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Executive Council meeting in Salt Lake City

Executive Council meeting in Salt Lake City

UPDATE: report from Episcopal News Service.

Ohio Bishop Mark Hollingsworth questioned why council could not correct the “mistakes and errors” in the version of the draft budget council forwarded to the church’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) in January. He asked whether council could send that group a revised version.


Jefferts Schori and the Rev. Canon Gregory Straub, executive officer and secretary of the General Convention, said canons prevent the council from revising the budget

The Rev. Winnie Varghese of the Diocese of New York said she would, for the second time in a row, speak against the budget at convention because twice now “the final document does not reflect what the body asked for or decided [and] I find that an incredibly difficult position to be in.”

The Rev. Gay Jennings of the Diocese of Ohio said that “we did send a budget that had mistakes in it, so to me it’s a matter of the integrity of Executive Council” because the budget sent to PB&F “was not what some of us believed was adopted.”

Jefferts Schori said that PB&F “is fully aware of what the issues are and I think there’s a piece of this that is our ability to let it go.” She later agreed with Bruce Garner of the Diocese of Atlanta that a “memo of information” from council to PB&F “would be entirely appropriate.”

The Executive Council is meeting in Salt Lake City, UT. Opening speeches by the Presiding Bishop, the President of the House of Deputies and Chief Operating Office. Katie Sherrod is live tweeting the meeting @KatieSherrod3 as is Lelanda Lee @LelandaLee. Most are using #excoun as a hashtag.

From the Presiding Bishop:

The difficulties that this body has experienced in the past triennium are not the fault of any one person, structure, or decision. They are a symptom of collective grief. We have three days together, which I hope will be used for forgiveness, a search for understanding, and letting go. I want to thank all of you for the persistence to stay the course, even when the dynamics have been painful. Let’s see what healing we can find in the next 72 hours, and then carry that will toward healing out into the larger church. Your willingness to endure these difficulties has been sacrificial, both as a faithful act of holiness, and as a sacramental act on behalf of others

.

From the President of the House of Deputies:

We don’t yet know how to transform the Episcopal Church into what God is calling us to be in the future. I believe that we will not find the tools we need at the top of the church’s hierarchical pyramid—in my office at Christ Church in Michigan, or at 815 Second Avenue in New York—but in the expertise of networks like Episcopal Relief and Development, Episcopal Service Corps, Forma (an association for Christian educators), provinces with active networks and others working collaboratively in dioceses and congregations.

At this General Convention, we have the opportunity to make the fixes that we have the know-how to accomplish. Let’s allocate money to grassroots proven Christian formation programs, youth ministry, young adult service corps. Mission? It happens most effectively on the local level. Where the people are – in parishes and faith communities – the people who are DOING the mission and ministry. What if we supported them with our budget?

I believe that understanding and respecting the difference between technical fixes and adaptive challenge will help us proceed with restructuring logically, making good use of the know-how that we already have.

More importantly, however, understanding adaptive challenge should help us approach the essential work of restructuring with humility, respect for what we don’t know, and deep caution about the danger of unintended consequences and false choices.

If we approach restructuring thinking that the job is simply about being efficient, we run a grave risk of diminishing the voices of laypeople and clergy. If we approach restructuring thinking that the job is simply about saving money, we run the risk of more budget processes—like the one we recently endured together—in which mission priorities take a back seat to number crunching.

From the Chief Operating Officer:

Here’s where I think the life is in this particular paradox for us right now. To begin with, it is in having a conversation. That ought to be what communities like this one are good at, isn’t it? We need to have a conversation about, given the inherent paradox of trying to lead a Christian community, what are the structures that will help us and how are our resources most faithfully deployed. The conversation I long to have with you is about that. The conversation I long to have with you as the elected leadership of the Episcopal Church is not about the panic of our declining numbers but about how we strengthen what is working best out there and make what is strong stronger so that the strong can serve the less than strong. The conversation I long to have with you is not about how to get more people in the doors to help us pay the bills but about how to make more disciples of Jesus to go about changing the world into God’s dream for it.

Katie Sherrod’s twitter stream is below– read up from the bottom:

Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Breaking for lunch

21m Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

We have so much work to do — Council rededicates itself to this work.

21m Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Council member Bettye Jo Harris just spoke — a cry from the heart from a grandmother about her fears for her grandson, a young black man.

