Western Adventist Foundation to Manage NPUC Trust Services

August 22, 2019 | Church | Steve Vistaunet

When North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) executive committee members gathered Aug. 21, 2019, in Ridgefield, Wash., for their quarterly meeting, they approved a dramatic shift in how the NPUC works with trust services.

Beginning immediately, Western Adventist Foundation (WAF), with headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz., will manage the NPUC trust services. WAF has successfully provided a similar service for the Pacific Union Conference and other Adventist entities for years. With an 18-member professional staff, it is audited regularly by General Conference Auditing Services. A small travel budget will allow WAF personnel to provide on-site support to local NPUC conferences as needed.

WAF president James Brown will also serve as the NPUC trust services director and become the NPUC association secretary. Richard Harrison, WAF general counsel, will also function as the NPUC association associate secretary.

This change of process from what has traditionally been managed by NPUC office personnel comes at a fortuitous time. The recent retirement of Chuck Simpson, NPUC trust services director, and departure of Allee Currier, association treasurer, to Upper Columbia Conference, has left the primary NPUC association positions empty. With the decision to turn trust service management over to WAF, the NPUC will not seek replacements for Simpson and Currier.

This move is also an acknowledgement that the management of financial investments for members is becoming increasingly complex. To contract with an organization qualified to provide experienced legal and financial management is a prudent decision based on the principles of good stewardship.

While this change should only enhance the services members have come to expect from NPUC trust services, those who desire more information about the updated process may call the NPUC trust assistant at 360-857-7025. The NPUC Revolving Fund will not be part of the WAF partnership and will continue to be managed directly by the NPUC association and treasury department.

The WAF vote was preceded by an update on the American Eagle funds, which, as an earlier Gleaner article described, had compromised five NPUC trust investments totaling more than $700,000. These funds, administered by American Equities, were recently put into receivership. Andre Wang, NPUC legal counsel, told committee members that, once legal steps are completed, a very small percentage of the funds, at best, may be recovered. In the meantime, NPUC is committed to restoring the principle investments to the trustors affected. Committee members approved the creation of a payable account, transferred from reserves, that will be set aside to ensure recompense for the trustors once all outcomes of the receivership are finalized.

John Freedman, NPUC president, introduced committee members to a leadership development plan for church administrators and pastors that will be launched during 2020. The North American Division is partnering with the union to develop leadership excellence at every level of the church’s organization. “Status quo is not an option for us,” says Freedman. “We must cultivate a climate where learning is fostered. Active learning and leadership development will be a catalyst for current leaders and new talent to become gifted and trained to serve to the glory of God.”

Bill McClendon, NPUC vice president for administration, shared enthusiastic reports on the growing impact of Vision 2020, a collaborative effort by churches around the Northwest to become revitalized in mission and outreach. With attendance at Adventist churches throughout the union trending below 40% of listed membership, the Vision 2020 effort seeks to address that reality check by helping churches reconnect with inactive members and with new friendships in their communities. The good news is membership reports year-to-date for 2019 show baptismal growth ahead of 2018 by about 10%.

Mark Remboldt, NPUC vice president for finance, reported that total 2019 tithe figures are slightly behind 2018 year-to-date amounts as of July. This belies the good news that four out of the six local conferences are showing tithe gains, whereas reports from the two largest conferences — Oregon and Upper Columbia — which have the largest impact on overall numbers, are temporarily lagging expectations. It is important to recognize Northwest members have indeed been generous, however, with more than $50 million in tithe shared through July. With careful management, NPUC actual income and expense lines through July show a positive profile humming along well ahead of budget expectations.

The committee approved three individuals for ordination: Brian Simmons from Oregon Conference, plus Kevin Daul and Jose Monzon from Washington Conference. Daul and Monzon are currently serving as military chaplains. While chaplains are not directly employed through their local conference, their ordination requests are handled by the conference according to North American Division (NAD) policy.

This meeting included an opportunity for committee members to review midterm evaluations of all NPUC officers in a special executive session of the day chaired by Alex Bryant, NAD executive secretary. The committee also officially and unanimously ratified an earlier decision, made via teleconference and email, to hire Jay Wintermeyer as NPUC communication director to replace Steve Vistaunet, who will retire in November.