From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Mission Initiative team hopes $40 million campaign

Date 11 Dec 2002 16:26:39 -0500

Note #7541 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

December 11, 2002

Mission Initiative team hopes $40 million campaign will improve
PC(USA)&#8217;s future

By Leslie Scanlon
The Presbyterian Outlook
Reprinted with permission

CHICAGO &#8212; When Ron Lundeen got a call at his home in Arizona on his
59th birthday, asking him if he knew of someone, anyone, who might be a good
match for leading a $40 million fundraising effort for the Presbyterian
Church (USA), Lundeen kept repeating that he couldn&#8217;t think of a soul.
Then he hung up the phone and couldn&#8217;t think of anything else.
The next day, Lundeen &#8212; who has extensive experience in funds
development &#8212; called back Bill Saul, the Presbyterian car dealer from
Long Beach, CA, who is co-chair of the Mission Initiative Steering Committee,
along with Lucimarian Roberts of Biloxi, MS. That committee is overseeing a
campaign to raise $40 million over the next five years for the PC(USA), to be
used to support international mission and church growth in the United States,
particularly among racial ethnic and immigrant groups. Lundeen told Saul
he&#8217;d consider taking the job.
&#8220;I don&#8217;t think its accidental that nay of us are here,&#8221;
Lundeen told the members of the steering committee, some of whom were
appointed because they represent diverse views within the church, at their
first meeting here Nov. 18-19. &#8220;I believe deep in my heart that God is
at work here,&#8221; Lundeen said, adding that most experienced development
officers would refuse to take the job because not enough potential donors
have been identified yet and some pieces of how the PC(USA) have handled this
don&#8217;t match the textbook approach to professional fundraising drives.
&#8220;There are some outrageous aspects of it,&#8221; Lundeen said.
&#8220;I&#8217;m doing it because the gospel of Jesus Christ is

	 The winding road ahead

The steering committee is just starting its work, but it&#8217;s already had
hints of some of the decisions and difficulties it will confront. Among them:

* The Mission Initiative is intended as a &#8220;big donor&#8221; campaign
&#8212; for those whose pockets are deep enough they can make significant
gifts, of thousands or even millions of dollars. But the denomination&#8217;s
grassroots &#8212; ordinary Presbyterians already running marathons in
mission work &#8212; don&#8217;t want to be left out either. Commissioners to
last summer&#8217;s General Assembly gave more than $17,000 in cash and
pledges, a sign of enthusiasm that the steering committee doesn&#8217;t want
to squelch. The denomination needs to find a way to capture that populist
energy, to make sure it&#8217;s not seen as a campaign for &#8220;just a
bunch of fat cats,&#8221; as the Rev. John Huffman, pastor of St. Andrews
Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, CA, put it.

* Already, the Mission Initiative has broken some of the standard rules 
for how a fund drive should be conducted. Usually, Lundeen told the group,
the campaign is kept quiet at first, not made public until commitments have
been received for 80 to 90 percent of the money the group is trying to raise.
But, by necessity, the Mission Initiative has been public for months &#8212;
and Lundeen has some worries that could possibly inhibit the largest donors,
the ones who want to know that their big gifts are ones that get things
rolling, that really make a difference.

