Monday, June 12, 2006

PC(USA) life and ministry after downsizing

PC(USA) life and ministry after downsizing:
Presbyterian Outlook (free registration required)
Leslie Scanlon, Outlook national reporter

So where does the church go from here?

The recent $9.1 million downsizing of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)’s national staff and the reorganization of what’s left leaves people asking questions.

Among them: In a shrinking denomination with fewer members and less money, but with significant enthusiasm for mission work at the grassroots, what’s the role of the national church structure?

And specifically, where do Presbyterians want to focus their energies in evangelism and international mission work?

Those are big questions. But some of the outlines on the map are as follows:

  • The downsizing includes the loss of 75 staff members and 40 missionary positions. Those cuts are provoking unhappiness – but also conversation about how money for international mission work can be raised in different ways, including through a newly-created Presbyterian Global Fellowship , a networking group established in May. Increasingly, some Presbyterians are pursuing international mission endeavors with minimal involvement of the PC(USA).
  • The PC(USA) has ambitious goals for becoming more racially diverse and multicultural. But it’s far from clear how, or if, that goal of becoming at least 20 percent non-white by 2010 will be reached. In 2004, the most recent year for which statistics were available, just over 92 percent of the denomination’s members were white.
  • The General Assembly Council does not seem satisfied with the denomination’s current efforts at evangelism. It has instructed the staff leadership team to come to the council’s meeting in September with a plan for “alternative programs that will directly speak to communicating the gospel in clear ways.” ...
Leslie Scanlon of the Presbyterian Outlook has posted an analysis of that the recent budget cuts and reorganization of the General Assembly Council will mean for Presbyterians at the local level.

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