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A coordinated effort

Presbyterian Mission Agency Board hears presentation on planned Coordinating Table

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Kathy Lueckert is president of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation.

LOUISVILLE — Staff and board members from the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly and the A Corporation Board are working to build a Coordinating Table designed to enhance discernment and collaboration among the three agencies and help them put together a unified budget process and document ahead of the 225th General Assembly (2022).

Kathy Lueckert, president of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, briefed the PMA Board Thursday on the Coordinating Table concept, which the Moving Forward Implementation Commission — now a special committee — announced just before the 224th General Assembly was held online in June.

“We need to work with the special committee to make sure (the Coordinating Table) happens,” Lueckert told the PMA Board.

The Coordinating Table will have no more than 25 participants and will be comprised of Lueckert; the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II; the president and executive director of the mission agency, the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett; two senior staff members from each entity; two elected members from the PMA Board, the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly and the A Corp Board; and others invited to participate.

Lueckert said the benefits of the Coordinating Table will be to foster unity and purpose, provide direction and focus, establish a basis for trust, undergird strategic decision-making processes across the three entities, offer a path for alignment of staffing and programmatic choices, inspire people to get involved with the work of the church and seek out areas of collaboration and consolidation.

The Coordinating Table’s tasks for 2020-21 include:

  • Creating a memorandum of understanding among the three entities that clarifies and maps out roles and responsibilities
  • Developing a process for a unified budget
  • Implementing a new budget process to guide the development of the 2023-24 budget, a process that will begin during the summer of 2021
  • Presenting a unified budget to the 225th General Assembly (2022).

Lueckert said organizers plan to convene the Coordinating Table next month.

Developing the unified budgeting process is the biggest goal in the process, she said.

“There are a number of different funding streams that fund the PMA and OGA. Some are more flexible than others; many are not flexible at all,” she said. “There is a perception we can throw the money into a big pot and divvy it up, but it’s not that easy.”

Establishing the Coordinating Table “is not the same conversation you may have heard about merger” between the PMA and OGA, she said. “This is a pretty tactical effort to create an MOU and a unified budgeting process. The merger conversation is far more strategic and longer term.”

After hearing from Lueckert, the PMA Board divided itself into three groups to discuss the Coordinating Table. The board’s chair-elect, the Rev. Shannan Vance Ocampo, suggested the groups discuss three questions:

  • What are your questions regarding the Coordinating Table?
  • What are the implications of the Coordinating Table on merger and unity?
  • What issues will a potential merger solve or not solve for the denomination?

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