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Rolling out the red carpet at the Presbyterian Center

Special Offerings debuts a video for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation Board

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation Board attended a film premiere of sorts Thursday afternoon.

From the conference facility in the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Kentucky, members of the board were treated to an 11-minute video celebrating anniversaries occurring this year in Special Offerings: 75 years of the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, 40 years of the Peace & Global Witness offering, 25 years of the Pentecost offering and 10 years of the Presbyterian Giving Catalog. The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Campbell, president emerita of McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and pastor emerita at Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville, narrates the video, which was completed about 20 hours before the board viewed it.

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Campbell

“May our efforts to bring hope for those in need be met with God’s blessing,” Campbell says at the video’s end.

The video will be available soon on the Special Offerings website. It’s designed for congregational use and can be easily cut into brief segments for use during, say, a moment for mission.

Kathy Lueckert, A Corp president, took the board through a brief overview of Special Offerings, which is part of the work of Ministry Engagement & Support, a ministry that came over to the Administrative Services Group from the Presbyterian Mission Agency on Jan. 1. Since 1995, Presbyterians have given more than $403 million to Special Offerings. Those gifts have provided funding for PMA programs including Hunger, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Self-Development of People, Peacemaking, World Mission, schools equipping communities of color and leadership development for people of color. They also provide funding for the Board of Pensions Assistance Program.

Lueckert called Special Offerings “a tremendous way for Presbyterians to be church together and support so many missions around the world.”

The Giving Catalog was launched as a pilot program to extend the reach of Special Offerings. It’s seen steady growth since its inception and is designed to give individual Presbyterians the option to give directly to impact areas aligned with the Special Offerings.

The goal for 2023 is to receive $11.5 million through Special Offerings, the Presbyterian Giving catalog and appeals. Another goal is to increase the number of Four for Four congregations — those who participate in all four Special Offerings — by 39. At present, 1,181 congregations have claimed Four for Four status.

Since 2000, the average given each year to Special Offerings has been about $14 million. With its growing popularity, the Giving Catalog is now responsible for 11% of the Special Offerings total.

“Special Offerings is one of the strong faces of this operation,” said the Rev. Dr. John Wilkinson, the new director of Ministry Engagement & Support, adding he and his colleagues will do “whatever we can do to broaden and deepen these goals.”

In addition to Wilkinson, the board heard from Dr. Lawrence Williams, the new Information Technology director. “A life-long goal has been to take my skillset in technology and get with a faith-based organization,” Williams said. His father, who’s a minister, would tell him, “You need to get with a faith-based organization. All the people there will at least claim to know God.”

Having worked for large companies, “You get to the point where you ask, who in the organization is going to be my obstacle?” Williams told the board. “I’ve been looking for one here, and I’m starting to believe maybe there isn’t one. I feel welcomed and that people are here to help others. I find it a joy.”

Theresa Batliner, engagement partner with MCM CPAs and Advisors, called the 2022 audit “a very successful audit.” The firm issued the A Corp “an unmodified or clean opinion,” Batliner said.

Kathy Lueckert (Contributed photo)

Lueckert’s report included a discussion on groups and ministry areas that have used the conference center since it opened last summer. Challenges include room technology support, facilities support and marketing, which is being scaled back because of the challenges of supporting the technology in use and the facilities themselves.

“All things considered, the 100 Witherspoon Conference and Event Center has had a successful first year,” Lueckert reported to the board. “A conservative estimate is over 750 users in the facility since July 2022.”

Also on Thursday, the board met twice in executive (closed) session.

Friday’s agenda calls for updates from the Unification Commission and the Funding Model Development Team, committee reports, conversations on reviewing committee charters and a succession plan, and a third closed session.

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