From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 13:00:55


                          by Alexa Smith 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--Authorization of a Presbyterian Panel survey and approval 
of General Assembly hearing dates were initial actions taken by the Special 
Offerings Task Group (SOTG) during its orientation meeting here last week. 
     The Rev. John G. McFayden of Dale City, Va., chair, also asked the 
group's four other members to come to the SOTG's September meeting prepared 
to reflect theologically on the nature and purpose of special offerings. 
     "The task group is committed to trying to focus on the mission of the 
church and trying to discern -- through input from the church at large -- 
where our offerings and how our offerings can focus on furthering that 
mission and support of it," McFayden told the Presbyterian News Service. 
     "We're cautioning ourselves about drawing conclusions," he said, 
calling such opinions too premature for now. 
     Special offerings now underwrite roughly 15 percent of the 
Presbyterian Church's mission, according to statistics from 1994 and 
projections into 1997 as recorded by Corporate and Administrative Services. 
     The task group was appointed by the Congregational Ministries Division 
Committee to conduct a scheduled four-year review of the current offerings: 
     * One Great Hour of Sharing (Easter Sunday), receipts of which go to 
Self-Development of People, the Presbyterian Hunger Program and 
Presbyterian World Service 
     * The Witness Offering (usually Pentecost Sunday), receipts of which 
go to overseas mission, evangelism and church development and education 
     * The Peacemaking Offering (World Communion Sunday), receipts of which 
are distributed among presbytery, synod and denominational peacemaking 
programs less 25 percent that congregations are encouraged to keep for 
local peacemaking activities 
     * The Christmas Joy Offering (Sunday before Christmas), funds of which 
are divided between Board of Pensions income supplements for retired church 
workers living with depleted assets and the church's eight racial ethnic 
     The task group's recommendations will go to the 1996 General Assembly 
and will impact offerings taken from 1998 to 2002, according to McFayden. 
     Five overtures have been submitted to this year's General Assembly 
suggesting changes in the distribution of money collected by two offerings. 
Two propose eliminating support for racial ethnic schools from the 
Christmas Joy Offering  and three urge that the Peacemaking Offering 
funding be used to establish and staff an Environmental Justice Office that 
was proposed in the 1990 denominational policy statement "Restoring 
Creation for Ecology and Justice."  
     The SOTG reported that hearings on the overtures are set for the 
afternoon of July 19 in Cincinnati.  Peacemaking Offering hearings will be 
held from 2:00 to 2:45 p.m., and Christmas Joy Offerings hearings from 3:00 
to 3:45 p.m. 
     Hearings began in Louisville last week with national staff members 
whose programs are recipients of offering dollars. 
     In its final action, the SOTG began work reviewing a questionnaire on 
churchwide special offerings for the May Presbyterian Panel -- and 
committed to reviewing results at its September 25-28 meeting here. 
     "We'll be assessing how well [the special offerings] do, how appealing 
they are," said Elder Dick Gibbons of Tulsa, Okla., adding that some are 
criticized for producing less than expected and others for having outgrown 
their usefulness. 
     Gibbons, a retired fund-raising consultant, describes the One Great 
Hour of Sharing Offering as the denomination's "flagship fund."  He said, 
"In the minds of most people in the church, when you say One Great Hour of 
Sharing, they know exactly what you are talking about.  It has found its 
market and it will continue to be successful year in, year out. ...  
     "It will be with us a long time," Gibbons said.  "Probably another 50 
     Other task group members are the Rev. Frank Colclough of Florence, 
S.C.; the Rev. Mary Robinson-Mohr of Sandpoint, Idaho; and Sandy Wagener of 
Ankeny, Iowa.   
     Letters regarding special offerings should be sent to the 
Congregational Ministries Division, 100 Witherspoon St., Louisville, KY 
40202-1396, c/o  Patsy Mills, senior administrative assistant and staff to 
the task 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   Web page: 


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