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Presbyterian Church, A Corporation Board shines a light on some of the denomination’s back-office services

Human Resources, Relationship and Development Operations teams discuss how their work is making a difference

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions via Unsplash

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation Board heard from people who provide important back-office services in the Administrative Services Group on Thursday.

Specifically, members of the Relationship and Development Operations team in Ministry Engagement & Support followed by Human Resources discussed their work with board members, meeting online and at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Kentucky, Thursday and Friday.

Lindy Ebbs, database administrator for the RDO since 2000; Theresa Goodlin, who joined the team the same year and specializes in Raiser’s Edge, the denomination’s fundraising software that processes online donations; and Roger Spalding, who has more than a decade of experience as a prospect research analyst, described their work after being introduced by the Rev. Dr. John Wilkinson, director of MES.

The trio and their three colleagues perform a variety of services for the denomination: updating addresses; researching duplicate records; answering calls and emails from individual donors, mid councils and program areas; gift-processing and reporting for Presbyterian Women; identifying major donors; completing travel reports for Ministry Engagement Advisors and other staff; tracking giving statistics and trends; reporting to leadership and program areas; letting mission co-workers know when donations have been given in honor of their work; completing a quarterly report to mid councils on the giving received from their congregations; and many other duties.

“We work well together, and we have great support,” in Wilkinson as MES leader and Kathy Lueckert as A Corp president, Goodlin said.

“People in the building are very supportive of our team,” Ebbs said. “We talk to a lot of churches, pastors and donors, and it’s enjoyable.”

“You’re helping us to have a deeper understanding of what you’re doing, and we appreciate it,” said Bridget-Anne Hampden, the A Corp Board’s co-moderator. “It’s been very helpful.”

Human Resources Director Ruth Gardner introduced three of the dozen members of the Human Resources staff: Anisha Hackney, Human Resources manager; Tonia Trice, Human Resources generalist; and Maha Kolko, project manager for Community Outreach and Volunteerism.

HR serves 457 A Corporation colleagues in the Presbyterian Mission Agency, Office of the General Assembly and the Administrative Services Group. Client partners include the Presbyterian Investment & Loan Program and Presbyterian Women. Those 457 employees work in 34 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, as well as in 33 countries around the world.

Gardner identified the areas of support HR provides, including HR consulting, recruitment, employee relations, organizational development, benefits, leaves, wellness, employee morale, payroll, compensation and performance, management, training and professional development, employee communication, community outreach, and volunteerism and compliance.

HR helped fill 70 positions last year. Typically, about 20 people apply for each position, but that number can be as high as 100, Hackney said.

Job openings are posted on as many as 100 job sites, Hackney said, and they stay there three or four weeks on average.

Last year, HR was fully complaint with its Affordable Care Act and Equal Employment Opportunity reporting, and its front-end processing of payroll was error-free.

Kolko joined the team a year ago and discussed some of the community outreach initiatives begun over the past year.

“With both presentations, we were hoping to give you a glimpse into the back-office work that happens all the time,” Lueckert said. “These are unsung heroes, often on the receiving end [of complaints and difficult questions], and they keep coming back every day. They are doing great work behind the scenes, and I’m so proud of them.”

“This ministry is so important and valued,” said the Rev. Dr. Diane Givens Moffett, president and executive director of the PMA. “Kathy and this whole team have been incredible in terms of the support we have received.”

Board members also heard a report on the 2023 audit from the accounting firm Cherry Bekaert. Debbie Smith, a partner, and Rachel Hardesty, who managed the audit, announced an unmodified opinion on the audit. An unmodified clean opinion is “the highest level of assurance we can provide,” Hardesty said. “Your finance staff does an amazing job.”

Board members spent a portion of their meeting on Thursday in closed session, announcing later they’d taken no action following their closed sessions.

The board completes its two days of meetings Friday morning.

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