Small groups help Coordinating Table answer ‘foundational questions’

Four questions were designed to help PC(USA) entities identify priorities

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE ­— During its third monthly meeting on Thursday, the Coordinating Table divided into three groups to discuss and try to answer four thought-provoking questions designed to clarify what’s important to representatives of the Office of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Mission Agency and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation and the boards or committee overseeing each entity.

The then-Moving Forward Implementation Commission (now a special committee) formed the Coordinating Table just before the 224th General Assembly held online last June. Three members of the special committee — its co-chair, Marco Grimaldo, the Rev. Debra Avery and Mathew Eardley — took notes during the small group sessions and later reported back to the larger group.

Asked by A Corp President Kathy Lueckert what the committee hopes to learn through Thursday’s questions and answers, Grimaldo said it was important to “hear one another, share what is important about our work and the values that move that work forward.” The Coordinating Table is tasked with, among other things, developing a process to present a unified budget in time for consideration by the 225th General Assembly, which will meet in 2022.

The four questions, all developed by the special committee, were these:

Question 1 — Which of the following is most important to you?

  • Having one clear voice speak for the church
  • Developing or re-allocating financial resources that allow for both governance and mission
  • Complete independence for PMA
  • Funds development beyond per capita that is managed collaboratively by PMA and OGA.

Question 2 — The PMA board has created a process that will be important in helping them make choices for the future. What aspects of that process would be helpful to or of interest to our work on the Coordinating Table?

Question 3 — What would it take for unrestricted mission funds to pay for expenses related to the Office of the General Assembly?

Question 4 — What would it take for Special Offerings to be shared in a coordinated way across agencies?

When the Coordinating Table reunited after about 45 minutes spent in small groups, the consensus answer to the first question was having one clear voice speak for the church. “It’s a vision and a direction that entities in the denomination and people in the pews can understand and get behind,” Eardley said.

“It’s a place we can all feel confident the voice is representative of the church we love and serve,” Grimaldo said.

To the second question, responses included the Bible study and theological understandings that are coming out of the process, and the importance of having all the entities represented at the table as discernment work is undertaken.

And as for the third and fourth questions, one small group wondered, “Is there the will to do it?”

“What does it take,” Eardley said, “to have a collective sense of will and the determination to do the work and assign the dollars?”

“As we work as a Coordinating Table,” said the Rev. Warren Lesane, chair of the PMA board, “we should focus on this idea of how we strengthen the Presbyterian Church and our mid councils … The energy we bring to this work ought to be about strengthening the body of Christ in these mid councils.”

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