LOUISVILLE – Unless Presbyterians step up and give more money, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) may be forced to recall about one-fourth of its mission co-workers deployed internationally by 2017.
That’s the message that Hunter Farrell, the PC(USA)’s director of World Mission, is bringing to the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, meeting April 15-17 in Louisville. Farrell said he was delivering “sobering news” – projections show World Mission may face a $4.5 million shortfall by 2017, which would force the PC(USA) to recall about 40 of the 162 mission co-workers it now has assigned internationally.
The first step is to raise at least $925,000 – the amount of the projected shortfall for 2016, Farrell told the board’s executive committee April 15. If that doesn’t happen, World Mission will be unable to replace four mission co-workers who’ll be retiring and will have to prematurely end the service of five others, Farrell said.
In 2017, unless more money is raised, the situation will get worse. By then, World Mission will have run through funds it has previously raised, meaning it would have to rely only on current receipts. If that happens, Farrell said, the shortfall between revenues and expenses would be about $4.5 million – meaning roughly 40 mission co-workers would have to be pulled out of service.
A news release from World Mission quotes Terri Bate, the PC(USA)’s senior director of funds development, as saying: “As Presbyterians we must support mission workers over and above anything we’ve done before. Our mission workers and global partners are counting on this support in order to continue in partnership together in God’s mission.”
So far, that’s not been happening – giving to PC(USA) World Mission has been going down, not up, a report to the board makes clear. In 2014, fundraising for World Mission fell short of its fundraising goal by nearly $1.8 million, with Presbyterians giving $7.28 million instead of the $9.08 million budgeted. Giving in 2014 fell $894,000 below the $8.17 million given in 2013.
Of the $7.28 million raised for World Mission in 2014, $2.48 million came from individual donors (about 61 percent of the $4.08 million the denomination hoped to raise from individuals) and $4.8 million from congregations (about 96 percent of the $5 million fundraising goal). Fundraising expenses for World Mission came in under budget – at $1.88 million for 2014, about $268,000 less than had been projected.
For 2014, that leaves just over $5.4 million available for sending and supporting PC(USA) mission co-workers – about $1.1 million less than in 2013 and more than $1.5 million less than the goal for 2014.
The report states that the shortfall in individual giving “can be attributed to many factors, including climate in the church toward some of the national changes as well as our ability to increase the number of people with whom we are able to meet and share the World Mission story. We continue to hear that people are not aware that the funding of mission co-workers is dependent upon gifts over and above regular congregational giving. We have spread this message widely in the past, and continue to let people know that the Presbyterian Mission Agency can only send the number of mission co-workers the church is willing to support, and that there is an urgency related to the funding of mission co-workers.”