"Shared Governance: The Polity of The Episcopal Church"

With General Convention nearly upon us and a conflicted church be asked to make some fundamental decisions about its common life, taking some time to think about how we have traditionally managed our common life makes a lot of sense.

To that end a new resource is being made available for all deputies and diocesan bishops for their reading prior to meeting in Indianapolis. From a post on the House of Deputies website:


"'The collection is intended specifically as an educational and reflection tool for Deputies to the General Convention, and offers a number of insights particularly geared to their work,' said the Rev. Tobias Haller, who chaired the committee, which was appointed by Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies, after the 2009 General Convention. 'However, any Episcopalian wanting to be better informed about how and why our church came to function in the way it does will find the essays helpful.'

The book focuses particular attention on the history and structure of the two Houses of the General Convention and how they interact; the role of the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies and how their offices have evolved; and the role of the Executive Council, which carries out the work of the church between sessions of General Convention.

Haller said the collection dispels 'some of the prevailing mythology concerning the origins and practice of our shared governance.'

'I want to thank the House of Deputies special committee for creating this remarkable resource,' said Anderson, who is serving her second term as President of the House of Deputies. 'Our polity distributes authority among all church members, whether lay or ordained, at every level, in the parish, the diocese, the provinces and at General Convention. It is a great gift, and one I hope the church will always safeguard and treasure.'"

You can find more information here.

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On a personal note, this will be my last regular post as a member of the newsteam here at Episcopal Café. I'll still be around and I'm planning to contribute to Daily Episcopalian as time and inspiration allow, but given my changing circumstances at the moment, it wouldn't be fair to the team for me to continue and expect them to keep covering for me as my schedule ceases to be predictable.

I'll end then by thanking all of them, most especially Jim Naughton for 5+ years of ministry and work. It's been an incredible experience for me, and I've learned so much from them. Thank you to them, and to you for reading along all these years.

Comments (8)

We may have "shared governance" but it is certainly not anything like a representative democracy. General Convention is so incredibly clergy-dominated with one House being exclusively clerical and the other House half clerical that I think we really have to question whether "shared governance" is even an appropriate term.

Thanks Nick for being on the team -- blessings on your next "gig" -- and Rhode Island too.

Maybe not perfect, but considering where many of us came from it's pretty darn good. I am grateful to be an Episcopalian.

When will you be moving here (RI)?

Fr Knisely, thank you for your ministry here, and I pray that God will bless and strengthen you in your new ministry as successor to the apostles in Rhode Island!

Congratulations to Fr Knisely and to the Diocese of Rhode Island. Based on what I know of him from his contributions to the blogosphere, Rhode Island is about to welcome an outstanding leader.

Following up on Bishop Epting's comment, there has been discussion about moving to a unicameral structure for GC. Would a three house structure, with the House of Deputies being split between clergy and lay deputies be a solution that would allow each order to engage in its own deliberations and decisions?

@Bill - I'm not sure. I'll need to speak with Bp. Wolf about that and a number of other things as you can imagine.

Godspeed, Nicholas. Many thanks for your ministry here at the EC. Blessings in your new ministry.

June Butler

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