College Park, Georgia (March 20, 1999)-The Administrative Committee (AC) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) held its spring stated meeting here today. The meeting focused on the financial needs of the Committee, which historically has had difficulty raising sufficient funds for its operations; and on what to do about the denominational office building.
AC staff reported that the church is not adequately supporting AC. On average, AC receives about five-eighths of the moneys it asks for. In 1998, the Committee experienced more than $420,000 in unfunded General Assembly mandates given to the Committee. The Rev. Mr. John Robertson, Business Administrator, stated: "What we need is a solution."
It was noted that in 1997 more than 58 percent of benevolent giving by PCA churches went for non-PCA causes. AC hopes to encourage more churches to direct their giving in its direction.
One of the proposed solutions was to utilize a development plan, in much the same way that the Mission to the World (MTW) has done. Of the $24 million taken in by MTW in 1998, only $13 million came from churches; the rest came through development work.
"We need to be thinking like marketing guys at this point," declared AC member Fred Mau. "I don't think there's a sense in the Assembly that we don't have the resources to do what the Assembly has told us to do." Referring to the fact that various Assembly agencies, including the Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) operate under AC's budget, the White Rock, S. C., pastor said: "We really ought to look at the SJC being a separate item under the Askings." At present, $30 of the registration fee for General Assembly commissioners goes to pay for the SJC, but that money does not totally cover the costs of operating the Commission.
Another drain was the cost associated with the Twenty-fifth Anniversary Celebration Committee, whose expenses totaled $124,000. This includes an outstanding debt of $63,000 owed to the printer for the Twenty-fifth Anniversary book. According to Mr. Robertson, printing the 9,000 copies of the book cost about $90,000. Sales have recouped less than one-third of the expense.
The expenses of the Celebration Committee are technically the responsibility of the General Assembly as a whole, and the Rules for Assembly Operations specify that all expenses of the Assembly (other than those mandated to AC) will be according to the formula for distribution of undesignated gifts. This would mean that the other permanent committees would share in that expense. The Stated Clerk, the Rev. Dr. Taylor, suggested to the other committees that the first line of attack will be to raise funds within the AC. According to Dr. Taylor, "the other coordinators thought this would be a good idea."
The other major item of discussion was the denominational office building. The recent campaign to pay off the remaining debt was successful, and this has resulted in a 16.4 percent reduction of rent charged to the PCA tenants (from $16.75 to $14.00 per square foot). AC extended special thanks to the Mission to the World Committee and to the PCA Foundation for their help in accomplishing this.
A dispute which arose last year over the utilization of space in the office building has also been successfully resolved. When the building was acquired in 1987, there was to be a Policy Manual formulated by a Building Management Committee. However, that committee never was appointed. That committee is now up and running; and it deals with matters on three levels. At the first level, general and routine policies are dealt with by simple majority vote of the representatives to the Committee from the committees and agencies which rent space in the building. At the second level, approving budgets for the building or other matters of major consequence are determined by weighted voting (i.e., according to the square footage of rental space). At the third level, other principal decisions (such as raising capital funds) would be determined by weighted voting, with a two-thirds affirmative vote required for approval.
Also discussed was the location of the PCA office building. There are four possibilities. The first is a major renovation of the seventeen year old building. When it was built, it was designed with open walls demarcating cubicles, rather than with individual offices. Having walls that go up to the ceiling has cut down on air flow, especially air conditioning; and during the summer, the offices on the second floor often reach 85 degrees. Also, in the early 1980s, hardly no one had a personal computer; but the proliferation of individual computers has considerably increased the generation of heat. Mr. Robertson stated: "We are promised . . . that we're not going to be able to cool that building when summer comes." Therefore, the air conditioning system will need to be replaced. The second possibility is to build a facility to suit the needs of the denomination. A third possibility is to purchase an existing facility. A fourth possibility is for each committee to make its own choice as to location. Any decision would have to be voted on by General Assembly, which in the early 1980s reversed its prior position of having each of the four committees not necessarily located in the same city, and which in 1987 authorized the purchase of the present facility.
In other action, the AC:
*Stated that, to the best of its knowledge, its computers are Y2K compliant; it also announced a Y2K position paper it has prepared, "Preparation, Not Panic";
*Increased the fee for exhibitors at General Assembly, from $400 to $600, to take effect next year;
*Authorized the staff to study Biblical Conflict Management;
*Voted to recommend the budgets for the committees and agencies to the General Assembly for adoption.
"Pray for a cool summer in North Georgia!"-Ed Hackenburg.
"Another reason to move to Iowa."-Tim Diehl, Ackley, Iowa.
"The only reason."