The Presbyterian Mission Agency board finished up its work Feb. 5 in brisk fashion – approving recommendations on climate change with no discussion, and deciding not to further amend rules it had adopted the previous day for how it will set the level of the Presbyterian Mission Agency reserves.
The board voted 12-11 to consider an amendment that former General Assembly moderator Neal Presa proposed FOR the rules it had adopted Feb. 4 regarding a new process for creating and managing reserve funds for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission budget. The board will vote on a mission budget for 2017-18 when it meets April 27-29 in Louisville – and the expectation is the new budget may involve significant cuts and staff reductions.
Tony De La Rosa, interim executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, has said the agency will need to do fewer things — “we can’t be all things to all people” has been the message — and to focus on things the national church can do which others can’t.
In shaping the budget, he’ll be guided by the Mission Work Plan the board passed Feb. 4, and also by the new rules regarding reserve funds that the board approved that same day and for which the board will seek approval from the 2016 General Assembly in June.
On Feb. 5, the board voted narrow approval to consider an amendment Presa proposed. The rules adopted Feb. 4 state that the amounts of both restricted and unrestricted funds would be determined by the chief financial officer of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, in concurrence with the executive director.
Presa wanted to add language to state that the executive director would “first consult with the staff Leadership Cabinet and others before giving the concurrence.” He said his intent was to create a culture of collaboration and communication, and to make sure the executive director gets “as much information as possible.”
Ken Godshall, a pastor from Kentucky who led the subcommittee which drafted the rule changes, said he opposed Presa’s amendment. “This amendment tells the executive director how to do his job,” Godshall said. “This is micromanaging I think we should avoid.”
As the budget is prepared – and decisions are made what to fund and what to cut – “we need to have a clear decision-maker at the end of the process,” Godshall said.
De La Rosa said he appreciated the collaborative intent of the amendment. But he worried how collaboration might be effectively measured, particularly if someone who had been consulted “feels they have not been heard when a final decision has been made” – in other words, they get consulted, but disagree with the funding decision.
The board defeated Presa’s proposed amendment on a voice vote.
Here’s some more of what happened at the board’s meeting in Louisville Feb. 3-5.
The board elected Godshall as its chair for 2016-18 and Marsha Zell Anson as vice-chair elect. Their terms would begin at the adjournment of the General Assembly in June. Godshall also needs to be re-elected to the board at the assembly, as he had originally been appointed to fill an unexpired term. See here for biographical information and a Q & A with Godshall and Anson.
The board approved a recommendation that it create a Board Governance Task Force to conduct a “comprehensive review” of the governance model the board presents, considering issues such as the size and composition of the Presbyterian Mission Agency board, its roles and responsibilities, and relationship with other PC(USA) entities. That task force will bring recommendations to the board’s September 2017 meeting, for submission to the General Assembly in 2018.
This task force is one of a number of groups considering restructuring in the PC(USA). Consequently, the board’s action states that “should the General Assembly pass a resolution to have an independent committee assume these functions, the work of this task force will be made available to them, and this task force will discontinue its work.”
These people will serve on the governance task force: Molly Baskin, Greg Chan, Marianne Rhebergen, Conrad Rocha, Melinda Sanders, Jo Stewart and one representative to be appointed by the board chair, currently Marilyn Gamm.
The board named the following people to serve on a team to write a formal response to the Presbyterian Mission Agency Review Committee report: Marsha Zell Anson; Jeffrey Joe and Nancy Ramsay. That review committee report, which addressed both the idea of restructuring and concerns it notes within the Presbyterian Mission Agency, will go directly to the 2016 General Assembly. The board will vote on its response to the report in April.
The board’s committees elected new leadership, as follows:
- Finance: Molly Baskin, chair; Marvin Brangan, vice-chair.
- Justice: Susan H. Osoinach, chair; Joseph Morrow, vice-chair.
- Leadership: Nancy amsay, chair; Marci Glass, vice-chair.
- Worshipping communities: David Ezekiel, chair; Gina Meester, vice-chair.