LOUISVILLE – The Governance Task Force of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board is recommending changes in its proposal – including making the advocacy and advisory committees of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voting members of the board.
The Governance Task Force is recommending significant changes to the board’s structure – reducing it from 40 voting members to 16 by attrition and reconfiguring its committee structure. (UPDATED: Read the full Governance Task Force recommendations to the board (revised): H.001 Governance Task Force Report)
The PC(USA)’s advocacy and advisory committees raised concerns about the proposal. And Melinda Sanders, a board member from Nashville, Tennessee, who leads the Governance Task Force, told the board’s executive committee in its morning meeting Sept. 21 that the task force is recommending some changes in its most recent proposal.
Under the revised proposal – which the full board is expected to consider later in the day – the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns, the Advocacy for Racial Ethnic Concerns and the Advisory Committee for Social Witness Policy each would be given one voting slot on the board. The proposal previously called for those groups to have corresponding members, with voice but not vote.
The Governance Task Force also is recommending that the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) have a voting slot on the board. Sanders acknowledged, however, there may be difficulties with that idea if PC(USA) policy prohibits someone from serving on more than one General Assembly body at a time – that’s still being investigated.
Sanders said the Governance Task Force also needs to consult with both the advocacy and advisory committees and COGA to get their responses to the revisions. The Governance Task Force held a closed meeting Sept. 20. “We haven’t talked to them yet,” Sanders said – adding, “we are willing to have egg on our faces if we can’t make these things happen.”
Sanders also said the proposal is being revised because an earlier draft used dominant cultural language “which was confusing at best and insulting at worst. For that, we offer apologies.”
The General Assembly Committee on Representation also has sent an “Advice and Counsel” memorandum (H.210 GACOR Advice on H.001) regarding the Governance Task Force recommendation, raising concerns about the impact the proposed changes would have on diversity. That memo states that the proposed mechanism for reducing the size of the board “will adversely affect equity in representation.”
By suggesting that “professional expertise is the primary qualifier for Board service,” the Governance Task Force negates Presbyterian polity that assumes equality between teaching and ruling elders and presumes deficiency in difference,” the memo states. “Without a definition for ‘professional expertise,’ evaluation seems subjective and susceptible to influence from implicit biases. Equity and inclusion become subordinate goals and are perceived to be negatively impacted by the requirements for service.”
The full board is expected to consider the Governance Task Force proposal starting around 3:30 PM Eastern time Sept. 21.
The executive committee also provided an overview on the work that’s coming to the board during its Sept. 21-23 meeting in Louisville. Among those items:
Giving. Rosemary Mitchell, who leads the PC(USA)’s Mission Engagement and Support efforts, said people have given $4.6 million to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance since Hurricane Harvey strafed Texas and Louisiana – to provide relief for those victims and those of the hurricanes and earthquakes that have followed.
Mitchell also said her office has a goal of raising $30 million in voluntary donations in 2017. As of June 30, giving had hit $15 million, or half that goal. “Every gift is personally acknowledged,” Mitchell said.
Focus of work. The executive committee is recommending to the full board later this week approval of a “focus of work” plan for 2017-2018.
That plan includes:
- Continuing to support the work of the Way Forward Commission, the All Agency Review Committee and the 2020 Vision Team.
- Supporting the new acting director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, Dave Crittenden, in his transitional role. Crittenden is expected to serve from three to five months, according to Ken Godshall, chair of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board. The board named Crittenden to the new role after Tony De La Rosa, who was interim executive director and who had been expected to serve through the end of November, resigned Sept. 13 after a series of closed-door meetings of the board and its executive committee.
- Preparing an updated Mission Work Plan for 2018-2020 that will develop directional goals and agency priorities, and which will be used to develop the Presbyterian Mission Agency budgets through 2020.
- Extending the mandate of the Governance Task Force, which had been set to expire at this meeting, until its work is done.
- The board’s ministerial teams and task forces will consider key strategic issues. Among them:
- What are the three most important things the Mission Agency can effectively do to address power and privilege?
- How should overhead costs for mission be managed, allocated, and communicated?
- What are the three most important strategic responses the Presbyterian Mission Agency can offer to advance Christ’s prophetic and compassionate mission in a divided nation?
- What strategies if any can be developed to make Stony Point a sustainable ministry within the Presbyterian Mission Agency?
- How shall the Mission Agency respond to more than 90 referrals from the 222nd General Assembly?