With no new nominations from the floor and a unanimous vote, the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board elected its new chair and vice chair Feb. 5.
The Rev. Marilyn Gamm will serve a two-year term as the board’s chair, beginning with the adjournment of this summer’s 221st General Assembly and ending with the adjournment of the 222nd Assembly (2016).
Josephene Stewart will serve a two-year term as the board’s vice chair, with her term beginning and ending at the same time as Gamm’s.
Gamm is the interim associate pastor at Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Mequon, Wis., in Milwaukee Presbytery and the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. She has served the mission agency board as vice chair of the Worshiping Communities Committee and as a member of the Mission Development Resources Committee.
In her application, Gamm was asked to describe the key issues facing the mission agency board in the next two years. She noted “the likely passage of some kind of marriage equality overture and the impact that may have on PC(USA) churches, membership, and per capita income” as a key issue. When asked how she would respond, she stated, “With regards to marriage equality, I would respond as pastorally as I could, publicly supporting whatever the denominational decision is at the time while respectfully listening to those who disagree.”
Gamm also mentioned the 1001 new worshiping communities initiative; a possible reorganization of synods; and the short-term impact of the Affordable Care Act on the Board of Pensions, congregations and teaching elders as issues facing the board in the future.
In those areas, she intends to respond with continued enthusiasm, pastoral care and respectful dialogue and patience, respectively.
Stewart is a member of Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, N.C., in the Presbytery of Charlotte and the Synod of the Mid-Atlantic. Before her retirement, she was a principal and senior consultant for Towers Perrin (now Towers Watson). She has served as vice chair of the mission agency’s Finance Committee and as a member of the Personnel Subcommittee and the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program.
Stewart sees living in the tension between new and old as a major issue for the PC(USA) and the mission agency board.
“How we talk about the transition is also a key issue—can we talk about change in a way that avoids angry words. Can we listen to opposing views with open hearts? Can we arrive at decisions that allow everyone to stay at the table?” she wrote in her application.
That tension will include issues such as seeing that the mission agency stays relevant, building or rebuilding relationships with congregations and mid councils and approaching fundraising in a way that ensures equitable distribution, Stewart stated.
Also elected or appointed Feb. 5:
- James R. Ephraim Jr. to a four-year term on the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC), class of 2018
- Marianne Rhebergen for a four-year term to the Committee on Theological Education (COTE), lass of 2018
- Wendy Tajima to the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations (GACEIR), class of 2018
The board voted to send the following to the 221st General Assembly for election or confirmation:
- Arthur Canada to the Stated Clerk Review/Nomination Committee
- David Shinn to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Investment and Loan Program, Inc. Board of Directors, class of 2018