From the Worldwide Faith News archives

New We Believe curriculum is 'on track'

Date 14 Jun 2002 14:13:39 -0400

Note #7211 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:


New We Believe curriculum is 'on track'

For 1st time, curriculum sales are ahead of budget, controller says
by Jerry L. Van Marter

COLUMBUS, OH - Church officials, buoyed by the most positive financial reports they've seen in years, expressed confidence on June 13 that the curriculum-publishing enterprise of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is finally on the right track.

Last summer, when Congregational Ministries Publishing (CMP) announced the suspension of Covenant People, the denomination's commitment to curriculum was in doubt. 

But the General Assembly Council (GAC), impressed by the outline of a new curriculum called We Believe - which is scheduled to be in use by the fall of 2003 - has committed $1 million of 2002 and 2003 mission budget money to support development of the new curriculum.

During its June 11-13 meeting here, CMP officials reported on We Believe, presenting its financial and marketing plans, and said it holds great promise for success. And the GAC's financial officers echoed their optimism.

"We have a workable financial model for We Believe," said Nagy Tawfik, the PC(USA) controller, "and an outstanding team working on it."

Tawfik announced that curriculum sales for the first five months of this year exceeded budget by more than $30,000. "I don't remember the last time sales exceeded budget," he said.

CMP isn't out of the woods yet: It's showing a loss of almost $500,000 for this year. But the bulk of that red ink is from a write-off of $253,000 worth of obsolete inventory, severance packages for former Covenant People workers, and one-time user fees for the Present Word curriculum.	

Sandra Sorem, the CMP publisher, said curriculum producers have learned from the mistakes that sank Covenant People in a sea of debt. "The biggest costs in curriculum are development and inventory," she told the Presbyterian News Service (PNS). "We Believe is designed to be reproducible, so we're not going to be overproducing inventory."

Sorem said CMP is planning to have We Believe ready "far enough in advance that people can see it, touch it, read it; and we're convinced that when they do, they'll use it."

Sorem added that she doesn't think the demise of Covenant People will make people reluctant to try We Believe. "Presbyterians have told us over and over they want a Presbyterian curriculum," she said. "That GAC has put money into this says it's a high priority, and we're committed to making it good. There's lots of good curriculum out in the market, but not another one that says what, why and how Presbyterians believe the way they do."

We Believe is on track, in terms of both production and marketing, to be ready for use in the fall of 2003. It will make its debut at next winter's annual conference of the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE).

"All we can do now is produce the best curriculum we can," Sorem said. "Then it's a matter of where God will lead the church."
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