Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) boards will hold joint session in Baltimore Thursday

Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, Committee on the Office of the General Assembly will come together

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Elise Bates Russell, architectural consultant with Run River Enterprises, speaks to the Presbyterian Mission Board inside Stony Point Center’s Meditation Space in September 2019. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE — Meeting jointly all day Thursday in Baltimore, the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board and the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly will also meet separately Wednesday and Friday as both bodies take care of business items leading up to the 224th General Assembly set for June 20-27, also in Baltimore.

During their plenary time together Thursday in the Constellation Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the two bodies will worship together, then hold conversations about cooperation between the two. Those talks will be followed by cultural humility training by the Revs. Denise Anderson and Shanea Leonard.

After lunch, three General Assembly-appointed teams — the Moving Forward Implementation Commission, the 2020 Vision Team and the Per Capita and Financial Sustainability Committee — will address both bodies. Those will be followed by conversations on budget principles and orientations on the coming Assembly, the Hands & Feet initiative and the Matthew 25 invitation.

This 2018 photo is of the members of the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly, along with the Sated Clerk of the General Assembly, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, who’s far left in the back row, and the Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly, the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann and Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, a ruling elder, who are third and fourth from the left in the front row, respectively. (Contributed photo)

Later that afternoon, the two bodies are scheduled to take action on the Administrative Services Group budget and proposed changes to the Organization for Mission. The two will conclude their time together Thursday hearing a report from the Disparities Experienced by Black Women & Girls Task Force and an equity and inclusion audit.

Wednesday’s PMA Board meeting opens with worship at 1 p.m. At 2:30, the board is scheduled to vote on the Personnel and Nominating Committee’s recommendation to be the 2022-24 PMA Board chair, the Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo, the general presbyter of the Presbytery of Southern New England.

The Rev. Warren Lesane, the board’s current vice chair, will become chair, succeeding the Rev. Joe Morrow, after the adjournment of this summer’s General Assembly. Lesane is executive and stated clerk for the Synod of the Mid-Atlantic.

The Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo

In her response to questions posed by the committee, Vance-Ocampo identified the key issues facing the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the church in the coming 12-24 months:

  • Prophetic ministry, including the growth of 1001 New Worshiping Communities and immigrant fellowships. She said she’d like the board to work on “hearing and sharing stories of renewal throughout the larger PC(USA)” and be “a learning community that sits above the larger system of the church not in the stance of hierarchy, but of listening, and then utilizing those learnings in the ongoing work of redevelopment for missional structures in the PMA.”
  • Matthew 25 implementation. “Continuing the good work already begun on this key ministry initiative, strengthening its integration throughout the PC(USA) and living into the deepening of its three foci will be a key task before the full PMA and the Board,” she said. As PMA Board chair — if elected, her term as vice chair will begin with the adjournment of the 224th General Assembly and run through the end of the 225th Assembly in 2022, when she’ll become board chair — Vance-Ocampo said she’s interested in working through “the specific task of continuing the rebuilding up of the Stony Point Center as the creative hub and learning lab of experimentation around these ministries.”
  • Budget consolidation, which she called “especially important with OGA as they experience the per capita ‘cliff’ and need to find ways to continue their vital work alongside the PMA, their primary agency partner.” When the Financial Sustainability special committee brings its recommendations to the 224th General Assembly, “it is important that the PMAB enters into these conversations in humility, with the desire to build trust and partnership with other agencies and to keep our eye on the ball in terms of the larger need for positive and faithful leadership on behalf of the PC(USA).”
  • Inter-agency consolidations. “There are a number of places between primarily PMA and OGA that are replicated between agencies and need sorting through, streamlining and strengthening for the servicing of the larger church,” she said. “Currently, because of duplication of services there is confusion out in the larger church, replication of services and lack of coordination in some areas.” She said if elected she’d invite the COGA chair “to join in convening a working group between the PMAB and COGA for this task, including using an outside consultant to help us work together if needed. It is important that territorialism is taken off the table in this task and that we seek to prioritize the larger ministry of the PC(USA) and its flourishing.”
  • PMA consolidations. “The current ministry areas within the PMA itself also have a lot of overlap,” Vance-Ocampo said. The Matthew 25 invitation “shows these overlaps clearly and invites the sort of creative, generative change within the structure of OMA that can uplift, rejuvenate and reinvigorate ministries moving forward.” The role of the PMA Board, she said, is “to support the work of the executive director in leadership, to listen and to provide feedback and collaboration as invited.”

Later Wednesday afternoon, the board will hear a presentation from the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the PMA, about the proposed 2021-22 Mission Work Plan, which must also be approved by the General Assembly. The proposed plan includes the same priorities as the current plan, which are taken from the Matthew 25 invitation: building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism and eradicating systemic poverty.

On Friday, the board will hear reports from its administrative and program committees, including Resource Allocation & Stewardship, Personnel & Nominating (Report 2), Property/Legal, Nurture the Body, Mid Councils and Outreach to the World. It’ll also hear from the Coordinating Committee and Racial Equity Advocacy Committee as well as the Special Offerings Review Task Force.

The board expects to adjourn by noon Friday.

Board meeting papers can be seen by clicking here and then “Meeting Papers,” “2020” and “February.”


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