This is a big week for the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, meeting in Louisville Sept. 23-25. The board is expected to talk about money, about racism and perhaps to name a new interim executive director for the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
Here’s a link to the agenda, plus some of what’s coming up. A few committee meetings start Sept. 22.
Word on the street is that the board may name an interim executive director for the Presbyterian Mission Agency on Wednesday, to take over following the resignation of executive director Linda Valentine in July. It’s not clear how long that person would serve – perhaps until the 2016 General Assembly, perhaps longer.
The board also seems to be moving ahead with its search process for selecting the next executive director. The nominating and governance subcommittee is recommending that the board appoint seven of its members to serve on the search committee:
- Landon Whitsitt (chair)
- Marsha Zell Anson
- Jeffrey Joe
- Joseph Morrow
- Kears Pollock
- Patsy Smith
- Wendy Tajima
The recommendation states that several others would serve as ex-officio members of the search committee: Marilyn Gamm, chair of the board; Heath Rada, moderator of the 2014 General Assembly; and a representative of the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly.
Earline Williams and Barry Creech currently are serving as temporary co-managers of the Presbyterian Mission Agency until an interim executive director begins work. Williams has been the agency’s deputy executive director of shared services and the PC(USA)’s chief financial officer since July 2013. Creech is the director of policy, administration and board support.
Minutes from the closed portion of an August 28 conference call meeting show that the executive committee voted to give Creech and Williams each a $5,000 performance bonus, payable by Dec. 31, plus an additional seven days of paid leave each, to be taken by mid-year of 2016.
Another subject the board is considering: a possible restructure of the board itself.
Minutes from the Aug. 28 meeting state that: “The Executive Committee clarified that the Nominating and Governance Subcommittee is delegated the task of reviewing the size, structure and scope of the Board. The Subcommittee was directed to bring a proposal for restructuring of the Board, based on their findings, back to the Executive Committee.”
The finance committee will be discussing the Presbyterian Mission Program Fund (PMPF), which are the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s unrestricted reserves – and which the agency has repeatedly tapped in recent years to balance its budget as membership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continues to drop and unrestricted giving to the denomination has declined.
A report coming to the board shows the reserves standing at $649,000 above the required minimum level as of August 31. Among issues expected to come up at this meeting: the low levels of the reserves, which are expected to be exhausted by the end of 2016, if not sooner. The finance committee is expected to talk about the rates of return on investments it has with the Presbyterian Foundation and about whether it should approach the 2016 General Assembly with a proposal to reconfigure the formula for determining how much the Presbyterian Mission Agency needs to hold in reserve.
The board plans to spend a good chunk of the day on Sept. 24 in cultural humility training. In late August, Gamm wrote this to the board explaining that plan:
“So why a day of cultural humility training? One of the reasons is that our Staff is required to have a version of this training annually and we thought it would be appropriate for the Board to at least have a version of this training this year. Another of the reasons is that the daily news illustrates that racism and issues of white privilege continue to be alive and well in our country. We believe these continue to be live issues in our 92% white Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as well, with the recent special offerings promotional materials providing us with a painful illustration.
Those of you who attended or have followed news accounts of this past weekend’s Dr. King’s Unfinished Agenda Conference at Montreat have heard or read today’s civil rights leaders assert that racism remains a systemic issue today and lift up the importance of having open and honest, even if uncomfortable, conversations. As national church leaders through our service on the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, we have a responsibility to be willing to deepen our own understanding about systemic racism as part of sharing in leading our denomination toward the kind of inclusive church and society that both Jesus and Dr. King envisioned.”