From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Officials Say Work of Special Offering Task Group

Date 04 May 1996 20:41:33


95454      Officials Say Work of Special Offering Task Group 
                 Was a Spiritual And Analytical Process 
                         by Julian Shipp 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--Although their recommendations may not please everyone in 
the denomination and have yet to be approved by the 208th General Assembly 
(1996), officials involved with the Presbyterian Church's Special Offerings 
Task Group say the group's work was a spiritual as well as an analytical 
     The report of the five-member task group was unanimously accepted by 
the Congregational ministries Division (CMD) Committee at its Dec. 7-9 
meeting here. The pattern of special offerings to be approved at the 
Assembly will be in effect for the years 1998 through 2001, with present 
patterns and dollar distributions holding through 1997.  
     The four, Assembly-designated special offerings are Christmas Joy, 
Peacemaking, Witness and One Great Hour of Sharing. 
     The Rev. John McFayden, task group chair from Dale City, Va., said the 
group was appointed by the CMD Committee at the end of 1994, following 
authorization by the 203rd General Assembly (1991). He described the 
group's work, which has consumed a little more than one year so far, as 
"exhaustive and comprehensive." 
     "We strived through that whole process to listen to the entire 
church," McFayden said. "In all of this we tried to listen to the guidance 
of God through the voice of the church." 
     In developing the special offerings recommendations, the task group 
completed more than 20 steps in its process. Among them were: 
       Agreeing from the outset to approach their task with intentional 
time for prayer and biblical study, seeking God's guidance in the process 
       Mailing notification of the task group's membership and task to 
synod executives, presbytery executives, and the elected chairpersons of 
the General Assembly Council division committees, encouraging them to 
notify constituents and inviting input from all interested persons 
       Requesting CMD's Research Services to develop and conduct a survey 
through a Presbyterian Panel focusing on special offerings (Research 
Services conducted focus groups in four geographical areas to provide 
feedback used in the formulation of questions for the survey.) 
        Surveying 246 African American Presbyterian congregations with the 
instrument prepared by the Presbyterian Panel 
        Conducting two open hearings July 19, 1995 at the 207th General 
Assembly on overtures 93-24 and 93-27 regarding the Christmas Joy Offering 
and overtures 94-76, 94-107 and 94-114 regarding peacemaking and 
environmental justice 
     "I believe the logic of the task group is very compelling," said 
Vivian L. Johnson, associate director for stewardship in the Congregational 
Ministries Division. "The group's work was very thorough and they did not 
start any deliberations until September after they had gathered  all their 
     Johnson said the task group members were chosen by the CMD Committee 
and the commitee fulfilled General Assembly mandates calling for balance 
and diverse representation. In addition to clergy and lay people, Johnson 
said, task group members represented various geographic areas, races, 
ethnicity, ages and genders. 
     In addition to McFayden, task group members are the Rev. Frank 
Colclough of Florence, S.C.; Richard Gibbons, a Presbyterian elder and 
deacon from Tulsa, Okla.; the Rev. Mary Robinson-Mohr, of Sandpoint, Idaho; 
and Sandy Wagener, a Presbyterian elder from Ankeny, Iowa. 

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: 


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