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Unification Commission selects a consultant to help it unify the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Agency

Commissioners are also updated on the unifying communications ministries

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Jon Tyson via Unsplash

LOUISVILLE — Meeting for much of Thursday as a committee of the whole in executive (closed) session, the Unification Commission announced Thursday afternoon it has selected a consultant to help it with the work of unifying the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

The Rev. Dr. Felipe N. Martínez, the commission’s co-moderator, said the selection will be announced after the other candidates who applied for the position are notified of the commission’s decision.

Commissioners have been considering bringing on a consultant since last summer.

Meeting in open session Thursday morning, commissioners heard a report from Kathy Lueckert, President of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, about how communications ministries in the Office of the General Assembly and Presbyterian Mission Agency are coming together. Led by the Acting Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), the Rev. Bronwen Boswell, and Dr. Corey Schlosser-Hall, the PMA’s Deputy Executive for Vision & Innovation, the combined team plans to celebrate a new, unifying communications ministry during a gathering on April 15.

Last month, Rick Jones, formerly communications director for the OGA, was named communications director for the PC(USA).

Jones “brings a wealth of experience and maturity and steadiness to the work,” Lueckert said.

The unifying communications team has completed two of three stages — Reflect and Review and Revise and Re-Envision. It’s currently completing its third stage, Rebuilding a New Ministry.

“The communications unification process is going according to plan and according to schedule. It has been more successful and positive than what anyone anticipated,” Lueckert said. “They are busy preparing for the General Assembly and the new website,” which will be previewed at the 226th General Assembly, slated for June 25 through July 4.

Rick Jones

“There is cohesion around Rick as the director,” Lueckert told the commission, meeting in person at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Kentucky, and online. “They are thinking about how they can tell good stories, because they’re all passionate about that.”

“The reason [unifying communications has] gone smoothly is unity of purpose, which is to tell good stories and tell them well,” Lueckert said. A combination of experienced and relatively new staff “has allowed them to move in a more expeditious way.”

“This has been a positive experience,” she said, “and I think we can learn things from this that are applicable to future consolidations.”

Asked by Martínez if there are lessons for unifying “it would be good for us to be mindful of,” Lueckert said, “If you pay attention to the roadmap and how they moved through it, the steps described can provide a model moving forward.” While every unifying group will have different challenges, “I think what Corey and Bronwen have laid out is a good starting point” so that “we can take this and not have to start from scratch.”

Commissioner the Rev. Dr. Dee Cooper asked Lueckert to “send back our deep appreciation and celebration for all the hard work they’ve accomplished.”

Commissioners began their meeting with a look back at the work of the 2020 Vision Team, featured in this video, which commissioners watched together. The 2020 Vision Team was among the teams that consulted with the Unification Commission, Martínez noted.

Included in commissioners’ packets was the Guiding Statement created by the 2020 Vision Team, calling for the PC(USA) to live into values spelled out in the denomination’s acronym: Prayerful, Courageous, United, Serving and Alive.

The Unification Commission will resume its meeting Friday. During the morning portion of their meeting, commissioners will again act as a committee of the whole in closed session. Beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, the commission is scheduled to meet in open session. Watch the public portion of the meeting here.

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