"LOUISVILLE – The latest round of budget cuts for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) means that 14 more employees from the denomination’s national staff have lost their jobs. ...Considering that the General Assembly Council is the Mission arm of the denomination, news such as this is chilling. It seems to be a common response around the denomination. Even the congregation in which I worship -- which has made a point over the years of emphasizing mission -- has felt the need to freeze mission-related expenses until confidence in our financial picture rises.
...The changes are partly the result of poor economic conditions — basic mission support from congregations and presbyteries is down $1.7 million from what had been expected for 2009; designated giving from congregations and presbyteries dropped by $700,000 from projections and church-wide special offerings by $1.41 million. ..."
One of the things cited in this article is the philosophy that since mission is carried out at the local level, the local level is best equipped to administer it. I agree in most instances with that. There are some cases, though, in which the GAC can do a much better job, such as coordinating world mission. Our missionary support as a denomination has dropped over the past several years, yet that is something that few congregations and presbyteries are financially capable of doing effectively. In addition, I feel that missionaries represent the whole denomination, and not just a local congregation or presbytery. The visits by missionaries on furlough as they speak to congregations all over America are important to giving local Presbyterians a sense of "ownership" of world-wide mission.
Granted, far more is being cut at Louisville than world-wide mission, but when the economic crisis improves to a point where spending can be restored, I hope that the mission field is an early beneficiary.