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The PC(USA)’s Unification Commission now has an online platform to help commissioners do their important work

Equip, the denomination’s training and support website, is demonstrated and approved for use during Saturday’s online meeting

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Gary Butterfield via Unsplash

LOUISVILLE — Meeting for second time on Saturday, members of the Commission to Unify the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Agency — known informally as the Unification Commission — determined the online platform they will use to share their work with each other and with the Church at large.

The Equip website is a site the PC(USA) uses for training and support. The Rev. Tim Cargal, manager for Ministry Preparation and Support in the Office of the General Assembly, took commissioners through some of the features the site employs to make some documents and collaborative activities accessible only to commissioners and make other documents and resources available to the broader church.

Cargal prepared a demonstration account to show commissioners what Equip can do.

For example: Guests would have access to meeting minutes and the link to the livestream of the commission’s meetings. Commissioners can access minutes to closed sessions and a Zoom link to meetings rather than a livestream.

Using a tool called a Wiki, groups of commissioners can collaborate to write a report, making edits as they go.

Cargal will provide commissioners training on how to make best use of Equip, which was employed for GA225 Connections and is already being used by several committees and groups.

Stickier wickets

Commissioners had a more difficult time with two other tasks they began to take on Saturday. While an in-person meeting is set for March 9-11 in Louisville, Kentucky, commissioners said they’d prefer to be polled over online meeting dates for February and April through September. A handful said they don’t prefer to meet only on Saturday afternoons.

They also hesitated at deciding which portions of their mandate as determined by the 225th General Assembly to dive into during their upcoming meetings.

Among the mandated tasks:

  • Oversee and facilitate unification
  • Revise the Organization for Mission
  • Align entities, boards, committees and constituent bodies of the General Assembly toward long-term faithfulness and financial sustainability of its mission
  • Establish missional and ecclesial coordination
  • Determine strategies and priorities across all entities, boards, committees and constituent bodies where all available dollars, responsibilities and charges are evaluated and unified to provide the best accomplishment of GA goals
  • Provide governance for and have the authority to assume all governance functions of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board and the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly, as necessary
  • Consult with OGA, PMA and all other agencies, committees, staff and PC(USA) entities; their boards; advocacy and advisory committees; mid councils; and the executive leadership of the PMA and OGA
  • Review, address, and align financial agreements including per capita, restricted and unrestricted funds … to support the new Organization for Mission so that each area of mission has adequate funds to sustain its mission long-term
  • Determine the structure moving forward and present a new Organization for Mission to the 227th General Assembly (2026).

“At this point in time, we don’t know what to break down,” said Frances Lin, a ruling elder from the Presbytery of San Diego. “I think there are a lot of stories and narratives we need to have before we can move forward. We probably need to chill a little bit and not be too anxious.”

“This is a large and quite vague mandate,” said the Rev. Debra Avery from the Presbytery of Great Rivers, suggesting commissioners dedicate their February meeting to slotting bullet points into upcoming meetings.

“Keep in mind we are still in the planning stages,” said Cristi Scott Ligon, a ruling elder from the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee and the co-moderator of the Unification Commission. “We don’t want anyone stressing out about this.”

Commission Covenant approved

After spending the first half-hour or so in closed session for relationship-building, the commission announced it had adopted a Commission Covenant. Under the covenant, the 12 commissioners agree:

  • To pray for one another
  • To speak and listen with respect
  • To inhale and exhale, to remember to breathe
  • To have a posture of open mindedness, ready to listen, not quick to make decisions but to seek understanding first
  • To offer grace as we share collective witness
  • To address things authentically, transparently and directly
  • To make tough decisions
  • To not be bound by our assumptions
  • To be open to the Spirit’s new options we haven’t even considered
  • To stay trusting in God
  • To know when to speak and act, and know when to be quiet and wait for decisions to come in their time
  • To be sensitive to the mindset of staff from OGA and PMA, to pray for them, to be a calming force
  • To be consistent in how we communicate officially and unofficially
  • To not take ourselves too seriously
  • To support and care for one another.

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