The Special Offerings Advisory Task Force is recommending that the current Peacemaking Offering be converted to a Peace and Global Witness Offering to be collected on World Communion Sunday, Oct. 5 of this year.
The task force has submitted its report to the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, meeting here Feb. 5-7. If approved by the board, the report will move to the 221st General Assembly, held June 14-21 in Detroit.
Restructuring the offering will allow for greater collaboration between justice and evangelism ministries while empowering congregations and mid councils to work locally, according to the recommendation.
“This recommendation, driven by collaboration across the task force, the church, and program staff responds to a demand within the church for an offering allowing local congregations to expand their global witness while maintaining our longstanding commitment of working towards peace and reconciliation,” said the Rev. Sarah Sarchet Butter, chairwoman of the task force, in a press release.
The task force recommends that the Peace and Global Witness Offering be distributed as follows: 50 percent to the Presbyterian Mission Agency, 25 percent to presbyteries and 25 percent to congregations. The Peacemaking Offering is distributed in the same way.
Congregations that have consistently given to the Peacemaking Offering in the past will continue to support current peacemaking initiatives through 2016. Gifts from new participants would immediately fund collaborative efforts in peace and global witness, according to the press release.
“Inspired by conversations with leadership and staff in both the Peacemaking Program and World Mission ministry area, we believe an offering focused on collaborative efforts of peacemaking and global witness, especially in reconciliation in cultures of violence, more accurately reflects the needs of the denomination — and the world — at this time,” the task force’s report states.
Although the Peacemaking Offering has a loyal support network, participation in the offering has remained stagnant during the past two decades, with about 20 percent of Presbyterian congregations donating about $2 million a year. The task force believes that restructuring the task force could double the total proceeds of the offering within five years, with the greater missional impact and renewed interest in the offering inspiring new congregations to participate, according to the report.
The task force is bringing other recommendations to the Mission Agency board:
- The development of an ambassador program to recruit, train and support at least one Special Offerings advocate in each presbytery
- The creation of a similar program for seminarians, combined with tuition/debt assistance and/or mission experiences
- The establishment of a task force to advise the Mission Agency on the allocation of racial-ethnic leadership funds from the Christmas Joy Offering
- Encouraging every congregation to increase its participation in Special Offerings by receiving one additional offering and increasing giving by 10 percent each year