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Ministry Council

Who we are…

The Ministry Council is the denomination’s ministry programming division. Together, the Ministry Council and its Ministry Teams create resources to assist individuals on their spiritual journey and congregations in their varied ministries. Resources cover a wide spectrum including Christian education, leadership development and special programs such as Cumberland Presbyterian Youth Conference, Ministers Conference and Triennium. The Ministry Council helps individuals and congregations to be actively engaged in vital missions work in the United States and around the world; assists presbyterial committees on the ministry or preparation for the ministry, individuals exploring a Call to ministry, and provides a support network for active and retired ministers. The Ministry Council publishes print and electronic media offering a place for Cumberland Presbyterians to ponder, weigh in on and affirm beliefs, concerns and love for the denomination and for all people we’re called to serve.

The Ministry Council of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was established by the 177th General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church (2007).  The Council is made up of fifteen voting members (three members from each Synod with no more than either nine clergy or lay members and no more than nine members of either gender); five advisory members include the Stated Clerk, Moderator and three youth (between the ages of fifteen to seventeen when elected). In 2008, the Ministry Council assumed the responsibilities of the former General Assembly Council (GAC). In April 2009, the Cumberland Presbyterian Publication Board, the Board of Christian Education, the Board of Missions, and the Commission on the Ministry were merged into the Ministry Council as the Communications, Discipleship, Missions, and Pastoral Development Ministry Teams. Each Ministry Council elected and advisory member serves as a liaison to one of the four Ministry Teams. Edith Busbee Old accepted the Call to serve as the Council’s first Director of Ministries in September 2008. Edith leads the work of the Ministry Teams along with the four Team Leaders:  Rev. Elinor Brown, Matthew H. Gore (interim), Rev. Dr. Pam Phillips-Burk, and Rev. Dr. Milton Ortiz.

In its early years, the Ministry Council addressed myriad challenges, many related to establishing procedures necessary to launch any new organization. The Ministry Council created a Personnel Handbook reflecting the “new structure” and took care to include human resource and legal experts to ensure its accuracy. The Council and Ministry Teams created and adopted a Covenant of Service signed by each member that recognizes a Call to serve and requisite high level of commitment to responsibilities. Other measures have been taken to systematically review human and financial resources in order to ensure best use of these resources. While many of the responsibilities of the former GAC are maintained by the Ministry Council, it was clear some were better addressed by other entities:

The diagram below illustrates the Ministry Council organizational structure (revised August 2023).

The diagram below illustrates the structure of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

What we’re doing…

The Ministry Council serves as the primary long- and short-range program planning agency of the church, striving to ensure all programming segments work on a unified mission and that human and material resources are distributed and utilized to carry out the ministry of the church in an effective manner.

The Global Ministry Leadership Team (GMLT) is made up of the Director of Ministries and the Ministry Team Leaders. This body works together to interpret the vision/mission of the Ministry Council to the Ministry Teams, coordinating the ministries in a unified, collaborative manner. Among the reasons General Assembly cited in forming the Ministry Council was to address duplication of efforts and turf protection. Today those issues are non-existent among the Council and its four Ministry Teams.
Prompted by advances in technology and the continued decline of Our United Outreach funds, the Ministry Council performed desk audits on all related staff positions; as a result, three positions were discontinued and several were realigned. Other efforts to respond to the continued decrease in OUO funding included the Ministry Council action to discontinue paying for staff’s dependent (spouse/family) health care. The Ministry Council is the only denominational center agency with multiple full time employees that does not pay 100% for staff’s dependent health coverage.

The Ministry Council’s Discipleship Ministry Team has worked with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America (CPCA) for decades. This collaborative work with the CPCA expanded to include work with the other three ministry teams and Council including attendance at board meetings and shared leadership at events.

The Ministry Council and the three other denominational center agencies form the Center Interagency Team (CIT). CIT administers a Shared Services budget related to daily operations of the physical plant (denominational center). CIT meets quarterly to address facility needs and to discuss opportunities to enhance services. The Director of Ministries represents the Ministry Council on CIT. Other members CIT are Susan Gore, Archivist, the Historical Foundation; Rev. Robert A. Heflin, Executive Secretary, Board of Stewardship, Foundation and Benefits; and Rev. Michael G. Sharpe, Stated Clerk.

For additional information please see the Ministry Council Summaries of Action.