(By Leslie Scanlon, The Presbyterian Outlook). The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board has approved eight people to serve as members of its executive committee for 2017-2018 – half of whom are people of color.
The board also heard an update from its Governance Task Force – indicating that the task force is dropping a proposal to remove representatives of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s advocacy and advisory committees as corresponding members of the board. Corresponding members have voice but not vote on the plenary floor.
The original proposal brought to the board in January called for moving those corresponding members to a new “liaison committee” of the board – but Melinda Sanders, a board member from Tennessee who is chair of the Governance Task Force, said the idea of a liaison committee is being abandoned as well.
Here’s more on what was discussed.
New executive committee
The issue of diversity on the executive committee emerged this spring as the board attempted to set an executive committee to serve over the next year. At the same time, the board has been exploring the possibility of cutting its size by more than half (from 40 voting members to 16) and reconfiguring the board’s committee structure.
Some of those proposed changes would need approval from the General Assembly or the Way Forward Commission. In the meantime, the board voted in a conference call meeting May 10 to appoint a new executive committee to serve for a year starting at the executive committee retreat this summer – a committee that more closely reflects the racial diversity of the full board than the current executive committee does.
At the board’s meeting in Puerto Rico in March, the General Assembly Committee on Representation met with the board’s Personnel and Nominating Committee and voiced concerns about the racial and ethnic makeup of the executive committee.
Marcia Zell Anson, who is the board’s vice chair and chair of the Personnel and Nominating Committee, said that committee had the difficult task of nominating both a smaller executive committee (8 members rather than 10) and one that is diverse “in all kinds of directions,” including age, race, gender, ordination status and skills. The nominating committee also wanted a slate that included both experienced board members and newer ones, as a way of transitioning new people into leadership, Anson said. “Our committee did a wonderful job with this,” she said.