GA News: Mission Initiative campaign announces surprise $33 million

SAN JOSE — In a surprise report June 26 to the 218th General Assembly, the Mission Initiative: Joining Hearts and Hands [] (MIJHH) honorary campaign chair, the Rev. Tom Gillespie, announced that the campaign had raised pledges totaling $33 million as it nears the end of the $40 million effort to renew the church for mission.

According to a press release distributed after the presentation, the tally of donations jumped by a total of $8 million in new gifts and pledges since May 31.

The growth to $33,059,998 from the previous total of $25,483,640, reported on May 31, is accounted for as follows: $29,060 in direct mail gifts, $510,456 from an anonymous individual designated for new mission personnel, seven new church commitments for a total of $1,621,000, and five new presbytery commitments for a total of $5,415,842.

The campaign had a significant boost in June with the anonymous $510,456 check, “a $1 million commitment from Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, and a multi-million dollar commitment from Charleston-Atlantic Presbytery,” said Bob Thompson, interim director for funds development for the General Assembly Council.

Commissioners heard a summary of the difficult journey of the campaign where much was learned during the “wilderness” experience, according to campaign co-chair, the Rev. David Peterson, pastor of Memorial Drive Church in Houston, Texas. The other co-chair, the Rev. Joanna Adams,
pastor of Morningside Church, Atlanta, Ga., was unable to attend the presentation.

Just a few weeks ago, St. Andrews Church, Newport Beach, Calif., (Los Ranchos Presbytery) mailed its final check to complete the $1.5 million committed by its members, said the Rev. John Huffman, the congregation’s
pastor and a member of the MIJHH steering committee.

The two new church developments and two new mission personnel appointments supported by St. Andrews were above and beyond the gifts from church member Chuck Ford. Ford also made gifts directly to presbyteries beyond Los Ranchos for new church development. The four programs funded by St. Andrew’s were a new church development in Ladera Ranch, Calif., refurbishment of the physical plant of the restructure of the Chinese
Presbyterian Church of Orange County, two mission workers in Pakistan and two church members working with an AIDS ministry in Thailand, said Huffman.

Peterson detailed the difficult history of the campaign. At the time the campaign was launched in 2002, distrust of denominational actions seemed to be running high. Therefore, despite a few very large gifts from individuals
early on, the campaign failed to bloom.  MIJHH then shifted funds development from lead donors nationwide to several presbyteries, according to Peterson,
who said it wasn’t feasible to run the campaign in each of the 173 presbyteries. In addition to St. Andrews and Fourth, Chicago, two additional churches reported gifts of $1 million or more to the campaign — Grace First, Long
Beach, Calif., and Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y.

Changes in staff and leadership also accompanied the twists and turns of the campaign, which will continue to receive pledges toward its $40 million goal through the conclusion of this Assembly, with payments accepted through December 31, 2012.

“Friends, I think this is just the beginning,” Gillespie said.