28m Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

The rest of it 14 Respect each group’s working on its own stuff 15 Support our allies 16 Act as allies with no conditions attached.

28m Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

14 Respect each group’s working on its own stuff 15 Support our allies 16 Act as allies with no conditions attached.

29m Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

11 Accept being corrected with humility 12 Stand in solidarity with the marginalized 13 Honor the risks taken by the marginalized

30m Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

7 Use appropriate language 8 Confront inappropriate language 9 Ask questions don’t assume 10 Take risks

34m Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

4 Build relationships with the marginalized 5 work to equalize and share power 6 work for policies that support the marginalized

35m Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Ann Fontaine’s How to be an ally 1 listen without judgment 2 seek to learn from our allies 3 identify and work to change prejudices

58m Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Council now reflecting on how our anti-racism work has or has not affected our relationships on the Council and our work.

1h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

table discussions now

1h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Let these reflections undergird our work at this meeting.

1h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

We need to explore the racism right in front of us.

1h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lack” — Lack did not know her cells were being taken, much less used by researchers all over the world.

1h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Tuskegee Experiment was systemic racism.

1h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Two thirds of people serving life sentences are non-white.

1h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Banking system is another, especially in marketing of subprime loans.

1h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Criminal justice system is example of systemic racism.

1h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Reviewing definitions of individual racism, institutional racism, systemic racism

1h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Clear that Council is not finished with budget discussion — group is organizing to send message as KJS suggested. More as it develops.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Lelanda Lee urging people to turn around and get into a new frame of mind before we do this work.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Moving on to anti-racism work.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Some Council members talk about future process — what have we learned. How can we make next year’s budget process work better.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

KJS – Push back and anger reflects what is going on in larger church. You are experiencing cost of leadership.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

KJS — we said we wanted to to try a different process, and we did. Was it perfect? No.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Staff responds that everything Council wanted is in there, but clearly this is not resolved.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Can we send a memo of information, a letter to PB&F? Bp. Katharine thinks that can work and would be appropriate.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Are these question an inability to let go of the budget?

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Operate out of a deficit of trust, but that doesn’t eliminate the need for errors to be corrected.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Hard to answer people who ask, “what’s up with Executive Council.”

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

It’s a matter of the integrity of Council — what was sent was not what some of use believed was adopted.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Concerned that we did sent a budget that had mistakes in it. Who “owns” the budget?

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

The institutional structure resists change.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Not trying to accusatory, but we have to deal with this. To name it.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

And yet even though the document does not reflect the work the Council did, we are told it’s too late to change that because of canons

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

The same institutional structures will be there next year – if we don’t change that, the final document will not change

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

The final budget document does not reflect the hard work and the decisions Council made. It is just not there,

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

We are in a period of serious transistion — at times we know that, other times we resist it — just as the rest of the church is.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

One regret is the timing — Sauls joined in December – the good collaborative work of the staff and Council is not well reflected in budget

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Decide what we think is important — and then the dollars will follow.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

One thing that worked well was having chairs of PB&F present as guests at budget discussions of Council.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Perhaps next time Council spend less time on budget in committee and more time in plenary discussion.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

We can communicate to PB&F any time, just as anyone can.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Because there were some mistakes in the budget that was sent to PB&F why can’t we correct it? Because there are canonical requirements.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Council is discussing budget process — need to start earlier, need to reflect on what General Convention does.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Very encouraging conversation — members seem very open to new ideas, taking a break.

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

how will we make “The Episcopal Church welcomes you” a reality and also bring along those who have resisted that for so long?

2h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Decades ago member heard TEC described as a sleeping giant — look out if it ever wakes up. When will we wake up? See signs of hope.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

How do we keep inviting all those voices — especially those so often unheard — into conversations?

