The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) today (Sept. 24) approved a revised mission budget for 2016 in the total amount of $77,499,036, representing a net decrease of $528,168.

As it was interpreted to the Finance Committee in its Sept. 23 meeting by Denise Hampton, the PMA’s controller, the revised budget reflects the elimination of 4 staff positions as well as an organizational restructure within the PMA. The revised mission budget also restores $549,164 to the Presbyterian Mission Program Fund (PMPF), the unrestricted cash reserve.

Prior to presenting his report, the Rev. Chad Herring, Kansas City, Mo., the committee’s chair, expressed his thanks for “the extraordinary blessings that Presbyterians offer” and a reading of Psalm 23. “I wanted to preface my remarks with a sense of the real abundance that we have,” he said.

In the second of its two action items, the board approved the election of J. Jay Wilkinson to membership on the board of Directors of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Corporation to fill a vacancy in the Class of 2018.

At its Sept. 23 meeting, the Finance Committee also heard a comprehensive report from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Foundation with a summary of the changes to reposition the Presbyterian Endowment Fund and the New Covenant Funds to better grow the PMA’s money for mission.

Herring reported to the board, for information purposes, that the committee had also approved the creation of a Finance Subcommittee, appointing members Raul Santiago-Rivera, Melinda Sanders, Tom Fleming and Kenneth Godshall “to develop strategy about unrestricted reserves and the possible update of the 1990 GA Action, Section 30.597.3 (A.103).”

Because funding patterns and trends and the mission work plan have changed since 1990, when the policy currently in effect was adopted, the committee determined that the policy needs to be reviewed and updated to meet the current needs of PMA.

The Finance Committee also approved the creation of another subcommittee, to which it named Kathy Trott, Glen Snider, Alice Ridgill and Jeffrey Joe, to design an educational training session for the full Presbyterian Mission Agency Board.

Related to the Finance Committee, the Leadership Committee reported to the board, for information purposes, that it had approved—in a Sept. 23 joint meeting with the corporate, Property, Legal, and Finance Committee—the action, “How Federal Student Loan Forgiveness in 2017 Affects Undergraduate and Graduate Loans Offered by Financial Aid for Service.” The board will take action on this matter, along with other business, as part of its corporate report on Sept. 25.

“Because of changes to federal loan programs, we believe that we do a disservice to students who may apply to the PC(USA) for loans since we cannot compete with the interest rate on federal student loans,” said Laura Bryan, the PMA’s associate for Financial Aid for Service at the committees’ joint meeting. “We have instead been moving in the direction of student loan forgiveness for several years.”

If approved on Sept. 25 by the Property, Legal, and Finance Committee, the board would be directing the PMA staff to work with the Presbyterian Foundation to use funds endowed for student loans to meet mission objectives to reduce financial barriers to service, as well as to work with the Board of Pensions to resource mid councils, congregations, and worshiping communities with debt assistance programs for teaching elders, missionaries, and other church professionals.