LOUISVILLE – Congregational Ministries Publishing – which publishes curriculum for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and is currently part of the Presbyterian Mission Agency – will be consolidated into the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation at the end of 2017.
The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board approved that consolidation (E.108 CMP PPC Consolidation) Sept. 22 – with Marc Lewis, the president and publisher of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC), saying the consolidation would produce some efficiencies and “will better serve the church.”
Congregational Ministries Publishing (CMP) has 11 full-time employees and PPC 30, none of whom will lose their jobs, Lewis said.
Other denominations, including the United Methodists and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, have merged their publishing and curriculum operations, Lewis said. “Publishing works best when it’s consolidated, when you can plan together, when you can understand your audience and provide resources that are comprehensive.”
He said, for example, that the consolidation would make it easier for PPC to set up book displays at presbytery meetings or educational events, and offer workshops on available resources, such as the revised Book of Common Worship being published next spring.
Lewis said PPC also wants to talk to Presbyterian churches that don’t use Presbyterian curriculum and find out why they don’t use it, what they are using and what kind of curriculum they’d like to see.
The consolidation is expected to cost the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) about $251,900 in 2018, said Chip Hardwick, the agency’s director of Theology, Formation and Evangelism – mostly overhead costs that PMA will not be able to continue charging to CMP. But PPC, which rents space in the PC(USA) headquarters in downtown Louisville, will pay more for rent and utilities once it has more employees, so that might reduce the $251,900, Hardwick said.
Another facet of the agreement that drew considerable discussion from the board: a provision that PMA will provide a grant of up to $270,000 in 2018 to support the production of curriculum in Korean and Spanish. That funding will come from unrestricted dollars, Hardwick said. The General Assembly has mandated that the PC(USA) produce Spanish and Korean curriculum – but some board members questioned whether PMA would continue to provide the funding if the assembly mandate was withdrawn.
That’s one of a number of areas where the question of how to pay for translation of materials in the church has arisen over the past week. The Way Forward Commission is making that question part of a broader conversation involving communication in the PC(USA), with some commission members saying explicitly that translation is a priority to them and that not providing translation blocks access to power and leadership in the church, and to faith formation.
The agreement the board approved states that the funding for Spanish and Korean curriculum “and the amount will be mutually reviewed and determined every two years by PMA and PPC based on the continued mandate from the General Assembly for support of this publishing,” but only to the extent that funds are available in the sole determination of PC(USA), A Corporation, which is the corporate entity for PMA and the Office of the General Assembly.
Raul Santiago-Rivera of Puerto Rico, a member at large of the board’s Finance Committee, asked what will happen “after the money runs out” — asking “is the money going to drive the decision, or mission?” He wondered if those for whom English is not their first language will “be marginalized because we are not that which produces income for the church – we are an expense.”
Lewis responded that “these resources will continue to be published. As long as GA mandates they’ll be published, they’ll be published. … The General Assembly has said this is a very important thing, it needs to be done and the money is provided. It will not stop in two years.”
Jason Chavez, a board member from Virginia, said the board has been talking about power and privilege, and “the language in this rationale for translations concerns me. … It implies that Spanish-speaking congregations, Korean-speaking congregations are not as valued as English-speaking congregations. Because they require a grant from the PMA, instead of that being budgeted into your budget. I have real concerns about that. The face and the color of our denomination is changing. As was said, that money might not be here in five years or 10 years. If GA stops mandating that, then what happens?”
Joseph Morrow, a board member from Chicago, said he wants the PC(USA) to develop “a multi-lingual strategy,” not coming from a sense “there are mandates that need to be fulfilled, but a sense of priority and promise in the life of the church” – a desire to develop resources “for the language communities that are emerging,” integral to the denomination’s future.