Varied, far-flung mission is envisioned over the next two years


Presbyterian Mission Agency Board hears what kind of ministry will occur under proposed budgets for 2021, 2022

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

The Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Dana Dages talks to Presbyterian Youth Triennium attendees about the Matthew 25 invitation during the 2019 event held at Purdue University. (Photo by Andrew Yeager-Buckley)

LOUISVILLE — Proposed budgets for the Presbyterian Mission Agency — about $61.2 million in 2021 and about $62.9 million for 2022 — will allow the agency two more years to continue the Matthew 25 focus and to carry out no small number of other worthy ministries, too.

The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the PMA, told the PMA Board meeting via Zoom on Wednesday that since budget proposals are being made “during an unprecedented time,” it’s likely that PMA’s proposed budgets — as well as budget proposals for the Office of the General Assembly and the Administrative Services Group, grouped for the first time under a unified budget — will be adjusted during the coming weeks.

“We want to continue to work with mid councils and review projections,” she said. Many mid councils “plan for budget reductions or worse,” she said, and the per capita apportionment rates currently proposed in the unified budget — $9.99 in 2021 and $10.50 in 2022 — could well be reduced.

The unified budget calls for $90.5 million in 2021 expenditures and $92.5 million in 2022, PC(USA) Controller Denise Hampton told the board.

“We know whatever we accomplish, this budget is a blessing, made possible because we Presbyterians support mission giving,” Moffett told the board. “The most important work we can do right now is to be the very best stewards of the gifts we receive.”

In general terms, the budgeted amounts over the next two years, which require approval by the 224th General Assembly, will allow the mission agency to do ministry in these areas, and more, according to a report included in the board’s meeting papers:

Executive Director’s office

  • Create resource/grant funds to mid councils and congregations living into the Matthew 25 vision. Moffett said she’ll be searching for a Matthew 25 specialist to create grant programs and help coordinate the work of embedding Matthew 25 into mid councils and churches.
  • Train, equip and cast the Matthew 25 vision to mid councils and congregations yet to sign on.
  • Continue to develop “a compelling re-invention” of Stony Point Center as the place where experiences and training help realize the Matthew 25 vision.

Theology, Formation & Evangelism

  • Increase the number of new worshiping communities beyond the 600 or so currently existing.
  • Support the work of mid council and church leadership that have committed to the three-year Vital Congregations
  • Support lifetime faith formation through educational assistance, new initiatives and resources for intergenerational cohorts.
  • Use an annual evangelism conference to impact the Church through deeper engagement and spirituality.
  • Continue to dismantle structural racism by, in part, nurturing a network of diverse coaches and learning from previously unheard voices. In addition, antiracism training will be offered to Christian educators across the nation and through webinars in three languages.

Racial Equity and Women’s Intercultural Ministries

  • This budget helps dismantle structural racism by providing training for seminarians of color and ministry development opportunities for women.
  • It continues to support new worshiping communities comprised of people of color, immigrants, refugees, women and others.
  • It continues work around supporting the needs of Native American churches.
  • The budget supports Schools and Colleges Equipping Communities of Color through the Christmas Joy Offering and by providing scholarships through the Katie Cannon Fund.
  • It helps create vital congregations and dismantle structural racism by providing anti-racism training for congregations, including the “Blanket Exercise,” an interactive workshop that aims to foster understanding about the Doctrine of Discovery.

Compassion, Peace & Justice

  • COVID-19 is exposing “grave injustice, inequality and racism in our global community, including the United States,” the report states. The impact of this deadly pandemic will stretch well into 2021-22, and “as a Matthew 25 Church, we are compelled to respond.”
  • Poverty eradication efforts will include engaging in advocacy that challenges and changes the structures that perpetuate poverty; responding to natural and human caused disasters, prioritizing communities that are most vulnerable; and engaging with grassroots organizations like the Poor People’s Campaign to advocate for legislation to provide a safety net for impoverished communities and individuals.
  • Dismantling structural racism will include working with RE&WIM; training mid councils and congregations as they address racism and issues of sexism, power and privilege; supporting efforts to welcome refugees and immigrants; and challenging voter suppression legislation and other laws that unfairly impact people of color.
  • Building congregational vitality will include resourcing the Presbyterian Mental Health Network as it equips the church to respond to people experiencing mental health challenges and equipping and supporting congregations that provide food, clothing and shelter to people in need.

World Mission

COVID-19 “has already had a profound impact on World Mission, our global partners and our mission personnel that will impact our ministry and mission for years to come.” The budget allows World Mission to support 107 mission personnel who serve in more than 70 countries around the world and 90 young adults in five international and nine national Young Adult Volunteer sites.

  • Work on the eradication of systemic poverty will include supporting basic health and community development resources to poor communities, building wells and providing access to clean water, supporting community farming, building schools and training teachers, and offering vocational training.
  • Work on dismantling systemic racism, tribalism and ethnic conflict will occur by creating peace-building initiatives, protecting the human rights of racial and ethnic communities and ensuring the rights and safety of refugee and immigrant communities.
  • The budget will “undergird our global partners as they build vital congregations” by offering theological training to pastors and chaplains, supporting new church developments and providing spiritual and emotional care for pastors serving in challenging and unstable communities.

“Finally, this unified budget will provide opportunities for our congregations to connect with and nurture our relationships with our global partners through our mission co-workers, short-term mission trips and partnerships as together we seek to live out the gospel calling to be a Matthew 25 Church.”

Mission Engagement & Support

“This is a time for us to demonstrate the true meaning of stewardship,” the report states. “This is a time to do what we do best — respond with compassion and generosity. We assist those congregations that are struggling financially. We also invite those who are able to help financially. This is a time in which we can show that we are the church together.”

The primary work of Mission Engagement & Support “is to keep Presbyterian mission top of mind with pastors, mission committee chairs, members and mid council leaders,” the report says.

Following Wednesday’s budget presentation, the board met in closed session for about two hours.

On Thursday, board members will meet in two sessions of committee meetings, at 10 a.m. Eastern Time for administrative committees and 11:30 a.m. for program committees. During a plenary session beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday, the board will hear a presentation on the coronavirus and its implications for PC(USA) ministry.


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