Saturday, June 30, 2012

GC Preview: Welcome to the Terrordome

Watcha do gitcha head ready
Instead of gettin' physically sweaty
When I get mad
I put it down on a pad
Give ya somethin' that cha never had.

Probably no surprise that Crusty Old Dean put on Public Enemy's classic from 1989, "Welcome to the Terrordome," as he begins to get ready to head off to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church next week.  Yeah verily, the Terrordome looms as COD begins packing to leave for Convention.  As  COD laid out in some previous posts, he has gone from thinking General Convention was at times perhaps counterproductive to realizing it can be a destructive force in the life of the church, as well as being a place where the church was shine collectively and come together.  Read more about that revelation here and here.

As part of the run-up to General Convention, COD is presenting his Official General Convention Preview.  All predictions guaranteed correct or your money back -- which is an easy promise to make, since COD is free. Let's start with the easy stuff first.  Funny, isn't it, that back in the good old days of 2006 we would have though this stuff was going to be the hard stuff.

--Same Sex Blessings:  the proposed blessing of same sex unions will be adopted as a trial rite.  Will pass handily in a vote by orders in the House of Deputies, will be a bit closer in House of Bishops.   The vote by orders will be requested by the following deputations:  South Carolina, Central Florida, and Springfield. Crusty Old Dean will tweet his predictions of the HOB vote total (trying to recreate the magic of picking 62 as the number of "yes" votes for Gene Robinson in 2003) after listening to the debate.

--Anglican Covenant:  some version of the compromise resolution proposed by Ian Douglas will pass.  Something which affirms what we can endorse in the Covenant (pretty much all of Section 1-3), which raises concerns about Section 4, asks us to be in further discussion and study on this, and affirms our commitment to the Anglican Communion.  COD has opined on this before; why reject the Covenant?  It's going down anyway, and except for parts of Section IV there's good stuff in it; why hand the Communion an opportunity to marginalize us?  Force them to marginalize us.

Now:  onto some other things coming before Convention.

--The House of Bishops will go off the rails on the question of confirmation as a prerequisite for holding certain offices in the church.  Just like you double down on 11 in blackjack -- always, no matter what -- always, not matter what, bet on the House of Bishops to spend at least 20 minutes in any discussion that involves confirmation.

--PB&F will propose some version of a compromise budget between what was presented by the PB and what was handed to them by Executive Council.  COD thinks PB&F was already planning on reworking the budget to look more like what came out of the PB's office -- not that there's any collusion between the two, but that PB&F would try to come up with something that has a little more equity in the cutbacks.  Crusty Old Dean isn't entirely thrilled with the PB's budget, but a)  he sees it more as a transitional budget, and b) it's a step up from the inchoate Frankenstein budget Executive Council spat out.

--Gay Jennings will be elected PHOD.  While COD thinks she would be a fine PHOD, he is discouraged there has not been other candidates who have announced.  Like when Louie Crew ran against George Werner in 2003, we should at least have a choice, and a discussion, and hear a vision from different leaders in the church.  It's not healthy for a democratic institution to hand off leadership in a Politburo-style succession: someone from the former PHOD's council of advice and her chancellor are the likely next President and Vice President.

--The real battle is going to be over what entity emerges from this Convention that will look at restructuring the church.  It seems evident we have a reached a tipping point, and there is consensus that we need to take a long, hard, look at how the denomination is organized and funded for mission.  There nearly 30 resolutions from dioceses supporting, in some fashion, the calling of a Special General Convention in 2015 to deal with restructuring.  There are proposals to create a consultation of some kind to meet and discuss restructuring of the church.  There are proposals submitted to this Convention to do specific things -- for instance, B015 proposes a first reading of Constitutional changes to create a unicameral Convention.

Recall that Crusty Old Dean proposed, way back in October, proposed that we suspend the Canons in their entirety and take a first reading on removing voting by orders and taking the vote away from retired bishops (read about it here) in order to be able to start rolling out changes in 2015, not 2018 and beyond.  While Crusty Old Dean doesn't think we should do anything hasty -- the law of unintended consequences looms large -- on the other hand, we also can't wait until 2019 to bring in whatever changes will be proposed in 2015 and pass a second time in 2018 or even later (even if we manage to pass them in exactly the same language; we have shown a propensity to amend things on the second reading, this making it a first reading, thus require another second reading).

The battle will be over who is part of this consultation, and where the process is lodged.  The House of Deputies will fight to the end to make sure it is lodged in Standing Commission on Structure.  Crusty Old Dean is not against having significant involvement of the SC on Structure.  However, we need to have representation from our various networks -- like Forma (Christian Educators), the Stewardship Network, Campus chaplains, etc. -- and we MUST have significant representation from people under 30 and from underrepresented groups.  We are an old, white church in a country which is younger and more diverse, and with people under 30 hardwired in very different ways in understanding of community institutions, and networks.  If we are thinking of restructuring the church, is it ESSENTIAL that we have representation from the people who are going to inherit that church we restructure.  Since the average deputy is 60 years old and white, this is why COD has a problem with putting a creature of Convention in charge of the conversation. 

Some initial thoughts; this is not meant to be exhaustive or comprehensive.  COD will come back to this post at the end of Convention and we can engage in some group schadenfreude about how he could have gotten things so wrong.

If you're at Convention, COD is helping organize a gathering with Susan Brown Snook and Scott Gunn to share some dreams and visions for the future of the church -- look for info and updates at 

Follow Crusty Old Dean on Twitter @crustyoldean for updates from Convention.


  1. Do note that Martha Bedell Alexander has announced her candidacy in the election of the PHoD. She is a person of great character and leadership, with a long recod of service to the Church.

    Bruce Robison

  2. Will B015 pass (or pass in an amended form)? Though I would support an amended version of it my gut tells me that it doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing, particularly given the tension in the HoD right now.

  3. I can't imagine anything worse than someone from the current leadership group being PHOD. We need really really new blood, not the same old same old.

  4. Bruce, Martha is indeed a fine, faithful and fantastic person. I don't think she'll win, and I don't have a sense of what kind of vision she would bring to the massive tsunami of change which is washing over us. In a perfect world I would love a deputy between 40-45 who would serve as bridge between the church we're going to restructure and the handing off to the millenials.

  5. I've said it before and I'll say it again, even though she's refused it: Susan Brown Snook for PHOD.


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