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Blue Book filling up: State of the Church and Executive Council reports

Blue Book filling up: State of the Church and Executive Council reports

In our Saturday series leading up to General Convention we are making the Blue Book reports available as they are published. Preparing for General Convention is easier taken in small bites (bytes?). Two new reports have been added to the Blue Book web site.

The Committee on the State of the Church is appointed from the serving Deputies of the past General Convention. They look at the various reports from around the church and try to discern the direction in which the church is moving, failures, opportunities, and challenges. Observations from the introduction:

The Committee on the State of the Church observes that The Episcopal Church is already a new Church in many ways — some ways are challenging, and some bring joy. We are, above all, a Church that is filled with hope. As our Committee discussion and reflection progressed over the course of the triennium, we recognized change as the predominant reality of the state of The Episcopal Church. We have changed, are changing, and will continue to change.

We’re different. We’re smaller. We’re less well-to-do. We’re older. Our clergy are deployed differently and do ministry through roles that are changing. Our laity are leading in mission and congregational life. We’re connected in new ways to partner in Mission nearby and far away. We’re learning new ways to look at ourselves and new pathways to sustainability.

We’ve been tested, and we are being tested. Perhaps, because of this and by the grace of God, we are being made stronger for the Mission ahead of us. As the Catechism reads: “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” In the scope of this report, Mission will refer to the definition from the catechism unless otherwise defined in context.

As a new and renewing church, The Episcopal Church celebrates the joys and challenges of a global community called to mission filled with hope.

The balance of the narrative report is in three sections. The first looks at the Church from a congregational perspective, the second from a provincial and diocesan perspective, and the third from a church-wide perspective. This is followed by additional tables and resolutions.

Proposed Resolutions

A038: Develop an Index of Vitality
Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church be tasked with investigating the efficacy and utility of an “index of congregational vitality,” to become a part of the Parochial Report, the purpose of which would be to assess annually the health and well-being of all the congregations that constitute The Episcopal Church; and be it further

Resolved, That a panel of nationally recognized experts from within and outside the Church be assembled to assist the Committee on the State of the Church in carrying out the above-described task; and be it further

Resolved, That a supplemental amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) be added to the budget of the Committee on the State of the Church to support the cost of this panel of expert consultants; and be it further

Resolved, That the Committee on the State of the Church report its formal recommendations on this matter to the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in 2018.

A039: Fund the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church

The Executive Council: Every three years, each province elects either a clergy or a lay person; the House of Deputies elects 2 clergy and 6 lay persons; and the House of Bishops elects 2 bishops. That’s 19 people. Since the terms are 6 years, the membership of the Council is double that number, or 38, plus the officers (PB, PHoD, COO, Treasurer, and Secretary of Convention). The Council members serve on various subcommittees to address the work.

Use of the Five Marks of Mission as a template for work, collaboration, networking and improving processes seem to stand out from the Report of Executive Council. The location of the Church Center continues to be part of the discussion of Council but most of that work is done in executive session due to financial and personnel concerns. The resignations of the Board of United Thank Offering and issues of governance and relationships to The Episcopal Church were addressed. The Board and Executive Council came to agreement over the future of the fund. The budget process is probably the most visible sign of the improved processes of the Council. Most noticeable to Ms. Lelanda Lee, second triennium member of the Council, representing Province VI, “was the innovation of the three coordinating committees: B019 Peace in the Holy Land; A135 Domestic Poverty; and D042 Human Trafficking were meaningful ways of drawing Council and CCAB members, DFMS staff, and church members at large together in a consultative manner.” Lee also notes: “the budget vision process afforded structured opportunities for Council and CCABs to converse together about what we think our charters are and what we foresee in our work areas. Those relationships were strengthened as a result.”

Resolutions coming to General Convention from Executive Council are:

