During the fiftieth General Conference Session, held in Detroit, Michigan, in 1966, a vote was taken to turn the Church Development Service into the Church Development Department. Pastor Walter M. Starks was elected as director of this department, a position that he held from 1966 to 1978. The Spring Council of 1967 made official the name of Stewardship and Development Department.
From its beginning in the Southeastern Union in the United States in 1957, the Church Development Service was used only in North-America, and it was dedicated to help churches know how to finance church and school construction projects.
After becoming a church department, with a worldwide action range, emphasis was given to the need to promote the stewardship program within the revival and reform realm and give the church the orientation and professional assessment needed for projects involving construction and development.
The Inter-American Division was one of the first world divisions to name a stewardship director. Pastor Glen Smith was assigned to the position. The division voted on November 12, 1967, to appoint stewardship leaders in all the different levels of the church, including the local church, and the reaction from the local fields and churches was positive.
Subsequently, a stewardship program for the church member was established following the systematic benevolence principles. Thereafter, a stewardship program for the local church was envisioned under the concept of a combined budget, and the stewardship program for the conference/mission was structured with the concept of the development plan. The mission/conference development plan is a program that organizes the spiritual as well as the financial resources of a local field.
The program was consolidated in Inter-America during the decades 1970-1990. On May 12, 1994, the Inter-American Division held a stewardship Summit Conference in Miami, Florida. The division committee approved the personal giving plan consisting of a Global Offering as the official program for the whole division.
This plan would then improve and replace the combined budget plan previously used in the entire division since 1969. Three unions started with the new plan on January 1995, followed by five more in 1996. The remaining unions adopted the plan within the following two years.
Since its inception, the Stewardship Ministries has had leaders who have promoted the principles and programs prepared in coordination with the world field. For this reason, training of stewardship directors is very important.
In the Inter-American Division stewardship leaders on all levels (division, union, conference, and mission) are encouraged to support the mission of the church and provide leadership that: 1) demonstrates dedication to the stewardship principles; 2) teaches that stewardship is a very high spiritual experience; 3) instructs workers as well as members on the biblical concept of total stewardship; 4) motivates and educates the entire membership on the Adventist system of personal giving plan; 5) leads them to put this plan into practice; 6) provides a stewardship curriculum for the certification program, and 7) coordinates an annual training program for stewardship directors, ministers, elders and lay leaders for the purpose of providing local churches with biblical and dynamic church leadership.
Our mission is to glorify God, and under the influence of the Holy Spirit, lead every convert to experience a personal and transforming relationship with Christ, enabling the believer to become a disciple in sharing the Everlasting Gospel with everyone.
The principal task of the church is permanent evangelization and total participation. The growth programs include a consolidation plan by the church. It is to win new members, to retain and prepare them for the kingdom of God.
Since 1995 the focus of the Inter-American Division is the theology of stewardship. The tithe?10% of income?is God's portion that is used to support the ministry and to proclaim the gospel in this conference/mission and in all the world. This should be set aside first.
“The giving of tithe and offering each Sabbath is an act of gratitude to God for Seventh-day Adventists, and is also an expression of faith in the church’s financial system. Thanks to that faith, the church has managed to blossom throughout the world for 150 years.” ?Màrio Niño