General Assembly backgrounder: special offerings
Dramatic proposed changes seek to nearly double receipts
June 20, 2012
Receipts for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s four special offerings ― the One Great Hour of Sharing, Pentecost Offering, Peacemaking Offering and Christmas Joy Offering ― have declined more than 25 percent in the last 11 years and 17 percent in the last four years, to about $13.6 million in 2011.
While receipts declined dramatically, the number of congregations receiving the offerings has remained relatively flat over the last decade: in 2011, 87 percent of congregations received the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, 77 percent the Christmas Joy Offering, 53 percent the Peacemaking Offering and 42 percent the Pentecost Offering.
In 2008, a Special Offerings Advisory Task Force (SOATF) was appointed to address declining receipts for and participation by congregations in the offerings.
The SOATF is proposing several dramatic changes in the offerings with a goal of increasing receipts to $20 million by 2020.
The first would focus the offerings on particular causes rather than specific General Assembly Mission Council programs, and eliminate the percentage allocations to those programs. For instance, the One Great Hour of Sharing would be promoted as serving disaster relief, community development and hunger ministries rather than Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, which currently receives 32 percent of the offering, Self-Development of People (32 percent) and the Presbyterian Hunger Program (36 percent).
Peacemaking “endeavors” would be included in the One Great Hour of Sharing and the Peacemaking Offering ― which is currently divided between participating congregations (25 percent), presbyteries and synods (25 percent) and Presbyterian Peacemaking Program (50 percent) ― would be replaced by a World Communion Offering to benefit the PC(USA)’s overseas mission work.
And the one-half of the Christmas Joy Offering that has supported racial ethnic schools and colleges would now be used for “racial ethnic church leadership development.” The other half of the Christmas Joy Offering benefits the assistance programs for retired church workers of the Board of Pensions.
The Pentecost Offering, the newest of the four dating to 1998, would continue to support ministries with youth, young adults and children at-risk.
Overtures from the presbyteries of Pittsburgh and Albany call for retaining the Peacemaking Offering.
An overture from the Presbytery of Western North Carolina, while not mentioning the Peacemaking Offering, seeks “a separate avenue for the funding of the Peacemaking Program.”
The Pittsburgh and Western North Carolina overtures also call for continuing the current distributions of the One Great Hour of Sharing to PDA, SDOP and PHP.
An overture from the Presbytery of Inland Northwest asks for a three-year special offering to support Native American ministries.
Matters related to the special offerings will be considered by Assembly Committee 10 ― Mission Coordination.
That committee will also consider proposed General Assembly Mission Budgets of $81,576,103 for 2013 and $78,196,031 for 2014. Both budgets are subject to change depending on actions taken by the Assembly. The 2012 budget is $89,091,490.