GA committee reviewing the Presbyterian Mission Agency submits its report

January 6, 2016

Louisville

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly committee tasked with reviewing the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) has submitted its final report to the 222nd General Assembly (2016), recommending significant changes to the agency.

“God has blessed the church with many talented and faithful servants at the PMA who feel called to minister with the church in their various capacities. Their hard work is all the more admirable in light of recent transitions and controversies,” the committee said in its executive summary.

“Though the PMA has produced good work, it is evident that there are significant weaknesses in a number of areas, including: strategic decision-making and priority-setting; organizational culture and work environment; and collaborative efforts with other General Assembly agencies.”

The twelve-member committee, chaired by Eliana Maxim, associate executive presbyter of the Presbytery of Seattle, said its report is based on what it gleaned from interviews, correspondence, and promotional materials. The committee also received and reviewed an extensive self-study conducted by PMA and analyzed survey data produced by the PC(USA)’s research services office.

“We believe that what we observed permeates PMA organizational structure and culture and should not be considered isolated to particular situations or departments,” the committee said.

Its three recommendations to the assembly, meeting June 18–25 in Portland, Oregon, are:

  • That the General Assembly delay the appointment of the All Agency Review scheduled for 2016 and instead direct the Moderators of the 220th, 221st, and 222nd General Assemblies (2012), (2014), and (2016), in consultation with the General Assembly Nominating Committee (GANC), to name a committee of fifteen people to explore the possibility of a merger between the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) and the Office of the General Assembly (OGA).
  • That the General Assembly direct the Moderator of the 222nd General Assembly (2016), in consultation with the GANC, to name a committee of eight people to review the responsibilities of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) and provide a plan for restructuring the Board so that it can be better able to do the adaptive work necessary to provide leadership and guidance for the PMA and the church, today and into the next generation.
  • That the General Assembly direct the directors of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, the Office of the General Assembly, the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program, Inc. (PILP), and the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC) to appoint a staff committee to explore the best ways for Shared Services (finance and accounting, information technology, payroll, communication, translations, human resources, legal and risk management, internal audit, building services, mail and print, Presbyterian Distribution Service, and the Hubbard Press) to serve those four agencies.

The review committee also directed the PMA to consider the following:

  • That the PMA develop internal educational opportunities for staff to become better informed about the other five agencies in order to foster creative collaboration.
  • That the PMA develop and implement a plan to educate all donors about how their donations are allocated, including a clear breakdown of what percentage goes directly to mission funding and what percentage is applied to administrative costs. This information should be easily accessible.
  • That the PMA provide a chaplain for the Presbyterian Center.
  • That PMA engage in regular cultural humility training provided by outside consultants for PMAB and staff.

Joining Maxim on the committee are Debra Avery; Eric Beene; Tacey Braithwaite; Nancy Muth; Kenneth G. Page; Stephen Proctor; Chris Rhodes; Barbara G. Sarjeant; Elizabeth Swee; James N. Tse; and J. Perry Wootten. To read their entire report, go to PC-Biz.

The committee’s work stems from an action by the 213th General Assembly (2001) mandating that the agencies of the denomination be reviewed every six years to evaluate the relationship of the agencies’ individual ministries with the mission of the whole denomination. PMA was last reviewed in 2008.

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