Covenant subcommittee declines to release key report

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ENS reports (towards the bottom of this story) that the sub-committee formulating the Executive Council’s response to the proposed Anglican Covenant is refusing to release a report on whether the covenant would require changes to the Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons.


Mary Frances Schjonberg writes that the council:

heard a report from Rosalie Ballentine, council member and chair of its Anglican Covenant Task Force. She said that there were “a few” among the 64 responses the group received from a request for comment on the final draft of the covenant who would approve the covenant in full. “Almost all” respondents objected to Section 4, which contained a disciplinary process, she said. Ballentine also said that the group will not yet release a report it requested from the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons outlining the changes that would be needed if the General Convention decided to sign on to the covenant. “We’re reluctant to have it out there” because some people may assume that decisions have already been made, she said. The report will eventually be appended to the task force report to General Convention. Council will receive a draft of the Blue Book report in October, according to Ballentine.

Conversely, the Anglican Church of Canada, which apparently regards its members as adults, has released its report, which is here, along with an executive summary, which is here.

The Cafe pushed hard to make the names of the members of the House of Bishops Secret Theology Committee on same-sex blessings public. This is much more significant information, and we implore the Council to release this document which will clearly influence the sub-committee’s deliberations about the covenant, and therefore should be public.

And if you happen to come across a copy, please email it to feedback@episcopalcafe.com

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Lelanda Lee
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Lelanda Lee

I have posted "Response from an Executive Council Member" at my blog at www.whatacupoftea.blogspot.com.

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Lelanda Lee
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Lelanda Lee

I have posted a response on both the HoB/D list and on my blog at www.whatacupoftea.blogspot.com entitled "Response from an Executive Council Member."

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Jim Naughton
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Jim Naughton

The issue of releasing the long-ago completed report from Constitution and Canons was raised at Executive Council. The sub-committee chair declined to do so. That constitutes withholding information by my definition.

People who don't want to run for Executive Council because they fear public criticism probably don't belong on Executive Council. If they are afraid of what a blogger might write, imagine what putty they would be in the hands of stronger members of the Council.

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Bruce Garner
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Bruce Garner

The minutes will be available as soon as someone has time to transcribe them and get them approved. That is the normal process. Why don't you just submit a direct request or question to Rosalie instead of all this back and forth?

Me saying that there is no intent to deprive anyone of information will fall on your deaf ears. Sometimes the processes do not move at the speed or direction others might like, but that is how it is. And when that happens immediately crying foul or jumping to conclusions doesn't help the situation.

As I have already said, I appreciate the work you do. But you also need to know that the attacks that get directed at well meaning folks who are on the same side of the discussion as you go a long way toward disuading others from standing for election to bodies such as Executive Council.

Bruce Garner

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Jim Naughton
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Jim Naughton

If the Constitution and Canons report on this issue was still in process, I'd have no objection. But it was submitted to the task force months ago. It is done. The entire church has been invited into the discernment process on how we should respond to the covenant. Our discernment cannot help but be influenced by the opinion of these legal experts. Why can't we know what it is?

Why don't we even have minutes at http://generalconvention.org/ccab/meetings/188?

If the report says that constitutional changes are required, but that news isn't reported to the church until it is too late for supporters of the covenant to prepare the appropriate legislation and organize support, our likely rejection of the covenant will be viewed as suspect. I don't want that to happen. But holding on to this report makes it possible that it will.

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Ann Fontaine
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Ann Fontaine

And not held for a convenient time.

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Ann Fontaine
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Ann Fontaine

Bruce - minutes and reports of all bodies of General Convention are required to be published by the canons of the church. This whole thing sounds like people who are trying to control the outcome - not working for all of us as charged.

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Bruce Garner
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Bruce Garner

Correct Jim, my emotional state has nothing to do with my opinions. They remain as stated and I do not agree with you. I would also point out that most commissions, committees agencies or boards do not release their "reports" until the Blue Book is issued. You might want to view it as a news article: it doesn't get released until it is finished or completed.

Bruce Garner

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Jim Naughton
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Jim Naughton

Bruce, your emotional state at this moment, or any moment, is irrelevant to the question at hand. Executive Council is sitting on a report on a critical issue that was issued by a Standing Commission of the General Convention. Both of these bodies represent the people of the Episcopal Church, and are accountable to the people of the Episcopal Church. As one of their constituents, I think it would be a good idea for the Council to release that report.

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Bruce Garner
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Bruce Garner

Jim,

The Executive Council is the Board of Directors of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and as such serves the same role for The Episcopal Church. It is a dual role and it is subject to the laws that govern non-profit boards.

There are a number of issues that are not made public by non-profit boards. No one is saying that this information will not be made public, but it is up to the EC to decide when it will issue its reports. I serve on Governance and Administration for Mission. We have many projects in the works and we complete them as we are able and release the results unless they involve personnel actions or real property both of which do not have to be disclosed.

I assure you that EC takes no action in any executive session since to do so is illegal. We discuss in those sessions but a vote on any legislation, resolutions or decisions must be made in public.

I'm a little, no make that a lot, testy about all of this. I went to Baltimore on Tuesday and came home on Saturday in fulfillment of my responsibilities as an elected member of the Executive Council. We worked hard the entire time we were there. The week before I had been at the Province IV Synod from Wednesday through noon on Friday. That's not always the most welcoming place to be, particularly for an LGBT person although things have improved. I was delighted to see some breezes of change blowing through...they weren't strong enough to be winds yet.

