At the PMAB meeting in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 25-27, surveys were given to board members to look at the duration of meetings and the days they are or could be held.
During the Executive Committee retreat in August, conversation centered around a need to provide more flexibility for board members’ scheduling needs as well as the use of per-capita funds that are used to support board meeting expenses. PMA staff members were asked to provide alternate meeting proposals and gather input for future meetings. The survey will seek feedback on length of board meetings, days of the week to meet and variable meeting types.
PMAB Chairman Matt Schramm said the driving factors behind the survey were talk of change brought up by members as well as a desire to make the meetings more cost-effective.
“We hope this (survey) will be a tool to solicit useful tips,” Schramm said.
The current model being used has five meetings over a two-year period between sessions of the General Assembly and calls for a two-day meeting over a period of three days with the exception of the executive and audit committees. Plenary and committee sessions are part of the meetings.
Proposals include a 1.5-day meeting over a two-day period and a one-day meeting over two days, possibly eliminating a plenary session and extending meetings deeper into the evening. Both could save on audio/visual and hotel/meeting room costs by reducing time needed to conduct business.
The current schedule has meetings starting on Wednesday afternoon and stretching through noon on Friday. Proposals include reducing those days and maybe even using Saturday as one of the meeting days.
Ending the meeting on Saturday eliminates a day of the meeting schedule from the standard work week, different from the current schedule that allows travel home on Friday afternoon or Saturday before Sunday, which has been more convenient for teaching elders but not so much for ruling elders who may have to use vacation time to get off during the work week to attend a meeting.
Variable meeting lengths, determined by the load of business also could be used. In fact, Barry Creech, director of Policy, Administration and Board Support, said there may be a need to structure the length of meetings to the business that needs to be addressed, noting that the length of the meetings now are the same even if the business conducted in them varies.
The survey handed out asked members their preference of meeting days as well as scheduling options to best determine what direction to follow moving ahead.
The option of eliminating meeting days was to allow board members on various committees to schedule and conduct more routine business via conference call.
Feedback given from board members will be used to determine future meeting schedules of the PMAB.
In other business, the Executive Committee:
- heard reports on the work of the Advisory Commission on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) by Raafat Zaki; the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC) by Carmen Rosario; and the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC) by Courtney Hoekstra as the 221st General Assembly approaches. Zaki indicated that ACSWP is addressing a number of social issues, including pay scales, the peace discernment process and sexual assault in the military, to name a few. Rosario indicated that ACREC is looking at anti-racism tools for training, cultural proficiency training, a response to referrals about racial-ethnic schools and colleges, and addressing racial/ethnic categories on personal information forms (PIFs). Hoekstra shared that human trafficking and workers’ rights as related to the PCUSA policy on each are being explored as well as sexual violence in the workplace, primarily the military.
- received a financial report from Deputy Executive Director for Shared Services Earline Williams that showed undesignated giving is less than planned, though PMA staff members are managing costs well. She pointed out that a funding gap is anticipated by the end of 2013, though not anticipated to be as significant as thought when the budget was put together. She also noted that the 2015 and 2016 budget plans will focus on ministries with the highest measurable impact and alignment. “We believe going forward we need to figure out, as PMA and the church, what we do well and align our projects with that. That will lay the groundwork for what we look like in 2020,” she said.
- heard a World Mission Funds development report through July 31, 2013, from Terri Bate that revealed church support is up 11 percent ($241,488) year to date from 2012, though individual support was down 38 percent ($1,590,406). She noted that two significant donor contributions of $1 million and $500,000 were given last year. Total revenues, year to date, are 72 percent (down $1,348,918) of what they were at this time last year.
- learned that the Special Offerings Development Fund through July 31 (compared to last year) shows a slight gain, up from $8,359,435 in 2012 to $8,430,089 this year.