Just compensation for ministers, an elder-care program in the New York City area, and confirmation of the president of the Presbyterian Foundation will be on the agenda of Committee 13 of the 223rd General Assembly, which meets June 16–23 in St. Louis.
Committee 13 will address items of business related to four of the six national agencies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): the Board of Pensions (BOP), Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program (PILP), Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC) and the Presbyterian Foundation.
The BOP is asking for Assembly endorsement of Living by the Gospel: A Guide to Structuring Ministers’ Terms of Call. The guide is intended to be a resource for mid-councils, committees on ministry, committees on preparation for ministry, search committees and congregations seeking to establish just compensation practices. The document also outlines significant new programs designed to help small employers, innovative new ministries and recently ordained ministers who are burdened with educational debt.
Two presbyteries have submitted overtures raising concerns about the administration of the Jarvie Commonweal Fund. The fund was established in 1925 by a wealthy lifelong Presbyterian, James N. Jarvie, to assist older adults in the New York City area “who in their declining years find themselves without sufficient means of support.”
An overture from the Presbytery of Huntingdon (13-01) asks the Assembly to create an administrative commission to work with the Synod of the Northeast to assess issues related to management of the endowment, which it states is now valued at $90 million.
An overture from the Presbytery of New York City asks the Assembly to create a special committee to ensure that administration of the Jarvie Commonweal Fund complies with donor restrictions.
The overtures raise concerns similar to those cited in a commissioners’ resolution that was rejected by the 222nd General Assembly (2016). Over the past two years, representatives of the Jarvie Program and the Presbyterian Foundation have conferred with concerned parties in six presbyteries seeking to address issues related to the program.
In its comments on the overtures, the Foundation, which administers the Jarvie Fund through a constituent corporation, the Board of National Missions, says the overtures continue “a lengthy series of unsuccessful efforts to overturn an administrative decision made three years ago … .” The decision replaced the Presbyterian Mission Agency (at its request) with a New York–based health care company to provide services to Jarvie beneficiaries.
Since the transition to a new service provider, the Foundation asserts, the Jarvie Program has added 23 new beneficiaries while “reducing administrative costs and ending a multiyear pattern of deficits.” Beneficiaries have been surveyed twice, and none “has expressed dissatisfaction in any way.” In 2017, a full-time chaplain was hired to provide spiritual care and counseling to Jarvie beneficiaries.
A recommendation from the Foundation (13-07) asks the Assembly to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Jarvie Commonweal Service and to affirm the successful transition and ongoing work of the program.
The Assembly is also being asked to confirm the election of Rev. Tom Taylor to a third term as president and chief executive officer of the Foundation. In Taylor’s previous two terms, the Foundation reversed a downward trend in giving and increased the number and dollar amount of new gifts, achieving a record of $72 million in 2017.
Under Taylor’s leadership, the Foundation has devised online giving services now in use by more than 500 congregations. It also has improved investment performance while maintaining the PC(USA)’s commitment to socially responsible investing.
In other business, Assembly Committee 13 is being asked to:
- Confirm new members to the PILP board of directors
- Confirm Karen L. Garrett as director of New Covenant Trust Company, a subsidiary of the Presbyterian Foundation
- Receive minutes and summaries of the work of BOP, PILP, PPC, and the Foundation
Eva Stimson is a free-lance writer and editor in Louisville, Kentucky. She is covering Assembly Committee 13 for the General Assembly News.