Christmas Joy Offering – Supporting our leaders: past, present and future.

Presbyterian Mission Agency Board hears from its corresponding members and approves reports from its new teams during final day of meeting

Relying on Esther, worship leader Felicia Hardy warns her board colleagues not to miss the opportunity to do what God has placed them on Earth to do

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

STONY POINT, New York — In addition to approving the Women of Faith awards for 2022 (see that story here) the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board concluded its three-day meeting at Stony Point Center Friday by hearing reports by corresponding members, approving reports from its three newly formed teams and, as it always does, worshiping the God who guides the work.

Reports from corresponding members

2022 has proven to be quite the busy year for the Presbyterian Investment & Loan Program, James Rissler, PILP president, told the board, every bit as busy as 2021 was.

“We have done a large amount of refinancing,” Rissler said. Many churches with commercial bank loans are finding “our pricing and structure more favorable than what they have.”

James Rissler

Because of the rapid pace of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, commercial lenders have had to raise their lending rates as much as 300 basis points (3%) in recent months. PILP has held its own increases to 55 basis points (.55%), Rissler noted. “It’s a huge difference and it helps borrowers,” Rissler said. “We can do that because we have grown our loan portfolio. That’s important to the rates we can offer.”

According to Rissler, the PMA Board and other institutions, including the Presbyterian Foundation, have helped PILP increase its investment loan portfolio by 63% over the last seven years, in part by giving PILP millions of dollars to invest. That level of support has allowed PILP to save churches more than $1 million annually in interest costs.

“We’ve asked to expand loans outside the traditional church loans, and you have supported us,” Rissler told the board.

Susan Jackson Dowd

Susan Jackson Dowd, executive director of Presbyterian Women, said the PW board met in person recently for the first time in three years, employing the services and technology of the conference space at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Since 1988, PW has made about $60 million in grants, she said.

The president of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, Kathy Lueckert, told the board via Zoom that managing the new conference center space “is a new line of business for us.” She expects to name a part-time conference center coordinator in the coming weeks.

The Administrative Services Group continues the big job of technology assessment and is creating a roadmap for technology investments and improvements, Lueckert said. Among the large technology tasks are upgrading the denomination’s website, pcusa.org.

Kathy Lueckert is president of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation. (Contributed photo)

In addition to completely reworking the employee handbook, ASG continues to work with Black community leaders in Louisville in order to “explore what services we can provide” and to work with financial institutions to provide better access to capital. “We are starting to bear fruit,” Lueckert said.

Team reports

The PMA Board has reconfigured itself into three teams: the Administrative Team, the Matthew 25 Team, and the Vision Implementation Team.

Board member Ken Whitehurst offered the Administrative Team’s report. The board voted to approve the team’s charter and proposed revisions to the 2023-24 PMA budget based on financial implications from actions taken by the 225th General Assembly this summer.

The Matthew 25 Team also had two action items, both of them voted on affirmatively by the board. One asked the board to approve the team’s charter. The other sought approval of the three nominees for the Women of Faith awards. The Rev. Dr. Matt Bussell offered the team’s report.

The Rev. Diane Curtis, who chairs the Vision Implementation Team, said the team had just one action item, to approve the team’s charter as amended. The board approved that request.

Closing worship

Felicia Hardy, a commissioned ruling elder from North Carolina, based her homily on Esther 4:6-17, which includes one of the most beloved lines from Bible: “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for such a time as this.”

Like Queen Esther, “If you miss your opportunity to do what God has placed you here on Earth to do during this crucial time in the life of the church, you may miss your purpose in Creation,” Hardy told her fellow board members.

“Jesus Christ was not a quiet type of leader. He stepped into some places where he was not welcome, and yes, he even upset some religious leaders,” Hardy said. “Now is your time to step into what you were called and created to do. As we leave this beautiful space where Jesus Christ has allowed us to work and talk, pray and meditate, now is your time to decide what you will do with this special gift.”

Learn more about the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board here.


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