The spirited five-year mission initiative of the Presbyterian Church USA passed the $8 million mark through the $1.7 million pledge from the Santa Fe Presbytery, PCUSA reported, March 25. The missions effort, entitled ‘Joining Hearts and Hands,’ hopes to raise $40 million 2007 for overseas mission personnel and for new churches in the U.S.
“The needs are there, and everyone knows the needs are there,” said Jan Opdyke, campaign director. “Worldwide Ministries has a long list of missionary positions they’re ready to fill as soon as they get the money. And most presbyteries have new churches and immigrant fellowships just waiting for additional support so they can take their next steps. It’s clear to me that we don’t have to try and convince people of the need.”
Therefore, despite the staggering economy, Opdyke said that the “Presbyterians all around the country” gave an “overwhelming response” to the campaign.
“We just have to match the particular needs with the people who have passion to meet those particular needs,” said Opdyke.
The Mission Initiative was launched by the 2002 General Assembly, and within six months, a staff and founding director was put into place. Opdyke, who was initially the chief deputy, took up the post as the founding director when the original director left for a teaching position at a seminary. According to Opdyke, there were several challenges, but the campaign was able to win through it all, “because they believe this is something we can all do as Presbyterians.”
The campaign had been an anomaly from the get-go; most other campaigns raise 75 percent of the goal before going “public,” however, the Mission Initiative was launched at the public stage before a single penny was raised. Nevertheless, Opdyke was optimistic, saying that it would give a greater chance for more to contribute.
“That’s PC(USA) polity,” she shrugged, “and we’ve already agreed this is how we’re going to do it. We’ll use sound fund-raising methods and good stewardship.”
That means every Presbyterian will have the chance to contribute, she added. “I don’t want anyone to think this is just a ‘major gifts campaign.’ We’re doing a campaign, and right now we’re in a deliberate phase of nurturing larger gifts to propel us forward, but by 2007 we’ll certainly want every Presbyterian involved.”
To date, however, the bulk of the offerings has come from three individual donors and two presbyteries – Los Ranchos and Santa Fe. The majority of the offerings of the presbyteries will remain in the local region.
According to Opdyke, the Initiative is “attractive to presbyteries like Los Ranchos and Santa Fe because they have local needs that fit well within this campaign.”
“People are very interested in this campaign, but they like to designate because they have a particular heart for a certain place or a specific kind of mission,” she said. “That’s fine with us, because there’s plenty of needs out there.”
Putting the money aside, however, Opdyke emphasized that the desire of the Mission Initiative is to build Presbyterian Churches in every neighborhood around the world.”
“Our tagline is ‘A campaign to renew the church for mission,’” she said. “This is really the heart and soul of the campaign, to move people’s thinking from scarcity to abundance. Let’s face it: Presbyterians have abundant resources. Collectively we have more than enough to fund all our mission”
“I’m the product of Presbyterian mission,” she declared. As a pre-schooler in Sarasota, FL, she said, “My parents put me in a Presbyterian-sponsored kindergarten because there wasn’t a public one. From there I started Sunday School, so I grew up hearing stories about Presbyterian mission. How many kids today don’t have that who ... need to hear what I’ve heard, and know about the gospel?
“Presbyterians got it right when I was a kid and all my life,” she concluded. “There need to be Presbyterian churches here and there and in every neighborhood all around the world.”