Today the Layman Online is reporting that the PCUSA is writing off nearly $1,000,000 in uncollected per capita giving for 2009. Embedded in this story is an astonishing statement:
"Further, the GAPJC has held that no punitive action can be taken at any level of governance against those who fail to pay per capita."
That is a far cry from what was proposed at the PCA General Assembly - failure to pay the annual fee would be cumulative, would result in loss of voting rights at General Assembly, and could result in losing the ability to serve on GA committees.
If the PC-USA will not punish for failure to give then why is the PCA so quick to rule with a big stick?
Go here for the full story: http://www.layman.org/News.aspx?article=27769
Last spring, from the moment I began reading the Strategic Plan for the PCA and watched the accompanying videos, I stood opposed to its adoption. Incumbent with that position is my steadfast opposition to amending our constitution to require churches, individual ministers and presbyteries pay an annual fee (tax) to the denomination's headquarters as represented by the Administrative Committee. I have written about funding the AC in an alternative manner and I have also argued that churches need to express their 'connectionalism' by voluntarily supporting this office.
The Aquila Report has posted an article that sheds light on the proposed amendments to our Book of Church Order. The opinions come from a surprising place - the more liberal (and top-down, command and control) Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA). In short, many in that denomination are looking on and cannot believe the heavy-handed approach proposed by our denomination's Cooperative Ministries Committee. Quoting from the article...
“It would be a shame if your General Assembly were to adopt a policy more restrictive than the one currently in force in the PCUSA.”
“I can't imagine that the PCA wants to be viewed as MORE draconian than the PCUSA.”
We should not be surprised at this response. I have had private conversations with members of my own church who know little about PCA politics and they are appalled at these amendments. I have had similar responses from folks representing sister NAPARC churches who cannot believe that this has been proposed.
When this came to a vote on the floor of our presbytery in September the amendments were soundly defeated by a 9 to 1 margin. Our debate was anything but heated. A few days earlier I had come down with a cold and I barely had a voice. Thus, though I was adamantly opposed to the amendments I could barely speak without coughing. Man after man stood up and spoke in favor of our current voluntary plan and expressed great consternation about the perceived centralization of power in Atlanta as expressed through the Cooperative Ministries Committee. Some even went so far as to say that they had left denominations for this very reason and came into the PCA for its 'freedom' and 'liberty.'
Remember, the PC-USA will not allow congregations to leave that denomination with their buildings (talk about 'restrictive' and 'draconian'). Churches who wish to leave that denomination must pay an 'exit fee' (usually running into hundreds of thousands of dollars or more) to retain ownership of their buildings. That those folks view the PCA as being more restrictive and draconian than them speaks volumes.
The Aquila Report: PCA Proposed AC Funding Changes more restrictive than current PCUSA Policy, official explains