Come 2017, the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board can no longer spend more money than it has. That was the news given to the PMAB’s executive committee by Earline Williams, deputy executive director of Shared Services and chief financial officer.
By 2017, the PMA’s reserve funds – called the Presbyterian Mission Program Fund (PMPF) – will be depleted so there will be no more balancing the agency’s spending by dipping into the reserves.
Williams, PMA co-manager along with Barry Creech until the new interim executive director Tony De La Rosa begins work on Dec. 1, spoke of the upcoming “financial cliff” the PMAB is facing.
“We are going to have to make hard decisions,” she said, “because we will no longer have unrestricted reserves.”
Williams told the executive committee that as the PMAB and staff work on the 2017-2018 mission work plan – or budget – that it “must create the road map to live into our financial reality. We cannot spend more than we receive … unless someone writes a big check.”
PMAB Chair Marilyn Gamm asked Williams to clarify “will we have to start cutting [programs and staff] in 2016?”
The answer is yes. The PMAB’s 2017-2018 budget must be approved by the 2016 General Assembly which meets in June. Therefore, the budget must be approved by the PMAB’s April meeting. That budget is expected to include program cuts and possible PCUSA staff layoffs.
During its meeting, the PMAB participated in a prioritization exercise, where m embers of the board were given a list of 24 programs or services that are underfunded. They were asked to allocate 100 priority points between the programs based on their answer to the questions:
- “What are the programs that the PCUSA should prioritize in the coming 3 years, even if there are no restricted funds or program fees to pay for them?
- “What is needed for the PCUSA that no one else but the PMA can do?
- “If a particular program went away, who would notice?”
In addition to the priorities exercise, the PMAB will also conduct feedback sessions with constituent groups, conduct a telephone survey and participate in a church-wide discussion coordinated by the Office of the General Assembly.
Questions for the feedback session will include:
- What does it mean to be a connectional church?
- Why does the church need national church offices?
- What are the crucial issues facing our culture, and how has the Mission Agency been helpful to PCUSA congregations in addressing those issues?
- How does the Mission Agency currently help congregations do ministry that they cannot do themselves?
When people in the U.S. culture hear the term “fiscal cliff” they associate it with the reality where government spending exceeds revenues. The term is used here in reference to the same reality being faced by the PMA of the PCUSA.
In other financial news, the PMAB revised the 2016 budget from $78,027,204 to $77,499,036. The revised budget restored $549,164 to PMPF.