By George Crumley
The Apostle tells us in James 1:17 that every good gift comes from our heavenly Father. From the beginning, God designed us to be caretakers of what He has given us (Genesis 2:15). God’s plan for the support of His church on earth, His most precious possession, is the returning of tithes and offerings by those who love Him. He promised to bless us when we are faithful to Him.
One of the primary functions of His church is to teach young people to be lights in a darkening world, to be positive forces for good, and to make a difference in society. It is through our elementary schools, academies, and colleges that this education takes place. It was in these schools that my life and the life of my wife were changed for the better a number of years ago.
As with all things of value, there is a price to pay. Our educational learning centers bear the cost of staff salaries, property insurance, supplies, and utilities. Sharing these costs helps to lighten the financial obligation for families who want more than reading, writing, and arithmetic for their children. My daughter is an elementary teacher in another conference, and I know firsthand of the sacrificial commitment and endless creative energy that our teachers provide to help our young people learn and grow. Parents, local church members, outside donors, and Rocky Mountain Conference members unselfishly invest their money to make Christian education more affordable.
For the year 2017, the Conference set aside roughly $2,220,000 or 13.57 percent of gross tithe for education. This, along with other sources of funding, provides the resources needed to support elementary education, academy education, college education, and educational administration.
Below are a few details on how grades K-16 are funded.
Elementary Education (K–8). Local churches may choose to start their own school or to be part of a group of constituent churches that adopt and financially support a nearby school. The local church budget is one of the primary sources of funding when a church or group of churches decides to support a school. Some churches designate up to 70 percent of their local church budget to help subsidize an elementary school.
The Conference indirectly subsidizes an elementary school by billing the school for roughly 67 percent of salary and benefits for teachers, which means the conference covers around 33 percent of this cost. The majority of that funding comes from the tithe dollar.
Of course, parents or other family members also pay a monthly tuition amount set by the school. Tuition rates can vary based on the school’s geographic location.
Finally, there are other donations processed through the church books or paid directly to the school. These donations are given above and beyond God’s tithe. Local pastors often team up with families to explore ways educational expenses can be shared.
Academy Education (9–12). In the case of our academies, the Conference provides a subsidy that is funded by tithe, Rocky Mountain Conference Advance, and some non-tithe funds. Subsidy dollars provided are around $440,000 per year.
Family members provide tuition payments to the school and many students are able to obtain jobs that provide income to attend academy. Worthy Student Funds are also available for those who meet the criteria the academy has set up. Much of the Worthy Student Funds are provided by outside donations from alumni and church members throughout the conference.
College Education (13–16). The Rocky Mountain Conference sends around 3 percent of tithe to support Union College, our college within the Mid-America Union.
This amounts to around $470,000 per year. Of course, tuition is paid by parents, student loans, student labor, and grants or scholarships. Many donations are given by private individuals who also support the school.
Private education is not inexpensive and it is always a challenge to figure out ways to finance schools within and without the Adventist Church. But the blessing in attending our schools is huge. I have observed many students over the years whose lives have been positively impacted by attending our schools.
Are our schools perfect? No. Do they provide an environment where young lives can be inspired with a mission for God? Indeed they do. I believe our schools can set our young people on a path that will have far-reaching results, not only for themselves, but for society and for the world to come.
–George Crumley is RMC VP for treasury. Email him at: [email protected]