PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF GHANA
ADVANTAGES OF THE PROPOSED FINANCIAL PERCENTAGES SYSTEM
BY THE RT. REV. PROF. J. O. Y. MANTE, PhD
In responding to Decision 3 of the 2018 General Assembly Decisions, the General Assembly Council (GAC), through thorough analyses by the Committee on Accounts and Budget, has proposed that we abolish the Assessment system and replace it with a Percentage system where incomes from Congregations will be distributed as follows: Congregations (40%), Districts (20%), Presbyteries (15%) and General Assembly Office (25%). In this write-up I wish to give additional reasons (see the remission to Presbyteries which has some justifications) why I strongly believe that this new, proposed method is highly advantageous and will save the future of our Church:
1. The current Assessment System is killing the General Assembly Office (GAO) and several Congregations, particularly those in less developed areas which constitute the bulk of our membership. Finances do not flow regularly and properly. For example for the past about six or seven years, Presbyteries have always been in arrears of about Three Million Ghana Cedis (out of the Five Million Ghana Cedis needed to finance the GAO budget) by the end of each year. The Assessment system has also been burdensome to several local Congregations as it makes them focus on finding funny ways to fight Assessment payments rather than real ministry. The proposed system will ease such burdens.
2. In the proposed system, Congregations will only have to pay percentages of what they receive to service the various Courts of the Church.
3. In the current system several Congregations are already paying about 65% to 85% of their incomes as Assessments to the various Courts while a few rich ones, particularly those in the larger cities and richer Congregations pay only about 20% to 25% of their incomes as Assessments to the various Courts. So the rich Congregations are getting richer and the poorer ones are getting poorer and just struggling daily to pay Assessments. This is purely unjust and not right before God and humanity.
4. In the current Assessment system several Agents in poorer areas do not receive their Stipends (Agents’ Basic Salaries) and Allowances on time (sometimes over six or eight months, which is against Labour Regulations in the country), while those in the larger cities and richer Congregations receive their Stipends and allowances very promptly. In the proposed system all Stipends will be paid from one source at a go. The GAO will now pay all Stipends in the newly proposed system, instead of leaving the payment of stipends to Presbyteries, some of which are already struggling.
5. In the current system, the difference between the living conditions of Agents in larger and richer cities and those in smaller and poorer towns is just too wide. Some of our own Agents are struggling to survive with their families in deprived areas. This is unjust and not right before God and humanity. It should not seem to be like a punishment to be sent as an Agent of the Church to a deprived community.
The proposed percentages system has the capacity to bridge the gap by paying extra allowances to those Agents who serve in deprived areas. Acts 4:33-35 says: “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each other as anyone had need”.
6. In the current system, some few local Congregations in larger cities and richer Congregations are saving huge sums of money every day while the GAO struggles to meet its budget and several other Presbyteries and Districts cannot afford to pay Stipends and allowances of Agents who serve the Lord. Meanwhile the monies in these richer Congregations are all supposed to belong to the whole PCG, and not to a local Congregation. This is unjust and improper before God and humanity. The proposed system will change that.
7. In the current system, due to lack of appropriate cash flow at the GAO and the various Courts, we are not able to build infrastructure for our higher institutions (particularly our Presbyterian University College, Ghana, Akrofi-Christaller Institute, and our Colleges of Education), we are about losing several acres of land and immovable property because we do not have money to protect them, we are not able to make serious missionary and evangelistic impact particularly among the young people on our campuses, we cannot help Congregations that are worshiping under trees and are struggling to build small places of worship, we are not able to help any of our Congregations and institutions when disaster strikes, several of the properties built for us by our missionaries and fore fathers and mothers are all dilapidated because we do not have collective resources to maintain them.
In a nutshell, from a broader perspective, things are not right with PCG and we must change them and do so now. The proposed system will improve things drastically for us. In the proposed new system, through the collective incomes of all of us, we can build several Pavilions and several mini Chapels every year, and we can help several of our Congregations and our Institutions as they embark on their local projects. In the new proposed system, we will finance serious missionary and evangelistic activities that are aimed at growing our membership to 1.5 million in five years, and also protect our several lands and properties that we are either losing or are just being destroyed for lack of maintenance.
In the proposed system, we will control GAO expenditures by making sure that not more than 15% of the supposed 25% meant for GAO will go into recurrent expenditures. The remaining 10% will go into six major areas, namely: Missionary Fund, Land/Property Administration Fund, Projects Fund (including helping Congregations with their Projects), Higher Education Fund, Buffer Fund and Investments Fund. With this we believe that we will be able, by God’s grace, to move our church into the next half of the 21st century.
I am happy to say that in our visits to all Presbyteries throughout the country, almost everyone who has heard of and understood the new percentages system has applauded it. I am yet to hear anyone who is against it. The only complaint has been whether or not we should add annual harvests to the incomes. We are open to that discussion, as long as we separate the harvest issue from the proposed percentages. One of the best contributions I have had to the debate has been to give 10% or 20% of annual harvests to the GAO only (and not to the other Courts) to help with our six major areas described above. This is a great suggestion that can be accommodated with ease.
It is our prayer that members of the Church will appreciate this new move with eagerness, thinking about the bigger Church and not only about their little Congregation in some small corner somewhere. The good thing is that we know that the current system is killing and will kill us. So let us join the debate and make sure that we all come out with a solution that will move our Church forward. As for the current system, it is no more acceptable. Always remember Isaiah 43:18-19, which says: “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert”.
May the Lord create, as it were, the miracle of rivers of living water in the desert of our Church and in our lives, even now and forevermore. Thank you and stay blessed. Amen.
The Rt. Rev. Prof. J. O. Y. Mante, PhD
(Moderator of the General Assembly)