By Leslie Scanlon, The Presbyterian Outlook.
In June, the General Assembly’s The Way Forward committee will discuss what shape and form the Presbyterian Church (USA) structure should take in a changing time. On the table: proposals to consider merging the Office of the General Assembly (OGA) and the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA), plus questions of how the General Assembly should operate, and how quickly or carefully to move.
Not surprisingly, Presbyterians with a stake in the answers are beginning to weigh in on what should happen next. The discussion also comes at a time when the PMA is cutting its budget and the denominational leadership is in flux – with the assembly due to elect a new stated clerk in June, and with Tony De La Rosa serving as the PMA’s interim executive director.
At its meeting in Louisville April 27-29, The Presbyterian Mission Agency board (PMAB) will make its response to the recommendations of the Committee to Review the Presbyterian Mission Agency, which released its report in January. That report is part of the regular review cycle of the six PC(USA) agencies – and the committee had some strongly-worded findings on issues such a lack of transparency in the way PMA allocates administrative costs and what it described as a “highly stressful and sometimes even unhealthy work environment” at the PMA offices in Louisville.
A team of board members has prepared a proposed response to that report, which the full board will consider this week. The proposed response addresses only the review committee’s three formal recommendations – but not the long rationale section of the report, which outlines broader concerns about the stressful organizational culture within PMA, a lack of coordination with other PCUSA entities and a lack of a clear strategic direction.
Also at this meeting: The board will consider a response from the Board of Pensions. The Board of Pensions has raised objections to the proposed response to the review committee recommendations – objections that raise the possibility of tensions at the General Assembly between the Presbyterian Mission Agency and other PCUSA entities.