Build up the body of Christ. Support the Pentecost Offering.

‘Four for Four’ churches feel connected


Giving to all Presbyterian offerings is important, they say

By Jon Reinink | Presbyterians Today

The 2018 confirmation class of First Presbyterian Church in Cranbury, N.J., had a say on how the church’s portion of the money raised for the Pentecost Offering was used, thus fulfilling the offering’s intent of inspiring young people to share their faith. Courtesy of First Presbyterian Church, Cranbury, N.J.

For nearly 15 years, a certificate has hung on a sparsely occupied bulletin board on the back wall in the sanctuary of Laguna United Presbyterian Church in Casa Blanca, New Mexico. For the only Native American congregation in Santa Fe Presbytery, this now-faded certificate represented much more than a tradition or achievement. Every time they walked by it, it was a reminder of their congregation’s commitment to participate in the life of the church — a church that spans beyond their Casa Blanca community.

Gwen Capitan, the congregation’s treasurer, says their session had been talking about being a “Four for Four” congregation — a congregation that receives each of the PC(USA)’s four churchwide special offerings: One Great Hour of Sharing, the Pentecost Offering, the Peace & Global Witness Offering and the Christmas Joy Offering.

“We were debating whether or not to do all four of them after our last pastor left. In the end, we still do them. We share the Minutes for Mission for each offering, so we know what kind of ministry our giving supports. I usually announce in worship that we’re doing one of the offerings, and people always give to them,” she said.

Reflecting further on why the congregation was so eager to be a Four for Four congregation, June Lorenzo, Laguna’s clerk of session, talked about the connections the offerings represent.

“Our elders often remind us that giving back is so important. We receive so much — from Creator, from the presbytery and church and from one another. Joining that giving and sharing is really important,” Lorenzo said.

First Presbyterian Church in Cranbury, New Jersey, has been a Four for Four congregation for two decades.

“It reminds the church of the connections it has with those who benefit from each of the offerings. For example, those who are impacted by disasters are lifted up by One Great Hour of Sharing, and our youth are encouraged and supported by the Pentecost Offering,” said Hannah Lovaglio, associate pastor.

Each year, the confirmation class of First Presbyterian Church in Cranbury is given the opportunity to advise session on what ministry their retained portion of the Pentecost Offering should support — fulfilling the offering’s intent of inspiring young people to share their faith with the world.

“In a broader sense, being Four for Four is our congregation’s way of honoring our Presbyterian identity and connection. The offerings allow us to regularly support the far-reaching ministry of our denomination in a very direct way,” Lovaglio said.

By giving to all four offerings, congregations join with other congregations in a broad range of ministries, which include:

One Great Hour of Sharing

  • 32% of the offering goes to restoring hope in communities recovering from disaster through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.
  • 36% goes toward alleviating hunger through sustainable food systems and addressing the causes of poverty through the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
  • 32% goes to Self-Development of People, which helps oppressed and disadvantaged communities.

Pentecost Offering

  • 10% goes to the Educate a Child national initiative.
  • 25% goes to ministries with youth.
  • 25% goes to the Young Adult Volunteer program.
  • 40% of the offering is retained by local congregations for children, youth and young adult ministries.

Peace & Global Witness Offering

  • 50% goes toward advocating for peacemaking and justice.
  • 25% of the offering supports regional ministries of peace and reconciliation, through mid council peace initiatives.
  • 25% is retained by local congregations for ministries of justice.

Christmas Joy Offering

  • 50% of the offering helps provide financial support and funds grants for current and retired Presbyterian church workers through the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions.
  • 50% goes toward leadership development for people of color and education support at Presbyterian-related schools and colleges equipping communities of color.

Jon Reinink is a church support associate for Special Offerings and the Presbyterian Giving Catalog at the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Learn more

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