From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 07:32:51


                         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 
capita budget. 
     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 
meeting here. 
       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 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 
Task Group.  
     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 
the assignment. 
     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  
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