The executive committee of the General Assembly Council of the Presbyterian Church USA approved a reduced budget plan for the 2005-2006 fiscal year to accompany the newly outlined a Mission Work Plan, during their meeting at the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, May 7-8.
The new budget permanently reduces the General Assembly’s two-year mission budget by $4.6 million to $114.4 million. Consequently, the plan will cut 28 employees at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville.
“We’ve worked very hard with lots of sweat and tears,” GAC Executive Director John Detterick said of the plan. “It’s a quality product … especially because of the work you’ve done on the Mission Work Plan.”
The Mission Work Plan was adopted by the council during their meeting in February; the plan generally establishes four priorities: evangelism and witness, justice and compassion, spirituality and discipleship, and leadership and vocation, and 24 specific objectives for the work of the council.
In following the guidelines, the council proposed the elimination of the leader-development office in the Congregational Ministries Division.
“Six of the seven leadership objectives addressed ministers, so we had to look at lay leader development. Perhaps in the next cycle the needs and objectives will change,” said Don Campbell, director of the Congregational Ministries Division.
In addition, the plan called for the elimination of the women’s ministries staff deployed in synods; by adopting the elimination, the denomination would save eight positions and $487,000.
The controversial decision to drastically cut the services drew questions from several people in attendance.
“When you put (their elimination) beside our expressed desire to improve our communication, I ask ‘What have we learned?’” said Emily Wigger, a member of the GAC and active advocate of women’s ministries in the PCUSA for the past 50 years.
“The women’s staff in the synods has been the most effective means of communication the church has had,” said Wigger.
Detterick, however, defended the move, reassuring the committee that cutting the budget plan is not meant as a move to stunt the growth of the women’s ministries.
Detterick told the committee: “Some may read about this vote and interpret it as a vote against Presbyterian Women and Women’s Ministries. I assure you that is not the case. We will do everything we can to move forward to find new ways to do those ministries and to support them.”