A011: Recommit to Criminal Justice Reform Study and Advocacy

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 78th General Convention reaffirm and renew the Church’s longstanding commitment to the evaluation and reform of the federal, state, and local criminal and juvenile justice systems in the United States, as previously called for by General Convention resolutions 1985-C043 (Create a Task Force on Reform of the Criminal Justice System), 2000-B055 (Reaffirm Criminal Justice System Reform), 2003-B026 (Establish the Joint Committee on Criminal Justice), 2006-A111 (Investigate Criminal Justice Issues), and 2012-D026 (Urge Support for Bipartisan U.S. Commission on Criminal Justice); and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention declare support and advocate for the expansion of funding for treatment, alternatives to incarceration, and reintegration services to people leaving prison; and call on Episcopalians to support and participate in mentoring and accompaniment programs for those leaving prison; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention declare opposition to mass incarceration, which perpetuates a cycle of systemic poverty in the United States through its impact on defendants, inmates, parolees, and their families; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention reaffirm and renew the call of The Episcopal Church for a moratorium on the use of for-profit private prisons, including immigration detention centers, which often set occupancy or “bed” quotas, capitalizing on the criminal, civil, and immigration incarceration of individuals; are a leading factor in the “New Jim Crow,” the disproportionate mass incarceration of youth and men and women who are black and brown; and feed the “School to Prison Pipeline,” which depends on the use of school policing and mandatory sentencing for non-violent crimes; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention reaffirm and renew support for the repeal of mandatory- minimum sentences for nonviolent offenses; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention call for the abolition of the sentencing disparity between crack- cocaine and powder-cocaine offenses; and, as an intermediate step, urge the U.S. Congress, in accordance with the recommendation of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, to make retroactive the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, which reduces the disparity in sentencing from previous levels; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention urge states with monetary bail bond systems to reform those systems, which rely upon often-unlicensed and unregulated bail bond agents and on conditioning release from pre-trial incarceration solely on the ability to pay, discriminating against defendants who are poor; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention, acknowledging the importance of employment for reintegration into society by formerly incarcerated persons, urge policymakers to pursue legal reforms to enhance the employability of people leaving prisons; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention condemn offender-funded law enforcement practices, such as requiring newly released inmates to pay for their own court-required drug testing when they often are unemployed or underemployed, and urge policymakers to create equitable post-sentencing parole systems that remove undue financial burden on the parolee as a condition for maintaining parole; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention condemn the practice by many states of felon disenfranchisement, which removes the right of formerly incarcerated (or “returning citizens”) to regain the right to vote once they complete their sentence and leave prison; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention call for exploration and creation of restorative justice programs to transform juvenile justice systems; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention direct the Executive Council to convene a Criminal Justice Reform Coordinating Committee, comprised of church members, ecumenical partners, and outside experts, for the purpose of developing educational information, advocacy tools, and church policy to assist the dioceses and church members in their ministry to prisoners, people returning home from prisons, and their families; and in their advocacy for comprehensive criminal justice reform at all levels of government; and to direct the Coordinating Committee to report to the 79th General Convention; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget to support the work of such Criminal Justice Reform Coordinating Committee.

 

A012: Continue Funding of Mission Enterprise Zones

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the Church celebrate and further the good work initiated by GC2012-A073 Establish Diocesan Mission Enterprise Zones, defined as a geographic area, as a group of congregations or as an entire diocese committed to mission and evangelism that engages underrepresented groups, including youth and young adults, people of color, poor and working-class people, people with a high-school diploma or less, and/or people with little or no church background or involvement”; and be it further

Resolved, That the Church honors the holy experiments emerging throughout the Church — experiments that are building partnerships, expanding the language of ministry; creating new ways to engage the people of God; harvesting and sharing learnings; and lending courage to those leading new ministries and lowering the cost of failure; and be it further

Resolved,That the 78th General Convention continue to fund the startup of Mission Enterprise Zones and New Church Starts with a significantly increased budget allocation over the 2012-2015 budget; and be it further

Resolved, That the Church continue to develop the Mission-Centered Episcopalians web-based sharing platform and to bring together mission developers for a face-to-face gathering where they can share best practices, upholding ministry leader wellness; mutual guidance and support; and sharing of stories, resources, and prayer; and be it further

Resolved, That diocesan leaders be encouraged to share what they learn from these Mission Enterprise Zones specifically in the disciplines of a) financing and sustaining these experiments, b) adapting liturgical practices for increased missional impact, c) exploring new processes for mentoring and training emerging leaders in situ, and d) blessing our diocesan families by more readily incorporating these non-traditional faith communities with voice and vote as discerned by the leadership of that Mission Enterprise Zone or New Church Start; and be it further

Resolved, That applications for partnership and funding from these new ministries will be discerned, supported and called to accountability by a First Mark of Mission task force appointed by the Missionary Society and the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, with the seed money administered by the Church’s Missioner for New Church Starts and Missional Initiatives, for the 2016-2018 triennium; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention request that the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance allocate not less than $3M designated in the EC draft budget for 2016-18 to continue funding the startup of Mission Enterprise Zones and New Church Starts to implement this resolution during the 2016-2018 triennium.

A013: Continue Financial Support for Global Missions, Young Adult Service Corps, and Episcopal Volunteers in Mission
Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 78th General Convention affirm the growing success of the work of Global Missions, especially the global networks, relationships, and spiritual developments seen in programs like the Young Adult Service Corps and the Episcopal Volunteers in Mission; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention, in showing our continued support to be a mission-based church firmly grounded in the work of global mission, call upon Executive Council to work to increase the opportunities for global mission through such programs as Young Adult Service Corps and Episcopal Volunteers in Mission, through budgetary means as available so that opportunities for global mission are increased, diversified, and prioritized by the 79th General Convention; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention call upon every diocese to explore the opportunities for global mission work and encourage as many people as possible to apply for, attend, and complete a mission assignment as made available by these programs.

