The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church (the interim governing body between General Conventions) concluded its meeting in Fort Worth yesterday and reported that a key portion of their conversation focused on responding to calls to reconsider the structure and governance of the Episcopal Church.
This is one of those stories that, at first glance seems like the sort of "inside baseball" stuff that only church wonks find interesting; but it's probably going to be, in hindsight, a key moment in the 21st century history of the Episcopal Church. As one of the Editorial board of the Café puts it; "Change is coming, but the shape of the change is hard to see right now".
According to Episcopal News Service, it emerged during the meeting that a number of interim bodies of the General Convention were independently having conversations about what sorts of modifications need to be made to the denomination's structure. Executive Council's response was to work on coordinating those efforts.
"'How do we become nimble but not reactionary?' the council asked in its message. 'How do we become light enough to move quickly while keeping enough weight to anchor us in our faith? How do we remain rooted in our tradition without being mired in that tradition?'
The coordination plan came in response to comments made at this meeting by House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson about managing the change and planning that may be needed in the church and those made by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori at council's previous meeting in October. It was also related to a suggestion the presiding bishop made during a Governance and Administration (GAM) committee meeting Feb. 16 for a blue-ribbon panel or summit on the subject.
GAM's resolution directed the church's Standing Commission on the Structure of the Church to be the group to coordinate the conversations going on in a number of the church's committees and commissions about strategic planning and possible changes in the structure and governance of the church. The structure commission's mandate (Canon I.1.2(n) (10)) calls for it to 'study and make recommendations concerning the structure of the General Convention and of The Episcopal Church' and to 'bring about a coordination of [the] efforts' of the church's committees, commissions, agencies and boards.
The coordinated conversation, council said, should begin during an extension of the commission's next meeting in early June and be reported to the council later that month."
Read the full article here.
Early in the morning on Friday there was a discussion of a report to Executive Council about the personnel and the hiring/firing practices of the Church Center. That report was in response to questions that arose over the past years when union workers claimed they had been fired from the Church Center's maintenance staff and after General Convention in 2009 when a number of Church Center employees were laid off because of budget shortfalls.
Council began the final day of its Feb. 16-18 in executive session to receive the report of the A&F 093 Task Force from task force chair Dorothy-Jane Goldsack Porpeglia, a New York lawyer who is also Province II chancellor. Council asked in January 2009 that the task force be formed to conduct a comprehensive review of the human resources practices of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (the Episcopal Church's corporate entity) relating to all employees, contractors and consultants.
The council also met in executive session on the first day of its meeting here to receive reports from the Joint Audit Committee of Executive Council and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery, which it retained as outside legal counsel to assist in the evaluation of employment and personnel practices. The authorization to hire outside counsel came after an executive session held during council's June 16-18 meeting. The council later got an update on the work during an executive session at its October meeting in Salt Lake City
Later on Feb. 18 during an open session, the council passed a resolution directing management at Episcopal Church Center to report to GAM at the June council meeting with recommendations for implementation, a timeline and a report of actions taken to date regarding the recommendations contained in the reports from the audit committee and A&F093 Task Force.
The meeting also took action and announced that the 2015 General Convention will be held in Salt Lake City.
Additional information on this meeting:
The Presiding Officers reflect on the meeting: