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PMA committee discusses De La Rosa’s contract, meeting in Puerto Rico and amending Open Meeting policy


LOUISVILLE (Outlook) – The executive committee of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board is recommending that the full board renew Tony De La Rosa’s contract as interim executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Tony De La Rosa
Tony De La Rosa

The executive committee took that action in the closed portion of a conference call meeting on Nov. 17, and announced its vote after the meeting had adjourned. The recommendation is that the board renew the contract “under the terms of the current agreement.”

De La Rosa, a lawyer and ruling elder, started work in December 2015 – with the board choosing him to fill the interim role after former executive director Linda Valentine resigned in July 2015.

Here’s more of what was discussed during the meeting:

March meeting in Puerto Rico
Both the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board and the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly will meet in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in March 2017 – a decision made to express support for Presbyterian churches and mission work there, and because hotel space was not available in Louisville when those groups plan to meet.

De La Rosa told the executive committee that “our goal is not to have us continually meet in a hotel the entire time we are there,” but to visit local Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations and ministry sites.

The executive committee will meet March 21 and the full board March 22-24.

If board members can either stay longer or arrive earlier and preach in local churches, “that would be a welcome and wonderful way to connect with Presbyterians who sometimes feel distant from national leadership,” De La Rosa said, and to “extend a word of grace in preaching the Word of God.”

The additional cost for holding the meeting in San Juan, rather than near the national offices of the PC(USA) in Louisville, is expected to be about $12,000, according to a denominational news release.

Rules for meetings
Responding to feedback from the board’s meeting in September, the executive committee members discussed whether they wanted to make any changes going forward in the way meetings are conducted. Ken Godshall, the board’s chair, said surveys that board member completed showed that “generative discussions were appreciated by some and not by others.”

In the future, Godshall said, he recommends having only one generative discussion per meeting (instead of two) and to begin referring to them as “community conversations.”

The committee also discussed an idea, presented by board member Molly Baskin, to routinely hold a closed session at the end of each meeting so board members could build relationships with one another and talk more freely. Baskin said her intention would be that no formal business would be discussed in the closed sessions and there would be no agenda, but the closed sessions would give board members the opportunity “to be more open than they might be in front of a cast of thousands.”

Baskin said closed sessions like that are “actually best practices for boards.”

Martha Clark, a lawyer for the PC(USA), raised concerns that such a closed session might not meet the requirements of the General Assembly’s Open Meetings policy.

Baskin raised the idea of sending an overture to the 2018 General Assembly seeking to amend the policy to accommodate such closed sessions.