The General Assembly Procedures Committee of the 220th General Assembly has voted to recommend disapproval of an overture that would have allowed presbyteries to forward to synods and the General Assembly only the per capita funds they receive from congregations.
The overture from Detroit Presbytery would have changed a GA policy that requires presbyteries to pay per capita apportionments on every congregation regardless of whether a congregation sends its apportionment to the presbytery.
In a substitute motion, the committee acknowledged “the difficulty of presbyteries raising per capita funds” and asks that the Assembly refer the matter to the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) for study. The substitute motion passed 28-11-2.
Advocates for the Detroit overture said that some congregations failed to pay the per capita apportionment because they lacked the funds. Others, they noted, withhold their funds in protest of denominational policies. The obligation to pay per capita apportionments on congregations that withhold their funds has contributed to financial stress in some presbyteries.
John Wilkinson, chair of COGA, assured committee members that COGA had heard their concerns about per capita funding and promised to begin dealing with the issue immediately.
In other actions, the committee recommended that the Committee on the General Assembly develop and submit to the 221st General Assembly (2014) an ethics policy that would govern commissioners and advisory delegates to the General Assembly.
In asking this year’s Assembly to authorize the policy’s development, the committee action stated that many corporations, boards and non-profit organizations have guidelines regarding how gifts may or may not be accepted.
The action noted that an ethics policy is in place for the General Assembly Mission Council and the Office of the General Assembly. It asks that the ethics standards for GA commissioners and advisory delegates reflect that policy. The committee’s recommendation was in response to a commissioner’s resolution.
On budget related matters, the committee recommended the approval of a per capita budget of $13,871,111 for 2013 and $14,199,728 for 2014. The rate was set at $6.80 per active member for 2013 and $6.98 for 2014.