Final plenary session of the 222nd General Assembly passes increases to per capita

PORTLAND, Ore. – Late at night on Friday, June 24, two committees – the committee on General Assembly Operations and the Mission Coordination committee – met to count the costs of the actions the assembly passed.

FullSizeRenderIn plenary on the morning of Saturday, June 25, the final financial implications for the work the assembly has instructed the Office of General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Agency to do were presented: an increase of $0.17 per capita in 2017 and $0.18 per capita in 2018. Per capita is a per-member payment each congregation is expected to pay the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Office of the General Assembly says per capita is the means of “sharing costs that belong to the whole church.”

The per capita increases related to decisions of the 2016 General Assembly are only part of the per capita increases for 2017 and 2018 which congregations will be asked to pay. In February, the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Board had jointly approved a resolution to ask the assembly to increase the per capita rate by 3 percent in 2017 and another 3 percent in 2018.

That increase is built on the assumption that the PC(USA) will lose 75,000 members in both 2017 and 2018. And it’s an effort to avoid further budget cuts at the Office of the General Assembly that the recommendation states would “compromise our ability to effectively serve the church as we are mandated.”

Here’s how the numbers break down.

  • The current per capita level for 2016 is $7.12 per active member.
  • By voice vote, the 2016 General Assembly approved a new per capita rate of $7.50 per active member for 2017. That includes the 17 cents per active member to cover the costs of work authorized by the assembly in Portland, plus the $7.33 cents per active member requested in February.
  • For 2018, the per capita rate will be $7.73 per active member — which includes 18 cents per active member for new financial implications which the assembly approved in Portland, plus the $7.55 cents per member requested in February.

Once the financial implications were presented and passed, Tony De La Rosa, interim executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, addressed the commissioners saying, “$445,244, this is the amount that the Holy Spirit has lead you to tell the church we must have to do the work you have discerned.”

He then urged everyone present “to text the letters PMA to 41411.” He challenged commissioners to donate through the link that text would provide so that they would have “skin in the game.” He also asked that they go back and “tell the story of how the PC(USA) is impacting the world.”

That impact is being felt through the 1001 Worshipping Communities initiative. De La Rosa gave an update on that work sharing the following statistics:

  • There are now 344 new worshipping communities;
  • 64 percent of the participants are under age 40;
  • 53 percent are racial ethnic;
  • 78 percent are new to the PC(USA);
  • 57 percent meet in places other than traditional churches;
  • 53 percent are led by teaching elders;
  • 71 percent of presbyteries have at least one new worshipping community.

Following De La Rosa’s presentation, several commissioners echoed a frequent theme of the week: fiscal responsibility and “living within our means.” Teaching elder commissioner, and self-identified recovering accountant, Amy House did the math and said, “We have 594 commissioners, if every commissioner here sent” – or was responsible for raising – “$850, that would take care of the additional amount.”

The 222nd General Assembly closed with worship and commissioners headed come to share their stories of a very full week in Portland, Oregon.