The Moving Forward Implementation Commission held its first meeting by conference call Dec. 17 – a time of introductions and presenting preliminary thoughts about what the commission is expected to do.
The 2018 General Assembly created the 12-person commission when it adopted the recommendations of the Way Forward Commission, giving the new commission the authority to take “any and all administrative actions as necessary” to implement the Way Forward Commission recommendations.
Four of the 12 members of Moving Forward (Mathew Eardley, Cliff Lyda, Adan Mairena and Jo Stewart) served on the Way Forward Commission, and four (Deborah Avery, Eric Beene, co-chair Marco Grimaldo and James Tse) on the All Agency Review Committee.
Three others – co-chair Larryetta Ellis, Madeline Alvarez and Jacqueline Cummings– were commissioners to the 2018 General Assembly, and Rachel Sutphin served as a young adult advisory delegate at that assembly. The co-moderators of the 2018 assembly, Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri and Cindy Kohlmann, named the commission’s members in November.
The new commission hopes to hold its first in-person meeting in Louisville by mid-January. And the initial discussion during the conference call included a desire for some baseline education – for example, what exactly is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation? What mandate did the assembly give the commission, and what are the 10 items the Way Forward Commission identified in its June 5 administrative supplement as matters needing ongoing attention? Those range from issues of inclusion and equity to an assessment of the financial sustainability of the denomination.
On Dec. 11, the leadership of the Way Forward Commission and All Agency Review released a “Welcome Letter” to the Moving Forward Implementation Commission, outlining what the assembly did and ideas from the leadership of some of what needs attention.
On the Dec. 17 call, members of the Moving Forward Implementation Commission expressed their desire to work collaboratively with the A Corporation board –for example, to “come alongside,” as Ellis put it, the new translation task force the A Corporation board has just established.
Will Moving Forward set as its priorities the 10 areas outlined in the administrative supplement? “We’re going to have to come to that conclusion ourselves,” Grimaldo said.
With some of those tasks, “we’re going to want and need to be very hands-on,” Eardley said – but sometimes other entities, such as the A Corporation board, the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly or Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, might “do the heavy lifting.”
As Grimaldo said, “there are people in the different agencies already trying to figure out how to implement different parts of the mandate” from the assembly.
So there’s a desire for collaboration. But because of its status as a commission, with the power to act on its own, the commission also is charged with “making sure that some things happen,” Lyda said. “It feels like we’ve got some muscle, and some expectation that if things are not moving along well, we’ll be called on to exert some pressure.”
The commission is trying to schedule an in-person meeting by mid-January, with possibly another conference call before then.