(Outlook) – Up for discussion: who should be appointed to serve on the executive committee of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board for 2017-2018? And how does the balance of representation on the executive committee compare with that of the board as a whole?
That subject came up for discussion April 6 in a conference call of the executive committee. No appointments were made – the decision was to send the matter to the board’s Personnel and Nominating Committee, with the hope that that committee will come back with a recommendation in the next month or so.
The executive committee currently is much less diverse than is the board as a whole. Just over half (54 percent) of the board’s 39 voting members are white and 46 percent are people of color, according to information provided to the board. But 80 percent of the executive committee’s 10 members are white.
At the board’s meeting in Puerto Rico in March, the General Assembly Committee on Representation met with the Personnel and Nominating Committee and expressed “strong concerns” about the racial and ethnic makeup of the executive committee, said executive committee member Melinda Sanders, who also serves on the Personnel and Nominating Committee.
The question of who will serve on the executive committee is emerging in part because the Governance Task Force has submitted a plan for cutting the size of the board by more than half and reconfiguring its committee structure. The board hasn’t acted on that proposal yet, and changing the board’s size would need approval from either the General Assembly or the Way Forward Commission.
But changes in the composition of the board and its committee structure have implications for who serves on the executive committee (typically a mix of committee chairs and at-large members). And in this transition period, decisions still need to be made about who will serve on the board over the next year.
Ken Godshall, who is chair of the board and a pastor from Kentucky, said he’s hoping the Personnel and Nominating Committee will recommend a slate with the skills needed, with some tie to the committee structure, with “a strong commitment to diversity” and a recognition that “we have an obligation to develop leaders for the future,” presumably by periodically bringing new people onto the executive committee.
The executive committee also had a closed session to discuss personnel matters as part of its April 6 meeting.