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theology formation and evangelism

Rethinking Evangelism conference opens with worship

During opening worship Monday at the digital Rethinking Evangelism conference, the Rev. Dr. Ray Jones III  said that all human beings long for four things: justice, spirituality, relationship and beauty.

Dipping Deeper: forming lifelong disciples

More than 50 Christian educators, pastors, volunteers and others are taking part in a three-day virtual workshop “Dipping Deeper into the Well of PC(USA) Ministries,” Oct. 5–7. Sessions are focused on the formation of lifelong disciples who are grounded in the Reformed tradition and equipped for the work of evangelism, peacemaking, witnessing and working toward justice and equity for all God’s people.

Drive through blessings as Christian Education Week begins

The Sunday after Labor Day has always been a big day of celebration for many Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations around the country.  But this year the beginning of Christian Education week — which is set aside in the PC(USA) as a reminder of the importance of faith formation and those who teach and plan for another church program year — looks and feels entirely different.

Presbyterians invited to dip deeper into the well of PC(USA) ministries

The South Central Region of the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (SCRAPCE) is hosting a three-day virtual workshop called “Dipping Deeper Into the Well of PC(USA) Ministries” Oct. 5–7. The workshop, coordinated by Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary (APTS), is recommended for Christian educators, pastors, volunteers and anyone else interested in learning about denominational resources available for Christian education and formation in the local church.

An outward focus

Before COVID-19 forced him to work from home, the Rev. Dr. Alonzo Johnson, coordinator of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People, was walking in downtown Louisville one day when he came across a man holding a “I’m homeless and I’m hungry” sign. Johnson made eye contact and asked how the man was doing. The man clutched Johnson’s arms and told him, with tears streaming down his face, “Thank you for recognizing that I am a human being.”

Presbyterian Mission Agency Board will meet virtually Wednesday through Friday

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board will meet via Zoom Wednesday though Friday. The agenda, available here, includes a 2021-22 budget presentation and discussion, a presentation on the coronavirus and its implications for ministry, and a feasibility study report on fundraising for Stony Point Center, which was being studied for a $10.3 million capital improvement campaign. Wednesday’s Zoom call runs from 1:30 p.m. through 5 p.m., with a closed session scheduled from 3:45 p.m. through the 5 p.m. recess. The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, the PMA’s president and executive director, will make a budget presentation beginning at 2:20. Board members will have time to respond to her presentation before entering into closed session. On Thursday, the board’s administrative committees (Personnel & Nominating and Resource Allocation & Stewardship) will meet separately at 10 a.m., with the board’s three program committees (Mid Councils, Nurture the Body and Outreach to the World) meeting separately at 11:30 a.m. The board meets in a plenary session beginning at 2 p.m., with the coronavirus presentation set to begin at 2:15 p.m. Thursday’s recess is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. No closed session is scheduled for that day. On Friday, the board will consider committee reports beginning at 10:20 a.m. The Stony Point Feasibility Study Report is scheduled for 11 a.m., with prayer and then adjournment scheduled for noon. 2021-22 budget The proposed unified budget — per capita, mission and Administrative Services Group — is about $90.5 million for 2021 and about $92.6 million for 2022. Those budget figures must be approved by the 224th General Assembly, which is scheduled to meet June 20-27 but could well occur during a June videoconference owing to the pandemic. The proposed budgets are based on a pending apportionment rate of $9.99 in 2021 and $10.50 in 2022, reflecting a membership reduction of 4.5% year-over-year. The budgets can be viewed independently, according to the report by the board’s Resource Allocation & Stewardship Committee, “but the underlying numbers and assumptions show the support and connectivity of each budget.” Under the budget proposal, all new unexpected, unrestricted gifts or bequests of more than $50,000 received by the A Corporation will be shared according to a cost allocation formula of 20% to OGA and 80% to PMA. Investment revenue makes up 21% of the revenue budgets for each year of the two-year budget cycle. Other income, such as income from the sale of offering envelopes and sales generated from everything including copies of Presbyterians Today and the Presbyterian Planning Calendar, are forecast to generate 18% of the 2021 revenue and 19% the following year’s revenue. The proposed budget includes 533 full-time staff and 51 part-time staff. Salaries are budgeted to increase by 3% per year. Stony Point Center Following a study on fundraising by a consultant, CCS Fundraising, the board’s Coordinating Committee is recommending, “in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic which causes us to proceed carefully regarding our next steps,” that the board authorize Moffett to: • Implement a focused exploratory planning phase for a multi-year national campaign, with a Northeast regional focus, that has a preliminary working goal of $4 million plus a campaign budget, down from the $10.3 million originally envisioned. • Engage “strong volunteer campaign leadership with an emphasis on a diverse group of individuals who have the interest and capacity to open doors to gifts for Stony Point.” • Enact initial Matthew 25 programming at Stony Point Center before going public with the campaign. • Approve priorities as recommended by the other consultant on the project, Run River, including private bathrooms in lodges; solar power; landscaping; other facility upgrades, such as window replacement, keycards and a commercial laundry; and enhancements to the Evergreen building, to modernize administration, conference and dining spaces. According to a 2020 Baseline Year report prepared by PMA’s Theology, Formation & Evangelism, the pandemic has placed on hold or significantly altered work on a number of projects, including development of marketing, financial and development plans; staff structure; and site/facility improvements. “The current disruption of business at Stony Point Center is clearly a crisis,” the report states. “The impact on finances, staffing and groups is plainly catastrophic. It will require heroic and creative solutions from many persons.” But it’s also an operational crisis, “and every possible operational response must be fully explored. It should only be a measure of extreme last resort to change strategy as a result of an operational issue. Strategy may be slowed and may need to be adjusted but should not be sacrificed … Reconfiguring staff, developing programmatic initiatives and making improvements to facilities should all continue to proceed on as realistic a schedule as possible.”

What does a vital congregation look like?

The Rev. Dr. Ray Jones III turned to history and the cinema to open a conversation about congregational vitality on the first day of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board’s February meeting on Wednesday.