The Way Forward Commission voted April 23 to revise what it will ask the 2018 General Assembly to do regarding the makeup of the board of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation.
During a conference call, the Way Forward Commission voted to make this change: to remove a requirement that a representative from the Board of Pensions serve on the A Corporation board, but to add a representative to that board from Presbyterian Women.
The Way Forward Commission now will ask the assembly to create an 11-person A Corporation board with representatives of:
- Five of the six PC(USA) agencies – the Presbyterian Mission Agency; the Office of the General Assembly; the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation; the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program; and the Presbyterian Foundation. The sixth agency – the Board of Pensions – would not have a representative.
- One representative each from the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns; the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns; and Presbyterian Women.
- Three at-large members. During the first two years, two of those three at-large members would come from the Way Forward Commission and All Agency Review Committee.
There has been, in recent weeks, pushback– particularly from the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly – to the idea of giving the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Foundation seats on the A Corporation board, since they do not participate in shared services, while the other four PC(USA) agencies do.
And leaders of Presbyterian Women have contended that their organization should have a seat on the board, as Presbyterian Women is the second-largest user of shared services in the PC(USA) and contributes significantly to mission.
The A Corporation is the corporate expression of the General Assembly.
Currently, the A Corporation board consists of the voting members of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board. The A Corporation, though the Presbyterian Mission Agency, provides shared services such as information technology, accounting and human resources, and some of the other PC(USA) agencies use some or all of those services.
So why the change in the proposal?
Eileen Lindner, a minister from New Jersey who serves as one of the commission’s two vice moderators, explained that those working on the issue determined that the Board of Pensions’ work is regulated and specialized enough that it might not provide much benefit to the A Corporation board.
But the Foundation has significantly more interaction with the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the PC(USA) financial assets, said Mark Hostetter, a minister from New York who serves as the commission’s moderator. “There’s a significant benefit from having the Presbyterian Foundation there” on the board because of the “interlocking nature” of the denomination’s finances, Hostetter said.
Lindner also said that Presbyterian Women is a significant user of shared services; has valuable experience in translation services; and has deep connections with local congregations – all arguments for it having a seat on the board.
The Way Forward Commission can’t revise its formal recommendation to the 2018 General Assembly – the deadline for that has passed. But the commission’s leaders can explain to the assembly’s The Way Forward committee what alterations to its recommendations it would like to see.
The A Corporation recommendations to the assembly are coming jointly from the Way Forward Commission and All Agency Review Committee. All Agency Review has not yet acted on the revisions that Way Forward approved on April 23.
The assembly also will consider an alternative recommendation for the A Corporation configuration from the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board. That recommendation asks the assembly to provide a “deliverance” to split the A Corporation into two corporations: one for the Presbyterian Mission Agency and one for the Office of the General Assembly.
The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board voted earlier this year to send its own recommendation to the assembly, expressing concerns about details of the Way Forward and All Agency Review joint recommendation.
The board also has announced its intent to stop providing shared services to other agencies in order to focus on mission. In February, the board instructed Dave Crittenden, acting executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, “to begin conversations with other agencies and organizations we currently serve, regarding ending the practice of providing shared services outside the Mission Agency.”
The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board is meeting in Cincinnati April 25-27. Representatives of the Way Forward Commission and All Agency Review Committee are scheduled to address the board on April 25, and the board to consider its responses to the Way Forward and All Agency Review recommendations on April 26.