Nov 9, 2012

There is No Budget Crisis in the PC(USA) nor Her Presbyteries

There is no financial crisis facing the PC(USA) and her presbyteries.

No, I'm not crazy nor have I been sipping on happy juice.

I readily acknowledge that most of the presbyteries in the PC(USA) find themselves strapped for cash as their incomes have been radically reduced.

But I still contend that there is no financial crisis facing the PC(USA) and her presbyteries.

Let me explain.

The primary way the Book of Order describes the function and the mission of presbyteries is in its administrative and judicial functions. Look at G-3.0301 - G-3.0307 in the Book of Order.

If this is what presbyteries would actually do, most presbyteries could do this with minimal staffing and expenses.

However, the problem with the finances arises because of the way most presbyteries are structured and budgeted. Many of our presbyteries find themselves in a budget crisis because they are structured and budgeted to do far more than they have been charged to accomplish. Most presbyteries are budgeted and structured as if they were the mission and ministry accomplishing entity.

That's neither the charge nor purpose of presbyteries.

G-3.0101 says, "Councils of the church exist to help congregations and the church as a whole to be more faithful participants in the mission of God."

The Book of Order and our constitution rightly recognizes the local congregation as the primary locus where ministry and mission is accomplished. The councils exist to enable ministry.

The problem is not a lack of funds or even the reduction of funds at the presbytery level.

The problem is that today's presbyteries are structured and budgeted to do far more than its primary role to fulfill the administrative and judicial functions of a regional area.

If our presbytery's budgets and structures reflected this primary function, there is no budget crisis.

It's not that the income of presbyteries is shrinking, the problem is that the structures of presbyteries are unnecessarily large. It needs to be pared down to its original administrative and judicial functions as prescribed in our constitution, the Book of Order.  

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