Committees of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board met April 16 to discuss informational items, formulate actions for the entire board to consider and receive reports from ministry areas.

The truncated and rescheduled two-hour committee meetings were added to the afternoon schedule due to extended closed session meetings of the board as it considers matters pertaining to the 1001 Worshiping Communities initiative.

PC(USA) staff attending the board meeting have been notified to return to a plenary session at 7pm. The agenda for this session has not been published.

 Finance Committee

  • Approved a recommendation for the Presbyterian Foundation and Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program to work together to develop a new green initiative church loan program product designed to use available church loan funds to help congregations reduce their carbon emissions and become more energy efficient.

  • Approved a revised 2015 mission budget of $76,611,903, representing a net increase of $1,190,929 over the approved budget; and a revised 2016 mission budget of $78,027,204, which is a net decrease of $1,814,840 over the approved budget. Additional amounts of $989,592 for 2015 and $811,991 for 2016 will be required from the Presbyterian Mission Program Fund (PMPF), the unrestricted cash reserve. In a related matter, the committee approved that $500,000 of the $1 million committed for World Mission contingency or emergency expenses be restored and returned to undesignated funds.

  • The committee elected Chad Herring, Kansas City, Mo., the current chair, as chair for 2015-2016, and Tom Fleming, Los Angeles, Ca., as vice chair for 2015-2016.

  • An update from Stony Point Center indicating that Stony Point had met its benchmarks for 2014. Stony Point ended the year under the proposed allowable loss of $90,000.

  • A brief presentation was made by Debra Hepler, executive director of Ghost Ranch, in which she shared the many exciting programs and activities at the ranch, including testimonials from teens whose lives were changed during teen week.

  • A larger conversation about PMPF moving forward will likely be postponed until the committee’s next meeting, tentatively scheduled for May 8, via GoToMeeting.

 Justice Committee

  • Received a report from Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) about fossil fuels and climate change. The report is in response to an overture that was referred to MRTI by the last General Assembly. The overture had advocated divestment from all fossil fuel companies. Bill Somplatsky-Jarman, the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s associate for MRTI, said MRTI, along with other faith-based organizations, is engaged in dialogue with several fossil fuel companies on climate change issues, filing several shareholder resolutions. Somplatsky-Jarman says MRTI has heard from people with broad expertise and varying viewpoints on the subject of fossil fuel divestment.

  • Lonnie Oliver, the PMA’s associate for African American congregational support, presented a paper on “Black Lives Matter” on behalf of the Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries. The report says Presbyterians are participating in the Black Lives Matter Movement, which seeks “to communicate the forms of racial injustice that mostly targets and deprives African American communities of basic human rights and dignity.”

  • Received notice that an update on the “Educate a Child, Transform the World” initiative that was to presented to the committee, will instead be presented to the entire board in plenary session.

 Leadership Committee

  • Approved a motion to end funding to The Charles H. Cook Foundation – formerly known as Cook Native American Ministries – effective August 21, 2015, when Cook will receive a final grant disbursement from the Christmas Joy Offering. As a foundation, Cook no longer meets institutional standards for participating in the Christmas Joy Offering.

  • In an effort to help ease Cook’s transition and bridge a projected gap in funds needed to cover operational expenses, the leadership committee also recommended that the matter be referred to the finance committee of the Presbyterian Mission Agency board. The finance committee would serve as a guide to facilitate negotiations between the board of directors of the Cook Foundation, the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board and the Presbyterian Foundation.

  • Adopted a recommendation to approve standards to better define Presbyterian-related Racial Ethnic Educational Institutions, with adaptations to the original definitions as submitted by the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC).

  • Voted to submit a referral to the Special Offerings Task Force to examine a recommendation that funds from the Christmas Joy Offering continue to be disbursed to eligible institutions through 2024.

  • Approved a recommendation that the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board encourage the 222nd General Assembly (2016) to encourage the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to work in partnership with the Historically Presbyterian Racial Ethnic Institutions to support racial ethnic education.

  • Approved submission of the following statement for consideration by the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board regarding Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act as it relates to the 2016 Youth Triennium:

    In light of Indiana’s legislative action to revise its earlier Religious Freedom and Restoration Act so that it assures adequate protection against discrimination, the Leadership Committee recommends that the PMAB reaffirm holding the 2016 Presbyterian Youth Triennium at Purdue.

    We encourage leaders across the state of Indiana, and in other states, to create environments of safety and inclusion for all people. Further, we commend Purdue University for publicly assuring its unwavering commitment to non-discrimination. The state’s quick action to amend this law encourages us to believe we can continue our long relationship with Purdue University while sharing Christ’s love with people in the midst of struggle and change.

    The Leadership Committee also wishes to commend PMA staff for its sensitivity to this politically charged issue and for working behind the scenes to ensure the youth and adults who attend Triennium have a safe and welcoming place to worship and witness to the love of Christ.

 Worship Communities

  • 1001 Acting Director Vera White reported there are now 278 new worshiping communities in 112 presbyteries across the denomination.

  • White also mentioned a just completed 1001 New Worshiping Communities leader survey conducted by Research Services of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. It revealed that more than half (53 percent) are racial ethnic, 77 percent are new to the PC(USA), and the largest age group is 19-39 (43 percent).

  • Mandy Girgis, a member of the mission agency’s Middle Eastern ministries staff, reported there are now 25 new worshiping communities serving the Middle Eastern population in the U.S. These worshiping community participants are from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Armenians of Iranian descent.

  • Effective April 17, 2015, Mission Program Grants, a ministry of Evangelism and Church Growth, will begin reviewing existing applications and accepting new proposals for 1001 New Worshiping Community grants.