From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
COGA APPROVES JOINT PER CAPITA TASK GROUP PAPER,
05 May 1996 07:32:51
95032 COGA APPROVES JOINT PER CAPITA TASK GROUP PAPER,
FINALIZES GENERAL ASSEMBLY ARRANGEMENTS
By Julian Shipp
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--The Committee on the Office of the General
Assembly, (COGA) has approved a proposal to establish an
"intentional joint budget process" with the General Assembly
Council (GAC) for the Presbyterian Church's General Assembly per
The proposal was contained in the report of the COGA/GAC joint
per capita task group, a report COGA approved at its Jan. 25 - 27
Pamela J. Sharick of Youngstown, Ohio, a COGA member and co-
convener of the task group, said, "Up until now it has not been [a
joint process] simply because COGA didn't exist when the budget
process was in place."
COGA was organized in 1992, and now, Sharick said, "This
makes COGA an equal player with the GAC. "We've stressed all
throughout the paper that it is a joint process all the way from
start to finish.
"There's been a lot of negotiating and nudging each other on
both sides to make sure that we have a table in the future that
will handle all of the per capita budget questions that have come
up in the past," Sharick said. "And that joint table is going to
be the forum where any budget implication gets worked out."
In the "Book of Order" (G-9.0404), "per capita" is defined as
the responsible way of sharing costs that fairly belong to the
entire Presbyterian Church. Over the years, it has also been
defined in various documents and reports as being used to fund
"ecclesiastical and administrative" functions, the costs of which
have also been shared by the whole church.
Currently, about two-thirds of the roughly $12 million per
capita budget is administered by the Office of the General Assembly
and one-third by the GAC.
Major programs that receive per capita funding include the
meetings of the General Assembly and GAC and the office expenses
of both the stated clerks and executive director of the GAC.
Also included are "ecclesiastical costs," or those used to
keep the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) identified as ecumenical
through alliances with organizations such as the World Council of
Churches, the National Council of Churches and the World Alliance
of Reformed Churches.
Sharick said the paper will be submitted for approval by the
GAC during its March 8 - 12 meeting. It will then be sent to the
207th General Assembly (1995) for action.
1995 Budget Approved
COGA approved its 1995 per capita budget of $8.2 million,
which includes six areas: the meeting of the General Assembly,
general appropriations (such as the moderator's expenses and
minutes of the General Assembly), OGA committee expenses,
ecumenical expenses, OGA office expenses and the Department of
According to Pat Niles, a Presbyterian elder and COGA's budget
and finance work group chairwoman from Tustin, Calif., the budget
was trimmed from $8,566,164 to $8,297,308, a reduction of $268,856.
"We've made a commitment to underspend our budget as we have
done for the last five years," Niles said, adding that all OGA
committees are being asked to maintain their present workload at
less cost. "I think we've been able to hold the line by very close
monitoring of the expenditures, although there have been some
Niles said the 1995 revised budget was balanced by introducing
an "anticipated reductions" line amounting to $157,080. The figures
submitted to the committee as of the second closing for 1994
indicated an underexpenditure of $576,942 for the total per capita
At the close of final 1994 accounts in March, Niles said, a
designated fund will be created to store the excess income over
expenditure of COGA's entire per capita budget.
She said this "rainy day fund" will be used to offset
uncollected per capita apportionments and other expenses to be
determined by the appropriate bodies of COGA and the GAC.
"We would like to be able to use that fund to help in future
years," Niles said. "We do have some change in our pocket and we'd
like to hold on to that in case we need it in 1995 or 1996."
General Assembly Arrangements
The 207th General Assembly (1995) will meet July 15 - 21 at
the Cincinnati Convention Center in Ohio, reported the Rev. Harriet
A. Nelson, member of COGA's Assembly Arrangements work group.
The "Celebration of Faith," an optional, pre-assembly event,
will be held at 1 p.m. July 14. The GA business meeting will
convene at 3 p.m., July 15, with exhibits opening at noon. Opening
worship will be held at 10 a.m., July 16, at Cincinnati Coliseum.
Adjournment is at 5 p.m., July 21.
"The meeting pattern will be the same, but it's been compacted
[one day shorter] as the Assembly voted to do," Nelson said. "And
there will be some free time, but not a lot."
The OGA has reserved 1,600 rooms at four hotels near the
convention center. All four are connected to the center by a
skywalk. Additionally, 90 dormitory rooms are available at the
University of Cincinnati.
Items of business expected to be discussed at this year's
Assembly include the Year with Africa, mission funding, a report
on the development of a human sexuality curriculum for pre-school
age children, a final report on the African American Male Project,
and a resolution on universal health care.
A report on young adult ministry is expected to focus on youth
outreach and begin to address the problem of declining youth and
young adult membership within the denomination.
The Rev. James E. Andrews, OGA stated clerk, said the OGA
staff has spent a great deal of time and money in recent years to
modify the "tone and procedures" of General Assemblies.
But, Andrews said, while the annual gatherings have been
successful in meeting efficiency and logistical goals, they have
yet to enhance feelings of community among participants. He said
this process is vital to the church's goal of attracting young
"Even more difficult is how do we find a way to make the
annual meeting of the Assembly...an event in the life of the
church?" Andrews said. "The danger is the Assembly will become
irrelevant in the sense that many people think the church is
irrelevant to the surrounding culture."
Members Deployed to Other Bodies
During the meeting, COGA moderator, the Rev. Jay Dee Conrad
of Los Alamos, N.M., announced several resignations and
These included the resignation of Robert E. Adcock of Fort
Worth, Texas from the GAC's Dollar Distribution Commitment Fund
J. Oscar McCloud of New York has been appointed to represent
COGA on the GAC Personnel Advisory Committee (PAC) on an interim
basis pending review of the interest, skill and time required for
Patricia A. Niles has been appointed to replace the Rev.
Herbert D. Valentine of Baltimore on the COGA/GAC Joint Per Capita
Task Group and Sallie M. Hunter of Mobile, Ala. has been appointed
to COGA's Budget and Finance Work Group.
# # #
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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