Way Forward Commission Members

This document includes a list of the Way Forward Commission team members with short biographical information.

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  1. Comment and Recommendation to Way Forward Commission Comment This submission is to propose constructive action to address the unfortunate lacuna in the operational structure of the PCUSA identified in the April 9, 2016 Decision of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the General Assembly (“GAPJC”) in Remedial Case 222-08 (The Session of the Rutgers Presbyterian Church, New York, NY v. the Presbyterian Foundation (“Foundation”), the Board of National Missions (“BNM”) and the Presbyterian Mission Agency). The reason given by the GAPJC for dismissing this case was the failure “to state a claim upon which this Commission can grant relief.” Thus, it declined to consider allegations against PCUSA Agencies founded on breech of their fiduciary duties under the 1934 Trust Agreement transferring the Jarvie Commonweal Service to the BNM. The PJC Decision followed the Charities Bureau of the Office of the New York State Attorney General declining to investigate or prosecute a formal complaint of June 12, 2015, alleging such breeches, brought by a group of Teaching Elders, Officers and parishioners of Presbyterian Churches in several Presbyteries in the Greater New York area under the name “Friends of Jarvie.” The result, satisfactory to no one, leaves complainant Elders and other Presbyterian stakeholders deprived of a meaningful forum and effective remedy, and the accused Agencies without protections against potentially unfounded criticism and means of impartial vindication, putting at risk the reputations of the Agencies and the wider Church. We propose a solution which would honor the Principles of Church Discipline (D-1.0101) Recommendation Require that the Foundation and the Mission Agency each designate a “Restricted Funds Ombudsman,” independent of the existing program and spending personnel, to which Donors, Beneficiaries and other stakeholders may bring any allegations of failure to comply with Donor directives or other related conduct inconsistent with PCUSA principles of openness and accountability, and have them meaningfully addressed. Such Ombudsmen will report at least annually to both Agencies' Boards, and biannually to the relevant GA Committee, all complaints, along with their considerations, findings and dispositions. As we have expressed in previous correspondence with the Foundation, we believe it is critical that these Agencies not only seek to employ rigorous standards of honesty, accountability and fair dealing, but that our Members are confident that those standards will be honored when actions of the Church are challenged with respect to compliance with the express wishes of charitable Donors. Michael Lindvall, the Brick Presbyterian Church in the City of New York, Jon Walton, the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York, Scott Black Johnston, The Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York City

    by Michael L Lindvall

    February 25, 2017

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