How Money Got Us Into Trouble
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How Money Got Us Into Trouble
Enter Term, Commissioned”
Now it is of significance that when the IRS said (in 1978) that it would accept a licensed minister as equivalent to an ordained minister, it used a word that had little meaning in our denomination at the time. The IRS said that if the person were allowed to perform marriages, it would accept the person as equivalent to as ordained minister whether the person had been licensed, ordained, or commissioned. Here was a new word, commissioned.” As we shall see, it was pregnant with meaning for the future.

Through the years many treasurers, departmental directors/secretaries, and institutional managers had been given ministerial licenses and later ordained. These licensees were individuals, mostly men, who had manifested what might be called specialized ministries, but though they were scarcely ministers in the ordinary sense, some of them at least were considered eligible for the parsonage allowance. But in the mid-1970s a reaction against the practice set in. At the very time when the General Conference and the NAD were defining ordination as merely a policy item, many Seventh-day Adventists at all levels were complaining that ordaining treasurers and departmental directors/secretaries and institutional managers just so they could get the parsonage allowance was wrong and seriously diluted the grand significance of ordination to the Gospel ministry. Thus many officers who might in previous years have qualified for the parsonage allowance found themselves no longer eligible.

Then someone came up with a novel type of recognition: what about commissioning such people, calling them commissioned ministers, and giving them the right to perform weddings and baptisms? The IRS had promised that is would let such people receive the parsonage allowance. Further, if such men were not ordained, the church members would stop complaining.

And so it was formally voted, and at least some treasurers, departmental directors/secretaries, and institutional managers again found themselves privileged when the American income tax time came around on April 15 each year. Bible workers also began to be commissioned for the first time, and people felt it was right that these hard-working Gospel workers should receive special recognition. Then came the idea of commissioning church school teachers, not as ministers but as commissioned teachers, and again people felt it was right to recognize these often-unsung champions.
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