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Presbyterian Mission Agency Board wraps up September meeting


Members explore board culture, hear reports from committees

By Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Brenton Thompson, pastor of Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Limerick, Pennsylvania, opened worship on the final day of the PMAB September meeting. Mari Graham Evans

LOUISVILLE – The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) ended its September board meeting Saturday with reports from administrative committees, program committees and ministerial teams/task forces.

Before the business of the day began, board member the Rev. Brenton Thompson, pastor of Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Limerick, Pennsylvania, opened worship with song, followed by Scripture (Psalms 22:22–31). He talked about how his new daughter has inspired him to think of the importance of future generations and reminded the board that “we have been gifted by God to serve the PMA in a special way.” He added: “It’s not about what we can do but about what God can do through us from this generation forward.”

Joe Morrow, PMAB chair, opened the meeting by asking the board to break into small groups to have the first of a series of conversations about board culture and the way they relate to one another as well as to staff and denominational partners. He called it “finding our why. Why do we engage in this work, and the way it impacts our how.”

Each group considered:

  • What are we doing as the PMA Board when we are at our best?
  • What is our unique gift to offer the church that no one else can?
  • In order to function at our best and offer our unique gift, what do we … leave behind, keep from the past and take up for the future?

Morrow said the themes he saw were relationships, how to build trust and how to better one another. He said the work would continue to build on the identified strengths, living into the practices and agreements and cooperation across agencies.

Committee reports

The PMAB approved the recommendation of the Personnel and Nominating Committee to elect the following individuals to serve as the Special Offerings Review Task Force required every four years by Organization for Mission. The task force begins its work in 2019, bring an interim report to the PMAB in September 2019 and a final report with recommendations to the PMAB in February 2020.

  • Dr. Steve Marsh, teaching elder, white male, Laguna Woods, California
  • Linda Badger Becker, ruling elder, white female, Presbytery of Geneva (New York)
  • Vince Patton, ruling elder, African-American male, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Sallie Watson, teaching elder, white female, San Antonio, Texas
  • Tamara Williams, ruling elder, African-American female, Charlotte, North Carolina

Committee chair Mark Brainerd said the group also plans to nominate an additional person for the Power and Privilege Task Force, “but the spirit is still moving.” He said the group also spent a great deal of time in prayer and team-building.

The Property/Legal Committee, chaired by Melinda Sanders, presented recommendations for revisions to the real estate policy, which had not been updated since 2007.

Morrow reported for the coordinating committee. The board unanimously approved the board work plan for 2018–19. Highlights of that plan include prioritizing mission, determining what the role is as a board in prioritizing mission, building good relationships with partner boards and national church agencies, improving board member satisfaction and engagement and supporting the office of executive director. The board approved recommended meeting date changes from April 24–26, 2019, to March 27–29, 2019, and from April 24–26, 2020, to April 15–17, 2020. They will also implement more conference calls as a way of progressing to quarterly meetings.

Marci Glass introduced a recommendation for the PMA to “prioritize currently serving board members when nominating individuals to serve on GA commissions and committees and add this to the appropriate place in the manual of operations.” Tom Hay of the Office of the General Assembly told the group voting on the recommendation that it did not comply with parliamentary procedure, so the board voted to support the recommendation and formally adopt it later.

Warren Lesane gave the Mid Council Committee report of the group’s inaugural meeting in Louisville. He did not request any action from the board. He said the initial work of the group was productive and creative. Their conversations were about their covenants on how to work together and be prayerful and inclusive.

Patsy Smith of the board’s new Nurture the Body committee asked the board and received approval for the list of Special Days and Programmatic Emphases for 2020. These days will be listed in the Presbyterian Planning Calendar and other materials. New dates include Feb. 2, when the Souper Bowl of Chaplains and Presbyterian Federal Chaplaincies will be held; and Sept. 12, when Christian Education Week will begin and the Christian Education Celebration and Disability Inclusion events will take place.

Lyman Smith, president of the Presbyterian Board of Chaplains, made a special presentation to thank PMA for its support and to celebrate the Missional Partnership Agreement between the Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel and the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). PMA staff member Barry Ensign-George offered a special prayer for the occasion.

The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board Outreach to the World Committee reported to the group about its Sept. 28 meeting. Chair Shannan Vance Ocampo said the committee spent time Friday at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville with staff from World Mission and Compassion, Peace & Justice, hearing about their work and their passion for their ministry. The committee intends to continue this practice with other program areas that are related to their work, including deployed staff.

The board approved the recommendation of the committee to endorse the Worker-Driven Social Responsibility (WSR) principles. PMA is the first Christian denomination to sign on to the agreement, which calls for the PMAB to endorse the principles and that the Office of Public Witness and other program areas, along with the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, have “approval to use these principles as guidance for achieving human rights in global supply chains based on the agreement of WSR principles with General Assembly policy on human trafficking, labor rights, and in light of the church’s ongoing work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.”

The Ministry in a Divided Nation Committee reported that it has spent a great deal of time examining current events and has drafted a statement of encouragement and prayer regarding the issues currently in our political and social context. The board voted to refer the statement back to the committee so it could have additional time to refine and perfect it.

The Power and Privilege Task Force reported that it is working to improve board practice and look for new ways to be inclusive and open. They asked for a moment of silence for two members who died within the past year, the Rev. Buddy Monahan and Susan Osoinach.

The board then adjourned to a closed session to discuss a legal matter. No action was taken.

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