From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Board of Pensions Proposes New Offering

Date 12 May 1996 20:18:48

May 9, 1996 
96169        Board of Pensions Proposes New Offering 
                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--Countering a move by the General Assembly Council (GAC) to 
reduce its portion of the Christmas Joy Offering, the Board of Pensions is 
proposing that a new offering be established in the Presbyterian Church 
(U.S.A.) to raise money to assist retired church workers and their 
     The Board's proposal will go to the upcoming General Assembly in 
Albuquerque as a comment to a recommendation by the GAC's Special Offerings 
Task Group. The task group is recommending that the Board of Pensions' 
portion of the Christmas Joy Offering be cut from 50 percent to 30 percent 
in order to fund a new "children at risk" program. 
     The other half of the offering supports racial-ethnic schools and 
     "Our proposal grows out of the sense that it is not appropriate for 
the Board to just react negatively to the GAC proposal," said Board of 
Pensions president John Detterick.  "If we disagree, we should offer a 
positive alternative, and that is just what we have done.  As long as we're 
going to look at alternatives [for the special offerings], let's look at 
     The Board's proposal is to establish a fifth denominational special 
offering.  The four current offerings are the Christmas Joy Offering, the 
One Great Hour of Sharing Offering, the Witness Offering and the 
Peacemaking Offering.  The Board of Pensions would promote and manage the 
new offering, which would be received at a time to be determined by the 
General Assembly. 
     Proceeds from the "church workers offering" would fund three Board of 
Pensions programs: 
        * shared grants -- which cover emergency or extraordinary expenses 
          of church workers on a shared basis with presbyteries 
        * income supplements -- which boost the pensions of low-income 
          retired church workers or their survivors 
        * subsidies for Medicare Supplement coverage. 
     In return for a church workers offering, the Board announced, it would 
eliminate vacancy dues -- currently paid by churches between pastors at 12 
percent of the salary of the departed pastor for up to one year -- and dues 
paid by churches served by retired pastors. 
     Detterick told the Presbyterian News Service that money received from 
vacancy dues has been "flat" for the last 10 years, while the Medicare 
Supplement rates that have been subsidized by the vacancy dues have risen 
113 percent, from $30 per month to $64 per month.  "As a result," Detterick 
noted, "the Medicare Supplement subsidy, which was intended to be 50 
percent, has fallen to less than 25 percent." 
     The Rev. John McFayden of Woodbridge, Va., chair of the Special 
Offerings Task Group, said the group considered such a change in the 
special offering pattern but rejected it "because the loud message we got 
was not to increase the number of special offerings."  He said the task 
group believes adding a fifth offering "is too much for congregations to 
     McFayden told the Presbyterian News Service he was also troubled by 
the Board's proposal that it promote and manage the proposed new offering. 
"One of the criteria for special offerings in our report," McFayden 
explained, "is that promotion of special offerings be in a central 
promotion office rather than in the programmatic entities so that the 
special offerings can be promoted in the context of overall mission-funding 
     "There are lots of needs in the church," Detterick agreed.  "Our 
proposal is in the spirit of standing together as a church and finding the 
best ways for the whole church to meet those needs." 
     McFayden said the Special Offerings Task Group "is just real cautious 
about adding more offerings." 

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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