Top Presbyterian Council Cuts $9 Million from Budget

The top operational body of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. announced on Tuesday its plans to sharply reduce its annual budget to account for the falling rate of administrative giving throughout the church.

“This is clearly part of a longer trend in the church and probably most churches,” John Detterick, the Executive Director of the General Assembly Council, told the Presbyterian News Service yesterday. “Presbyterians are funding mission differently — they are giving to their churches in larger amounts, but are more directly involved both in activity and funding.”

According to the 2007-2008 fiscal plan, the denomination will be reducing its budget by $2.94 million. The church has already reduced its 2006 budget by $3 million, leaving the total figure of budgetary cuts from 2006-2008 at over $9 million. The General Assembly Council must vote on the proposed budget at its April 26-29 meeting, and staff cuts resulting from the budget reductions will likely be announced by May 1.

The decision came after several years of declining giving by Presbyterian churches and presbyteries to the General Assembly Council. Receipts in 2005 were $13.9 million -- $2.1 million less than the projected $16 million budget. The 2006 budget, also of $16 million, has been revised to $13.3 million to account for the deficit.

According to the Presbyterian News Service, unrestricted giving from congregations and presbyteries are expected to decline further – to $12.9 million in 2007 and $12.7 million in 2008. The new mission work plan acts as the denomination’s attempt to restructure it according to the expected loss.

“None of us can see the future,” Detterick said, “but I firmly believe that what’s being put in place — the Mission Work Plan, a restructured GAC and annual meetings between the GAC and synod and presbytery executives (a new component of the GAC’s restructuring) — all will have some payoff and will help bridge the gap between the national and local church. We’ll see the results, whatever they are, in the next four years.”

In addition to the financial figures, the 2007-2008 Mission Work Plan provides a general guideline clarifying the main role of the General Assembly Council. Under the new guidelines, the GAC staff members will work largely to meet the “most crucial and obtainable objectives” of the organization.

“The real challenge for us is to work through these painful changes in ways that will help us prepare to support mission work in the future,” he said. “There is a role for the GAC, but it will be smaller, less resource-producing and more networking, less programmatic and more enabling of the presbyteries and congregations.”

For more information on the Mission Work Plan, visit: www.pcusa.org