From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Committee affirms Mission Initiative

Date 19 Jun 2002 12:44:39 -0400

Note #7269 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:


Committee affirms Mission Initiative

Campaign will raise $40 million for church growth and international mission personnel

by Gary Luhr

COLUMBUS, OH-By a vote of 48-1 Tuesday, the Assembly Committee on Mission Coordination and Budgets approved a plan to raise $40 million for church growth and international mission personnel. Known as the Mission Initiative, the effort to raise money from identified major donors would occur over a five-year period beginning in 2003.

The General Assembly Council (GAC) approved the Mission Initiative last week as a response to an overture approved by the 1998 General Assembly and to other actions by recent Assemblies.  These challenged the church to expand its global mission efforts and its support of new church development and church redevelopment, especially among immigrant and other racial ethnic populations. Money raised through the Mission Initiative will be divided almost equally for these two purposes. 

"There's a groundswell of enthusiasm for church growth throughout the church," said the Rev. Curtis Kearns, director of the GAC's National Ministries Division. The result, he said, has been an increased demand on presbyteries for loan and grant assistance from the national level of the church. 

Funds for new church development have not kept pace with the need in recent years, he added. The costs, he said, have skyrocketed for purchasing land, securing pastoral leadership and, in some cases, legal costs in areas that have resisted having churches locate in their communities.

"The Mission Initiative will enable us to increase our capacity to expand our program for church development and redevelopment and [also] to address changes in the culture and society," Kearns said.

The Rev. Marian McClure, director of the GAC's Worldwide Ministries Division, observed that the sending had receiving of missionaries "has been essential to the accomplishment of God's mission in the world" for more than 2000 years. 

Currently, she said, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has a total mission force, including volunteers, of just over 500 people. "That's a smaller workforce than just 10 years ago," she said, "not because we need a smaller number but because this is the number the church can fund right now." 

McClure said future mission service appointments would be made with specific areas of service in mind including education, health and disaster response. She identified Central Asia and Southeast Asia as two areas where the denomination needed to strengthen its presence. 

GAC Executive Director John Detterick said an added benefit of the Mission Initiative would be the creation of a funds development infrastructure that would help the denomination raise money in the future. 
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