Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Friends:
Greetings in the name of the Risen Christ!
We write to you as former Moderators of the General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its predecessor churches, and as disciples of Jesus Christ who love the Gospel witness and the church, both here in the United States and around the world.
We are deeply concerned that there exists a critical funding crisis for continued support for mission co-workers. The office of World Mission reported to the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board on April 15, 2015 that a funding gap of $925,000 in 2016 will likely result in not replacing four retiring mission co-workers and prematurely ending the service of as many as five mission co-workers in 2016. Starting in 2017, the financial gap is $4.5 million, resulting in the recall of about 40 mission co-workers from the current 162 we have in service.
The causes of this financial crisis are numerous and systemic. For the past several years, there has been a widespread view that weekly offerings alone support our mission co-workers. World Mission has had to rely upon Extra Commitment Opportunity funds and Direct Mission Support as Shared Mission Giving and accumulated gifts from prior years have decreased. While efforts have been made by the national communications office and funds development office to turn the tide, total actual receipts have not matched the need. With prior year’s gifts nearly depleted and limits on the draw upon the Presbyterian Mission Program Fund reserves, World Mission will have to rely solely upon each year’s annual receipts.
For the last 178 years, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church has engaged in international mission: planting churches, building hospitals, starting schools. We have all traveled to six continents, prayed with and served alongside our mission co-workers, women and men who answer God’s call for themselves and for their families to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and work faithfully with our global ecumenical partners for reconciliation and peace. It would be a tremendous loss for us as a church and for our partners to lose these mission co-workers.
We call upon you to join us in a time of fervent prayer and sacrificial giving. Pray for how you, your family, congregation, ministries, networks, and friends might give generously to meet this gap. Individuals and congregations interested in providing additional support for World Mission may click on http://bit.ly/supportwm or send a check to: Presbyterian World Mission, PO Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700. Checks should be made to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and noted for fund E132192, or simply write “Mission Worker Support” on your check. For more information please contact Nicole Gerkins at Nicole.firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-569-5611.
Beyond 2017, we believe long-term, durable strategies through churchwide conversations are needed. We call upon the Church at all levels, especially the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, to immediately organize and convene a series of consultations to this end. Such consultations would seek to determine what level of mission co-workers are needed to address the three “Critical Global Initiatives” (poverty, evangelism, reconciliation) that World Mission and our ecumenical partners have jointly identified, the degree to which the church will sustain such a commitment, and identify creative means which harnesses all the gifts that God has stewarded to us towards supporting our mission co-workers. But more broadly, what is God calling us as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to be and to do in the years to come, as we face constrained capacities, multiple and, often times, competing priorities. Time is of the essence, but we live in hope.
This new reality is difficult, but one which we believe calls for our collective prayer, action, and resolve. We are an Easter people, and just as with our Lord’s disciples after the resurrection, there was doubt, there was some fear, there was struggle as to what should be done next; but through it all, it was the power and presence of the Spirit of the risen Christ which gave them hope to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the outermost parts of the world (Acts 1:8).
Yours in the service of Christ,
The Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel, 214th General Assembly (2002), PC(USA)
Elder Thelma C. Davidson Adair, 188th General Assembly (1976), UPCUSA
The Rev. Dr. Susan Andrews, 215th General Assembly (2003), PC(USA)
The Rev. Dr. Robert Bohl, 206th General Assembly (1994), PC(USA)
Elder Patricia G. Brown, 209th General Assembly (1997), PC(USA)
The Rev. John Buchanan, 208th General Assembly (1996), PC(USA)
Elder Marj Carpenter, 207th General Assembly (1995), PC(USA)
The Rev. David Dobler, 205th General Assembly (1993), PC(USA)
The Rev. John Fife, 204th General Assembly (1992), PC(USA)
Elder Freda A. Gardner, 211th General Assembly (1999), PC(USA)
Elder Price Gwynn III, 202nd General Assembly (1990), PC(USA)
The Rev. Charles A. Hammond, 192nd General Assembly (1980), UPCUSA
The Rev. Robert C. Lamar, 186th General Assembly (1974), UPCUSA
Rev. Harriet Nelson, 196th General Assembly (1984), PC(USA)
The Rev. Douglas W. Oldenburg, 210th General Assembly (1998), PC(USA)
The Rev. Dr. Neal D. Presa, 220th General Assembly (2012), PC(USA)
The Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, 218th General Assembly (2008), PC(USA)
The Rev. Dr. Jack Rogers, 213th General Assembly (2001), PC(USA)
Elder Rick Ufford-Chase, 216th General Assembly (2004), PC(USA)
The Rev. Dr. Herbert D. Valentine, 203rd General Assembly (1991), PC(USA)
The Rev. Benjamin Weir, 198th General Assembly (1986), PC(USA)
Elder William Wilson, 197th General Assembly (1985), PC(USA)