FAQ's About Per Capita

We believe it is important for our congregation to understand more about what the “per capita” is.  That topic has aroused curiosity and some anxiety. Please take a few minutes to educate yourself by reading these FAQ’s.  If you have further questions we will try to answer those as well.

  1. What is “the Presbytery”?  
    Our denomination, the PCUSA, has delegated its governance into 16 Synods, within which there are a total of 172 regional groups called Presbyteries.  Ours is the Presbytery of Plains and Peaks and it includes 38 churches in northern Colorado and western Nebraska. Each presbytery coordinates a variety of services for its member churches and pastoral staff.  Representatives (ordained pastors and a few elders from each church) meet quarterly to manage these services and jointly plan presbytery business.
  1. How are Presbyteries funded?  
    Each presbytery develops a budget approved by its membership (each of the churches) and asks that each member church make a contribution to that budget. The contribution requested from each church is proportional to its membership.
  1. What is included in the Presbytery budget?  
    There are many services that support the work of the member churches.  Five groups of services are 1) Pastoral Care; 2) Preparation for Ministry; 3) Congregational Ministry; 4) Highlands Camp and 5) Administration.  We have taken advantage of these services in our current pastoral search, access to Highlands Camp, and the use of training materials and workshops.  Many of the presbytery's services are critical to the smaller churches that couldn't survive without support from the broader church.
  1. What is Per Capita?  
    The total income for the Presbytery of Plains and Peaks ($306,300 for 2015) is divided among the total membership of the presbytery (currently 7,125 people) and that "apportionment" ($43.00 for 2015) is called the "per capita." With FPC's current membership of 760 people, we have been asked to submit $32,680 to the presbytery for its 2015 budget.

    Note that this “Presbytery per capita” includes amounts that support the Synod to which our Presbytery belongs and also the General Assembly, or national governing body, of the PCUSA.  Of the $43 per member we are asked to contribute to the Presbytery for 2015, $6.00 will go on to the Synod and $7.40 will go to the General Assembly.  This will leave just a bit less than $30 to support the work of our Presbytery. 
  1. Does FPC pay per capita? What is “opt-in” and “opt-out”?  
    Until 2011 FPC paid its full per capita.  In 2011 session voted to suspend a portion of the per capita and in 2012 we suspended the full payment.  At the same time we created a mechanism for members to voluntarily pay their per capita.  We call this an "opt-in" payment of per capita. The voluntary payments from FPC members since 2012 have amounted to about 15% of what we were asked to pay.  

    The session has considered, but has not adopted, an "opt-out" treatment of per capita.  This means the financial office would first calculate FPC’s full per capita (our membership times the per capita apportionment).  Any church members who do not wish to support presbytery would notify the office that they do not wish to be included in per capita (we call this "opt-out").  The financial office would subtract that amount from the total payment and send the remainder to the presbytery.  

Do you have more questions about per capita?  Great! Find an elder and have a conversation, send an email to session or drop a written question off at the office.