Series - Treasurer

The Church Treasurer: Reporting, Credit Cards, and Other Tips

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My wife was in pre-op for delicate tear duct surgery this past Monday. Two surgeons were involved: an otorhinolaryngologist and an ophthalmologist. The younger of the two, the ENT doctor marked Kathee’s left eye – it’s this one. In walked the older of the two1 who announced, “I’m not a surgeon, but I did sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night.”2 Well, he really is a surgeon and I’m not an accountant and I haven’t slept in Holiday Inn Express in years! But I am resolved to follow GAAP3 and EFCA standards on financial reporting:

ECFA Standard 3 - Financial Oversight:

Every organization shall prepare complete and accurate financial statements. …

The financial statements (and the disclosure of the financial statements) are key components of transparency, both within the ministry and to donors and the public. This flows directly from biblical principles: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19–20 NIV).

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The Church Treasurer: The Transition and Assuming the Role

Twice I’ve had opportunity to manage the finances of another individual. The first was my son Roger’s deployment to Iraq. He was a student at Saint Cloud State and a reservist in the USMC when he was called up and had to deploy. It happened rather suddenly. He and I took these steps:

  1. We visited his bank and had me added to his accounts
  2. He reviewed with me his finances and bills and had all directed to my address
  3. We rented a garage to store his truck

Upon his return,1 all reverted back to him. (I was amazed that his ‘95 Chevy S-10 started with no issues having been stored for almost a year – “Like a Rock”).2

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The Qualifications for the Church Treasurer – “Dr. No”?

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I mentioned Gary Blessman in the first article in this series. Gary is the Vice President of Institutional Finances1 at Central Seminary and the Business Administrator2 at Fourth Baptist Church and Christian Schools.

Jim Peet is no Gary Blessman—I will never be a Gary Blessman! But my church is not Fourth Baptist Church, and we don’t have a seminary. An organization like Fourth Baptist Church and Central Seminary needs a professional treasurer—ideally someone who is a C.P.A. and has an accounting degree. Gary graduated from the University of Southern Colorado with a degree in accounting, and from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters in Church Administration. He passed his C.P.A. exam in 1987. He was the bursar at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the controller at Mount Senario College before joining the staff at Fourth Baptist Church. He has the requisite education, and experience for his ministry.

The treasurer of a large church deals with issues “beyond my paygrade”3 such as:

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The Church Treasurer – What Are the Duties?

Read Part 1.

I’m somewhat familiar with “where Minnesota golf was born,“ because the Minnesota Mayflower Society where I serve as a board member has our annual Thanksgiving banquet at the storied Town and Country Club in Saint Paul.

As the first “country club” in these parts, Town & Country Club was more of a social organization inspired by the clubs in Saint Paul that were formed as a nucleus of the annual Winter Carnival. A residence on Lake Como was the first clubhouse in 1887. The Club moved to its present home at the Marshall Avenue Bridge on the Mississippi River in 1890. Today, this “country club” is in the heart of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, but in 1890, it was in the boondocks of Saint Paul.

The original Town & Country Club, a Saint Paul landmark, was designed by state capitol architect, Cass Gilbert, and built in the early 1890’s for $25,000.

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The Ministry of Church Treasurer

Through an unusual set of circumstances, I am now the treasurer of a church that I was barely acquainted with one year ago.

A year ago, I was 2 months past 39 radiation treatments for cancer and my cancer doctor gave me the news that the regimen was apparently successful. As an aside, doctors never commit to the word “cured.” But so far so good! My pastor commented to me, “I guess God is not finished with you yet!”

My wife and I began to pray, what would God have me to do with my retirement time?

In June, I became aware that a small church in an exurb about 25 miles NW of us needed a treasurer. Their treasure had resigned, and no one had stepped up to volunteer. I contacted the pastor and indicated that I would be interested in the position. He was just about to go on family vacation followed by a mission’s trip to Kenya, so the meeting was deferred for a month.

On July 3rd I had follow-on blood work and again received the “all clear.”

Kathee and I prayed about this and contemplated whether the Lord was in this or not. Some questions and considerations were that we were in a very good church just several miles from our house. The new church would mean quite a bit of driving and a commitment to be very involved no matter how harsh the weather. In Minnesota the weather is a real factor.

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