Per Capita” – An Explanation
Over the years, as I received my TPC giving envelopes, I would find one envelope in a color different from the others. Marked on the envelope was the term Per Capita. The term comes from the Latin and means by heads. The modern definition of the term is: “for each person; in relation to people taken individually.” (Merriam-Webster New Collegiate Dictionary).
But what does per capita mean to us and why are we asked to support it each year? We Presbyterians have a form of government comprised of the Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly. In our Presbyterian church, congregations are united in accountability to a regional body called the presbytery. Several presbyteries are combined to make up a synod, and the various synods and presbyteries are joined in the highest body of the Presbyterian polity called the General Assembly. The cost to operate the Church governing structure comes from the Church’s general membership, including from you, me, and all of us at TPC. Hence, each member is called upon to pay his or her per capita as a way of sharing the literal cost to run the larger Presbyterian Church. And that is why we are asked every year to pay our respective per head cost.
The per capita cost assigned to our own church (TPC) must be paid whether each of our members specifically identifies a payment for the cost of the per capita or not. In that regard, at the beginning of each year we ask our members to pay his or her own per capita share (including for all members of TPC within a household). That allows TPC’s Session to focus on the mission of our church that includes all of the church’s programming and outreach, together with our music and worship programs that TPC engages in throughout the year.
In 2019, our per capita cost is $35.73 per member.
We ask that each of you prayerfully consider contributing to TPC for the per capita cost assessed by the Presbytery to TPC, separate and apart from your pledge or annual giving to TPC. If we each paid the per capita cost separately, TPC’s budget would benefit dollar for dollar and would allow us to focus not as much on the cost of governance of the greater Church, but on fulfilling the mission of the Church.
We are grateful to each and every one of you for all that you do. We thank you for your continued generosity – both of the spirit and of the purse!