I stayed for the 20th Annual Province IV Network of AIDS Ministries Annual Retreat. We did our best to meet the needs of over 250 people who exist on the edge of financial disaster all the time....80% must have scholarship assistance to attend a $175 retreat! Only about 12% are Episcopalians. Where is the church in all of this? It isn't. It hasn't been pretty much after the face of AIDS became predominantly a face of color. It's frustrating as hell to try and engage in AIDS ministry in a church that no longer thinks it's an issue! Direct some of your interest into real ministry instead of this stupid covenant.

On top of a busy two weeks, I received a call during the last day of Executive Council telling me that one of our retreat planning committe members and the Vice Chair of the NEAC Board who was a dear sweet man had dropped dead at the age of 36! Apparently it was a heart attack. No warning and I had last seen him Sunday as the retreat ended. He had tried to get in the ordination process but could not because he was gay and partnered and his bishop required a "celibacy statement" from him. The church lost out in more than one way.

So if I am a tad cranky over all of this, too damned bad. Direct some of your criticism toward issues that mean more and then we can discuss it.

For what it's worth, my thoughts will not be about the covenant or this discussion as I begin a 6 hour drive to go to a funeral tomorrow.

And by the way, I do make it a point to read mark learn and inwardly digest the role of non-profit boards since it has been part of my life to do so for over 25 years. Stick that in your pipe or wherever else you choose to smoke it.

If you are not happy with how Executive Council or any other body of the church is run, then put yourself forward for election.

Bruce Garner

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Jim Naughton
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Jim Naughton

Bruce, the Executive Council isn't the board of a non-profit, and the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons isn't some random source. The most authoritative legal opinion our church is likely to receive on issues involving the covenant has been in the hands of that sub-committee for a number of months. It is important information in and of itself, and it needs to be made public.

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Bruce Garner
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Bruce Garner

It should have been:

Rosalie Ballentine

My apologies for butchering her name.

Bruce

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Bruce Garner
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Bruce Garner

Folks are jumping to way too many conclusion here. I'm not on Rosalee Balantyne's committee and didn't devote much time to this. Nor did we spend much time on it in plenary session. We had other issues with which to deal. It has nothing what so ever to do with whether or not members of TEC are "adults" or not.

My non-profit board background of over 25 years is one where board committees gather information from a variety of sources, write their report and then release the report with any background data or reports that provide useful information about their report. No one is hiding anything or denigrating someone elses maturity level. It's just a normal course of conducting the business of the board. No one is trying to "cloud" the transparency. Let the committee do its work before the second guessing starts with the data they have....is that too much to ask?

I generally appreciate the Cafe's comments and work, but damn folks, it's junk like this type of scrutiny and second guessing that makes fewer and fewer people willing to serve on committees of the church and I don't just mean at the broad church level.

Now I am sure to get skewered for these remarks, but have at it.

Having said this, I personally have no use for the Covenant, but I am still willing to utilize it to our best advantage at GC. Would I be willing to disclose my strategy for that? Nope...at least not right now.

Bruce Garner

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jimB
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As Lee models above, the Church's elites really think the rest of us are idiots. "Oh, that report? It is not for those so unimportant that they are not on the committee! Do you have your pledge card?"

We prattle about "transparency" when the elites are battering the State. But they are too important to apply it to themselves.

FWIW

jim Beyer

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www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=560747865
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Part of the sensitivity here is in how this sort of move with regard to the proposed Covenant has been mishandled in other provinces. In England, for example, the official teaching materials on the Covenant were rather one-sided and went out to dioceses that way. Calls for improvements went unheeded on the official chain (but thank goodness for how much more effective the unofficial chain can be). So if there is a heightened awareness or posture of defensiveness about withholding information, it isn't for nothing. It might be because those of us who've been watching have seen this before, and long for the most complete information to be presented in as timely a fashion as can be mustered.

Torey Lightcap

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Lionel Deimel
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The Canadian report is devastating. We cannot now know if the Episcopal Church report is also very negative about the Covenant or whether it takes a Pollyanna view. I discuss this on my own blog in a post delicately titled “Canadian Report Proves Text of Covenant Sucks.”

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Jim Naughton
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Jim Naughton

Lee, nobody is asking for the D020 report to be released because we know it hasn't been written. So let that go please. But the report from CC to the D020 group has been written and has been in hand for some time. This influential report--written by a Standing Commission of the Church, setting out its opinion on whether we can adopt the covenant without changing our constitution, is not being shared with the wider church. You have not pointed out any factual inaccuracies in this item, but have either misunderstood it or distorted it. So maybe you are the one who needs to examine whether you are addressing this issue with clarity.

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Ann Fontaine
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Ann Fontaine

ENS says "Ballentine also said that the group will not yet release a report it requested from the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons outlining the changes that would be needed if the General Convention decided to sign on to the covenant. "We're reluctant to have it out there" because some people may assume that decisions have already been made, she said." Seems clear to me that the Task Force does not want people to see the C&C report -- because we will misinterpret it or others around the world will. Must be pretty dire.

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Lee Alison
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Lee Alison

The D020 TF has not released its report because it has not been written yet. What is not being released is a paper from the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons on the possible effects of the Anglican Covenant on TEC's polity. The D020 TF report most likely will address responses to the Covenant and ways forward. What the SCCC paper says is a different matter.

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Lee Alison
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Lee Alison

These articles are not getting it right. The D020 TF has no report to release because it hasn't been written yet. What is not being released is a paper to the subcommittee from the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canosn on the possible effects of the Anglican Covenant on our C&C. The reporting out HERE needs to be clearer and less inflamatory.

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GrandmèreMimi
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I don't like at all like that the sub-committee on the Anglican Covenant will not release their report. Whose idea is this? What about transparency? Do they think the hoi polloi are stupid, that we won't understand? They're not the CIA. Why keep the report "classified"?

June Butler

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