From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Stronger Emphasis on Collection of per Capita

Date 04 May 1996 15:25:09


96077     Stronger Emphasis on Collection of per Capita  
                       Apportionment Sought 
                          by Alexa Smith 
CHICAGO--The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) has 
asked stated clerk the Rev. James E. Andrews to develop stronger language 
for the "Book of Order" about collection of General Assembly per capita 
     Andrews is to bring proposed language to COGA's May 22-24 meeting in 
     "Clarity strengthens," Andrews told the Presbyterian News Service 
after the Chicago meeting. "And the language needs to make more of the 
importance of per capita apportionments in the life of the church." 
     What that means, according to the recommendation from the Joint Budget 
Table (representatives of COGA and the General Assembly Council) that 
spurred COGA's action, is that language in the "Book of Order" needs to 
emphasize the "advantages of maintaining connectionalism." 
     Andrews said he has not yet begun to work on the language. 
     COGA also asked the Office of the General Assembly (OGA) to "create 
awareness" and to "pursue contact with presbyteries that are delinquent [in 
order to collect] outstanding per capita apportionments." 
     To date, 52 presbyteries still have outstanding per capita payments 
for 1995.  A total of $480,000 has not been paid, with 42 of those 
presbyteries delinquent for amounts over $1,000.  From 1988 to 1992, the 
total unrecovered per capita was below $60,000 per year.  But since then 
there has been an annual decrease of about 5 percent, according to Andrews. 
     "A  Book of Order' mandate for the collection of per capita would be 
counterproductive," COGA Budget and Finance chair Pamela J. Sharick of 
Youngstown, Ohio, told the Presbyterian News Service.  Though a few in the 
wider church advocate more punitive measures, Sharick said, many of the 
denomination's stated clerks suggested "strengthening" language as one 
approach to the increasing problem of shortfalls in per capita receipts. 
     General Assembly Council member the Rev. William Maloney of Pittsburgh 
told COGA that more punitive approaches have been declared unconstitutional 
by the Permanent Judicial Commission. Per capita giving is, he said, 
"purely voluntary." 
     Presbytery and synod stated clerks were surveyed by OGA via PresbyNet, 
and additional input was sought from stated clerks who attended the annual 
Stated Clerk's Conference here last Oct. 3-5. Christopher Nicholas, OGA's 
budget officer, led workshops on the per capita budget at the conference 
and conducted a presentation during its plenary. 
     "There is great fiscal pressure on every part of the Presbyterian 
system," said Andrews, noting that fewer presbyteries are able these days 
to "pick up the slack" and pay per capita dollars up front on behalf of 
delinquent churches.  "The thinking of sessions has radically departed from 
past practice. ..." 
     Andrews credits that change somewhat to protest and also to a cultural 
shift toward declining appreciation for centralized action through 
organizations -- a reality, he says, many voluntary groups now face. 
      "I think some churches don't have [money]," said Sharick, who 
reinforced Andrews' observation that far fewer presbyteries are able to pay 
those monies up front.  Eastminster, Sharick's own presbytery, where she is 
administrative assistant, still follows the practice of paying per capita 
off the top. 
     "More than an obligation, [per capita giving] is [a sign] of a healthy 
relationship. ... It's symptomatic of whether churches feel connected and 
part of the larger body," Sharick said. 
     COGA has instructed the OGA to create more instructional materials for 
use in presbyteries and churches about per capita apportionment and how the 
money is used. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home