The General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC) today (May 11) recommended to the upcoming 220th General Assembly mission budgets for 2013 and 2014 that vividly portray the continuing decline in giving to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s mission agency.

The 2012 mission budget is $89,091,490. The GAMC’s proposed budgets for 2013 and 2014 respectively are $81,576,103 and $78,196,031 ― a reduction of almost $11 million over the two years.

“The 2013 budget will be $7 million less than the current 2012 budget of $89 million (which includes a $4 million from prior years for disaster relief) but $5 million more than the GAMC actually spent in 2011,” said Joey Bailey, GAMC’s chief financial officer. “We were able to keep expenses low in 2011 due to a number of unfilled positions, and we expect to build on that with this budget by eliminating a number of those vacant positions and taking advantage of technology improvements.”

The proposed budget eliminates 14 current positions as part of the strategic realignment, and it creates 18 new positions. In addition, 17 vacant positions have been eliminated, producing a net change of 13 positions overall. The GAMC workforce is now 308, down from 321.

The budgets also reflect the new vision, mission and directional goals of the GAMC’s 2013-2016 Mission Work Plan. Both spending and staffing are being shifted to alignment with the work plan.

GAMC Executive Director Linda Valentine said “hundreds of staff and elected leaders have participated in the development of the new Mission Work Plan. The plan builds upon the work of the previous Mission Work Plan by continuing a shift away from doing ministry on behalf of the church and toward inspiring, equipping and connecting the church for Christ’s mission.”

Constructed on the GAMC’s vision statement ― “Presbyterians joyfully engaging in God’s mission for the transformation of the world” ― and stated mission to “inspire, equip and connect the PC(USA) in its many expressions to serve Christ in the world through new and existing communities of faith, hope, love and witness,” the Mission Work Plan sets out six “directional goals”:

  • Transformational leaders: “inspire, equip and connect the church to cultivate, nurture and sustain diverse, transformational leaders for Christ’s mission.”
  • Compassionate and prophetic discipleship: “inspire, equip and connect the church to make, receive and send disciples who demonstrate and proclaim God’s justice, peace and love in an increasingly globalized world.”
  • New worshiping communities: “inspire, equip and connect the church to ignite a movement within the PC(USA) that results in the creation of 1,001 new worshiping communities.”
  • Young adults: “inspire, equip and connect the church to engage and join with young adults in reforming the church of Christ’s mission.”
  • General Assembly engagement: “engage with, respond to, resource and represent the General Assembly in alignment with the vision and mission for the GAMC.”
  • Organizational integrity: “build confidence, trust and engagement in all that we do by being collaborative, accountable, responsive and excellent.”

Valentine said denominational staff have been working since the council adopted the directional goals in February to develop more specific organizational and individual goals ― “an action plan,” she said, noting that in the midst of painful budget and staff cuts “there is much to celebrate.”

For instance, World Mission Director Hunter Farrell welcomed council members to “the 175th birthday of Presbyterian overseas mission!”

Historically, he said, “we have done this by sending mission workers and supporting partner churches. Now they’re begging for more ― to partner with them to leverage financial and social capital to weave a new tapestry throughout the world.”

To that end, Farrell said, World Mission has consulted with “about 1,800 partners” to identify three “critical global issues” around which World Mission is restructuring its work: root causes of poverty, especially as they impact women and children, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ; and  reconciliation amidst cultures of violence.

World Mission is being restructured to devote its resources to those three issues. 

The Rev. Eric Hoey, director of Evangelism and Church Growth, told the council: “I want to see the PC(USA) be a turnaround denomination in my tenure here.” He called the GAMC’s new initiative ― “1001 new worshiping communities” ― a “game-changer” and said his unit’s efforts will revolve around thinking more broadly and creatively about new church development, adapting leadership development to “these new models of ministry,” and raising up “more young adult disciples.”

Theology Worship and Education Director Chip Hardwick and Vocation Director Marcia Myers spoke of partnering with seminaries and the PC(USA)’s military chaplaincy to reach more young adults and Myers said  her unit will seek to expand “For Such a Time as This” a program that places and supports new pastors in small churches.

Through all the efforts already emerging from the new Mission Work Plan, said Sara Lisherness, director of Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries, “we are trying to put into practice what we’ve heard over and over again ― that justice and evangelism cannot be separated, that we must weave them together into a single tapestry of ministry.”

All with fewer resources.

The proposed budgets include the use of $12.5 million in “prior year accumulations” and reserves in 2013 and $12.1 million in 2014.

Bailey said the Presbyterian Mission Program Fund ― the GAMC’s cash flow reserve, which is currently $19 million ― will still have “plenty of cushion.” That fund is required to maintain a balance equal to 30 percent of the unrestricted budget.

The $81.6 million 2013 mission budget includes unrestricted funds of $20.6 million and restricted funds of $61 million. In 2014, the dollars are unrestricted $21.4 million and restricted $56.8 million. 

Bailey said the mission budgets is built on 20-year giving trends “so we can be realistic in our projections.” He noted “a particularly dramatic decline” in shared mission support (unrestricted contributions) from congregations and presbyteries.

The high mark in unrestricted giving was $18 million in the year 2000, Bailey said. That number has fallen to a current level of $8 million. Another major factor in declining revenue, he added, is the required spending down of endowment funds over the last 10-15 years.