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Former Motorola lawyer Linda Bryant Valentine, the incoming executive director of the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s General Assembly Council, faces new challenges as tough as those she met in the volatile mobile-phone industry.
Beyond a downsized staff at the Louisville, Kentucky, headquarters, the lifelong Presbyterian must also grapple with long-term questions over the denomination's viability.
Valentine, scheduled to take office July 1, will guide the headquarters through reductions approved by the council in late April. The cuts include 74 jobs at headquarters and 55 overseas missionary positions.
Her predecessor, John Detterick, says the cutsthe fourth round since 1993reflect a shift away from established, centralized programs toward conducting missions through churches and presbyteries.
The former executive director says there has been a 12 percent decline in funds flowing to the national office during the past decade, and he attributes it to members' desire for a larger say in missions spending.
"I think the fact that Presbyterians continue to care deeply about missions and are becoming more personally involved is very positive for the denomination," says Detterick, who retired after eight years on the job.
Gifts to local churches have increased an inflation-adjusted 5 percent since 1996. Yet last year the headquarters' total receipts declined more than 6 percent, or $7.5 million.
The decrease spurred the General Assembly Council to approve $9.15 million in budget cuts for 2007-08. Accounting for the addition of several new positionsmost related to staff restructuringthe headquarters workforce will lose 67 jobs by October 1, dropping to 465.
Officials will eliminate 40 missionaries through attrition, ...1