“New Meetinghouse Financing Policy Considers Tithing Faithfulness,” Ensign, May 1982, 101–2
The First Presidency has announced a new Churchwide policy on the construction, acquisition, operations, and maintenance of Church meetinghouses and meetinghouse sites. In describing the new policy, President Gordon B. Hinckley indicated that its purpose is not to emphasize buildings, but to lay the spiritual foundation for increased obedience and faithfulness in order to receive the full blessings of the Lord. The policy takes into consideration the faithfulness of members in paying tithing.
Effective immediately, Church units must meet certain requirements before approval is granted for construction or acquisition of new meetinghouses; local participation in the total cost will not exceed 4 percent, with remaining construction costs financed from general Church funds. This percentage is much lower than in the past.
All building operation and maintenance costs arising from normal use (except utilities) will be paid by the Church beginning July 1. Currently, expenses are shared by local units and Church headquarters.
Thus, beginning July 1, local units will have responsibility for funding all costs of meetinghouse utilities. Explaining the policy, president Gordon B. Hinckley noted that “these costs will include such items as heat, light, water, and sewer services. The cost of utilities is based on use. These are expenses over which local officers have at least some measure of control. We hope that they will not become so penurious in exercising such control that our buildings will not be comfortably heated or cooled as the case may be, and that they will be kept lighted when necessary. However, when the people of a ward realize that they have the responsibility for paying such utilities they will be inclined to be more careful about leaving lights burning and such similar matters.”
Previously, to qualify for a new meetinghouse, three requirements were to be met: an established number of members attending sacrament meeting; determination of need for a meetinghouse; and submission of an approved construction master plan. The new policy calls for the fulfillment of two additional requirements: achievement of a prescribed level of unit tithing faithfulness; and being current and complete in statistical and financial reporting, as well as current in remitting tithing and fast offerings.
The tithing faithfulness requirement is determined by projecting the percentage of adult full-tithe payers in a stake or mission. Such a projection is based on the percentage of adult males who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve explained that “we have found that when we know the percentage of adult males who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, we can accurately estimate the activity level of a unit. We have, therefore, developed a method to determine a tithing faithfulness level we can expect Church units to achieve. In simple terms it is, the larger the percentage of Melchizedek Priesthood holders there are in a unit, the higher the expected percentage of full-tithe payers a unit will have.”
Minimum tithing faithfulness requirements for each unit were established as a result of the review and analysis of 1,335 stakes and 187 missions of the Church.
The second added requirement, that of providing current and complete statistical and financial reports, is the basis upon which the tithing faithfulness standards are established.
The new program provides for local unit participation in labor and/or cash. However, no loans for the cash portion will be made by Church headquarters. “Debt will not be a part of the building program of the Church,” explained Elder Perry. “If a unit intends to use cash for all or part of its local share, the cash must be raised in advance of making application for a project.”
The new policy for financing meetinghouses is not applicable to welfare projects, temples, seminaries and institutes of the Church, according to Elder Perry.
The following questions and answers have been prepared to help further explain the new policy on construction, operation, and maintenance of meetinghouses.
Q. What reports will be used to determine the tithing faithfulness standards?
A. The annual tithing and donation status report will be used to determine the percentage of adults who pay a full tithing. The total number of adults as well as the number of Melchizedek Priesthood holders will be determined from the annual member and statistical report.
Q. How often will the tithing faithfulness standards be updated?
A. Once each year. This will be done by approximately July 1 after all year-end reports have been received and annual calculations have been completed.
A unit that does not presently meet the tithing faithfulness standard will be required to qualify during the current calendar year in order to be eligible July 1 of the next year.
Q. What happens if we already have a building started, approved under the old ratio formula?
A. All existing loans for construction or acquisition of meetinghouses beyond the amount required by the new ratio will be canceled.
Q. Does this mean if we’ve paid more than the new ratio requires then we’ll receive a refund?
A. No. Amounts already contributed in excess of the adjusted local share will be used in the general Church building fund. This fund will be used to further the building program of the Church.
Q. If we have on hand, in savings or checking accounts, funds which have been raised for building or acquiring a new site or a meetinghouse, what happens to these funds?
A. All contributions that have been accumulated for prospective meetinghouse projects will be donated to the general Church building fund at this time. When the projects for which these funds have been raised are approved, a credit toward future local shares will be allowed for a two-year period.
Q. How many projects can our stake or mission have going on at the same time?
A. Except in the United States and Canada, units will be allowed to have two projects in process at any one time. In the United States and Canada only one project will be authorized at one time. A project is considered to be a full-size meetinghouse or several smaller projects that in total do not exceed the cost of a full-size meetinghouse. A unit, therefore, may have several small projects under way at a time.
Q. Occasionally Church property is sold. Do the local units share in the proceeds from the sale?
A. The proceeds will no longer be shared with local units, but rather go into the general building fund to be used in constructing much-needed facilities throughout the world.
Q. Since the Church will be responsible for operation and maintenance costs other than for utilities, does that mean the Church now will pay 100 percent of the custodian’s salary, whereas before it was shared between the local unit and Church headquarters?
Q. Who pays for furnishings and equipment?
A. The costs for the initial complement of necessary furnishings and equipment will be shared on the approved construction or acquisition ratio, which will be 4 percent or less.
However, the costs for replacement of furnishings and equipment that are not part of the structure, such as appliances, chairs, desks and library equipment, etc., for which Church participation is authorized, will require 50 percent local participation.
Q. What is the advantage of having the local units responsible for 100 percent of the cost of meetinghouse utilities?
A. Because local units can best control some of the major cost elements of operating meetinghouses, we believe substantial cost reductions are possible through conservation and wise use of utilities. Simple measures such as turning off unneeded lights, reducing temperatures of unoccupied buildings, and turning off air-conditioning units when they are not required can result in direct savings. Savings resulting from energy conservation will accrue to the financial benefit of local units.
Q. What happens if the building, furniture or equipment is damaged because of abuse?
A. In this case, the local unit is responsible for 100 percent of the cost of repairing or replacing.
Q. If a building is damaged or destroyed by a disaster, such as fire, flood or earthquake, who is responsible for its replacement?
A. In the repair or replacement of such buildings, the local share will be on the same basis as in the construction of a new building; that is, not more that 4 percent.
Q. How is it determined which costs the Church pays for and which costs the local units will pay?
A. Generally speaking, costs that the local units have the ability to control will be their responsibility. Costs that maintain the meetinghouse at the appropriate maintenance level will be the responsibility of the Church.