The Presbyterian Mission Agency board on Feb. 4 passed the 2017-18 Mission Work Plan, which will guide the creation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission budget for the next two years.
That budget is expected to include significant cuts and staff reductions. Tony De La Rosa, interim executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, told the board’s finance committee that “I’m looking at adaptive change rather than some technical adjustments” in crafting the new 2017-18 mission budget.
That Mission Work Plan establishes three new directional goals and includes a theological foundation, based on the Six Great Ends of the Church found in the PC(USA) Constitution. The new directional goals are these:
- Evangelism & Discipleship: Grow, proclaim and live out our faith in Jesus Christ by working with our partners, here and around the world, to build communities that witness to the gospel of Christ’s love for the rich diversity reflected in all humankind.
- Servant Leader Formation: Seek, develop and energize diverse leaders who are answering God’s call to equip the Church to be a welcoming place of worship, mission and spiritual nurture for all of God’s children, especially those who have been marginalized.
- Justice & Reconciliation: Galvanize the church to act on issues of racism, violence and poverty as a prophetic witness to Christ’s transforming justice by speaking and living out God’s truth and compassion as we call ourselves and the world to account for injustice and oppression.
In an interview with the Outlook, De La Rosa said the number of directional goals was being reduced from the six in the 2013-16 Mission Work Plan to three – in part to encourage collaboration. In the current structure, “a department would sort of hang its hat on one of those directional goals,” he said – and “there wasn’t a sense of a cohesive organizational vision.”
Some members of the executive committee raised concerns about the process of moving from approval of the Mission Work Plan to the details of an actual budget proposal. In response, the executive committee voted to have board chair Marilyn Gamm appoint members of the board to work with De La Rosa “to develop implementation strategies for the Mission Work Plan for the board’s review and action at a called meeting prior to the April meeting. This will inform budget decisions in April.”
The board’s discussion of the Mission Work Plan gave some glimpses into some of the challenges ahead – as the Presbyterian Mission Agency tries to move ahead with a smaller and more focused organization.
Board member Cecil Corbett of Idaho raised questions about the impact that a series of budget cuts have had on Native American ministries – even though feedback the board had collected in shaping the Mission Work Plan stressed the importance of diversity.
“If one segment of the mosaic is left out, I wonder how we go to the Creator,” Corbett said. “We are not a program; we are a people that need to be heard.”