LOUISVILLE (Outlook) In what seems to be a season of committees considering the future of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), here comes another one: the All Agency Review Committee, which will hold its initial meeting in Louisville Feb. 21-23.
The All Agency Review Committee is one of three groups currently considering questions about the structure of the national church and its vision. The 2016 General Assembly created two other entities, both of which have begun their work:
- The Way Forward Commission, convened to “study and identify a vision for the structure and function of the General Assembly agencies of the PC(USA)”; and
- The 2020 Vision Team, which the assembly told to set a new vision for the denomination by 2020, a guiding statement that “will help us to name and claim our denominational identity as we seek to follow the Spirit into the future.”
There is the potential for some overlap between the work of these groups – for example, around the question of whether a possible merger of the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Agency should be discussed or considered – and consequently, their leadership is in conversation. The Way Forward Commission has the power to act on its own – without waiting for the next General Assembly.
The All Agency Review Committee is expected to consider issues of how the agencies interact with one another, including whether there’s duplication of efforts or room for more cooperation or collaboration, and possibly also the question of whether a six-agency structure is the best approach going forward.
Deborah Block, a teaching elder from Milwaukee, is moderator of the 14-member All Agency Review Committee, which includes four former General Assembly commissioners; four at-large members; and six people chosen to represent each of the six agencies.
The All Agency Review Committee is part of a denomination-wide process of review initiated by the General Assembly in 2008. This involves a six-year cycle (from 2010 to 2016) of in-depth reviews of each of the PC(USA)’s six agencies – with the reviews done two at a time in two-year cycles.
Those reviews were done as follows:
- 2010-2012: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation and Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program;
- 2012-2014: Presbyterian Foundation and Board of Pensions;
- 2014-2016: Office of the General Assembly and Presbyterian Mission Agency.
Following that, the all agency review is being conducted from 2016 to 2018.
The first all agency review report went to the General Assembly in 2010. That time, the process included:
- Meetings with executives and elected leaders of the six PC(USA) agencies;
- Conversations with synod executives and executive presbyters;
- A survey conducted by Research Services.
The focus was on working relationships among the six agencies, with particular attention given to “issues of collaboration and duplication between agencies,” the report to the 2010 assembly states. That included discussion of how restricted funds given to the PC(USA) are handled and the desire expressed by some to have “one voice” that speaks for the denomination.
The review committee also concluded in the 2010 report that “there is good and sufficient reason to keep the six agencies as separate but interrelated entities.”
There’s been a lot of change in the PC(USA) since then – including continuing membership losses; a series of layoffs affecting the denomination’s national staff; declines in unrestricted giving; and reductions in budget for both the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
The All Agency Review Committee will report to the General Assembly in St. Louis in 2018.
The members of the All Agency Review Committee are:
Debra Avery (Teaching elder)
Eric Beene (Teaching elder)
Deborah A. Block (Teaching elder), Moderator
David A. Davis (Teaching elder)
Marco Grimaldo (Ruling elder)
Rachel Mihee Kim-Kort (Teaching elder)
Christopher Mason (Ruling elder)
New York, N.Y.
Claire Rhodes (Ruling elder)
Hot Springs, Ark.
Kelly Shriver (Teaching elder)
James Tse (Ruling elder)
Madison VanVeelen (Teaching elder)
James Wilson (Ruling elder)