particular post in Facebook caught my attention. It asked if anyone knew how our offerings were accounted for and what safeguards were being taken to secure it.
There are two factors that have to be considered before making a comment on the subject that is rather sensitive and of course, confidential. It’s like asking a banking institution to reveal their money flow and security processes. And two, whether the revelation of the process if made, would far outweigh the negative factor and instead instill positive awareness among the brethren.
A few years ago this disclosure would have cost anyone’s head, not to mention his membership with the Church.
I firmly believe that corruption is most difficult to exist at the locale level. The precautions which ironically were created and placed by the Central Treasury Office made sure of this. There are just too many signatories needed by the locale before funding of a request is finally approved by the Central Office. No actual cash is kept in the locale. All cash derived from whatever church related source is initially always submitted to the Central Treasury for their discretion.
But once it reaches the main Treasury, despite the many offices handling our offerings, only one signatory is accepted and recognized before the release of Church funds for whatever purpose. No, it is not the signature of the Executive Minister EVM, nor the Overall Treasurer Suratos. Only the General Auditor Glicerio “Jun” Santos has blanket authority to approve and release Church funds. Even the elementary salaysay of any officer connected with Pananalapi is addressed to him. No matter how minute, no matter what department handles the concern, if money is the problem, no cold cash will ever be released without the “Jun Santos” signature.
There is no such thing as petty cash, cash advance, per diem, or reimbursement in the Church. Another term covers all these expenditures, it’s called: “kusang pagtugon sa pangangailangan ng Iglesia” Or simply put, you shoulder the expenses.
So , what expenses covers “kusang pagtugon?”
- Moving expenditures inside the Receiving or Prayer room e.g., coffee, sugar, drinking water, creamer, air freshener, toiletries,etc.
- Breakfast, lunch, or dinner for the officiating minister and company. The Head Deacon is tasked to oversee that the minister and company are “treated” well and their needs met.
- Transportation fare for official functions, assignments, evangelical missions,etc. This includes giveaways, calamity goods and at times the offerings of visitors and even their formal church wear (for indigents). The officers from the Pamunauan to the Deacons and Katiwalas shoulder these expenses.
- All paraphernalia for local evangelical missions such as the printing of streamers and posters.
- Designated locale tickets for concerts (sold and unsold), T-shirts, paraphernalia ordered from UNLAD. The Pamunuan usually takes care of this with assistance from affluent members of the Church.
So, where do our Church offerings go?
- P-1: Thursday and Sunday abuloys are considered National funds. Primarily used to cover expenses for running the Central Office and implementing administrative procedures, Church workers (ministers and employees [but the term used is volunteers] )allowance and housing, etc.
- P-9: Yearly Lagak. For chapel construction and maintenance.
- P-13: Tanging Handugan. Local fund. All expenses from the security guards to the bantay kapilya, gardener, water and electric bills are shouldered by this fund. Out of 4 Sundays in a month, 3 Tanging Handugans are allotted for local funds. The remaining 1 Sunday goes to the District Office. Except on occasions where special offerings are conducted where one or two Sundays are also deposited to the Central Office, leaving behind the remaining one or two Sundays for local consumption. So to put it short, roughly 3 Sundays Handugan needs to cover all the requirements of a locale. How much does a locale need for its survival? A regular chapel (Pilot, Lagro, Mountain Heights, Paco) would need at least approximately a hundred thousand pesos monthly to maintain its keep. But if it is air-conditioned with a generator, the cost would rise another 100 thousand.
- Lingap. This is directly coursed to Jun Santos’ Office. Central office has no jurisdiction over these funds.
Now, you might ask how do I know all this. Simple. Being Head Deacon, I am the counterpart of the Pastor/Minister who signs all the corresponding documents before submitting it to the Head Office. I am the last person who checks all these documents and signs it before the Pastor confirms and affixes his own signature; the only counterpart who knows the combination of the local vault where all these sensitive documents and cash collected during worship services are temporarily stowed.
Depositing money into the Church Treasury is no problem. You just drop it into the supot ng abuloy or drop it into the handugan box or use the lagak slip. But once it has officially been received by the Church, to withdraw it under any circumstance is next to impossible.
Now, the question arises. Why does EVM trust Jun Santos so much to the extent of giving him exclusive rights and sole discretion to the funds of the Church? Why are all documents related to Church finances advised to pass through his office? Why are we not delegating functions on Church finances of lesser importance to other individuals or offices? One big question mark raising a lot of eyebrows.
How time flies. The air is getting stuffy out here.
“Ms Goofy, would you like to take a walk?” I ask as I slowly stand up and walk towards the gate. She barks instinctively while Katy follows regally. I stretch my arms and both of my “colleagues” do the same. Then I purposely dart towards the gate – Goofy and Katy lunge forward. i suddenly stop and both of them collide into me. I pick both of them up and cuddle them oh so tightly till Goofy whimpers, “nuff, nuff” while Katy does a Wolverine with her claws.
Though very humid, Love is still in the air, and I sing –
“I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.”