A six-member task force appointed by General Assembly Council chair Carol Adcock to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the Presbyterian News Service(PNS) will hold its first meeting May 11.

The meeting will be by telephone conference call. A face-to-face meeting will be held during the summer. The group — two GAC members and four at-large members — is scheduled to make its report to the September 2009 meeting of the council.

It has been asked to evaluate:

  • The contemporary context for news distribution;
  • The role, purpose, and scope of the Presbyterian News Service;
  • Editorial standards for PNS’ reporting;
  • Measures of effectiveness; and
  • Appropriate PNS reporting relationship(s) and funding.

The task force was authorized by the GAC last fall as part of an overall review of all the departments within Communications and Funds Development (CFD), which was created as part of a GAC restructure three years ago.

In addition to PNS, CFD encompasses Executive Office Communications, Creative Services, Funds Development and Funds Development Services, Mission Communications and Mission Interpretation, including Presbyterians Today.

PNS is the last of the CFD departments to be reviewed. The GAC last assessed PNS in 2002 and by a one-vote margin decided not to make any changes in the role, function and editorial freedom of the denomination’s official news agency.

The task force is chaired by Elder Carolyn McLarnan, a GAC member from Hattiesburg, MS. Joining her from the GAC is Elder LaVert Jones of Roswell, GA.

The four at-large members of the task force are:

  • Elder Rick Ufford-Chase, co-director of the Stony Point Conference Center and moderator of the 216th General Assembly (2004);
  • Elder John Bolt, a commissioned lay pastor and stated clerk of West Virginia Presbytery and a former Associated Church Press reporter for many years;
  • Elder Robert Maggs, president and CEO of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Board of Pensions; and
  • the Rev. Judy Fletcher, synod executive for the Synod of the Sun.

Karen Schmidt, deputy executive director for Communications and Funds Development, will provide staff support. Melissa Vella, a CFD administrative assistant, will provide administrative support.