The All Agency Review Committee is getting ready for its next in-person meeting in Louisville Jan. 22-24 – a meeting during which the committee hopes to draft its recommendations to the 2018 General Assembly.
In preparation for that, the committee met by video conference call Jan. 11– running through some of the elements it wants to address in that report. It likely will include recommendations regarding shared services; the structure of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) A Corporation; communications and the PC(USA) website; and whether there should be one mission statement under which the six agencies of the PC(USA) “operate and cooperate,” as Deborah Block, a pastor from Wisconsin who serves as moderator of All Agency Review, put it.
Block said she plans to attend the meeting in Seattle Jan. 17-19 of the Way Forward Commission – saying she expects there will be some things the two groups likely will jointly endorse and “some things where we will have a distinctive voice.”
Both groups have “a lot of ingredients but no stew yet. Or maybe I should say there’s a lot of stewing,” Block said.
Additionally, the 2020 Vision Team will meet in Dallas Jan. 21-23.
This is all part of a big scramble to meet General Assembly deadlines. All three groups need to present any recommendations to the 2018 General Assembly, which will meet in St. Louis June 16-23, to the Office of the General Assembly by Feb. 16.
Block said the Way Forward Commission leadership team is open “to us doing as much co-work as possible” motivated in part by a desire “of making this comprehensible” to General Assembly commissioners. “It took us a year to find our legs,” she said. “They only have a week.”
Debra Avery, a minister and committee member from California, asked whether All Agency Review might be able to have a booth in the exhibit hall at General Assembly, to provide a space to answer questions and have one-on-one conversations about the committee’s work and report.
Chris Mason, a lawyer and committee member from New York, discussed initial feedback to a proposal that the Way Forward Commission outlined in December for reconfiguring the A Corporation, which currently serves as the corporate identity for the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) and the Office of the General Assembly (OGA), and for placing responsibility for shared services within that corporation.
Mason said discussions with PMA board representatives indicated “there is a question of identity for PMA” – that when the denomination made changes in the Book of Order in 2011 “in some people’s minds it eliminated some of the clarity about what PMA does. … There may be some identity-seeking that’s important for that institution.”