1. Why does the Administrative Committee need a special funding plan?
The PCA has expanded remarkably since its inception in 1973 – from 260 churches with 41,232 members and 196 ministers of the gospel in 16 presbyteries to 1,466 churches, 305 mission churches, 4,256 ministers of the gospel, and 80 presbyteries. The Lord has given us RUM with RUF groups organized on 125 campuses, 651 missionaries operating in 86 countries, a host of evangelistic ministries and mercy ministries functioning at all levels of the PCA, and two institutions of higher learning. The Administrative Committee/Office of the Stated Clerk’s provides the infrastructure that connects and supports pastors, other teaching elders, churches, and presbyteries in their gospel ministry. The services provided include:
- counsel from the Stated Clerk, Assistant Stated Clerk, and Business Administrator in practical matters of church polity and doctrine as related to the work of pastors, sessions, and presbyteries upon their request;
- work with Presbytery Host Committees to plan and execute the annual General Assembly;
- extensive resources of information concerning past actions of the PCA and other Presbyterian and Reformed denominations through the PCA Historical Center and its Director;
- aid to Teaching Elders seeking a pastoral call and to pulpit search committees seeking a pastor;
- publishes the Book of Church Order as well as the annual GA Minutes, Yearbook and PCA Directory;
- represents the PCA legal corporation in civil legal disputes involving PCA churches;
- hosts a conference for presbytery clerks to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas related to their work as well as training for new presbytery clerks, and provides a handbook to assist presbytery clerks in their work with presbyteries, pastors, and churches;
- host an annual meeting of Church Business Administrators to provide a forum for training and discussion;
- access to information related to various ministries and services by the Stated Clerk’s Office and the AC through its website;
- sends down to presbyteries BCO amendments passed by the General Assembly which are to be voted upon, tallies presbytery votes on those amendments and reports the results to the following General Assembly;
- operates the PCA News Office, byFaith magazine, byFaith Online, and ReasoningTogether.
These administrative services are as essential to the PCA as supply lines are to an army, and the AC performs them in a frugal manner (the cost of the AC related to the financial size of the PCA has decreased 54% since 1990). Yet they have still been chronically underfunded. By the time the Cooperative Ministries Committee (CMC) was formulating its proposal for the Strategic Plan, it was apparent that conventional funding through the Partnership Share requests was not adequate to finance the essential services provided by the AC, and so they proposed a funding plan for the AC that was approved by the 38th General Assembly in 2010.
2. Where did the current plan originate and how was it approved?
With the defeat of the proposed enabling amendments to the BCO necessary for its original AC funding proposal, the CMC formed a Subcommittee on AC Funding and charged the members of the subcommittee to discuss the issues presented by proponents and opponents of the plan recommended by the 38th GA, and consider alternatives for AC funding in order to recommend an alternative plan to the CMC. This Subcommittee was chaired by TE Harry Reeder. Its other members were TEs David Coffin, Stephen Estock (secretary), and Jack Howell; and REs William B. French, Niel Nielson, E.J. Nusbaum, M. Ross Walters, and Martin A. Moore. After significant deliberation, the Committee drafted a 26 page report which was adopted after a few changes by the entire CMC in January, 2012, and its recommendations forwarded to the AC for their consideration. The AC, in turn, approved these recommendations at their April 2012 meeting and recommended that the General Assembly amend the RAO to implement key provisions of this plan. The Assembly adopted the recommendation without objection.
3. What are the provisions of the plan?
The plan calls for:
- contribution requests to churches based on a percentage of the church’s operating budget rather than a per member request;
- a request (not a requirement) that all PCA ministers contribute at least $100/yr. to the AC;
- a General Assembly Registration Fee that covers the costs of the Assembly and the AC’s Unfunded Mandates;
- contributions from other Committees and Agencies which the AC serves;
- fees for services as appropriate; and
- increased communication from the AC with churches.
4. What does the plan call for our churches to do?
The plan encourages each church in the denomination to contribute a portion of their budget to the work of the AC, to be set annually by the General Assembly based on a recommendation from the AC. The 40th General Assembly agreed to this being set at 0.35% of the congregation’s tithes and offerings, less capital fund contributions.
5. What does the plan call for our teaching elders to do?
The plan encourages all Teaching Elders to pay an annual “Administration Fee for Ministers” to be determined annually by the General Assembly based on a recommendation from the Administrative Committee. The 40th General Assembly agreed to this being set at $100.
6. Are the requests for funding from churches and teaching elders required in order for them to be in good standing with the PCA or to receive AC services?
No. These are requests not requirements. However, we should remember the words of BCO 14-1: “It is the responsibility of . . . every member congregation [of the General Assembly] to support the whole work of the denomination as they be led in their conscience held captive to the Word of God.” As Presbyterians we affirm that the connectional nature of the church is more than theoretical; it stands to reason that one practical outworking of this would be a commitment to support its work financially. And, as pointed out above, the services of the AC are essential to the well-being of the denomination.