Church’s CFO calls on A Corp board to be clear in its direction

‘We need to know what this group wants to do’

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Co-Chairs of the A Corporation are Bridget-Anne Hampden and Chris Mason. (Photo by Mike Ferguson)

LOUISVILLE — Day 2 of the A Corporation’s meetings Friday included the kinds of tasks you’d expect of the corporate body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — approving committee charters and recommendations, electing corporate officers to one-year terms and scheduling dates and places for the board’s 2019 meetings.

It also included a plea from one of those officers, Mike Miller, the PC(USA)’s chief financial officer: err on the side of over-communicating, and work to allay anxiety over what the “new day” at the A Corporation will mean for the operation of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, and, to a lesser degree, the Office of the General Assembly.

“We need clarity and direction,” Miller told the board. “The last thing any of us wants is a surprise at any level.”

The board has scheduled a Jan. 16, 2019 online conferencing meeting and in-person meetings March 28-29 and July 18-19 in Louisville and Oct. 24-25 in Philadelphia.

“We respectfully request the co-chairs (Chris Mason and Bridget-Anne Hampden) and the committees give us direction on what you want to accomplish in 2019,” Miller said, acknowledging “you are still to a degree figuring that out.”

Hampden suggested conducting a survey “will help us understand where our clients are.” Surveying, for example, how staff interacts with people she called “customers” and asking those surveyed to name the services they’d like to see offered will help reveal trends, she said.

“I am keen to understand where we are with our customers,” she said, “and what we should be doing based on what they want us to do.”

The people to be surveyed, board member Cynthia Campbell said, should include the membership of Presbyterian entities and boards, including the PMA board. She also suggested Miller sit for an interview to talk about how administrative services are to be carried out.

“You are very articulate about this, and you have a lovely spirit about your vision,” she told Miller, adding she and other board members “are ready and willing to step into our communicating roles” as well.

Noting a solid financial report the board received Thursday — as well as accounts of “good staff that is performing well” — Mason asked Miller to highlight the work of a program or ministry at each board meeting.

On Monday, one of the partner organizations carrying out direction from the 2018 General Assembly, the Moving Forward Implementation Commission, will hold its first meeting through video conference. That commission’s co-chair, Marco Grimaldo, told the A Corp board that commission members have been sharing information via email going into that initial meeting “so we are clear on the mandate that General Assembly gave us.” That mandate, he said, will help the commission parse out the work it must accomplish through its committee structure.

In unanimous Friday morning votes, the board adopted charters for its three committees —Finance, Operations and Budget; Nominating, Governance and Personnel; and Audit, Legal and Risk Management. It also approved recommendations from each of the committees.

Under its charter, the Finance, Operations and Budget Committee has authority and responsibility for oversight of the financial condition, investment policies, assets and asset policies of the corporation of the PC(USA), and can make recommendations to the board for action.

According to its charter, the Nominating, Governance and Personnel Committee is responsible to the board for overseeing the nominations process for board committees and officers of the corporation, various human resources functions and governance matters.

The Audit, Legal and Risk Management Committee provides oversight of the corporation’s finance, legal, risk management and reporting practices. Its charter says the committee seeks to ensure the corporation has, and adheres to, appropriate internal controls, legal and compliance processes, risk management processes and insurance coverage, organizational risk management and protections for organizational integrity, such as conflicts of interest and whistleblower policies.

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