The Rev. Evan Garner, a deputy to General Convention from the Diocese of Alabama, attended the open meeting of the Task Force for Restructuring the Episcopal Church last week. You can read his impressions on his blog, A Long Way from Home.
Here’s an excerpt:
TREC did more pontificating than answering. Maybe that’s because they’ve spent so much time together, talking the same language, answering their own questions, that what happened at the meeting was less direct exchange and more prepared rhetoric. Whatever the cause, this was an opportunity for real dialogue, but the back-and-forth was lacking.
One key example of this closeted thinking kept showing up in the meeting. Over and over, I heard members of TREC talk about the importance of redefining jobs and the organization structure of the staff who work for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS), which is basically the name of the business side of the Episcopal Church. When questions were asked about the radical changes needed at the top, the response seemed to focus on making sure that employees of DFMS knew for whom they were working. When concerns about the size and ineffectiveness of the Executive Council were raised, the response had to do with the importance of redefining who was in charge of whom. To me, it sounded like TREC had taken most of their direction from people who work for or closely with DFMS (the Presiding Bishop, the President of the House of Deputies, members of staff, those who work with them, etc.) and not from the rest of us (parishioners, parish clergy, diocesan bishops). My exasperation grew exponentially with each reiteration of this issue that, at one point, I tweeted, “Oh my god! Really? Work of TREC would be good enough if it straightens out job roles for church staff? Worst use of 3 years ever.” I hope and pray that something other than a new organizational flow chart comes out of this TREC work. And I think it will, but we might have to fight for it.
Garner predicts that some of TREC’s proposals will be popular, but that others, such as strengthening the role of the Office of the Presiding Bishop will not succeed.
What do you think?