CHICAGO – The Way Forward Commission has begun to chart its next steps – including the question of whether it should draft a mid-point report for release in June.
After a long discernment session at its meeting at McCormick Theological Seminary on May 16, commission members came up with lists to guide the next phase of its work – including themes that emerged from hours of discussion regarding the structure and function of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), plus questions the commission wants to investigate further.
The commission may refine these lists further when its meeting continues May 17. But here are the lists so far.
Themes – for possible inclusion in a mid-point report:
- Stated clerk: voice and role.
- Presbyterian Mission Agency should focus on mission – including mission delivery.
- Focus on mid councils – including providing resources for congregations.
- Shared services – where should that work be located in the PC(USA) and how should it be administered?
- Congregational support – how can it be the locus of ministry?
- Effective communication.
- Post-traditional leadership – including leadership development.
- Flexibility and innovation.
- Move from regulatory to relationship
- Knowing who is the client.
- Recognize contextual diversity.
- Do we need a Presbyterian Mission Agency Board?
- How can a focus on racial ethnic ministry and women broaden to be included in all ministries?
- What’s the funding model for congregational publishing?
- Are separate corporations needed?
- Is there a need for denominational offices all in one place?
- To whom is the Board of Pensions accountable?
- What are the sources of funds for the PC(USA)?
- How to ensure ongoing review and accountability for the denomination?
“Lightbulb” ideas (some of which may migrate to other lists):
- Leadership development in stated clerk’s office.
- Consolidation of assets in A Corp (the denomination’s corporate identity).
- Applied research.
- Address age-group defined ministries (and perhaps intergenerational ministries).
- Tying back to core principles.
- Strong central leader for all six agencies – someone who’s properly elected, subject to checks and balances.
- Chief operating officer in charge of mission, publishing, investing and pensions.
- A vertical hierarchy with a General Council.
- Have a permanent review entity (perhaps All Agency Review Committee).
- Responsiveness, flexibility, nimbleness.
- Grassroots focus.
- Celebrating the differences in congregations and allowing that to flourish. One size doesn’t fit all.
- Resourcing and empowering mid councils so they can do this work.
- Include both proclamation and community organizing in public witness.
- First Amendment / Legal services.
The commission also heard a presentation from Emily McGinley, a PC(USA) minister and McCormick graduate who works with Urban Village, a United Methodist church plant involving four sites in Chicago.
And the commission met for about an hour in closed session, to discuss personnel issues that emerged from its discussion about possible structural changes for the PC(USA).