Wow! I checked our Facebook page and I was blown away by this week’s stats – somehow we “reached” 229 hits this week! That’s up from 12. However this happened, I am, thrilled that you are joining our story to see The Church live out God’s mission!
Imagination! I confess – I have a very vivid imagination!! I love to mentally picture important events in my life. I imagine what I will do in my garden this summer. I imagine what the best gifts might be for my friends at Christmas. I have even begun imagining what my travels to General Convention might be like! This week’s blog is all about imagining, yours and mine for the future of our church.
Today, I’m putting aside my Resolution Review Committee hat and donning my General Convention deputy hat, since the work of preparing for General Convention will eventually fall into the hands of the Resolution Review Committee after all. Last Saturday, our diocesan deputation for General Convention met to begin some of our work together prior to Salt Lake City. A few of us joined the group online while the rest met at Julia Huttar Bailey’s home in Ann Arbor. For those of you who might be new to this whole General Convention thing, each diocese gets to send four clergy and four lay deputies, plus one alternate for each order. We do have an additional three alternates in each order just in case – and we hope that they are able to join us for at least part of our time at GC. We elected our deputies at the Diocesan Convention back in October 2013. Here’s the line-up:
The Rev. Lisa Tucker Gray
The Rev. Julia Huttar Bailey
The Rev. Ronald Byrd
The Rev. Philip Dimwiddie
Ms. Elizabeth Anderson (chair)
Mr. Cedric Flounory
Mr. Paul Castelli
Ms. Judith Schellhammer
The Very Rev. Ellis Clifton
The Rev. Laurel Dahill
The Rev. Dr. Richard Hamlin
The Rev. George Davinich
Ms Margaret Wessel Walker
Dr. Denise Crenshaw
Mr Peter Trumbore
Mr Stephen Ott
Our plan for this first meeting was to discuss the report presented by the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church which was completed in December, 2014. I’ve presented the report in the blog before but, if you’ve missed it, here’s the link for it again –
The mandate for the Task force came from Resolution C095 Structural Reform at the last General Convention in 2012. This resolution reads:
Resolved, the House of Bishops 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, to challenge violence of every kind, and to pursue peace and reconciliation
• 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)
This was quite a weighty job for those on the Task force, given the diversity of dioceses and congregations within our greater Household. Not surprisingly, our deputation had both positive and negative opinions about the final report. While we know that at General Convention, we will be voting our conscience on the many resolutions, we do not want this to be in a vacuum. We need to hear from you!
How do you imagine our Church? How do you “see” us living out the Five Marks of Mission as we live into our Baptismal Covenant in the future? What does this look like to you? Please take the time to read the first 19 pages of the report and share your comments with me (firstname.lastname@example.org), Lizzie Anderson (email@example.com) or any of our other deputies. We will carefully consider your thoughts and concerns and bring those with us as we make decisions at Convention.
You may wonder why I am not sharing all the opinions of the deputation. I’ve given this much thought but since we did not compose a group statement, what I might write would only be my opinion; I do not want to presume to speak for the others. I will add – and this is, indeed, my opinion – that I’m not convinced resolutions are the best way to respond to a changing culture. Most positive change is birthed from the ground up and not from legislation that imposes change on others. I’ve said it before: resolutions can change behavior but do not change people’s hearts. That being said, the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church took on an almost impossible job and they certainly tried hard to hear the many voices of our Church as they prepared their report. I’m sure they each put in tremendous effort to present their best work to us.
As our deputation meets in the future, I will try to share more of our discussions and hope that others on the team will bring their voices to the blog, as well. As we continue to prepare for Convention in June, please pray for us that we come to this responsibility with open minds and hearts to hear God’s voice and follow the Spirit’s leading. Help us imagine together!
Let us pray –
Almighty and everlasting Father, you have given the Holy Spirit to abide with us for ever: Bless, we pray, with his grace and presence, the bishops and other clergy and the laity preparing to gather in your Name at the 78th General Convention, that your Church, being preserved in true faith and godly discipline, may fulfill all the mind of him who loved it and gave himself for it, your Son Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
~ Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council