At long last the smoke has risen from the Legislative Committee #6 on Structure. At last we know whether the initial draft, captured by someone taking a photo with a cell phone of the resolution as it was being discussed, was no Bigfoot-esque hoax and actually reflects the work of the committee. At long last the process of sifting over 90 resolutions on structure submitted to the General Convention has been completed (for now). And lo, like Adonai surveying the creation on the last day, Crusty Old Dean declares this resolution to be “very good.”
Here follows Resolution C095 from the legislative Committee on Structure:
Resolved, the House of ________ concurring, That this General Convention believes the Holy Spirit is urging The Episcopal Church to reimagine itself, so that, grounded in our rich heritage and yet open to our creative future, we may more faithfully:
• Proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
• Teach, baptize and nurture new believers
• Respond to human need by loving service
• Seek to transform unjust structures of society
• Strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth;
and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention establish a Task Force under the Joint Rules of Order, whose purpose shall be to present the 78th General Convention with a plan for reforming the Church’s structures, governance, and administration; and be it further
Resolved, That this Task Force shall be accountable directly to the General Convention, and independent of other governing structures, to maintain a high degree of autonomy; and be it further
Resolved, That the Task Force shall have as many as 24 members, appointed jointly by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies by September 30, 2012. The membership of the Task Force shall reflect the diversity of the Church, and shall include some persons with critical distance from the Church’s institutional leadership; and be it further
Resolved, That, in order to be informed by the wisdom, expertise, and commitment of the whole body of the Church, the Task Force shall gather information and ideas from congregations, dioceses and provinces, and other interested individuals and organizations, including those not often heard from; engage other resources to provide information and guidance, and shall invite all these constituencies to be joined in prayer as they engage in this common work of discernment; and be it further
Resolved, That the Task Force shall convene a special gathering to receive responses to the proposed recommendations to be brought forward to the 78th General convention, and shall invite to this gathering from each diocese at least a bishop, a lay deputy, a clerical deputy, and one person under the age of 35. It may also include representatives of institutions and communities (e.g., religious orders, seminaries, intentional communities); and be it further
Resolved, That the Task Force shall report to the whole Church frequently, and shall make its final report and recommendations to the Church by November 2014, along with the resolutions necessary to implement them, including proposed amendments to the Constitution and Canons of the Church; and be it further
Resolved, That the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance consider adding $400,000 to the 2013-2015 triennial budget, to enable this Resolution to be implemented energetically and successfully, “…for surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
COD loves this resolution for several reasons.
First off, it grounds these conversations around the Five Marks of Mission: rather than being the current buzzword of the day, these marks of mission are ones which have been proposed at the Anglican Communion level as a way to bind the provinces together in common mission. COD finds it fitting likewise to have our conversations about reform and restructuring be framed in the service of mission.
The resolution also notes the role of the Holy Spirit here: indeed, who would have thought, twelve months ago, that reform and restructuring of the church would engage so much energy and passion? Perhaps, instead of being labeled as efforts to marginalize people, might this indeed be a movement of the Spirit? Over ninety resolutions were submitted, after all; it would take quite an orchestrated conspiracy to fool that many bishops, deputies, and dioceses.
It also places this process in the structures of the church but not wholly a creature of that governing structure. Rather than having one of the Standing Commissions, like the Standing Commission on Structure, be in charge of this process of discussion, it creates a Joint Task Force under the Joint Rules of Order (Joint Rule 22). It lets the presiding officers – PB and PHoD – appoint the members, but they will not be ex-officio, since by canon they are only members ex-officio of Standing Commissions, not Task Forces. This would not preclude them, COD supposes, from appointing themselves, since that is not prohibited under Joint Rule of Order 22. It also asks that those being appointed be have a “critical distance” from governing structures. COD notes that creating a Joint Task Force strikes the balance between being grounded in Convention while still seeking the broadest possible input into these discussions.
This resolution also calls for a broader process of input apart from the question of appointment, asking for contributions from parishes, dioceses, congregations, and other networks. Further, in addition to the Task Force itself, there is a call to convene a “special gathering,” to include representatives from all orders of ministry and specifically persons under 35. Crusty Old Dean has been adamant there must be intentional inclusion of persons under 35, so we can actually let the generation that is going to receive this restructured church have a hand in shaping that restructuring.
COD enthusiastically supports this resolution. It will be very interesting to see what may happen once it hits the floor of the House of Deputies, and whether there will be any substantive efforts at amending.
And of course COD thanks the Legislative Committee for apparently reading Crusty Old Dean, since he suggested something quite like what is proposed in this resolution. COD is not just insufferable, he is also relentlessly self-congratulatory on the rare occasions he is right about something.