This week, let’s talk resolutions! Now, don’t look away just yet, please. The Diocesan Convention 120 – Day Booklet is out so there are some deadlines coming up! If you are considering submitting a resolution for Convention or are a member of a group that is planning to propose one or if you are generally interested in how these resolutions come to be, please keep reading. This blog’s for you!
Every year around this time, individuals and agencies of the diocese send in resolutions to Canon Jo Ann Hardy that they would like to see our Household discuss at Convention. The opportunity to bring up issues and concerns is a very important part of our life together and our work as the household of God so we are always eager to hear from you.
That being said, I think there are some things you need to remember when writing a resolution that will make your task easier and more successful.
When Canon Hardy receives the proposals, she forwards them to the Chair of the Committee on Reference as well as the Bishop. The Chair of the Committee then sends them to the members of the committee for review. Many people are involved in considering the topic and the correct wording for your resolution. This takes a lot of time and effort from these dedicated volunteers. Very few resolutions ever come to Convention in their original form and wording. Occasionally it is determined that there might even be a better way of addressing a concern than presenting a resolution to Convention.
Knowing these background, the Committee on Reference would like to offer some guidelines for submitting resolutions:
1. Resolutions that come to the floor of Convention often lead to debate and discussion. While this can be informative for some people, it can also lead to a situation of winners and losers which does not foster unity in the Household. We all likely remember heated discussions on the floor of Convention that seemed to pit one “side” against the other. When writing a resolutions, ask yourself: Is this good for the whole of the diocese or is it my personal opinion and cause? If you’re not sure, ask your friends who may hold different opinions than you do. Listen to their stories. Might there be another way of addressing this topic without alienating others in the Household?
2. As I mentioned above, submitting a resolution requires investing time and resources by many others in the diocese. Consider your desired result before proposing the resolution. Is the work likely to produce your desired results? You might consider discussing your thoughts with others of diverse opinions especially if you are new to this process.
3. Does the resolution have a practical and effective action item? This is so important! If you have a detailed plan and process for arriving at your desired results, your resolution will more likely be adopted by congregations and individuals in the diocese. Resolutions without action items can easily fall through the cracks no matter how well-intentioned we are.
4. Make sure that, if your resolution requires work by others in the diocese (i.e. the Whitaker Institute or our Youth and Young Adults Missioner), you have cleared the details with them first. For example, if you are looking to hold a public event and would like Whitaker to be involved, come to them with the dates, materials, speakers, and location and likely they will be able to help in sponsoring the event. Be as specific as possible. Your good idea, may not necessarily be someone else’s pet project.
5. Be sure that Convention hasn’t addressed the same resolution in recent years. The result of previous votes on resolutions still hold. If you believe that a previously submitted resolution has not be actively considered by the diocese, might there be another way of bringing the issue to the people without a resolution? The Blog would be happy to address resolutions that need the dissemination of more information.
6. If your resolution includes a reference to a report, study or other document that is not generally known by members of the Convention or readily available, you must provide copies of it with your resolution for distribution to the delegates. Make sure that you are not quoting a copyrighted document without express permission from the owner of the document.
I mentioned that there may be better ways to get the work done than by bringing a resolution to the floor of Convention. Here’s a perfect example: Occasionally someone would like a letter sent to a government official from the Secretary of Convention demonstrating our support or lack thereof for a particular issue. Sending just one letter – even from our very significant Diocese – will not make much of an impression.
Receiving a hundred or more letters from his or her constituents, on the other hand, will make quite an impression. In this situation, you might want to consider a letter-writing campaign within your congregation, deanery or at the exhibit hall at Convention. Write the letter, provide copies and appropriate addresses and you’ve got the making of a successful campaign for your concerns.
If you still have questions about submitting resolutions, please ask either Canon Hardy or the Committee on Reference. There are also many dioceses who have prepared written guidelines for writing resolutions on-line. I googled “writing resolutions for diocesan conventions” and found many helpful documents.
Our time together at Convention is one of my favorite times of the year. The work we do together is sacred work for the kingdom of God and knowledge and preparation are the best foundations for making these days a blessing for our brothers and sisters in our Diocese.
Let us pray –Almighty and ever living God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who prepare for our annual Convention in October that all might be ready to work for the renewal and mission of your Church.Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council