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[PCUSANEWS] Reorganizing principles

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Date Wed, 27 Sep 2006 09:49:15 -0400

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06487 September 27, 2006

Reorganizing principles

Valentine: GAC to be more responsive, accountable, collaborative

by Jerry Van Marter

LOUISVILLE * Presbyterians working at every level of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) must focus on what each can do to support the health and vitality of congregations, the denomination's top programmatic officer told a group of 200 church leaders and executives today (Sept. 26).

New General Assembly Council (GAC) Executive Director Linda Valentine, speaking here to the first-ever joint meeting of the GAC and synod and presbytery executives, said the current reorganization of the council and its mission program is designed to make the GAC more responsive, accountable and collaborative in its relationships with the rest of the denomination.

"We're looking for a common vision with better communication, both listening and responding," she said. " We're determined to build better trust across the denomination, to develop more effective leadership and to foster a missional church with better-equipped church members."

The goal, Valentine added, is stronger congregations. "What can GAC do, what can presbyteries and synods do and what can we all do to support the health and vitality of congregations?" she asked.

Congregations are far more directly involved in mission than ever before, Valentine said. "There's a new enthusiasm for mission * out of the pews and into the world," she said. "There's no mission by proxy any longer."

Thus, responsiveness, accountability and collaboration, Valentine said, are the "restructuring principles" undergirding the current GAC reorganization, which was set in motion by the council at the end of April. It was accompanied by a $9.1 million budget reduction * to just under $100 million * and 75 staff layoffs. The restructuring is scheduled to be virtually completed by the end of this year.

"We want to hold on to what is good," Valentine told the group, "but to be adaptive, to build on our strengths but in new combinations that will create new synergies."

The GAC is set to vote on the restructuring plan later this week. Among other things, it will eliminate the three ministry divisions * Congregational Ministries, National Ministries and Worldwide Ministries * rearranging the GAC's programmatic work in six program areas under a single deputy executive director for mission.

But no amount of restructuring will be effective, Valentine added, if the GAC and all entities of the church "don't operate differently. We must collaborate and communicate*. Together we can do far more than any of us can do alone."

Echoing the theme of the meeting * "A New Way for a New Day" * Valentine said, "There can be a new way for a new day, to be more faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ."


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