DETROIT – After six years of wrangling within and around the Special Offerings Task Force (SOTF), the General Assembly reached near unanimity in supporting the SOTF’s recommendations to tweak two of the four special offerings received annually around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). No changes were proposed for the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering or the Pentecost Offering, but the Peacemaking Offering and Christmas Joy Offering are slated to be modified later this year.
The Peacemaking Offering received on World Communion Sunday, the first Sunday of October, will now be called the Peace and Global Witness Offering. When asked how the national staff would allocate the funds over the two areas of work, Sara Lisherness, the director of the Department of Compassion, Peace and Justice, told the GA’s committee, “We already do a lot of collaboration with World Mission and don’t see any problem with that. We – Linda Valentine (GAMC Director), Roger Dermody (GAMC deputy executive director of mission), Hunter Farrell (world mission director), and I have talked about how we would make the decisions collaboratively on the projects.” She added, “There wouldn’t be a problem on that. Trust me.”
Funds realized from the Christmas Joy offering will continue to be split: 50 percent for the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions (helping needy retirees) and 50 percent for Presbyterian Mission Agency ministries in racial ethnic education. However, while continuing to support racial-ethnic schools, as giving levels increase, those funds will also be allocated to other kinds of racial ethnic leadership development. One area anticipated is that of racial ethnic 1001 new worshiping communities that do leadership development.
An Advisory Committee on the Allocation of Racial Ethnic Leadership Fund will be formed to guide the allocation of the funds.
The SOTF was originally formed by the 2008 General Assembly, but when it brought a complete set of proposals to the 2012 GA, the commissioners approved setting a goal of raising $20 million by 2020, but all proposals for changing funds allocations were rejected. Over the subsequent two years, the task force trimmed down the number of changes, which led to the enthusiastic approval at this GA.
Sarah Sarchet Butter, the chair of SOTF for the last two years, when asked about the six-year effort now coming to an end, said, “First, I need to thank Karl Travis for the great chairmanship he gave the committee for the first four years. Now we all look forward to the new possibilities that the Lord will bring from these changes to the missional expressions to bring Christ’s love, hope and peace.”