Linda Valentine was confirmed for a third four-year term as executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency by a loud chorus of affirmation Thursday at the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) No previous executive director has served more than two terms.
“I believe we have made great strides with Linda as our leader,” said Matt Schramm, chair of the PMA Board. He praised integrity, intelligence, humility, strategic leadership and graciousness.
“Plus, she can lip sync like a champ,” he added. Valentine was featured in a popular orientation video called “GA Floor,” which was a parody on a song from the musical Les Mis and shown earlier in the Assembly featuring the top executives of all six agencies of the church.
In her acceptance speech, Valentine responded to laughter from the Assembly, “Thanks for giving me the stage premier I could only have dreamed of.”
“I am so privileged to work with just the most amazing people. Thank you.”
Valentine said she recognizes the PC(USA) is a church on the brink, not of disaster, but of an exciting future. Citing Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, she said, “Churches get renewed from the edges, not from the middle. Look out on edges. Look to Christ. More than 250 new worshiping communities have sprung up in the past two years. Every one of these is related to presbyteries or to churches. They have people who would never come through the doors of traditional churches. Half of these are people from racial ethnic communities.”
Valentine said her hope is based in the ministry of young adults who are leading the church into the future. She finds hope in Presbyterians going to the end of the world in mission, who will raise money to combat poverty by educating children and who stay at the table rather than walking away in disagreement.
“This is what following Jesus looks like,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what happens next.”