* Even if all the money is raised &#8212; and both Lundeen and Saul said 
they thought it could be done in less than five years &#8212; that
won&#8217;t solve all the denomination&#8217;s problems. John Detterick,
executive director of the General Assembly Council, acknowledged that $40
million is &#8220;frankly our best guess of what would be an appropriate
starting point.&#8221; To fund all that the PC(USA) wants to do in mission
would take substantially more thatn that and would require the denomination
to keep going in raising funds.
And presentations on how the $40 million would be spent gave indications that
a shortage of money isn&#8217;t all that&#8217;s wrong with the PC(USA), an
aging, predominantly white denomination with many small congregations; one in
which many evangelical congregations mistrust the denominational leadership;
one that says it wants to grow but is sometimes reluctant to change. 
In the 1950s, the predecessor denominations to the PC(USA) started 1,345 new
congregations, compared with just 292 from 1990 to 2000. From 1995 to 2000,
35 percent of PC(USA) congregations grew, but 65 percent did not.
Presbyterians in the United States need to recognize that the church around
the world is growing faster than it is in this country, and need to find ways
to extend a welcome to people who might not look or talk or think as they do,
the Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel, the Palestinian Christian who is moderator of the
214th General Assembly (2002), has been telling the church.
And Edmundo Vasquez of New Mexico said a man told him recently at a national
gathering of Hispanic Presbyterian men that &#8220;the Presbyterian Church
has responded to the poor and immigrants in generations past. This generation
isn&#8217;t doing it&#8230;.We&#8217;re middle class, and we don&#8217;t know
how to talk to or serve the immigrants coming in.&#8221;
Lundeen reminded the committee that &#8220;every one of us in this room is
more wealthy than 90 percent of the people on the planet.&#8221;
Presbyterians have the money, he said, but &#8220;we need a delivery
system&#8221; to do Christ&#8217;s work out in the world.
As a statement trying to make the case for the Mission Initiative puts it:
&#8220;Mission is not a choice for the church. The Scriptures don&#8217;t
merely suggest that we proclaim the gospel message in word and deed. Christ
doesn&#8217;t imply that we should give food to the hungry and drink to the
thirsty, welcome the stranger and clothe the naked or visit the sick and
imprisoned. It&#8217;s not simply a recommendation that we call others into a
faithful relationship with our God. The church IS mission.&#8221;

	   Where the money will go

If the $40 million is raised, more than half &#8212; about $20.9 million
&#8212; would go to fund international mission. The Rev. Marian McClure,
director of the PC(USA)&#8217;s Worldwide Ministries Division, said the money
would fund 54 new long-term compensated mission personnel, 31 long-term
volunteers in mission and 72 short-term volunteers in mission.
Among the priorities that would receive additional support would be hiring
regional experts, people who have served  in a particular region for a long
time and have strong relationships with the people there and expertise in the
language and culture, and bringing on specialists trained in work such as
disaster response training, health care and frontier mission work.
Another $18.6 million would go for new church development and redevelopment
in the United States, with an emphasis on serving people from racial ethnic
groups and immigrants.

	    Healing and uniting?

Saul said the PC(USA) can have no higher priority. Mission and evangelism are
&#8220;what we&#8217;re all about,&#8221; he said. &#8220;What a wonderful
opportunity for leaders in the church to be able to come together for a
common goal,&#8221; despite their differences on other issues, &#8220;and be
an example to the denomination. We could be part of a healing process.&#8221;

As Huffman put it: &#8220;I&#8217;m tired of partisan battles. I&#8217;m a
global Christian.&#8221;

But the extent to which the Mission Initiative can be a uniting force for a
denomination divided by issues such as the ordination of homosexuals or how
to witness in a pluralistic world remains to be seen. 

Some congregations either withhold money from the denomination altogether
&#8212; sometimes giving it directly to mission or funneling it through
non-Presbyterian evangelical groups &#8212; or restrict their giving to
particular causes within the church.

The committee will need to decide what to do with donors who want to restrict
their gifts to fund particular programs rather than to the Mission Initiative
with fewer strings attached.

    Bible stewardship: money follows belief

According to Lundeen, who ran through for the committee some of the basic
principles of funds development, the approach with a campaign like the
Mission Initiative is both similar to and different from a secular
fundraising drive. 
Bible stewardship has theological roots. It is, in essence, &#8220;everything
I do after I say, &#8216;I believe,&#8217;&#8221; Lundeen told the group.
&#8220;Christianity began with a gift,&#8221; he said, and &#8220;we&#8217;ve
got to get this idea out of our head that there&#8217;s something demeaning
about stewardship and fundraising&#8221; and instead begin looking on it was
an opportunity to witness to the world about Jesus Christ. 

Some Christian donors will say, at least privately, that they see themselves
trustees of God&#8217;s wealth and, in giving, &#8220;some need in them is
fulfilled,&#8221; Lundeen said. &#8220;They have been abundantly blessed and
they have a need to share that blessing with others.&#8221;

Many people don&#8217;t like to ask for money, he acknowledged, thinking of
it as &#8220;manipulation, coercion, hucksterism, the used-car
salesman.&#8221; But Lundeen said &#8220;we have to be squeaky-clean and
ultra-careful&#8221; and that any hard-sell approach &#8220;will turn my
stomach for sure.&#8221; 

Lundeen said he likes to think of fundraising as education, presenting a
crystal-clear, compelling and rational case for the Mission Initiative
&#8212; for what the money will allow the church to do in evangelism &#8212;
&#8220;so people want to be part of it.&#8221;

