From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
27 Jun 1996 12:18:40
96224 General Assembly Backgrounder:
by Jerry L. Van Marter
Each year the General Assembly approves a detailed budget for the next
year and a planning budget for the year after that.
The 1996 General Assembly will be asked to approve a detailed 1997
General Assembly mission budget of $113.8 and a planning budget for 1998 of
The 1997 detailed budget is $800,000 less than the planning budget for
next year that was approved by last year's Assembly. During the past year,
the General Assembly Council cut $1.2 million from the budgets of its three
ministry divisions (Congregational Ministries, National Ministries and
Worldwide Ministries) and its Corporate and Administrative Services office,
as well as its Office of Communication. The cuts were needed to balance
the budget and provide $400,000 for a new youth and young adult ministry
emphasis in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The budget cuts represent a continued decline in contributions from
congregations and presbyteries to the undesignated portion of the General
Assembly mission budget. Unrestricted giving by congregations and
presbyteries, once the bedrock of the budget, has been declining steadily
at about 5 percent per year for more than a decade. It currently
represents less than 20 percent of the General Assembly mission budget.
In 1991, the General Assembly mandated a balanced General Assembly
mission budget -- with no further use of reserves to make up shortfalls --
beginning in 1994. By 1993, the financial situation had reached the point
that the national offices of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) were
restructured. That streamlining lopped a whopping $7 million out of the
General Assembly mission budget and reduced national staff by nearly 25
percent, from about 600 employees to about 450.
Ironically, designated giving to specific programs and projects of the
Presbyterian Church has continued to increase, as has the church's
endowment and investment income. But the restricted nature of such income,
coupled with the decline of unrestricted revenues, has made budget-building
and essential services funding extremely complex and difficult.
Complicating the equation, three synods have submitted overtures to
this General Assembly seeking to decentralize the mission funding process
by allowing synods and presbyteries to administer money given to the church
through the Presbyterian Foundation for work in designated geographical
areas. Such geographic-specific funds have usually always been channelled
through the General Assembly mission budget process.
General Assembly Mission Budget, 1995 - 1996
Year Budget Congregational Giving
1992 $116,181,360 $28,616,346
1993 110,445,765 27,483,885
1994 105,770,146 25,832,984
1995 107,235,536 24,203,886
1996 110,807,866 23,308,192*
1997 113,644,825 22,142,782*
1998 112,045,775 21,035,642*
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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