The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) approved adjustments to the 2009 and 2010 budgets for the Office of the General Assembly (OGA) at its meeting March 24—25.

The decision to revise the budgets was prompted by the effects of the current global economic crisis, which has resulted in an approximately $1 million loss to the reserves for OGA through the Presbyterian Foundation.

General Assembly policy calls for OGA to maintain 30 percent of its income in reserves. The dramatic drop in investment income leaves reserves right at that percentage. The shortfall to be made up is $400,000 for 2009 and $800,000 for 2010.

The specific steps taken by COGA call for a 2 percent reduction in all OGA department expenses for the current year, a $96,000 cut in ecumenical grants, and 2010 salary freezes and a voluntary separation package for OGA staff.

Employees will have a 45-day window to accept the package, beginning today.

The measures taken by COGA will meet the reductions necessary to balance the 2009 budget. However, work continues on balancing the 2010 budget.

“These are difficult decisions to make,” said the Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly. “I am grateful to staff members for offering so many ideas to save costs, while continuing every day to do good work for the church.”

COGA members delved into a number of other agenda items over the course of their two-day meeting. The OGA 2009 benchmark goals were discussed, which include plans for a redesigned OGA Web site, offering additional materials for the Web in Spanish and Korean, reviewing church statistics categories in light of current and future needs of the church, and taking a major leadership role in coordinating the upcoming Big Tent event, June 11-13, in Atlanta.

Another focus of discussion during the meeting revolved around how to enhance General Assemblies in general and the experience of GA commissioners in particular. The Rev. Tom Hay, director of operations for OGA, facilitated the discussion.

Hay asked the group to complete sentences like, “It will have been a great GA when….” Answers ranged from having commissioners leave at the end of the assembly feeling hopeful about the PC(USA) and that they had a part in that, to having built a sense of community, to enforcing time limits at the microphone for those who speak on the floor of the assembly.

Also at its meeting, COGA members re-elected the Rev. Dennis Hughes (Seattle Presbytery) and elder Barbara Corwin (Kendall Presbytery) as—the committee’s moderator and vice-moderator, respectively.

Additional COGA members are elders Jack Baugh (Los Ranchos Presbytery), Kent Grimes (Memphis Presbytery), Leah Johnson (Donegal Presbytery), Michael Kruse (Heartland Presbytery, GAC representative), Virginia Raney (Huntingdon Presbytery), Chris Rhodes (Redwoods Presbytery), Vince Thomas (Twin Cities Presbytery), and Bob Wilson (North Alabama Presbytery) and the Revs. Barbara Campbell-Davis (New Hope Presbytery), Eileen Lindner (Palisades Presbytery), Jerrod Lowry (New Hope Presbytery), John Purcell (Grace Presbytery), and John Wilkinson (Genesee Valley Presbytery).

Parsons serves as an exofficio member of the committee, as do the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow and the Rev. Byron Wade, moderator and vice moderator of the 218th General Assembly (2008) respectively, and elder Linda Valentine, Executive Director of the General Assembly Council.