[A FUTURE LDS ESSAY TOPIC ON LDS FINANCIAL SECRECY]
(Hello, I am a guest writer on this blog. David T is out on sabbatical for personal reasons.)
During the first half of the 20th century, the Church endured financial hardships that encumbered the church monetary means and required revelations on tithing by Presidents Lorenzo Snow and Heber J. Grant. President Snow increased tithing reserves by maintaining a ten-percent on income (instead of increase) and President Grant renewed Church Sole ownership by chartering the Church as a Sole Corporation in 1923. Since that time, the Church enjoyed prosperity and return on investment that allowed it to invest excess tithing into non-profit land speculations and business opportunities that overall, on average, yielded a net increase of over 15% annually.
Critics have often complained that the Church is more about money than about increasing its talents as the Lord counsels in the parable of the talents (See "Parable of Talents"). One of the most beneficial investments happened in the last quarter of the 20th century and through the first quarter of the 21st century with investments in land in Florida, including the Deseret Ranch and Panhandle Forestry Reserve, of Property Reserve, Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Corporation of the First Presidency of COJCOLDS (The Sole Corporation of all incorporated businesses owned by the Church).
At the opening of the 21st century, the Church held approximately $60 Billion in assets and $15 Billion in liquid cash. (See this news article for historical context.) This value nearly tripled in value when development of the Deseret Ranch turned to residential estate management, which was pushed through by revelatory edict and proper inspired management in the Lord’s quorums.
Media of the time declared that, "The biggest development ever planned in Florida would cause no ‘adverse impacts’ to water, wetlands and wilderness in an enormous part of Osceola County, according to a brief statement by the state's top environmental agency." Further that the development would bring, "...rise of a Central Florida metropolis of a half-million residents within a 133,000-acre corner of the [Osceola] county." Premature complaints that a "...host of concerns about water supplies, transportation routes and population densities proposed ..." were ill advised.
The investment and management by Church financial advisors tripled the Church assets in a mere decade by 2022, from $60 Billion to almost $200 Billion. The increase represented to most members at the time evidence of inspiration of the Lord’s anointed, but had been the subject of concern for many members of the US LDS congregation. This investment also marks the turn of membership increase to high levels of third world members (as the US membership diminished) which turned the tide of membership overwhelmingly to other nations outside of Americans.
Critics had predicted such shifts in profit and wealth, suggesting it would lead to a reduction in Church membership. Their prophesies proved false given the dramatic increase the Church saw worldwide due to its rapid rise in wealth and small increase in percent dedicated to humanitarian aide (from 1.8% to 2.6% in a decade of the first quarter of the 21st century), which attracted a vast influx of members in foreign lands. This abundant global wealth is in fulfillment that the word of the Lord would spread to all lands, tongues and people. Money, and investment, is necessary to spread the word of blessings to all lands. The Lord provides.