|Bruce giving his acceptance speech after being elected PB in 2015.|
Crusty is starting to get anxious, even though the next General Convention of The Episcopal Church is still two years away. The main work of the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church, or the unfortunately acronymed TREC (people, it rhymes with dreck) seems to mainly be throwing out twitter crowdsourced questions. There is supposed to be a process of consultation, including a gathering in 2014 to present their report, and (currently) a $200,000 line item for this. This is down from the $400,000 requested in Resolution C095 which established the Commission, and COD certainly hopes this amount survives throughout the triennium. He also certainly hope TREC ends up doing something, because the last f*****g thing we need is to do the work of TREC at the 2015 General Convention and have wasted three years and $200,000. But TREC has fantastic people on it and COD will hold out the hope that awesome stuff and specific proposals will emerge from them by the November, 2014 deadline.
On top of TREC's monthly crowdsourcing, Crusty's eyes popped at a number from the recently concluded Executive Council meeting. $100,000 was added to the budget of the Presiding Bishop's Nominating Committee, to bring total budget expenditure to $226,000. And that's just nominating the Presiding Bishop! Executive Council also began the process of creating a transition team to assist in the move towards the new PB who will be elected in 2015 -- adding in transition and installation of the new PB, then the amount for nominating, electing, transitioning, and installing a Presiding Bishop comes to over $500,000.
This is from a church that wrings its hands about seminarian debt, and cut in 2012 the $65,000 per year pittance to help alleviate this. But we can blow a pro-rated ballpark $170,000 per year on nominating and installating our primate.
We continue to be addicted to governance. As C095, the resolution establishing TREC, put it, we spend 47% of the budget adopted at General Convention on governance and structure. And we show no signs of changing that.
Crusty advocated holding a special General Convention just before the regularly scheduled 2015 General Convention to allow for a speedier process of any constitutional changes. Constitutional changes must be passed at two consecutive General Conventions. Thus, you could make presentations at a 2015 Special Convention, which would be solely focused on presenting a report and proposed changes. Then those proposals would be taken up by the regular meeting of Convention to follow immediately after it (since Constitutional amendments may only be voted on by regular, and not special, General Convention, as outlined in Article XII of the Constitution) for a first reading, and with a second reading in 2018 to make any changes to the Constitution. As it is, Crusty has serious concerns about any constitutional changes even being addressed in 2015.
a) Presenting the proposals at that Convention, and allowing for the time needed for them to be hashed out in Committee, with amendments and other resolutions submitted, will take an extraordinary amount of time -- how many Resolutions were combined in committee to create C095, which just called on us to look at establishing at Commission? Better to do this in a 48-hour Special Convention focused solely on a TREC report, adjourn that at 12:00 noon, reconvene a regular Convention at 12:01 pm, and then proceed.
b) Convention's attention will get diverted to electing a new PB and whatever budget mess comes our
c) TREC doesn't present substantive proposals, and we f*****g do TREC's work at General Convention.
COD has a tremendous concern Convention will say, "Gosh, this is so complicated and important, and we need to let the new Presiding Bishop provide leadership and input, let's kick the whole thing to 2018." Which means any Constitutional changes wouldn't possibly be enacted until 2021. That's if we can even afford to hold General Convention in anything resembling its current format in 2021.
The Presiding Bishop nomination and election situation puts several issues before us, showing just how screwed up process and thinking is at this point.
a) We are spending more money just on electing and nominating a Presiding Bishop than on the Commission charged with presenting a comprehensive plan for rethinking and restructuring the Church. Add to this the fact 2012 Convention asked the nominating committee "to allow for any bishop or deputy to express the intent to nominate any other member of the House of Bishops from the floor when the committee presents its nominees to the joint session of the two Houses." Crusty wishes he was making this up. We're spending $226,000 and three years to come up with nominees when we also want to be able nominate anyone from the floor. Occam's Razor, people!
b) We will be going through a process of nomination not knowing what, if any, recommendations concerning the office of Presiding Bishop TREC may make. Imagine someone coming to you and saying, "Hey, we'd like to interview you for a job, but there's a Human Resources committee completely rethinking our whole HR structure. You interested?" You'd be insane not to ask, "How can I interview for a job when I don't know what the job description may be?" Yet that is what we are doing, only it's taking three years and over $200,000 to nominate and elect someone for a position we may change.
