The Moving Forward Implementation Commission has voted to proceed with an “agency culture assessment” that will include the six agencies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Administrative Services Group that is a part of the PC(USA), A Corporation.
The commission also voted during a conference call May 7 to invite Presbyterian Women to have its employees participate as well, although it doesn’t have the authority to require Presbyterian Women to participate.
The idea is this: to get a sense of what people working at the national staff level of the PC(USA) think about the culture within their agencies – both what’s working well and what might need improvement. The commission is particularly interested in focusing on the culture at the denomination’s national office building in downtown Louisville – but has broadened the initiative in the hope of identifying “best practices” or what may be working well in some agencies as well.
The commission is working to develop an online survey tool to use in that assessment.
This part of its work emerges from the mandate given it by the Way Forward Committee by the 2018 General Assembly, which created the Moving Forward Implementation Commission and gave it the authority to ensure continued implementation of the work initiated during 2016 to 2018 by the Way Forward Commission.
That first commission had identified institutional culture as a focus of ongoing work, particularly within the Presbyterian Mission Agency – an emphasis that grew from concerns raised in 2016 by the Presbyterian Mission Agency Review Committee, which described at the Presbyterian Mission Agency “an organizational culture and work environment characterized by anxiety, distrust, and a clear lack in the areas of spiritual leadership, transparency, and cultural humility.”
The Moving Forward Implementation Commission has discussed the possibility of hiring a consultant to help the Presbyterian Mission Agency assess and address issues related to institutional culture. And – recognizing that much has changed at PMA since the review committee issued its report – its representatives have initiated a conversation about that possibility with Diane Moffett, who began work as the agency’s president and executive director not quite a year ago.
Marco Grimaldo, co-moderator of the commission, said during an earlier conference call that he and others from the commission have spoken to Moffett about the possibility and voiced their desire to work collaboratively with agency leaders to make improvements.
Tom Hay, who is director of assembly operations for the Office of the General Assembly and provides staff support for the commission, said during that earlier call that he’s communicated to Moffett that the commission “really wants to walk with her. … You have a wide-open door from her for some in-depth conversations on this issue.”
Hay said of Moffett: “She’s identified that there are real issues in the culture” at the national offices and has a sense “those need to be addressed.”
Eric Beene, a pastor from Georgia and commission member, is leading a small group of commission members to develop the survey questions (particularly with input from Jacqueline Cummings, a ruling elder from Louisiana with professional expertise in human resources). Presbyterian Women is being invited to participate because some of their staff works at the denominational offices in Louisville, although “I don’t think we have the authority to mandate them to participate,” Beene said.
Debra Avery, a pastor from California, spoke of the value of identifying “best practices” that benefit PC(USA) employees. And Beene said the commission also is trying to determine what surveys previously may have been taken and what was done with the results – to avoid the frustration, as Hay described it, of employees taking the time and energy to respond to a survey and then never hearing anything back about the results.
The commission will next meet by conference call May 21, and will hold an in-person meeting June 17-18 in Fort Worth.