Congregational Ministries Publishing to transfer to Presbyterian Publishing Corporation

PMA Board approves executive committee recommendation

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

Marc Lewis, president of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, presents the publishing consolidation proposal to the PMA Board. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)


A recommendation from the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) executive committee to transfer PMA’s Congregational Ministries Publishing (CMP) to the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC) was approved at its meeting Friday night.

The transfer of CMP programmatic work, as well as personnel and assets that create and publish denominational curriculum resources to PPC will take place at 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2017.

PPC President Marc Lewis said the consolidation is about “serving the church better,” noting denominations most successful at publishing have consolidated their publishing operations, including the United Methodist Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

“Integrating publishing opportunities will make it easier for us to communicate and serve churches, pastors, Christian educators and other congregational leaders better,” he said. “Plus, we can give immediate help in promotion and marketing for our curriculum resources.”

The Rev. Dr. Charles “Chip” Hardwick, Director of Theology, Formation and Evangelism ministries, in which CMP is currently housed, said he is excited about the consolidation with PPC.

According to 2018 budget projections, the merger will lower support for shared ministry services in the PMA by $250,000, but as PMA Board member Molly Baskin said in speaking favor of the consolidation, “It will save the family [PCUSA] money overall.”

As part of the agreement, PPC plans no salary reductions during the first year of the consolidation. There will also be no changes to the CMP staff. Those working 20 hours a week or more will become PPC employees at the same salary rate and benefits. Three staffers working less than 20 hours a week will continue as part time PPC employees without benefits, or possibly work on a contractual basis.

Most of the lengthy discussion that followed the consolidation presentation focused efforts to provide and pay for non-English curriculum. According to the agreement, the PC(USA) will grant PPC up to $270,000 in 2018 for translation and publishing services to produce Spanish and Korean curriculum. The funding and amount will be reviewed and determined every two years by both parties based on the continued mandate from General Assembly and to the extent funds are available.

“By saying ‘as long as funds are available’ it implies that Spanish and Korean congregations are not valued,” said Board member Jason Chavez of the Presbytery of James. “Because they require grant money from PMA instead of being funded into your budget.”

Hardwick pointed out that the up to $270,000 grant comes from unrestricted funding and Lewis said “we trust PMA will honor this grant moving forward. If available funds became problematic, we’ll go to GA and say, ‘let’s change that,’ and have the money come to directly to PPC from GA.”

Lewis noted PPC already produces and publishes resources in Spanish and Korean and has made a commitment to publish resources monthly that they know will not make money. “Other projects make enough money for us to do this,” he said. “Yes, it’s important to be self-sustaining, but through publishing we are serving the body of Christ. We’re trying to do our part in spreading the gospel.”

The consolidation agreement also states PPC will be responsible for future GA mandates on curriculum. PPC will continue PMA’s commitment to serving the broad theological spectrum of the PC(USA) for denomination curriculum resources.

The Presbyterian Foundation will be asked to conduct a review of funds to determine the endowments and/or restricted funds available specifically for resources developed or produced by CMP. It is the intent of all parties that assets and income restricted for CMP use will be transferred to PPC by the Foundation.

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