From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 15:18:45


                          by Alexa Smith 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--The General Assembly Council (GAC) will be asked to 
rescind a controversial proposal to charge administrative fees for 
designated gifts to the General Assembly mission budget.  The move to 
reverse a recommendation the GAC approved earlier this year will come 
before the Council during its Cincinnati meeting, just days before the 
Assembly begins. 
     "The division at GAC was right down the middle," the Rev. John Fife of 
Tucson, Ariz., told the Presbyterian News Service.  "A good case can be 
made that there needs to be a lot of education in the church before the 
Assembly deals with this one." 
     When the Council approved the report of its Dollar Distribution Task 
Force (DDTF) in March, it approved by a 27-26 vote the addition of the 
administrative cost proposal.   Fife argued then that such fees be added 
and says he will now make the motion at this meeting to rescind that 
     "It is still my belief ... this is very important and needs to be 
done," said Fife, who understands the debate to be one about fairness in 
giving. "But it needs the broader support of the GAC and the church as a 
     Fife told the Office of the Stated Clerk in a June 28 letter that he 
will also move to refer the issue of administrative costs to a work group 
on a comprehensive strategy for mission funding. 
     Such prior notification is required by Robert's Rules of Order. 
     The Rev. William McIvor of Spokane, Wash., who chaired the DDTF, says 
it is "inevitable" that other ways to pay the denomination's core costs 
will need to be developed as unified giving shrinks. 
     Unified giving -- or nondesignated dollars -- have historically footed 
the bill for the denomination's administrative costs, such as electricity, 
accounting and auditing. 
     "But it's not the right time," said McIvor in a telephone interview. 
"There are lots of stresses and strains throughout the financial system -- 
not just at the General Assembly level. 
     "Congregations, synods and presbyteries are feeling the stress." 
     McIvor says three overtures are coming to the Assembly opposing the 
charging of administrative fees for designated gifts. 
     The DDTF report will go to the Assembly in July, along with two other 
funding proposals:  a report on per capita and one on funding the 
denomination's 16 synods. 
     Fife says those who choose to give designated monies do not pay for 
costs the denomination absorbs to dispense those dollars responsibly.  "It 
costs us money to be certain their gifts are used in the way they 
designate," Fife has argued in this debate.  "Costs for auditing.  Costs 
for payroll." 
     But, he says, history and tradition are blocking change now.  "It is 
the normal resistance any change engenders," Fife told the Presbyterian 
News Service. 
     The DDTF report also proposes standardizing procedures across the 
church for collection and accounting of funds. 

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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