By Leslie Scanlon, The Presbyterian Outlook.
Linda Valentine, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, has announced that she intends to resign her position, effective July 10, after serving since 2006. Valentine said in a statement that “my decision has little to do with recent events. It is much more about my sense of call.”
Marilyn Gamm, chair of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, said in a statement that “the Executive Committee is now beginning the process of taking all steps necessary to ensure there is appropriate temporary leadership in place on July 11, 2015. As quickly as possible we will establish a position description and seek an Interim Executive Director. We ask for your prayers as we discern the person or persons God is already calling to serve during this interim time.”
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s leadership has been rocked by a series of difficulties in recent months – including an ethics inquiry involving the 1001 New Worshipping Communities program, overspending by the 2013 Youth Triennium and a Special Offerings advertising campaign that some have denounced as racist.
Roger Dermody, the denomination’s former deputy executive director for mission – serving directly under Valentine – has sued the PC(USA) for defamation, alleging that PC(USA) officials defamed him by accusing him of “unethical” behavior for his role in the 1001 New Worshipping Communities inquiry.
He and three others involved in the 1001 inquiry lost their jobs following the controversy, which involved the creation of an unauthorized corporation in California to which $100,000 in PC(USA) grant money was sent – money which has since been fully recovered. In recent weeks there have been calls for the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board to release an investigative report regarding the incident, and public questioning of whether the board is spending too much on lawyers’ fees tied to it – more than $850,000 so far.
In 2014, the General Assembly confirmed Valentine – a lawyer and Presbyterian ruling elder – for an unprecedented third four-year term as executive director.
In an interview June 16, Valentine acknowledged this has been a difficult season for the mission agency, but stressed that she is leaving not because of the controversies but because the time is right. Here are excerpts from that conversation.
Linda Valentine resigns post as executive director for Presbyterian Mission Agency, Presbyterian News Service