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Presbyterian Mission Agency Board prepares for February meeting

Approves reduction in force planning document, reviews committee report

The Executive Committee of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) met yesterday to make preparations for its upcoming Feb. 3-5, 2016 board meeting, anticipate the needs of the April board meeting, and plan for required actions at the 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in June.

The February board meeting will include discussion and approval of the recently completed Mission Work Plan, the document that will dictate the program, goals and staffing needs during thetruncated 2017-2018 planning period. Other agenda items include discussion of the report of the General Assembly committee to review the Presbyterian Mission Agency, reports from committees, and presentations by board chair the Rev. Marilyn Gamm, PMA interim executive director Tony De La Rosa, and PC(USA) moderator Heath Rada.

Barry Creech, PC(USA) director of policy, administration and board support, gave an overview of the review committee report’s three recommendations that will be presented to the 222nd General Assembly. First is the nomination of a committee of 15 people to “explore the possibility of a merger between the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) and the Office of the General Assembly (OGA).” The second recommendation is the appointment of an eight-person committee to “review the responsibilities of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) and provide a plan for restructuring the PMAB.” Finally, the committee recommended the appointment of a staff committee to explore the best ways to share common services between the four Louisville-based agencies of the PC(USA)—the Office of the General Assembly, the Presbyterian Mission Agency, the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program, Inc., and the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation.

Acknowledging these recommendations, the Executive Committee agreed to continue a process it had already initiated to discuss board structure and operations, noting the timeframe for beginning the review committee’s advised changes could take longer than a possible board-initiated restructuring.

“There’s too much uncertainty over a merger with OGA, and what that timeline would look like,” said board member Melinda Sanders. “I don’t think we can wait. We, and staff, know more about our board and how we work than any of these outside voices… We agree there’s a problem, and we want to work on it.”

The Executive Committee entered closed session following discussion of the board restructure, which resulted in two action items:

1) Approved a recommendation from the Personnel Subcommittee to approve a “Reduction in Force Process and Selection Criteria” document.

2) Continued discussion of the PMA review report will occur during a Jan. 21, 5:00pm EST PMAB conference call. According to Gamm, this call will “begin with a firm 45-minute closed session to discuss personnel matters followed by a 45-minute open session/conversation.”

The February meeting of the PMAB is predicated on the need for completion of the Mission Work Plan and subsequent budgets in General Assembly years. The plan will be presented to the board for approval used as a “strategic document” to create the budget to be presented at the April meeting of the board and then forwarded to the 222nd General Assembly (2016) meeting in Portland in June.

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