Meeting via conference call Nov. 19, members of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board executive committee approved DREAM grants, provided updates on the progress of the interim mission work plan and discussed board restructuring among other topics.
In 2009, the predecessor body to the board initiated the Developmental, Risky, Experimental, Adaptive Mission (DREAM) grants from $500,000 remaining in the National Mission Partnership Fund. Initially restricted for use in four synods, beginning in 2014 the funds were available for grant applicants from all 16 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) synods.
Applicants are encouraged to submit funding proposals for “new and creative ministry ventures” in the following areas:
- Rural, remote or urban churches that are establishing ministries that will enable them to better accomplish mission in an appropriate context
- Ministries that are charged with reaching, loving and teaching college age or young adults so that they may be lifelong followers of Jesus Christ
- Congregations that are effectively becoming more multi-ethnic in character
- Ministries with racial/ethnic and new immigrant populations that are thriving and wish to accomplish even more
- Emerging leadership models for mid councils that create safe space for innovation
The executive council received and approved the following seven grant allocations from Tim McCallister, associate for Mission Program Grants in Racial Ethnic & Women's Ministries.
- Agafilm (Pacific Presbytery, Synod of Southern California and Hawaii)—$6,000
Agafilm is dedicated to fostering a greater sense of koinonia between the members of the community of Christ. Agafilm will invite members of a congregation in the region as well as film critics, journalists and bloggers to break bread and watch a film together. While it sounds quite simple to host a dinner and a movie at a church for fellowship, Agafilm means to delve deeper in these films, providing a new kind of space for both movie lovers and lovers of Christ.
- Creation Lab (Chicago Presbytery, Synod of Lincoln Trails)—$10,000
Creation Lab is an arts and creativity incubator with a focus on faith and church vitality. It is meant to be an experiment in collaboration—in sharing space, tools and resources—and in cultivating both the courage and the imagination to try new and creative things in the life of the church.
- Hands and Heart Respite Care (Florida Presbytery, Synod of South Atlantic)—$10,000
Caregivers provide a substantial amount of unpaid care to someone with support needs. Respite care provides short breaks for caregivers and the people for whom they care, helping them find the balance between caring for others and caring for themselves. This new initiative will be a half-day, once-a-week adult day-care program in conjunction with an existing faith-community ministry.
- Neighborhood Hubs (Denver Presbytery, Synod of the Rocky Mountains)—$10,000
In a society that is increasingly uncivil and un-neighborly, Columbine United Church (CUC) believes that God is calling Christians to create bridges. Neighborhood Hubs will reach into the the neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and recreation circles CUC members already occupy to pursue a ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18). Members will reestablish themselves as neighbors.
- La Nueva Igelesia En La Calle Bard / New Church on Bard (Presbytery of Santa Barbara, Synod of Southern California and Hawaii)—$10,000
The dream initiative La Nueva Iglesia En La Calle Bard or “The New Church on Bard” is the result of the collaboration of Westminster Presbyterian Church and Word of Life Church, which have shared a campus in Port Hueneme, California, since Easter 2015. Now the two congregations worship together every Sunday morning and conduct joint mid-week Christian education nights.
- San Francisco Theological Seminary’s CRE Training (Glacier Presbytery, Synod of the Rocky Mountains)—$10,000
Glacier Presbytery reports that it has had commissioned ruling elders (CREs) serving in congregations with varying degrees of success and failure. Previous CRE training has been outsourced through a variety of providers including online classes, Montana Association of Churches and a Presbyterian affiliated college. The training has reportedly been spotty in many areas. Glacier Presbytery decided to develop an effective, hands-on and rigorous training. San Francisco Theological Seminary will provide the needed expertise and staffing.
- Twin Cities Houses of Hospitality (Twin Cities Presbytery, Synod of Lakes and Prairies)—$10,000
The Twin Cities Houses of Hospitality is an intentional community for young adults who are engaged in a year of service with AmeriCorps, Teach for America and other service organizations. The young people live together, share meals, provide service to the broader community and explore their personal spiritual development and vocational discernment. The program provides living spaces at below-market rents while nurturing the connections between faith, service, justice and vocation.
In its next item of business, the executive committee approved appointing to the Committee of Counsel Chad Herring, Conrad Rocha and Melinda Lawrence Sanders.
The executive committee then received a report on the progress of the 2013–2016 mission work plan from Barry Creech, interim co-manager of the Presbyterian Mission Agency and director of policy, administration and board support.
Creech noted that the plan is a work-in-progress, saying the completed document would be presented to the board in January for approval at its Feb. 3–5, 2016, meeting. Following approval of the mission work plan, Creech said work would begin on a budget that will be presented for approval to the board at its April 27–29, 2016, meeting.
“Right now our recommendation will be that we not change the vision or mission sections,” Creech said. “We have spent some time looking at the directional goals as a working group and have made some adjustments there. We have not yet discussed those with the advisory group—that will happen in December. We have not yet worked on core values—that is work that is yet to come.”
“Several people felt that issues of theology and Scripture were added on to the end of the last process, and they didn’t really drive it from the start,” Creech said of the different approach the new working group has taken. “So we have tried to remedy that by focusing right up front on the theological issues on our context in the church ecosystem and how the Mission Agency serves it?”
The executive committee acknowledged the $2.85 million gift to World Mission from Grace Presbytery (Texas). At the request of the Rev. Jan DeVries, Grace Presbytery general presbyter, the committee voted to extend an invitation for representatives of the presbytery to be present at the February board meeting to receive thanks.
Discussion of a possible restructuring of the board “has taken many forms,” said Jo Stewart, vice chair of the board. Topics under consideration to be referred to the nominating and governance committee include:
- Board size
- Composition, including the process for selection
- Length of service
- Roles and responsibilities of board members
- Committee structure
- Relationship of the board to and with other PC(USA) agencies
“We all recognize there’s lots of things going on right now,” Stewart said of the transitional nature of leadership and evaluation currently underway in the church. “Can we begin to do this in a way that, even if change occurs, the results can be beneficial in any structure?”