A Brief History of the Christmas Joy Offering

Several years ago there was a wonderful history of the Christmas Joy Offering. Where can I find that information?


What a great question, Wendy! 

Christmas Joy Offering Logo

The Christmas Joy Offering has been received in Presbyterian churches for over 75 years! It has seen its share of changes in this time, but the heart of the offering has remained the same. 

The Christmas Joy Offering dates back to the 1930s when the former Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) began an offering to supplement inadequate retirement income and provide supplemental medical insurance for former ministers, missionaries, church workers, and their families. In 1949, this offering was first officially called the “Joy Gift.”

In 1960, in the former United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (UPCUSA), a Christmas offering called the “White Gift” was first received. Over the years, funds from the “White Gift” were used for general mission and world relief and global health and welfare concerns related to children, before the focus became former servants of the church living on inadequate pensions. In 1964, the offering was renamed “Christmas Offering,” and in 1974, racial ethnic education was added as a cause supported by the offering, beginning a tradition of dividing offering receipts evenly between the two causes.

In 1988, following reunion, the two offerings were joined to become the “Christmas Offering Joy Gift,” and in 1989 the name was changed to the “Christmas Joy Offering.” In 1996, the General Assembly approved the distribution which remains in place to this day:

• 50 percent to the Board of Pensions for assistance programs (income supplements and shared grant programs)

• 50 percent to the General Assembly Mission Council (now Presbyterian Mission Agency) for racial ethnic education

The Christmas Joy offering has been around for quite awhile. How does your church celebrate this tradition? Does it hold any special memories for you? 

I love building posts around your questions and feedback. If you have anything to share, email specialofferings@pcusa.org

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