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Presbyterian Mission Agency Board endorses proposed budgets, committee reports

Some proposals receive minor tweaks

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Presbyterian Mission Agency circle

LOUISVILLE — Before hearing a fundraising feasibility report on Stony Point Center Friday and then learning of the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett’s plan to expand any fundraising efforts to make them church-wide, the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board took care of committee reports.

Most of the action items that came from the five committees that reported to the board, meeting virtually in a plenary session Friday morning, were approved as presented. The board did, however, remove from a handful of comments on proposed General Assembly business items this language: “In this time of limited financial resources, we would urge all commissioners to consider thoughtfully each recommendation that has financial implications requiring the expenditure of additional funds. Is it possible that another existing committee might be able to be given this responsibility?”

One such comment that was removed came from the board’s Coordinating Committee, which was commenting on a proposal to create an Advocacy Committee for LGBTQIA+ Advocacy Task Force.

“That last question gives me pause,” said the Rev. Floretta Barbee Watkins, a board member. Existing committees already have “vast” duties, she said. “I wonder if raising that question does harm.”

By voice vote, the board approved a unified baseline budget for 2021 (about $90.5 million) and 2022 (about $92.6 million). Because of the coronavirus pandemic, both years’ budget proposals, as well as the 2020 budget, are likely to be altered during the coming weeks before going to the 224th General Assembly for approval by commissioners.

On the recommendation of the Mid Councils Committee and following the reading of a letter by one of its members, Judy Wellington, the board voted to communicate with the Synod of the Southwest and the four presbyteries within the synod — de Cristo, Grand Canyon, Santa Fe and Sierra Blanca — as well as national staff on adjusting the proceeds from the sale of the Santa Fe property, formerly part of Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center in Abiquiu, New Mexico. In her letter, Wellington asked that a portion of the proceeds be allocated for internet access for Navajo communities in the region.

Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri and the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann, co-moderators of the 223rd General Assembly, spoke during Presbyterian Youth Triennium worship last year. (Photo by Rich Copley)

Near the start of its meeting, the board heard from the Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly, Ruling Elder Vlimarie Cintrón-Olivieri and the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann.

“This might be the last time Cindy and I are with you for a bit before our tenure is completed,” Cintrón-Olivieri said. “We wanted to let you know we are praying for you and the church during these difficult times. We encourage you to discern what God is calling you to do.”

“Thanks for stepping in with faith,” Kohlmann said. “We don’t yet know what this General Assembly will be, except that it will be … Thank you for living into the Matthew 25 invitation and for helping the church get excited about that. You helped us find a ‘why’ together … I will keep you in prayer even as I know you are praying for us.”

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