General Assembly will consider comments in ‘The Way Forward’ committee
by Emily Enders Odom | Presbyterian News Service
The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) approved today—as amended—the comments proposed by its Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) Review Committee Response Writing Team Task Force.
After the board requested that the task force’s report be voted on in three parts in order to consider each of its three comments separately, task force member, Jeffrey Joe, moved an amendment to the report’s part A.
The motion to amend consisted of the addition of a paragraph at the end of part A, which read as follows: “In order not to lose the important work of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Review Committee, we suggest that recommendation 1 be referred to the All Agency Review Committee as an intentional part of their work.”
Upon hearing a second, task force member, Nancy Ramsay, spoke to the proposed amendment.
“We appreciate the careful and substantive conversation the board had about this matter,” Ramsay said, referencing the discussion that followed the task force’s presentation to the board on April 27. “We were listening, and we hope that this amendment makes that clear. We want to make it even more explicit that we recognize the importance of considering structural changes, including a merger of the OGA [Office of the General Assembly] and the PMA.”
PMAB member and Finance Committee chair Chad Herring stood to oppose the motion as amended. Stating that he was “grateful for the spirit of the amendment,” he said that he remained in disagreement with the task force’s proposal. “I remain concerned that we communicate the right message,” he said. “Therefore I am standing to oppose P.104A. If the rest of the board disagrees, I will offer a motion with alternate language.”
Herring was followed at the microphone by PMAB member, Mihee Kim-Kort, who spoke in favor of the comment as amended, noting that proceeding with the regularly scheduled all agency review would not be tantamount to avoiding the possibility of a merger between the PMA and the OGA.
“While I love to cannonball into new ideas,” she said, “focusing on changing the structure of two agencies isn’t the way to go at this transitional time.”
Lastly, Eileen Lindner, a corresponding PMAB member representing the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA), said that she, too, had appreciated the previous afternoon’s conversation.
“I wonder,” she began, “if you’re wondering what COGA thinks. We, too, understand that the structures we now have are mid-century institutions and that they need to be reconsidered.”
After outlining three reasons why a merger of the two agencies would prove especially challenging, Lindner cited COGA’s most important concern.
“Nothing is more central to our polity than an idea of an independent office of the Stated Clerk,” she said. “With a merger, someone would be super-ordinate and someone would be subordinate. We support the recommendation of the committee.”
Following the discussion, part A was approved. Parts B and C of the task force’s report were approved without further discussion.
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