The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for the first time in 50 years is preparing to increase its forces of international mission workers.
A proposed 2009-2010 General Assembly Mission Budget – which would increase the number of full-time, financially supported mission workers from the current 196 to 215 in 2009 and 220 in 2010 – was recently approved by the General Assembly Council (GAC).
The mission budget's next and final stop for approval will be at the 218th General Assembly in San Jose, Calif., on June 21 to 28.
"There's a remarkably big space in Presbyterians' hearts to engage in mission around the world," said GAC World Mission director Hunter Farrell to GAC's Evangelism Committee in April, according to Presbyterian News Service.
"There is also a large and growing need for mission engagement around the world," he added. "We are constantly receiving requests from partners, and our faithfulness as a denomination involves looking at the needs and working with all of our partners, inside and outside the church, to find the resources to meet the needs."
The denomination has recently had several successful mission campaigns, including last fall's Mission Challenge where nearly 50 PC(USA) mission workers spent a month visiting congregations and presbyteries across the country to share their stories and ask for prayer and financial support. In total, the campaign raised $500,000 for international mission.
But the denomination has also faced difficulties with its renewed interest in overseas mission. There has been an increased number of mission-sending groups affiliated with Presbyterian networks, making it difficult to present a unified message and commitment to church members and overseas partners, according to the denomination's news service.
In response, PC(USA) produced an agreement on world mission in March that has been endorsed by dozens of Presbyterian-related mission groups. Thus far, no group is known to reject the pact. The compact assures that Presbyterian missions will be faithful to Jesus Christ and to its overseas partners.
Another concern voiced by some Presbyterian leaders is the need to overcome the mission history that is tied to colonialism.
"This is all about being visible witnesses to Jesus Christ in the world, about being wise stewards of the resources entrusted to us and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world," GAC Executive Director Linda Valentine told the council concerning the church's presence in the world.