The Presbyterian Mission Agency board will meet on January 21 to discuss a report from the Presbyterian Mission Agency Review Committee – a report which recommends that the 2016 General Assembly set up a process to consider possibly merging the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Agency, and raises a series of concerns about the work environment and strategic direction of the mission agency.
The board will meet by conference call at 5 p.m. EST on Jan. 21 – in preparation for the board’s in-person meeting which will be held Feb. 3-5 in Louisville. Part of the reason: This gives the board more time to discuss the review committee report before it needs to vote on the Mission Work Plan, which will guide the formation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission budget for 2017-2018.
The board’s executive committee decided on that approach, meeting by conference call Jan. 13. The board also is considering holding a webinar Jan. 25 on the Mission Work Plan.
All this comes at a time when conversations on possible restructuring are being held around the PC(USA), and when it’s expected the denomination’s national staff will endure another downsizing in April. The review committee’s report goes straight to the General Assembly – and board chair Marilyn Gamm said it’s likely that all the restructuring proposals will go to an assembly committee called The Way Forward.
That report also recommends that the General Assembly set up a committee to look at restructuring the Presbyterian Mission Agency board, saying the board’s current structure is “unwieldy and outdated.”
In the meanwhile, the executive committee plans to go ahead with the board’s own conversations about possibly restructuring itself – having already been on the cusp of convening a task force to begin doing that work.
“There’s too much uncertainty” about what the General Assembly might do – so “I don’t think we can wait,” said board member Melinda Sanders. “I also think we know more about this board and what works and doesn’t work” than anyone. “We recognize this is a problem, and we want to work on it.”