Roberts said that makes sense. If she has a good recipe, she tells her
friends about it. &#8220;So why not tell people about Christ? It is Jesus
Christ that we&#8217;re selling. He&#8217;s the best thing that&#8217;s
happened to me,&#8221; Roberts said. &#8220;I know that everything that I
have, he&#8217;s given me. So I&#8217;m just giving back what he&#8217;s
given. I know I can&#8217;t take it with me.&#8221;

And Lundeen said that &#8220;major donors today don&#8217;t give money&#8221;
&#8212; they&#8217;re not giving anything away, they&#8217;re trying to
accomplish something. &#8220;I&#8217;ve never met a stupid rich Presbyterian,
particularly a generous one,&#8221; he said. &#8220;These are people who are
concerned about making a difference, about leveraging the abundance that God
has given to them.&#8221;

	     The nuts and bolts

Lundeen said the campaign should start with a strong effort to attract major
gifts. The first gift, he said, must be at least $5 million, the next two in
the range of $2.5 million, the next five at least $1 million each. The
textbook says you stop there, &#8220;you stay in this room until you&#8217;ve
found those eight gifts,&#8221; to give the big-hitters a chance up front to
start off the campaign with real momentum.
One of the big difficulties the Mission Initiative faces is starting out
without a long list of possible givers, Lundeen said. To raise $40 million
will take 10,000 qualified prospects, and the Mission Initiative team so far
has identified only 100 to 200, he said, adding that there is no
&#8220;master list&#8221; of the denomination&#8217;s 2.5 million
Presbyterians. &#8220;Somebody hear the alarm go off?&#8221; Lundeen asked.
&#8220;I&#8217;ve got a duty as a professional fundraiser to say we&#8217;ve
got a problem here.&#8221; (At least one steering committee member handed
Lundeen a list of more than 30 new prospects before the meeting concluded.)

This also will take lots of time, particularly from top leaders of the
denomination. Persuading someone to give involves building a relationship,
Lundeen said, and that can take time and visit after visit. The staffing
pattern for the campaign includes four regional fundraisers and a staff of
three, including Lundeen, in Louisville.

	      A gung-ho committee

Despite those challenges, though, Saul said not one person said
&#8220;No&#8221; when they were asked to serve on the Mission Initiative
Steering Committee. Members of the committee were asked at this meeting why
they agreed to join the cause.
McClure said she&#8217;s been motivated by knowing missionaries, by seeing
&#8220;eyeball-to-eyeball&#8221; the work that they do and feeling
&#8220;almost physical pain&#8221; when she can&#8217;t give them the
resources they need.
The Rev. Erin Cox-Holmes of Yatesboro, PA, said she brings concern for
younger people who either don&#8217;t go to church or, if they are
Presbyterian, &#8220;feel they are in one room listening to their parents in
the other room arguing about whether they&#8217;re going to get a divorce or
not.&#8221; But the passion for mission, she said, &#8220;is something big
enough to capture our younger generations.&#8221;
The Rev. Curtis Kearns, director of the PC(USA)&#8217;s National Ministries
Division, said, &#8220;I honestly feel this whole endeavor is a
Spirit-touched endeavor.&#8221;
Roberts said that before she got the call asking her to help, she&#8217;d
been going from one doctor to another, being told that she had a degenerative
bone disease and that it wouldn&#8217;t get better. She was, as she put it,
&#8220;sort of wallowing in myself,&#8221; had resigned from all her
community and church activities, had her husband bringing her breakfast in
bed. She even overheard her daughter telling a friend that Lucimarian was
&#8220;enjoying ill health.&#8221; 
&#8220;I guess I really was,&#8221; but when she was asked to help with the
Mission Initiative, &#8220;then everything I started reading was about
working for the Lord.&#8221;
There is, in this group, a real hope that the PC(USA), with its history of
faithful Christian witness, can be about more in the years to come than
decline and infighting.
&#8220;The Presbyterian Church (USA) is still alive and well and has a
future, and I want to be a part of this,&#8221; said Melva Costen of Atlanta.
And Chuck Ford of Huntington Beach, CA, said simply: &#8220;I think that
saving souls is what we&#8217;re all about.&#8221;
The committee will meet next Feb. 25-26 in Long Beach. For more information
about the Mission Initiative, visit the website

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