Crusty proposes the following to the Joint Nominating Committee and TREC:
1. Nominate candidates to be a caretaker PB, an experienced or even retired bishop who may be willing to serve for a triennium. We cannot elect a 9-year incumbent and possibly think we can make any changes to the office, so, in reality, we are locking in many aspects of our current structure through 2024 by electing a 9-year incumbent in 2015.
2. So essentially elect an interim PB in 2015 while the church considers proposals to restructure and rethink the church. Get a commitment from candidates, and have the PB-elect publicly announce, the intention to resign at the end of the 2018 General Convention. Instead of spending over $500,000 to transition to an office which might be restructured, why not actually think about changing the office? Currently we are coming up with a transition plan for the people in the office, not the office itself.
If we are able to make a first vote on Constitutional changes in 2015, and a second in 2018, then we could elect a new PB to serve under the new definitions of the office. If we are unable, we could do any number of things depending on circumstances. Ask the incumbent to stay on for three more years. We could elect someone to serve out the remainder of the term through 2024, and then elect someone under any new provisions. Sure, there would be some bumpiness and perhaps uncertainty, as in any kind of interim or transition period, but is this any worse than locking ourselves into our current system through 2024?
OK, all of the above is just about what we should be thinking about now, since actions and decisions made during this triennium have implications for our overall process of restructuring.
That doesn't even get to Crusty's ideas on rethinking the office of Presiding Bishop. This needs to be
|Put each bishop's name on a Jenga piece and have this kid pull it out: new PB!|
Briefly, to give you a preview, Crusty is planning on busting out the following for rethinking presiding officers:
a) make the Presiding Bishop a diocesan bishop again. Upon election, the PB gets a suffragan or assisting bishop. Rethink and scale back some aspects of the role and expand others, focus on the understanding of the office of Bishop in the Prayer Book as as guide to create an office that truly is chief pastor.
b) roll back the governance creep that has been making the President of the House of Deputies a kind of co-primate. COD has written on this here nearly 18 months ago: the PHOD cannot be a co-primate because the office is not configured that way. The Speaker of the House is not the Vice President. The PHOD is nominated by, and elected solely from, the House of Deputies. The PB, despite the time, expense, and cost, is nominated by a committee representing bishops, clergy, and laity and elected by one house and confirmed by another, with duties beyond being a presiding officer laid out in canon. The PHOD is not representative because it is not intended to be. The absurdity here is laid bare in the proposal noted above that any deputy should be able to nominate the PB but only deputies can nominate and elect the PHOD.
c) this is not because Crusty is anti-laity: far from it. Taking into account elements outlined in sections (a) and (b), COD would create a new office. Call it what you want: General Secretary, Grand Vizier, High Inquisitor, whatever. This would become the elected CEO of the church. The PB would focus on being chief pastor and presiding officer of the HOB, and the President of the HOD would focus on being presiding officer of the HOD. Allow any bishop, clergy, or lay person (not just a deputy) to be eligible for election, and require election by both Houses, not election by one and consent by another (as with PB) or election only by one (as with PHOD). Lots of other provinces of the Anglican Communion have a General Secretary/provincial-wide elected office. Let's research those.
Naturally, and obviously, all of this needs to be spelled out in more detail. But it's not 1789 when we first invented the roles of PB and PHOD. It's not 1919, one of the last times we fundamentally rethought them. All of that just a teaser as to what Crusty's working on for his summer vacation, stay tuned for more.
We cannot continue to be addicted to governance: what we don't surrender and rethink, the world will strip away. We already have a dramatically different denominational staff than a decade ago because we cut and reconfigured in continued response to financial cutbacks without ever asking what kind of denominational staff we should have. Are we heading down the road to getting the same kind of church?