The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) voted to approve a new organizational structure for the Office of the General Assembly (OGA) at its meeting held by telephone conference call on February 27.

The new structure and leadership design approved by the committee was the result of a comprehensive process conducted by Dudley Hamilton Associates, a New Jersey-based global management consulting firm.

Although the process of redefining the OGA’s vision, mission, and strategic direction was initiated in large part to reduce and realign the agency’s operating budget for 2013-2014, the OGA’s goals for reorganization transcended a traditional restructuring geared solely to meet financial challenges.

“Restructuring the agency was never all about the economics,” said Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons. “It began with our collective desire to shape a new future for the OGA in service to the PC(USA).”

Immediately after the vote, COGA Moderator Vincent Thomas said that the decision was evidence that COGA embraced “a new vision” for the OGA.

“The new structure will enable OGA to better serve the PC(USA) by being more focused, flexible, and intentional, “ Thomas said.  “We are, however, very aware of our decision’s impact on the OGA staff, both those who will depart OGA and those who will continue, all of whom love the PC(USA) and view their work as a ministry.”

The reorganization process—which began last year— included a methodology that considered current and projected future needs of the church as well as the OGA’s ministry tradition of “responding, renewing, reclaiming, reforming and rejoicing.” Throughout the course of their work, Dudley Hamilton Associates conducted extensive interviews with nearly 100 stakeholders, including staff, mid council, and elected leadership from across the country.

“This has been an intentionally collaborative and inclusive process, in which every member of our staff has cooperated fully, even while we are all still living with the tension it necessarily creates,” Parsons said.

The input that Dudley Hamilton Associates received from staff and stakeholders—which pointed to a strong preference for alignment to the ecclesial mission, a collaborative work design, innovation, and focused support of regional expressions of the church—resulted in a new structure that will focus the work of OGA across three essential areas of Ministry.

The three areas of ministry are:

  1. Church Wide Ministries—Providing the opportunities for national discernment and engaging the story of the church’s ministry.
  2. Mid Council Ministries—Resourcing the life of the church in the middle councils and the ministries of Teaching and Ruling Elder.
  3. Ecclesial and Ecumenical Ministries—Directly supporting the Office of the Stated Clerk and the Ecumenical vision of the Church.

“Each of these three areas will be led by a team,” Parsons said, “with ‘teamwork’ being the operative way the areas will work to fulfill their ministry.

Because current OGA employees over the age of 60 and with ten years of service were offered a voluntary separation program on January 14—and others may face involuntary separation— not all staff members will participate in the new structure. Staffing changes will be announced on March 6.

pie chart illustrating the reorganization

“These decisions have not been easy,” said Parsons. “Even though not all of us will be a part of the OGA’s future, I sincerely hope that each member of our staff knows how deeply they are valued. I wish we could avoid the pain that accompanies transitions such as this, but we cannot. What we can and will do is to continue to hold each other in prayer while we continue to serve the PC(USA).”