The Accounting Historians Journal
Vol. 13, No. 2
G. A. Swanson TENNESSEE TECH UNIVERSITY
John C. Gardner
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN AT LA CROSSE
THE INCEPTION AND EVOLUTION OF FINANCIAL REPORTING IN THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Abstract: This research documents the emergence of accounting procedures and concepts in a centrally controlled not-for-profit organization during a period of change and consolidation. The evolution of accounting as prescribed by the Gen-eral Canons is identified and its implementation throughout the church confer-ences is examined.
Accounting has been called the language of business and finance. It is a universal language which is applicable to all cultures and historical periods. Basic cost accounting or financial procedures are applicable in Japan or America and have their chronological antecedents in the Near East and Western Europe. Institutions such as the Christian church, military groups, and even feudal govern-ments contributed to the development of accounting procedures, auditing practices and new theories. Each of these institutions was also joined by the nascent capitalistic enterprises which began to emerge in the early modern era in places such as the Italian city states. These city states, with their commercial interests helped to stimulate the development of new free enterprise accounting practices.
Historically, the Western church has played a central role in the development of capitalism and accounting. During the Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church provided literate people who main-tained primitive sets of books during the feudal period. Pacioli, who is often credited with being the father of accounting, was a church trained scholar. His Summa includes a summary of double entry bookkeeping practices in the fifteenth century.