SERVING AND SAVING
On April 27, 2011 an F5 category tornado tore through Alabama’s Goshen Valley and completely destroyed the Piedmont Seventh-day Adventist church. The slab upon which the church stood was wiped clean. Even a heavy stone, erected as a memorial to noted charter member Desmond Doss, was transported by the storm to a nearby farmer’s field. What a devastating day for the Piedmont church family! In many ways the Piedmont church was blessed. There was no one on the property at the time of the tornado. No one was hurt. As Pastor Rick Blythe said, “Our church structure is gone but our church is alive and well.”
For Adventist Risk Management, loss prevention is one of its ministries and usually takes the form of risk education."
The Piedmont church family was especially invested in their church. Members who are contractors, plumbers, and electricians built the church from the ground up. The construction was finished only four years before the tornado occurred and through the grace of God they had just paid off their mortgage. The note burning ceremony took place the weekend after the building was destroyed.
In the midst of this setback the ministry of stewardship was clearly evident. These church members are wonderful examples of faithful stewards in the way they used their resources to construct their sanctuary, to pay off their mortgage and in the way safeguards were put in place to replace the building should a disaster like this tornado occur. Pastor Blythe and the conference leadership were in contact with Adventist Risk Management (ARM) almost immediately after the tornado struck, sharing vital information. This would allow for a faster, more efficient recovery.
Within a week of the destructive event, ARM claims personnel were on site helping the local congregation chart their course to rebuild their church. The ministry of ARM is based on three guiding principles: loss prevention, loss control and loss financing. Following these three guiding principles ARM and our church clients can collaborate to minimize the impact of unfortunate events, disasters and human error.
So what do these principles mean when it comes to stewardship?
For Adventist Risk Management, loss prevention is one of its ministries and usually takes the form of risk education. We have a team dedicated to educating churches, schools and denominational institutions about risks inherent in their ministry and how they can best avoid or minimize those risks. Most people take good care of their personal belongings As good stewards shouldn’t we take even better care of the resources God has entrusted to the community of faith?
We have a team dedicated to educating churches, schools and denominational institutions about risks inherent in their ministry and how they can best avoid or minimize those risks."
Loss prevention also means faithful maintenance of property. In fact, faithful maintenance goes hand in hand with beautification. Keeping property clean and properly maintained will help save tens of thousands of dollars that can be used for ministry. The simple routine of walking around a property collecting trash can raise one’s alertness to potential hazards that could turn into expensive liabilities.
Torn carpets, damaged floors and broken windows scream out “We don’t care!” They could lead to liabilities such as hazardous slips and worse, provide easy access to property and invite vandalism and other such criminal behavior.
Regular maintenance and upkeep will not only keep the property looking its best but will help prevent costly repairs and liabilities.
The Risk Management Education team prepares printed resources, videos and travels around the world speaking at events and visiting church ministries to raise awareness about important issues—everything from simple maintenance, to how to better protect children from harm and abuse. Our risk management specialists also conduct inspections and teach ministry leaders how to do this themselves. Above all the ARM education team is ready to provide simple, practical solutions for the church.
Loss control is a subtler concept but is part of property stewardship. When a loss occurs, there are often many things we can do to minimize the impact of that loss. For example, if a building is located in an area that regularly experiences hurricanes or other windstorms it is a good idea to keep extra tarps available should a bad storm come through and damage the roof. Having a tarp readily available (when many others are trying to buy them from the store) means that the roof can be covered immediately and avoid additional water damage, which can be quite costly.
Perhaps one of the most important ways to minimize loss is by reporting it immediately to ARM. It should be reported to the local insurance carrier if the loss is outside of a territory served by ARM. Waiting several days or even weeks before reporting losses can cost the local church, ARM, and even the Seventh-day Adventist Church more. Every day that an insured institution waits to report a claim the potential for greater loss increases and this can impact mission. There is no better stewardship practice or easier way to control loss than to make timely insurance claims.
Risk financing can take several forms; however, most know it as what is most commonly referred to as insurance. Sometimes a loss cannot be prevented. In the case of the Piedmont church, no amount of maintenance or loss control would have helped prevent the damage caused by the deadly tornado. They were blessed by the foresight of church leaders to partner with Adventist Risk Management to provide them with insurance. This helped them rebuild not just the building, but also their ministry. Their church was destroyed in April and they were meeting in their new building only four months later!
A COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY
The practice of stewardship in the form of risk management is not just the mission of ARM and its employees; the opportunity to participate in risk management is one that belongs to all of God’s people."
The idea of risk financing in the church is not a recent one. In 1935 a layman by the name of William Benjamin presented the General Conference with his idea for creating a fund that would be there to minimize the impact of any accidents or losses. In 1936 the General Conference set up the International Insurance Company of Takoma Park Maryland with US $25,000. Over the years the church has created various organizations to serve their growing needs in a changing global marketplace. Today a family of companies is operated by Adventist Risk Management, Inc. to serve the church’s risk management needs around the world.
The practice of stewardship in the form of risk management is not just the mission of ARM and its employees; the opportunity to participate in risk management is one that belongs to all of God’s people. God asks all of us to use wisdom, prudence and to take good care of the property and lives that He has entrusted to our care. Being a wise steward in the field where we are can mean simple things like watching for tripping hazards and keeping the sanctuary clean. If we take care of our home to ensure that the utilities are well maintained, think also of how the Lord’s property should be cared for with even more diligence. When we fail to care for those things that belong to God there is inevitably a cost that must be paid.
Let us all do our part to take care of the gifts that God has given us. At Adventist Risk Management we are here to support the church and its members and to help restore things when something has been lost.
ARM has resources such as an electronic newsletter that highlights common risk issues and provides solutions on how to prevent losses. Guides are available on our website that show how to draw up a risk management plan for your organization or facility. All of these and other resources prepared by ARM are available to you! We are your partners so that together we can keep the church’s mission going forward until the day we hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:23).
The ministry of Adventist Risk Management is a ministry of practical stewardship; our ministry is to protect your ministry!