A014: Celebrate Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75 Years of Healing a Hurting World

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church commend Episcopal Relief & Development for strengthening the bonds of Anglican unity by partnering with The Episcopal Church’s Anglican and Episcopal counterparts in nearly 40 countries worldwide, and for utilizing local assets to best steward resources and encourage long-term and holistic change; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church encourages dioceses, congregations, and individuals to celebrate and support the life-saving work of Episcopal Relief & Development during this, their 75th year, and in years to come.

A015: Continue to Support Province IX Sustainability

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 78th General Convention affirm the Church’s dedication for the ongoing work of Mark of Mission II — “To Teach, Baptize, and Nurture New Believers,” especially as it pertains to the agreed-upon plan for Province IX Sustainability; and be it further

Resolved, That plan adopted by the Project Team for the Second Mark of Mission, meeting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic from July 8-11, 2013 be continued and supported by the representation of the General Convention; and be it further

Resolved, That the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, working through the Joint Standing Committee on World Mission, or through a similarly tasked representative body or committee of the Executive Council assigned to exert fiduciary responsibility for this crucial component of the ongoing mission of the Church in Province IX, continue to support the work of Province IX Sustainability in the 2016-2018 triennium as detailed in the plan adopted by Executive Council; and be it further

Resolved, That the Executive Council, Church management, and key leaders of bishops, clergy, and lay representatives from throughout Province IX continue to work together to implement this plan through such time as all dioceses in Province IX reach self-sustainability.

A016: Provide Structural Support for Covenant Committees

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 78th General Convention instruct the Covenant Committee and Bilateral Committee serving each of our global partners (Brazil, Philippines, Central America, Mexico, and Liberia) to submit to the Standing Commission on World Mission and the Executive Council Joint Standing Committee on World Mission, on an annual basis, a report reflecting the current status of work of the Covenant/Bilateral Committee, including actions and programs planned; implemented; or plans for future actions or programs, developments with regard to partnership priorities, financial challenges, and strategies for self-sustainability; and be it further

Resolved, That such reports be submitted no later than October 1 of each calendar year.

A017: Affirm Ongoing Work and Dialogue with Ecumenical Bodies

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 78th General Convention affirms the continuation of the ecumenical dialogues currently sponsored by The Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Episcopal Dialogue, and noting particularly the renewed round of Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation in the U.S.A. (ARCUSA) dialogue and the work toward full communion with the United Methodist Church. The Committee also affirms the continued coordinating committee work with our full communion partners, The Evangelical Lutheran Church and The Moravian Church. The Committee also notes with joy and gratitude the deepening relationship between the Primates and Presiding Bishops of The Episcopal Church, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, The Anglican Church of Canada, and The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; and commends, to members of all four churches, the work they have done together and the statements and study documents they have jointly issued.

A018: Encourage Interfaith Engagement

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 78th General Convention affirms the work being done on behalf of interfaith engagement by The Episcopal Church at all levels in the life of the Church, and encourages a sustained commitment to the furthering of such work. Recognizing the increasingly pluralistic nature of our world, we particularly cite the deepening of the Christian Jewish and Christian Muslim engagement as well as the broadening engagement with other religious traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and others.

A019: Affirm the Inter-Anglican Secretariat

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That through our funding and active participation, this Church continues to bear witness to this Church’s ongoing commitment to the Anglican Communion and the work of the Inter-Anglican Secretariat.

A020: Affirm the Work of The Episcopal Church at the United Nations

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 78th General Convention and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA rejoice together in being granted Economic and Social Council consultative status at the United Nations; and be it further

Resolved, That the Church encourages all Episcopalians to educate themselves about the work of the United Nations and the many ways in which our collective call as Christians to “seek and serve Christ in all persons” links with the work undertaken at the United Nations, and to partner with the United Nations and its agencies to achieve these goals; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention encourages all Episcopalians to avail themselves of the resources and opportunities presented by this status, in particular partnering with the Global Partnerships team and the Church’s official representatives to the United Nations.

A021: Continue Our Commitment of 0.7% of the Millennium Development Goals

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That The Episcopal Church continues its commitment, especially as reflected in the church-wide budget, of the 0.7% dedicated to the Millennium Development Goals, or other such title as adopted by the United Nations (i.e., Post-2015 Development Agenda, or Sustainable Development Goals, as mentioned by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations), throughout the 2016-2018 triennium and beyond; and be it further

Resolved, That the Convention, recognizing that funding for nutrition, education, health care, and development programs is essential to achieve not only the Millennium Development Goals, but also to recognize the dignity of all human beings, invites all dioceses and congregations to contribute 0.7% of their annual budgets to fund international development programs.

What do you notice in the reports?

 

posted by Ann Fontaine

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Susan Brown Snook

Thanks for this report, Ann. Just a minor note that the summary of how Executive Council members are elected isn't quite right. Every three years, each province elects either a clergy or a lay person; the House of Deputies elects 2 clergy and 6 lay persons; and the House of Bishops elects 2 bishops. That's 19 people. Since the terms are 6 years, the membership of the Council is double that number, or 38, plus the officers (PB, PHoD, COO, Treasurer, and Secretary of Convention). Thanks for keeping us up to date!

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