CINCINNATI – The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board has approved a mission budget for 2019 and 2020 that’s balanced and calls for no layoffs – what Ken Godshall, the board’s chair, has described as “a good news budget” for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The board approved a mission budget (F.104 – 2019-2020 Budget) of $71.6 million for 2019 and $70.5 million for 2020. That budget now goes to the General Assembly in June for its approval. The adjusted 2018 mission budget stands at $68.2 million.
No unrestricted reserves were used to balance the budget, and Denise Hampton, controller for the Presbyterian Mission Agency, reported that the unrestricted reserves stood at $12.5 million as of December 31.
Here’s some of the other business the board dealt with in the closing session of the April 25-27 meeting.
Prayer for North Korea
The board approved this call for prayer suggested by Heath Rada, moderator of the 2014 General Assembly:
“In light of last night’s announcement for the potential opportunity for peace on the Korean Peninsula and in light of our strong historical bonds of Presbyterian relationships in Korea, that we, the PMAB, call upon the members of the PC(USA) to engage in deliberate prayer asking that the influence of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, will reign supreme.”
Rada also said this to the board, which had just completed a long debate over the PC(USA), A Corporation: “If God can find a way for North and South Korea to find a place for common mutual love – I don’t think it’s love yet – and understanding, then I think we as members of Christ’s church can do the same.”
Doctrine of Discovery
The board approved a 14-page report and a series of recommendations from a work team considering the Doctrine of Discovery — its history and implications for the nation and the church.
Pope Alexander VI articulated the concept of the Doctrine of Discovery in the papal bull “Inter Caetera” in 1493 and that became entrenched in international law, providing justification for colonial imperialism, enslavement and the taking of land and rights from indigenous peoples.
That team’s work was done in response to a referral from the 2016 General Assembly. The report contains 18 recommendations that would affect the PC(USA) from the national levels of the church to congregations – read them here (G.102 Doctrine of Discovery Report – with Recommendations April 2018).
One section of the report states that through United States history, “Christian churches … have accepted and supported the various forms of the Doctrine of Discovery. … We have participated both actively and passively throughout our history in discriminatory behavior directed against Native Americans. We have stood by while Native Americans were killed and their lands taken, while the story of their participation in the history of our country was distorted and suppressed.”
Ministry in a divided nation
One of the board’s ministerial teams is focusing that subject — and Joe Morrow, a minister from Chicago who has been leading that work, provided an update, although the team will continue working for another year.
The season following the 2016 presidential election has opened up fault lines in the nation, Morrow said, “but with unusual circumstance comes unusual opportunity.”
The ministry team has been interviewing Presbyterians across the church, “from mid councils to congregations,” in cities, suburbs and rural areas, including Native Americans and other people of color, Morrow said.
Among the topics the team will address:
- What are some strategies for community organizing, and for regional advocacy on issues such as immigration and the environmental concerns?
- What “soul care” is needed for faith leaders who are on the frontlines of these disputes, and may be feeling exhausted and afraid?
- What work can be done regarding immigration, deportation and mass incarceration?
- How can relationships and community be built, in the PC(USA) and ecumenically?
The board affirmed proxy voting recommendations (H.103 MRTI Proxy Voting Recommendations) from the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) — encouraging those at all levels of the church (and individual Presbyterians) to consider MRTI’s proxy voting recommendations on issues such as climate change and international human rights when voting on shareholder resolutions.
Presbyterians likely have tens of billions of dollars invested in the stock market, said Rob Fohr, the PC(USA)’s director of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement. “Imagine the power we would have,” if they decided to follow those proxy recommendations and vote on shareholder resolutions.
The board voted approval of a three-person team to provide interim leadership to the Presbyterian Mission Agency as Dave Crittenden, who has been acting executive director of the agency, steps down to address health concerns. Crittenden’s service ends this week.
Godshall said that Nancy Ramsay, who leads the executive director search committee, would update the board on that search during a closed session.
Godshall also said the interim team (Rhashell Hunter, director of Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries; Jose Luis Casal, director of World Mission; and Barry Creech, director of policy, administration and board support) is expected to serve about two months, until a new executive director is named
The board honored its Class of 2018 board members who are rotating off the board after years of service. Those thanked for their service are: Tom Fleming, Nancy Ramsay, Marsha Zell Anson, Molly Baskin, James Ephraim, Chad Herring, Greg Chan, David Shinn, Jason Chavez, Wendy Tajima, Heath Rada, Ellen Cason, Carol Winkler, James Fowler and Vicki Garber.