About the Offering
Good News of Great Joy
A cherished Presbyterian tradition since the 1930s, the Christmas Joy Offering is one of the four special offerings designated by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Because Advent and Christmas shine a light not only on our world’s greatest hope but also on our world’s greatest need, the PC(USA) provides this timely opportunity for congregations to support causes specifically designed to bring Good News of Great Joy to the poor in circumstance or spirit. Alongside the message of promise and fulfillment in Luke’s Gospel, we also hear the clear call to God’s people to respond in faith as Christ calls us: “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded” (Luke 12:48).
Undesignated gifts to the Christmas Joy Offering will be distributed equally to the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions and to support student scholarships at Presbyterian-related racial ethnic schools and colleges.
What is the Christmas Joy Offering?
For more than 70 years, Presbyterians have given generously at Christmas to support the unmet needs of families who have devoted their lives to the mission of the PC(USA). Today this Offering is shared equally by the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions, which provides critical assistance to Presbyterian church workers and their families, and Presbyterian-affiliated racial ethnic schools and colleges, which enable students to develop their gifts and find their calling. The Offering dates back to the 1930s, when the former Presbyterian Church in the United States began an offering to supplement inadequate retirement income and provide supplemental medical insurance for former ministers, missionaries, church workers, and their families.
Although its roots trace back many years, this special offering remains just as essential today. Equally important to the financial help provided is the spiritual benefit received. Again and again, the individuals and families helped by the Offering say that as crucial as the financial assistance is, what really sustains them is the knowledge that the church is standing with them in their time of need.
Lifting up the Assistance Program
Through the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions — which comprises a broad range of individualized programs — the Christmas Joy Offering honors the faithfulness of current and retired ministers and church workers in their hour of greatest need by providing funds to help them through life’s challenging circumstances. To grant both peace of mind and practical assistance to retired church workers and their surviving spouses, the Board offers income supplements to raise incomes to a level where retirees can afford to live modestly while continuing to maintain their independence. Some recipients need relatively limited, yet critical, assistance—to afford a hearing aid, for instance, to continue a ministry. Others may need more substantial, ongoing support — to help make ends meet during retirement, for example, after a lifetime of ministering for modest pay. The Christmas Joy Offering — through its gifts to the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions—helps these individuals and families through difficult times by providing shared, emergency, and other types of grants.
The Assistance Program depends entirely on gifts and bequests, including half of the Christmas Joy Offering. Last year, the Offering funded more than 700 grants to individuals and families.
Furthering Racial Ethnic Education
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — with its historic commitment to higher education — has long promoted the education of racial ethnic men and women through the establishment and support of racial ethnic schools and colleges. Thanks to the enduring legacy of the Christmas Joy Offering, today’s racial ethnic Presbyterian students may receive much-needed scholarship assistance while their schools may get help with basic operating costs. With the burden of their educational debt reduced, today’s Presbyterian students and future church leaders are more freely able to discover and pursue their professional goals. All PC(USA)-related schools and colleges are open to any qualified student regardless of race.
Gifts through the Christmas Joy Offering will allow these schools and colleges to continue the ministries we have carried out for decades, even in an ever-changing, increasingly mobile and high-tech world. Visit the Racial Ethnic Schools and Colleges website to find more information.