personal expectations are regarding this subject based on your comment.

cpafred
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

@Northerm Lights

"the senior Church Auditor presents a report on the findings of the audit"

The Senior Church Auditor is an internal auditor. Internal audits are wholly self-serving and are not considered to be reliable (by outsiders) in the real world. This is why all public companies (and most borrowers) are required to have independent outside audits by external (non-emplyee) auditors.

@the truth
You are only speculating since the financial information that would settle the questions I raised is secret.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Thinkman,

I cannot report worldwide. Only in the eastern branches and wards I have had callings where I was aware of how church funds were used. There I have seen the administration of church funds BEYOND what folks would prudently do with their own money. To your question, what reporting methodology would not be the "arm of flesh"?

cpafred,

Having been part of an internal audit group years ago (not part of the church) it was considered quite reliable (though yes there were outside auditors as well). The church has no creditors.

Northern Lights
Arco, ID

cpafred,

The members of the Audit Department are credentialed professionals. They will lose their credentials if they do not follow the rules and business practices of the "real world" in performing their duties. The Church is not a public company and is not required to hire independent, external auditors to determine if the Church is using Tithing and Offering funds according to the internal rules the Church has established.

Northern Lights
Arco, ID

cpafred,

I should also point out that the members of the Church Audit Committee are neither regular employees of the Church nor are serving as General Authorities in the Church. (Then again, this is the same for nearly all lay leaders throughout the Church.) Nor do I believe the auditors all work in a single, private accounting firm, either.

The committee reports their findings directly to the First Presidency of the Church. This arrangement meets the federal requirements for federal reporting of a 501(c)3 entity. Federal law does not mandate release of a public financial statement. Further, this arrangement apparently complies with individual State requirements as well.

cpafred
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

@Northern Lights

Not only are your comments to me unresponsive to the question I originally asked (Where does this "set aside" money go?), but pointing out that the Church follows the bare requirements of the law is hardly comforting since we all know that doing what's legal and what's really right can be different.

Many 501(c)3 organizations disclose their finances to the public. I will not contribute a dime to any 501(c)3 organization that doesn't, and I wouldn't advise anybody else to do so either.

Northern Lights
Arco, ID

cpafred,

I wasn't trying to answer your original question. I was responding to Thinkman's comment when you inserted yourself into that part of the discussion. I don't know the answer to your original question other than to refer you to the full General Conference address cited in the article as well as previous statements from General Authorities that Church tithing finds are only used for their intended, stated purposes as found in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. This has so far been confirmed by the Church Audit Department each April. Sorry for the confusion, otherwise.

Also, as an American, I believe in your right to contribute your money (or not) as you see fit and I only ask the same right for myself. Likewise, the ecclesial side of the LDS Church has the legal right to not publish their full financial information to the public in the United States.

cpafred
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

@Northern Lights

"Also, as an American, I believe in your right to contribute your money (or not) as you see fit and I only ask the same right for myself."

I hope you are not implying that I am wanting to interfere with your rights as an American.

The real issue here is why is less disclosure better than more disclosure? When/why is secrecy good? Isn't reporting back an essential tenet of stewardship?

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

cpafred,

Many companies (even of significant size) choose to remain private and avoid financial and other disclosures.

Why?

Because you don't want everyone and their brother "advising" you on how you should conduct your affairs. Many of the Church's critics would love to be telling it what it should be doing with its money. I assume they want to avoid having every malcontent on the planet telling them they need to do more of this, less of that, and none of whatever because "they" are the experts.

I understand you point. I use financial statements and understand the value of an independent audit. All I can say is that every person I have ever known called to handle church funds has done so in a way that most private companies would adore. It would seem beyond amazing for these good men, usually in their 50s and 60s when they become general authorities, to reverse course on decades of precedent and begin wasting the Lord's money.

For non-members, I understand the reluctance. But for me, I am perfectly content to know the caliber of men that direct the church's affairs.

