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Assembly Council business in brief.

At its March meeting, the Assembly Council agreed to continue working on a strategic plan for the denomination for at least another year and to deliver an interim report to this year's General Assembly.

* Donations from congregations to Presbyterians Sharing, the denomination's primary mission and ministry fund, fell about $200,000 short of the $7.5 million expected in 2014. Accordingly, the 2015 budget for congregational allocations has been revised from $7.5 million to $7.3 million.

* The council endorsed a recommendation to create a budget working group to "consult broadly, interact with the strategic planning process, and prepare a budget for 2018 that will allow for a sustainable budget going forward." Although there is "no crisis of cash." the finance committee said in its report, the "church cannot maintain the operating budget at the current levels indefinitely. Expenditures will be out of sync with income over the long term."

* The church's chief financial officer. Stephen Roche, announced that he intends to retire Jan. 31.2017. He, the general secretary of the Life and Mission Agency and the principal clerk of the General Assembly will be non-voting members of the 2018 budget working group.

* The church's consolidated portfolio generated a return of 12.8 per cent last year, which Roche declared to be excellent for a conservatively invested fund.

* The Women's Missionary Society, which is faced with declining membership and income, is continuing to reduce its yearly contribution to the church's operating funds. In 2015, it will provide $150.000--less than half of the $350,000 it provided in previous years. The contribution will reduce again to $100,000 in 2016 and to $50,000 in 2017.

* The Life and Mission Agency has approved the merger of its Stewardship and Planned Giving departments effective Sept. 1.

* The Pension and Benefits Board will ask the General Assembly to create a special committee to work on a plan to deal with the solvency deficit in the church's pension fund in the event interest rates remain low over the next few years. Although the council supported the board's recommendation, the special committee will need to be struck by the General Assembly when it meets in June.

* The council will also present a series of recommendations to General Assembly aimed at reducing the number of members on the council and changing the way they are appointed. The plan calls for a gradual transition from the current model of predominantly regional representation to a council made up of members-at-large who are appointed for the particular skills and expertise they bring to the group with diversity and region taken into consideration.

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Title Annotation:Bulletin
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:May 1, 2015
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