Presbyterian Mission Agency Executive Committee receives budget report

Financial situation stable for now, but concerns loom

September 23, 2015

LOUISVILLE

[Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story appeared Sept. 11, 2015. It has been updated to reflect the budget delivered to the Presbyterian Mission Agency fall meeting.] 

At a presentation to the Executive Committee of the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Earline Williams, deputy executive director and temporary co-manager of the PMA, painted a financial picture of the Agency that, for the time being, is optimistic.

The overview finances through Aug. 31, 2015, reported receipts of $43.3 million and expenses of $41.2 million. These numbers deviate from projections of $47 million in receipts and $44.6 million in expenses, providing a net gain of $2 million.

Reasons for the reduced income included lower than expected returns from short-term investments and giving to special offerings. The budget benefited from retention of funds not required for emergency disaster relief and increases in unrestricted endowment funds and direct mission giving.

Expenses fell nearly $4 million short of predictions primarily because of reduced program spending and holds on grants to new churches, though the expectation is that these grants will be awarded by year’s end.

Williams also noted at a Sept. 10 presentation that funds collected for the Christmas Joy Offering had not yet been distributed to the Board of Pensions as of June 30, but the transfer has since occurred.

“Once again, good news,” she said of the decreased spending. “I need to thank everyone in this room who has contributed to us controlling our costs better, because that’s what this represents.”

When questioned on where funds had come from for the investigation into the establishment of an unauthorized nonprofit corporation, the Presbyterian Centers for New Church Innovations, Inc. (PCNCI), William reiterated that funds for the investigation and subsequent legal defense were authorized by the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board to be withdrawn from the unrestricted Presbyterian Mission Program Fund (PMPF.)

Addressing the so-called “fiscal cliff” mentioned by PMAB chair Marilyn Gamm in late July, Williams pointed to graph showing the downward trend in “rainy day funds” contained in the PMPF. Due to program spending from the fund, in addition to the costs of the investigation and legal defense, Williams said of the decline, “That amount goes below zero in 2017. We are OK in 2015 and 2016, but 2017 is when we do not have reserves.” 

Williams concluded her Sept. 10 remarks saying, “We will begin, as leadership, to make decisions that affect how we do ministry, how we walk with God in mission in 2016 as we prepare for no more rainy day funds as we move into 2017.”

“Twenty-seventeen is the year where we have to make hard decisions because we will no longer have unrestricted reserves,” Williams told the Executive Committee. “After 2017, we cannot spend more than we receive, much like our own households.”