|Special offerings proposal barely defeated in committee|
|Written by Jack Haberer, Outlook editor|
|Tuesday, 03 July 2012 23:12|
By the closest of margins, the General Assembly’s Mission Coordination Committee turned down a plan to restructure the way the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) collects churchwide special offerings through the year.
By a vote of 25-23-1, the committee adopted a substitute motion which leaves intact three of the four current special offerings – known as the Joy, Pentecost and One Great Hour of Sharing offerings.
The name of the fourth offering would change from the Peacemaking Offering to the World Communion Sunday Offering. Half of its income would be allocated to peacemaking; one fourth to denominational global witness and outreach beyond the United States; and 20 percent would be used by congregations and 5 percent by presbyteries for their own peacemaking efforts and outreach to the world.
The full assembly will consider the committee’s recommendation later this week.
The 2010 General Assembly had commissioned a “Special Offerings Advisory Task Force” to study the pattern and practice of receiving and allocating churchwide special offerings. On Tuesday, the Mission Coordination Committee approved five of six of the task force’s proposals. Among them: setting a goal to raise $20 million through the special offerings by 2020 (an increase of 50 percent from current giving level of $13.7 million); clarifying criteria for receiving and operating the special offerings; and affirming denominational leaders’ efforts to coordinate funds development.
However, the task force had also recommended changes to each of the four major offerings, appealing to donors by emphasizing “the means, rather than the end result” and asserting that givers “are motivated by impact, not by method,” the task force report said. In other words, the focus would shift from funding particular designated programs to more general support for certain spheres of work.
Karl Travis, chair of the task force, told the committee, “Of eight sister denominations presently collecting the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering, we’re one of only two that still have program-based funding.” The other is the United Methodist Church, whose offering goes entirely to the United Methodist Committee on Relief. “All others are doing cause-based funding, and with great success,” Travis said.
Many speakers expressed concerns in open hearings and later some committee members voiced their own doubts over the reality that the task force proposal would no longer allocate to particular programs a set percent of the funds received from the special offerings. Instead, the denomination’s national staff would be allowed to determine, within certain limits, how the money would be divided. Some speakers rose to defend particular special offerings, urging the committee to protect the distribution allocations that already exist.
A'Lece Boomsma, a young adult advisory delegate from South Dakota Presbytery, referred to the speakers from the open hearings. “Thirteen out of 16 people spoke in favor of One Great Hour of Sharing. We are in a huge time of change. Change is needed. But so much change? Taking away something that has been here for 60 years? I don’t think we need that kind of change at this time.”
After the substitute motion to revise the recommendations of the task force became the main motion, it was approved by a margin of 38 to 13.