Inside United: Realtime

Exciting News & Updates from UCGIA

Treasurer’s Perspective: “In Service to God”

September 7, 2010

[The following article appears in the September issue of United News and is reproduced here for our “Inside United: Realtime” readers.]

UCG’s new treasurer recounts spiritual and physical miracles from his own life experiences that taught him a strong faith in Jesus Christ as the living Head of the Church.

In Service to God

by Aaron Dean

Many of us likely remember the trying times in 1979, when a receivership was imposed on the Worldwide Church of God by the attorney general of the state of California. What most do not know was that an important transaction was taking place 6,000 miles away on the very days the legal battle started. The Ambassador College Bricket Wood campus had sold, and the proceeds from the sale of the former campus were being transferred to the Church’s bank in the United States.

About $3 million were in danger of falling into the hands of the receiver, who would then control the funds and spend them as he wished. Attorneys retained by the Church tried to stop the transfer and keep the funds out of the receiver’s hands through every legal means possible. To do so, however, would have locked the funds and started a chain of events that would have led to bankruptcy and reorganization. To everyone’s surprise, neither option came to pass. The fund transfer went through.

An Unexpected Blessing

The Church’s bank, instead of holding it for the receiver, deployed a special, seldom-used legal allowance. To both the receiver’s and the Church attorneys’ surprise, the bank used the funds from the sale to pay off and close the Church’s total outstanding lines of credit and current bills of —guess what—about $3 million. Meanwhile, tithes from members and coworkers went to Herbert Armstrong’s office in Tucson, Arizona, where the Church’s work was carried on by paying bills as they were due day by day.

Newspaper headlines did create fear, however. Some Ambassador Auditorium performers, not understanding the different types of receivership, refused to perform unless paid up front in cash. For weeks we carried a briefcase full of cash to pay performers right before they went on stage. Except for these odd situations, the Church managed to function fairly normally.

Looking back, it’s obvious to me that Christ decided that the receiver would not be given that choice.

The outcome? The Church never went bankrupt, which kept the integrity and honor of the Church and God’s name throughout that crisis. The lawyers thought we had lost the battle when the money transferred. But actually God won and protected the Church in His way for His purpose, putting the Church in a stronger financial position than before. This unanticipated act of God prepared the Church for the remarkable growth it had beginning with Mr. Armstrong’s return to Pasadena in 1980 until his death in 1986.

God’s plan is always done, often in a manner that tests all of us. It creates a positive opportunity for us to see ourselves and understand others, to grow in grace and knowledge and become more like God. Likewise, it gives God a chance to sift through those who wish or claim to “decide” God’s will for Him. God directs things in our personal lives as well, using little events to prepare us for future things.

The God I wish to serve as treasurer knows the future and guides things to His glory and purpose often beyond human reason. I’ve never felt qualified for any job in God’s service. In 1974 I was asked to work on the Church’s corporate aircraft. That job required chef skills, but Mr. Armstrong wanted an Ambassador graduate. While a student, I had asked the food service director, a culinary arts graduate, if I could help prepare the many special formal dinners at Ambassador—for food—not in preparation for any job. When the need arose on the G-II jet on the day of my graduation, I was drafted to serve, although cooking ended up being the least of my duties.

Training Following Near Tragedy

As many will remember, Mr. Armstrong suffered a heart attack in 1977. While he recovered over the next few years, I was asked to take accounting and law classes to expand my skills so that I might ultimately be of better service to the Church. I took a few law classes and began pursuing an accounting degree at California State University–Los Angeles (CSULA) with the goal of sitting for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam after graduation.

When Mr. Armstrong returned to Pasadena in 1980, I had taken most of the accounting classes in the program at CSULA. Mr. Armstrong had me withdraw from school to once again help him with his far more important mission—carrying the gospel to world leaders. My work with him as his aide never allowed me to finish the program or take the CPA exam, but the added education did help when he was presented with budgets and wanted to discuss other financial decisions during those years.

