GA 2010: GA affirms work of PHEWA, re-establishes Collegiate Ministries

MINNEAPOLIS – The 219th General Assembly, meeting July 9, discussed the funding difficulties of the national offices of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

— expressing both distress for ministries from which funding has been cut, and acknowledging that giving more money in one area will mean taking away funding from somewhere else.

            During a discussion of the report of the assembly’s Mission Coordination Committee, some commissioners raised concerns over the lowered funding for the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA) . Others questioned whether repeated rounds of budget cuts have had a disproportionate impact on the PC(USA)’s commitment to ministries involving justice.

               The assembly voted to remove language from an overture from Elizabeth Presbytery asking for a study to determine whether budget cutbacks have disproportionately affected justice programs. But it affirmed the work of PHEWA and directed the General Assembly Mission Council to develop a funding strategy before the end of fiscal year 2012 for the continuation of PHEWA’s work.

               Some Young Adult Advisory Delegates spoke in favor of reestablishing  funding for the PC(USA)’s Office of Collegiate Ministries, saying that college ministry programs have been vital for their spiritual life at college.  “Our campus center has  become my church home,” one student explained. The assembly voted to approve an overture from North Central Iowa Presbytery to re-establish the Collegiate Ministries office, at a cost of about $70,000 to $85,000 annually.

               Several speakers also asked for financial support for the Young Adult Volunteers (YAV) in Mission and Leadership  Development program, saying the program has changed their lives, and helped many to discern a call to mission work and ministry.  “My YAV year helped make me who I am,” tweeted Hank Coates.  Some funding will be available for individual young adult volunteers, but many will need to raise financial support for their year of volunteer service.

               The assembly voted to approve an overture from de Cristo Presbytery to provide $100,000 in additional scholarships for the young adult volunteer program. The de Cristo overture originally asked for funding of up to $1 million for up to 100 volunteers a year, but the assembly reduced that amount.