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Proposed Mission Work Plan for 2023–24 embraces transformation

Plan centers on those who are on the margins as seen in Matthew 25

by Melody K. Smith | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Warren Lesane Jr., shown speaking weeks before the pandemic began in 2020, chairs the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Mission Agency’s (PMA) proposed Mission Work Plan for 2023–24 was presented to the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) last week and approved to send on to the General Assembly this summer.

This Mission Work Plan is different from any of its predecessors, said the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the PMA. The Mission Agency embarked on an 18-month journey of prayer and discernment. They listened and learned from Presbyterians across the denomination — church and mid council leaders, seminaries, church members, sister agencies and entities such as Presbyterian Women — and began to envision a bold new future for the PMA that would help them embody the Matthew 25 priorities and better serve the Church.

As a result of this work, the Mission Agency is embracing and living into its word of the year — evolve.

Author Leon Brown said, “You cannot evolve unless you are willing to change.” Based on the consultants’ report from the Vision Implementation Process and this proposed Mission Work Plan, change is afoot at the PMA.

The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett is president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

“We are moving into a new way to live out our mission as a Matthew 25 church,” said Moffett. “This is a transformational shift to position PMA to support the church and the people of the church as a partner.”

The proposed Mission Work Plan included a new identity statement, mission statement, vision statement and a set of values that is reflective of what makes this Mission Work Plan come alive.

“Capacity to be self-reflective and to lean into the discomfort and the challenges that come with something new,” said the Rev. Dr. Dee Cooper, PMAB member. “That brings me hope!”

“Who would ever think the Presbyterian Mission Agency would be talking about decentralizing its structure and staffing?” asked the Rev. Warren Lesane Jr., chair of the PMAB. “Who would ever think that we would be at the cutting edge of innovation for developing centers of repair and innovation?”

Timing is part of the answer.

It might not be a coincidence that Matthew 25 took root in the midst of a global pandemic. In many ways, the pandemic laid bare the deep divide between the kingdoms of this world and the kingdom or kin-dom of Jesus.

“We’re not just here to inform our congregants and others about our good work,” said the Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo, chair-elect for the PMAB. “Our goal is to inspire and invite them to join us, and to multiply our church’s impact through inspired actions.”

The priorities of the proposed Mission Work Plan for 2023–24 have remained consistent, and include:

  • Building congregational vitality
  • Dismantling structural racism
  • Eradicating systemic poverty.

Also emerging from the visioning process was the call to expand that work to include a new Center for the Repair of Historical Harms; an Office of Innovation, Futuring and Discernment; and the intersectional areas of climate change, militarism and gender justice/heteropatriarchy.

The plan invites Presbyterians to unite in doing the work of Jesus’ kin-dom — described in Matthew 25: 31–46. The kin-dom is an alternative reality, based on the principles and practices embodied by Jesus. In the kin-dom, the love, justice and healing power for God’s people and Creation is exhibited. Jesus is passionate about the kin-dom.

The Mission Work Plan addresses the importance of making disciples. It is committed disciples who will challenge unjust systems. It is faithful disciples who will make this Mission Work Plan come alive.

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