From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 08:11:01


                      BICENTENNIAL FUND LOAN 
                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--In a March 12 decision hailed by executive director the 
Rev. James D. Brown as "the right thing," the General Assembly Council 
(GAC) approved use of $3.4 million in unrestricted reserves to repay a 
Bicentennial Fund campaign start-up loan. 
     With estimates of the campaign's receipts falling -- the original goal 
of $125 million has been lowered to $110 million -- the council's only 
other option was to seek General Assembly authorization to raise the 
administrative cost ceiling for the campaign from its current 13.5 percent 
of total receipts to nearly 20 percent. 
     That idea was proposed to a recent gathering of synod executives and 
was "immediately pronounced dead in the water," director of Corporate and 
Administrative Services G.A. "Pat" Goff told the council's executive 
committee.  Goff said the synod leaders told him raising the administrative 
cost ceiling would "guarantee that even less money would come in to the 
Bicentennial Fund." 
     "This [loan pay-off] is a suffering-servant ministry on behalf of the 
whole church," Brown said. "There are other things that won't be done 
because of it, but we need to be bold interpreters to insure the successful 
closing out of this campaign." 
     Goff agreed.  "We've got to resuscitate this thing," he said.  "Lots 
of good things have happened and still more good will happen.  We can do it 
if we package it right. ..." 
     Launched in 1987, The Bicentennial Fund has generated $58 million to 
date for mission projects at all levels of the Presbyterian Church.  The 
final phase of the six-stage campaign is currently active, with money 
expected to continue coming in until the year 2000. 
     The council's Bicentennial Fund Accountability Committee acknowledged 
that despite the loan payoff, administrative costs will exceed the 13.5 
percent ceiling.  It attributed the overrun to "reduced anticipated 
revenue" resulting from the decision by 21 of the denomination's 171 
presbyteries to not participate in the campaign.   
     Administrative costs to date total just over $22 million.  A third of 
that was spent between 1987 and 1989, when the campaign was gearing up. 
Virtually all expenses ceased in 1993, when the formal part of the 
campaign, including paid staffing, concluded.  All Bicentennial Fund work 
is now being handled and funded by the Mission Funding office of the 
Congregational Ministries Division. 
     "I don't want to dampen the excitement of churches that are just now 
coming into the campaign," said Sue Nispel, chair of the Accountability 
Committee.  "The Bicentennial Fund will generate tens of millions of 
dollars for mission between now and 2000, but we must have a realistic plan 
and I feel good about this." 
     The Rev. Frank Diaz, associate director for GAC operations, told the 
executive committee, "The Bicentennial Fund is still very much alive ... 
with lots of positive stories to tell." 
     Pointing out that The Bicentennial Fund is the 33rd national 
fund-raising campaign in the 207-year history of the Presbyterian Church, 
General Assembly moderator the Rev. Robert W. Bohl said he hopes this 
campaign will not be the last.  Bohl, who chaired the Bicentennial Fund 
Campaign, said, "A lot has been done that needs to be told ... but we need 
to write the story so it doesn't get lost." 
                              # # # 

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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