With Mr. Armstrong’s death in 1986, new leadership took the Church in a different direction doctrinally and organizationally. Disregarding promises he made to Mr. Armstrong, within months his successor systematically removed me from certain positions and duties for what are now obvious reasons. I was reassigned to be over Ambassador food services and also asked to teach in the business major.

To fulfill accreditation requirements for the college, a number of faculty members needed to upgrade their academic credentials. The accounting discipline already had the necessary advanced degrees for accreditation, so I returned to CSULA, this time to acquire a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Management and Finance. That degree was completed just prior to the consolidation of the college in Big Sandy, Texas, where I taught various business classes until Ambassador’s close.

I didn’t ask for or expect the current assignment as treasurer. It uprooted me from a pleasant life in Texas, an enjoyable job, a wonderful congregation with friends I cherish and away from our comfortable home and first grandchild to be born in January.

I didn’t want to move. But from personal experience I know that God prepares us throughout life for His service, and it sometimes takes us in directions we cannot see.

Where Will God Now Lead?

Only God truly knows the direction He is taking us. We have to have the faith to know that He is leading. Our plans, though often with noble intent, only truly work when they conform with His plans. As I have personally witnessed, when we are not in alignment with God’s will—however well-intentioned—God creates events that override the decisions made and influenced by human reason, sometimes to our frustration, but always for our benefit and according to His will. I have seen that happen time and again.

The president has asked that I review all of our financial operations to see whether improvements can produce additional efficiency and effectiveness in helping him oversee the use of God’s tithes and offerings. I provided a similar service when I was working for Mr. Armstrong.

In fact, all of the funding for the highly successful overseas Ambassador student projects and some support of international youth camps worldwide came by creating new efficiencies from existing funds and programs associated with Mr. Armstrong.

Despite what many thought were limited funds at the time, God provided amazing global growth for The Plain Truth magazine between 1980 and 1986; and by 1986 the Church was spending $27 million annually on television media buys. Having this example and knowing what we now know and have experienced, how much can we do now?

Fulfilling Our Dual Commission

We can maximize the funds that God inspires the members and coworkers to tithe and donate. We still must train ministers and help members; we must preach the gospel. Can we do it in a more cost-effective manner?

We will look at insurance, travel and other overhead costs to free up funds for our dual commission of preaching the gospel and preparing a people. We will use advances in technology to help lower meeting costs.

Most of all, we must do our part in yielding to Christ and having the faith that He will guide us. Having this attitude is far more important than any credentials or human ability. But make no mistake; our Church must operate within history-making, challenging times. Our current budgets are much lower than what was available during Mr. Armstrong’s latter years. But we still serve the same God the Father and Jesus Christ, and we still have the same commission and the same highs and lows in spiritual and physical trials. If we yield our minds and hearts to God, we will complete what God has laid out for us to do.

In these trying times, just as during the receivership, some may see the Church trapped in front of a 21st-century Red Sea. But as He has done in the past and as He will do in the future, God will part the waters and take us through as we follow His Son. We will stand in awe of Him as the impossible becomes reality.

As we approach the Fall Festival season, let us all seek to be aligned with God’s will, for then we as His Church will receive power to achieve that will. UN

September 7, 2010 - Posted by | Council of Elders, Financial Services, Home Office |

16 Comments »

  1. Wow, wonderful letter Mr. Dean. Very encouraging! Thank you.
    Merry

    Comment by Merry | September 7, 2010 | Reply

  2. Very good Very good! Amen and Amen!

    Comment by Alvah P yle | September 7, 2010 | Reply

  3. Great letter. Thank you for the background information. We are very happy you accepted this position.
    Kathy

    Comment by Kathy Trone | September 7, 2010 | Reply

  4. Thank you sooo much for talking ‘one on one’ with us. We do need to see the overall picture, but sometimes we/ourselves or circumstances get in the way of staying focused. I personally can relate to what you have been through, because of personal circumstances, I am being trained for ‘something else down the pike’ that I cannot know or see as well. I have always appreciated you and your wife for serving in your capacity to Mr. Armstrong for sooo many years! Both of you have helped to make it possible for many of us to travel and be educated in the cultures of other nations. We will in no doubt be able to have a better perspective of serving others in the world when they are ready to be served because of the faith in our Loving Father that you two have practiced! Thank you for yielding yourselves early when you did to teach us to do the same now. It’s not about us, it’s about others(The World).
    It’s about , ‘An outgoing concern for others’ as Mr. Armstrong would say. Keep steady man and thank you for doing so.