MrNirom1
Aloha, OR

There is not one word that will ever be spoken by anyone in the Church, that someone doesn't have a word to say about it in the negative way. That is just the nature of some people. We can talk about the good the church does for others and there is always someone who will say they don't do enough. We can talk about the blessings of tithing and there is someone who will twist it into something devilish. Talk about the practices of handling the Lord's money and there is always someone who thinks they know better and give direction on how funds should be dispersed. I could see people wasting their time over the financial reports if they published everything. Someone who would say your buying the wrong type of light bulbs and misusing God's money. I am a tithe payer and I don't care where the money goes. I did my part of the commandment. Those responsible for distributing those funds is their part. If they misuse them.. then they are accountable. I was the finance clerk for my ward and I enjoyed signing the checks and using the money correctly.

Dennis
Harwich, MA

Pray, Pay and Obey.....this is the entire crux of Mormonism that never slips by a General Conference without specific attention given to it.
I cannot for a minute believe that God has any interest in "money" whatsoever. Who we are, what we are and what we do are the criteria of man/women.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Dennis,

Having listened to all but part of the first session, I think you overstate the tithing issue. Many other things receive more emphasis - and justifiably so.

Money is simply a resource - one we endeavor to consecrate to God for the building up of what we believe to be his kingdom.

Dennis
Harwich, MA

@Twin Lights..."Money is simply a resource - one we endeavor to consecrate to God for the building up of what we believe to be his kingdom"

The Church has resources galore to "build the kingdom". I've been a member for 62 years and watched the Church grow to a giant financial machine. It doesn't need tithes from members and neither does God.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Dennis,

I also see the massive investments in chapels and temples worldwide - often in areas where the local populace have no ability to pay for or to maintain these buildings. The money is being put to use.

gmlewis
Houston, TX

Tithing is a part of the Law of Sacrifice, and the Law of Sacrifice was instituted well before the days of Abraham. Abraham obeyed this law when he paid tithes to Melchizedek, but he obeyed it even more when he was tested with the command to offer up his son, Isaac. He passed both tests of his faith, and was rewarded eternally.

Tithing is designed to build and test our faith, and the reward is worth the Sacrifice. Render unto Ceasar the things that are Ceasar's, and to God the things that are God's. The Lord can use donations to HIS Church to bless His children, just as much as he uses the resource of rain.

I'm glad that General Conference talks occasionally remind us of the meaning and benefits of this vital commandment.

raybies
Layton, UT

Pres. Bednar's talk was great but this article misses the part I found most instructive.

(here's a quote) "We may appropriately desire and work to receive a pay raise in our employment to better provide the necessities of life. Eyes and ears of faith are required, however, to notice in us an increased spiritual and temporal capacity to do more with less, a keener ability to prioritize and simplify, and an enhanced ability to take proper care of the material possessions we already have acquired. We might want and expect a larger paycheck, but the blessing that comes to us through heavenly windows may be greater capacity to change our own circumstances rather than expecting our circumstances to be changed by someone or something else."

As a worker experiencing the government shutdown, I found this particular part of his talk to be quite directional and timely. Of course at this point having a paycheck is as good as a larger one.

IrishLDS
Castleknock, Dublin

@cpafred

"Why is their no stewardship (reporting back) regarding these "set aside" funds?"
... "When/why is secrecy good? Isn't reporting back an essential tenet of stewardship?"

Elder Bednar's statement is a form of reporting back: "Second, a portion of the annual income is set aside as a reserve for contingencies and unanticipated needs." Tithing is a stewardship - between the Lord and his Church. The primary reporting back is to Him. When the windows of heaven are open to you, you can see than much, for sure. This is not the prophet's money. It is the Lord's to be used as he directs. The stewardship isn't between me (a member) and the heads of the church (on earth), it is between the Lord and his servants. They report and are accountable to Him. We choose to pay tithing. Besides, we pay it with faith, not money. Faith includes trust and confidence. Since I know the church is true I feel privileged to obey this principle. Finally, I have received much more from the church than I have ever given to it ... more than I have room to receive, in fact.

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