By Leslie Scanlon, The Presbyterian Outlook.
The Office of the General Assembly – which, after a staff reduction in 2013, is still trying to do much of the same work with fewer employees – should strengthen its long-range planning and develop a three- to five-year plan.
The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly might look for ways to “prioritize the staffing and resourcing” of the Mid Council Relations office, considering that so many mid councils in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are downsizing or restructuring, and consequently presbyteries and congregations are leaning more heavily on the denomination’s national staff.
And the Office of the General Assembly (OGA) should consider “strategic realignment” with other General Assembly agencies on services they could potentially share, such as financial management, funds development and communications. OGA should particularly consider “potential programmatic synergies” around immigration and ecumenical and interfaith relations.
Those are among the recommendations going to the 2016 General Assembly from the Committee to Review the Office of the General Assembly – part of a regular, periodic review process of the six PCUSA agencies. The report will go to the assembly’s “The Way Forward” committee, which will be considering a range of proposals for how a smaller denomination can more efficiently and cost-effectively do its work – including proposals to merge OGA with the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA).
The report also states that it concurs with a recommendation from the PMA review committee regarding a possible merger of OGA and PMA. “Our committee makes no comment on the advisability of merger, but commends to the church the merits of a deliberate and thoughtful conversation on the subject,” the report states. “At the beginning of this report are recommendations for this assembly and that we hope will be helpful in the work of a task force considering the future structure of our denomination at the national level.”
The byzantine and opaque nature of how the PCUSA entity runs, its internal affairs can sort of put one to sleep if one chooses to read the rheams and blizzards of paper generated by its offices.
But at the end of the day the question must be asked. Where or what is the value of such? Is all this proper use of other people’s money? The conclusion must be drawn that there exists no moral, ethical or theological reason to pay per capita or assessments for such waste and folly. Or seek to confiscate by other means the property or treasury of others to facilitate such bureaucratic nonsense.
They can merge, cut, buy out, consolidate, streamline, ” new visions”, five year plan all they want. The system will remain bloated, redundant, too much overhead and too much head count to afford. Nor will cost reductions solve their core problem. The PCUSA lacks vision, confessional integrity, and what I learned in the military, a sense of honor. They cannot even decide amongst themselves what they value or believe in, let alone try to convince others of it.
Will the last one out please turn off the lights?