The leadership of the Way Forward Commission and All Agency Review Committee has sent a “welcome letter” to the new Moving Forward Implementation Commission. The letter is signed by the moderators and vice moderators of those entities, and also by Cynthia Jarvis, who served as moderator of the Way Forward Committee of the 2018 General Assembly.
The 2018 General Assembly created the Moving Forward Implementation Commission to oversee high-level issues involving the denomination — giving it power to “take any and all administrative actions as necessary” regarding implementation of the Way Forward Commission’s recommendations. That action followed a season of intense conflict at the top levels of the denomination — particularly reflecting disagreement between the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board and the Way Forward Commission about the governance of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, the corporate entity for the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the Office of the General Assembly.
The letter, released Dec. 11, outlines some of the issues the Moving Forward Implementation Commission may want to take on, including work regarding the transition to a new governance structure for the A Corporation – with the A Corporation board now having broader representation from five of the six PC(USA) entities, along with the Advocacy Committee on Women’s Concerns, the Racial Equity Advocacy Committee, Presbyterian Women and three at-large members.
The letter states that it’s important that all entities, particularly the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, “work within the new structure rather than trying to create a parallel set of positions” to those that report to the A Corporation board, such as the chief financial officer and general counsel. Having a parallel structure “would be wasteful, perpetuate the problems of transparency and distraction that the last two General Assemblies have found harmful to the work of mission in the denomination, and frustrate the intention of collaborative services in support of mission,” the letter states.
The new A Corporation board will hold its second in-person meeting in Louisville Dec. 13-14.
- The letter also states that the assembly’s actions to approve the Way Forward Commission’s recommendations “reflected the reality that the unfinished work of bringing a new culture to the PMA (Presbyterian Mission Agency) and its board remained a high priority.” Those writing the letter urge the new commission to “resist calls to bring these problems more time to resolve themselves,” and suggest that the commission consider hiring an outside consultant to address “the issues of low morale, hierarchy, lack of trust, and poor communication” surfaced in a 2016 review of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
- The letter states: “We are excited about Diane Moffett’s leadership of the PMA, but the challenges of the PMA and its board are deep-standing and reflect a culture that continues to be in need of radical reformation. Without such reformation, these issues will be repeatedly brought before successive General Assemblies.”
The letter also describes other areas of ongoing work, including convening a Diverse Voices Table, implementing recommendations involving translation of denominational materials into languages other than English, and an examination of the financial sustainability of the national structure of the PC(USA).
Larryetta Ellis, a minister from the Presbytery of West Virginia, and Marco Grimaldo, a ruling elder from National Capital Presbytery, will serve as co-moderators of the Moving Forward Implementation Commission. Alvarez served as a commissioner to the 2018 General Assembly and Grimaldo as a member of the All Agency Review Committee. Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri and Cindy Kohlmann, co-moderators of the 2018 General Assembly, appointed the 12-member commission earlier this fall.
Here is the full text of the Dec. 11 letter: Welcome Letter to the Moving Forward Commission 113018