Presbyterian Mission Agency Board explores new meeting structure

Focused teams and discussions expected to foster creativity and productivity

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

Presbyterian Mission Agency LogoLOUISVILLE – The Fall 2016 gathering of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) is underway, September 13-16 in Louisville, albeit with a new meeting structure. The board’s revised meeting plan includes its traditional focus on primary mission areas and adds “Generative Discussions” and “Ministerial Team” sessions to address operational and strategic planning.

The change includes new committees and consolidation of others. The Worshiping Communities, Justice, and Leadership committees have been disbanded and their functions will be distributed throughout two Mission Impact committees and the Personnel and Nominating committee. The Audit and Finance committees remain in the board structure without modification.

Perhaps the biggest change comes in the form of the eight Ministerial Teams that will convene during the fall board meeting and meet monthly via conference call to consider specific subjects. The teams consist of board members, PC(USA) agency and staff representatives working in the topical area being considered. The eight teams beginning their deliberations this fall are: Addressing Power and Privilege,

Increased Coordination with the Office of the General Assembly, Allocating and Communicating Overhead Costs, Next Steps for the Young Adult Volunteer Program,

World Mission Competencies in Domestic Mission, Role of Print in PMA’s Communication Strategy, Next Steps for 1001, and Implementing Belhar.

PMAB chair, the Rev. Godshall, says the Mission Teams have been “created to answer strategic questions that the Presbyterian Mission Agency is facing.” The teams will be assembled as needed and will be disbanded when questions are answered, addressing new priorities as they come up.

“The teams are expected to take from six to 18 months to complete each task. When the work is over new teams will be created to address other questions,” said Godshall, noting board members serve one six year term on the board and will likely serve on multiple Ministry Teams during that term.

Board members were asked to choose one of the eight teams. Final team assignments were made by the Board Governance task force and approved by the Executive Committee based on the preferences expressed by board members.

The other innovation debuting at the Fall 2016 PMAB meeting is the addition of Generative Discussions in which the entire board will participate. This meetings topics include conversations on the questions “What is mission?” and “What is the purpose of transparency?”

“We hope the generative discussions help us gain insight about issues that are large and important and not always easy to resolve,” says Godshall. “We hope that these discussions invite participation from board members and connect them to the work of the agency.”

Generative topics were identified by the Board Governance Task Force and approved by the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee will develop new topics in the future. Discussion leaders for this meting are Chip Hardwick, director of Theology, Formation and Education at the PC(USA), and Nancy Ramsay, a board member and professor of pastoral theology and pastoral care at Brite Divinity School.

Godshall says the generative discussions will be conducted in open plenary sessions and completed in a two or three hour time frame. The ministerial teams will provide a report in plenary sessions to the board and both activities will be shared with the church on social media and in press releases.

“The new meeting structure is designed to free up time for creative and strategic thinking,” says Godshall. “The amount of board time devoted to consent agenda items and routine PMA business will be reduced and we believe the changes will make board meetings more productive and more enjoyable.”


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