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Presbyterian Mission Agency Board enacts work restructuring plan

Reassignment, mission priorities, job eliminations focus agency goals

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has a approved a budget and work restructuring plan that will reduce the agency’s overall budget by 15 percent over the 2017-18 period. In addition to job reassignments throughout the agency, eight positions and five program areas were eliminated in actions taken by the (PMAB) at its April 26-29, 2016 meeting in Louisville.

Programs eliminated include the already announced Small Church Residency Program along with New Beginnings, the Special Offerings Ambassador Program, the Korean English Ministry and the Justice Unbound publication.

Following the board’s actions, approximately 260 people remain employed by the Presbyterian Mission Agency, not including mission co-workers or camp and conference center staff.

To accomplish the restructuring of this work, the PMAB approved the bridge 2017-18 Mission Work Plan and accompanying budget of $63,530,297 in 2017 and $63,450,591 in 2018, representing significant reductions from the revised February 2016 budget of $74,828,043.

No prior-year unrestricted funds receipts—formerly known as the Presbyterian Mission Program Fund, or PMPF—will be used to balance the budget in these years, although earmarked restricted funding from previous years of $5,651,034 in 2017 and $5,796,849 will be used to support designated programs. Allocation and use of unrestricted funds in the budgets have been reduced by at least 25 percent in each year.

Additional cost savings approved by the board include modifications to health coverage offered to PMA employees by the Board of Pensions. While individual coverage will continue to be offered at no cost to employees, dependent care will be offered on a graduated contribution scale. Employees making under $44,000 will pay 2 percent, those making between $44,000 and $88,000 will pay 5 percent, and those making more than $88,000 will pay 10 percent of the cost of their elected medical care premium toward dependent care. Based on predicted premiums, the highest percent tier will pay approximately $83 in 24 of 26 annual pay periods.

“What is different is the cost share element for dependent medical coverage, and dependent medical coverage only,” said Tony De La Rosa, interim executive director of the PMA, noting no other benefits have changed. “For the first time, employees may elect not to have their dependents covered under the Pension Plan. This will result in a savings of $200,000 in the teaching elder population alone and over $900,000 for the whole of the staff of PMA.”

Restructuring across ministry areas includes:

Compassion, Peace and Justice

  1. The staff of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations has been reduced to one full time position. The ministry will continue to provide advocacy at the U.N., including advocacy and witness with United Nations’ agencies, focusing on the Commission on the Status of Women, global human trafficking, and other critical human rights and peacemaking issues.
  2. The associate position for Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare (PHEWA) has been eliminated. PHEWA national church coordination will be provided through a combined networking and anti-racism education position in cooperation with Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries.
  3. Funding for the online journal, Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice, is not included in the 2017-18 budgets. The journal began in 2011 and was published by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP.).
  4. A new position for Leader Development, Racial Justice and Networking has been created and will be filled by the person holding the position eliminated at the U.N. office.

Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries

  1. Reduced reliance on unrestricted funds by 30 percent in the 2017-18 budget based on position vacancies and cost savings from the voluntary separation program.
  2. The vacant Louisville-based position in African Emerging Ministries will be replaced with field staff support.

World Mission

  1. Four Louisville staff positions will be eliminated and World Mission Area Coordinators and mission workers, together with global partner churches, will continue reconciliation initiative work.
  2. No mission-co workers will be recalled if revenue goals are met.
  3. Open mission co-worker positions will be replaced and new positions will be listed as congregations and individuals commit needed funds.

Theology, Formation and Education

  1. Reduced reliance on unrestricted funds by 28 percent in 2017 and an additional 4 percent—for a total of 32 percent—in 2018 compared to its 2016 budget.
  2. The eliminated New Beginnings program will be available to interested churches and presbyteries and administered through the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ.)
  3. A new position will be created in Financial Aid for Service to work with graduating seminarians to familiarize them with the many ways the PMA can help reduce or eliminate financial barriers to service.
  4. A new position will be created within the Office of Formation to include support for Christian education and college ministries. This office includes support for youth ministry and camps and conference center ministries.

Details of new positions and work areas will be published as they become available.

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