    Comment by David Alan Jutson | September 7, 2010 | Reply

    • An addendum,I would also like to add.
      The LaRavia family with Ellis and Gwen made a great contribution to our ability to go to the world with Mr. Armstrong with the ‘Message'(Give and Get). They worked very hard in their role in promoting the opportunties for the Work of GOD to be made available where it would not be otherwise available under Mr. Armstrong’s leadership in the process. This was and is still a process that continues till this day, unabated! The LaRavias have made an awesome contribution to the fulfillment of the Work of GOD.

      Comment by David Alan Jutson | September 7, 2010 | Reply

  5. Thank you for that perspective. We would all do well to remember why we are here and who is REALLY directing HIS plan. I hope we can continue to submit to His will and be privileged to take part in it in some–perhaps small?–way.

    Comment by Martha McQueen | September 7, 2010 | Reply

  6. My Prayers will certainly be for your success and for the success of the church in getting the Gospel message to the whole world.

    Comment by Barbara Turner | September 7, 2010 | Reply

  7. God (both Father & Son) is indeed in charge!
    Hope to serve with you now & in our future.

    Comment by Skip Miller | September 7, 2010 | Reply

  8. Thank you, Mr Dean. I wanted to shout, Hurrah!” May God bless your efforts!

    Comment by Sharon | September 7, 2010 | Reply

  9. Mr. Dean,

    Thank you for the reminder.

    Sometimes it is hard to remember what we are supposed to have learned long ago and know how to apply! (It is so easy to forget, especially when life for us more closely resembles a circus than a planned event.)

    Ro 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    God is a good Father who gives us what we need. And it seems to us God is gently reminding us to look for and follow His lead. Thank you for underscoring that valuable point.

    God grant all of His children the heart and mind to yield to Him, discern through His eyes and humbly follow His lead.

    Comment by Gary Jacques | September 8, 2010 | Reply

  10. Hello Aaron – What an terrific, uplifting, inspiring letter pointing us to where our faith should be focused; to God and Jesus Christ, and just at the right time before the Fall Holy Days. Dana & I hope you and yours have a wonderful Feast.

    Thank you for your years of dedicated service to God’s Church.

    Sincerely – Paul & Dana Burnes

    Comment by Paul Burnes | September 8, 2010 | Reply

  11. I am so excited that the vison for our church is still on track. God will do for us what we can not do for ourselves. Pray for a mind of unity. Thank you Fran Schuster

    Comment by FRAN SCHUSTER | September 8, 2010 | Reply

  12. I live in Doyelstown zip code (44230). The Tv program, Beyond Today ” IS AVAILABLE ” at 8:30am Sunday on channel
    49.
    You have it listed as( not available) for Doylestown.
    You might want to update your listing.
    My wife and I watch it each week…

    Comment by David W Ritter | September 8, 2010 | Reply

  13. Wonderful and inspiring message written by Mr. Aron Dean. I had heard about the work he did since he was working with Mr. Amstrong. God helps him to manage the treasurer position wisely, so the Gospel of the kingdom of God can be preached all around the world as a testimony to all nations.

    God bless the Church.

    Comment by Elsa Cardenas | September 9, 2010 | Reply

  14. THANK YOU AARON DEAN FOR YOUR VERY ENCOURAGING LETTER !! I {FOR ONE} APPRECIATE SO MUCH YOUR FAITH AND PERSERVERENCEIN DOING GOD’S WORK. I PRAY GOD WILL BLESS YOU AND YOUR WIFE MIGHTALLY. YOU ARE TRULY A TRUSTED SERVANT.

    Comment by N.J.HALE | September 10, 2010 | Reply

  15. Thank you so much for your perspective on the church. It’s very encouraging, inspiring and uplifting.

    Comment by Doug Collison | September 11, 2010 | Reply


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