WHAT IS PER CAPITA and WHY DO WE HAVE TO PAY IT?
“Per Capita” is Latin for “By the Head” it is the money that each congregation pays to the Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA to cover the basic costs of operating. Salaries, expenses, rent, utilities, travel are all covered by the per capita payments of the congregations. This year, in our Presbytery, the per capita is $38.63 per member. Your per capita pays the salary of our new General Presbyter, Frank Vardeman and his hard working staff. It helps support our camp, Geneva Center, and the staff that makes it run. It helps support the Synod staff who provide the training for Commissioned Lay pastors (like Rick Ryan and Joe Pease). It pays the salaries and expenses of the folks who plan the Youth Triennium every three years.
All of us are members of extended families. And if we are honest, we will admit that being part of an extended family is something of a mixed bag. Uncle Harry can be really exasperating when talk turns to politics at Thanksgiving. Cousin Sally drinks more than she should at parties and often embarrasses the family. Great Aunt Bertha gives ugly neckties at Christmas. But when crisis strikes, or hard times roll around, or there is a death in the family, these same people are the ones who are right there sharing the burden and binding the wounds.
A denomination can be the same way. General Assembly makes a decision that we don’t agree with; Presbytery wants to put one more thing on our Session agenda. Synod seems to have a big budget but what do they do? Yet, when things get rough these are the groups that have our congregations back. When there is conflict in the congregation, when natural disaster destroys a building, when a growing congregation needs to build a building, when a pastor gets sick or dies suddenly, our denomination has our back and can be right there to help bear the burden and bind the wounds. That’s why we pay our per capita every year. Because we are family.