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

The native community and many others would appreciate a more circular structure that honors all the people.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Council members are pointing out that many in the wider church have already moved to a place of humility ready to explore new ways of being.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

We must pledge to assume good intentions, not only in public conversationo but also in our private conversations.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

I asked that we be careful to honor people wherever they are, that we not do any public shaming of those who are in different places.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Calls for more open conversation not only among ourselves but at all levels. Cautions offered that we not be lured into false dichotomies.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Executive Council is now reacting to the presentations of Bp. Katharine, President Bonnie and COO Stacy.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

“How are we always using the tasks before us to embrace and not avoid the Gospel.” Sauls.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

“Survival is the enemy of life. Churches that turn inward will die. Those that turn outward even at the risk of death will thrive.” Sauls

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

We have to put how we use the resource of a church wide staff on the table

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Putting everything about our common life on the table and talking about what best serves the Gospel.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Our need to have conversation is NOT about panic over declining members but about what is working out there.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Our task as leaders is to live into this particular paradox,

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

We must not be “avoiders of the Gospel.”

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Hard to see beyond survival, but doing that makes us survivalists, who can behave in pretty odd ways.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

But boards and councils have fiduciary duties to insure the institution survives — but also the responsibility to be a servant of mission.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Jesus said for those who want to save their life will lose and those who lose it for my sake will lose it –

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Stacy Sauls tells story of his first vestry as rector — every meeting started with treasurer’s report — focusing on money to avoid Gospel.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Bonnie – We must listen more closely to people who don’t carry an important title or sit in the councils of the church.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

cannot make false choice between governance and mission.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

People doing mission and ministry now are major resources. must do this work with humility and acknowledgement of what we don’t know.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Bonnie — “I believe we will not find the answers at the top of our structure.” Neither in her office or those at 815.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Must remember we can’t legislate to meet this adaptive challenge.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

We must change our structures to help meet this adaptive challenge — example – how might we amend canons dealing with merging dioceses?

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

We don’t know how to “fix” declining membership— the expertise needs to come from both in and out of the church.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

We must avoid reactive decision-making, Bonnie warns. We are facing an adaptive challenge, we must change or become irrelevant

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

Bonnie wants us to keep decision making in the hands of all the baptized to help keep us from unintended consequences.

3h Katie Sherrod ? @KatieSherrod3

At Executive Council where Bp Katharine and President Bonnie are calling us to put away fear and begin to envision a new church.

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Susan Snook

No, Matthew – no connection – sorry!

Murdoch Matthew

OT to Susan Snook:

In 1964-1965, at Church House, Westminster, I worked with an impressive woman named Brenda Snook. Any connection? (Probably not, I realize, but it would be fun if there were.)

Kurt Wiesner

I would highly suggest that everyone pick up the thread that Michael and Jim are discussing on the “More Episcopal Budget laments” page. It’s a helpful continuation of what is here…

https://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/episcopal_church/more_episcopal_church_budget_l_1.html

Susan Snook

Mike, I totally agree with what you are saying about the bunkum budget. The budget actually dares to include 3% per year salary increases for the administrative staff at 815 (including those responsible for these errors). That’s ridiculous.

One thing that needs clarification: Diane Pollard is not on staff at 815. She is a deputy, and is the HOD chair of PB&F. I don’t know who on 815’s staff was sitting at the computer adding things up incorrectly as Executive Council members shouted out changes to the budget, but the 815 staff person ultimately responsible for the accounting is Treasurer Kurt Barnes. And of course, the whole debacle is evidence of serious dysfunction in EC, staff, and our entire budget process.

However, of all the folks involved, PB&F has not yet had official access to the budget, and is not yet responsible for it, so Diane Pollard isn’t the one to blame, nor is Bishop Lane. This is Executive Council’s budget, created with the support (er, non-support) of 815 staff. I believe that PB&F members are working very hard to get the information their committee needs to fix this mess.

Susan Snook

Michael Russell

Were I Ms Pollard I would not want the GC folks discussing her office’s incompetence, subterfuge or sabotage of the budget for the next two and a half months. Despite her assertion that, apart from math errors, this is the budget EC authorized, it appears EC disagrees. At the moment we have no discussable budget and so EC is holding the bag for this canonical breach which is actually a staff failure.

When I ran printing presses there was a sign over the presses that said, “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, how do you have time to do it over?”. In a matter of this gravity, Ms Pollard and her staff should refrain frm making excuses, and produce the document the EC authorized, or at least a corrected document we can discuss. To hide behind the canon is bunk. The present document is of zero value, and so official or not, as a Deputy I need to see a document that bears some semblance of reality.

This whole debacle reinforces for me the need to do radical surgery on the institutional culture of 815’s policy level staff. The budget we pass can do this by dramatically cutting staff and rebuilding a leaner fresher one. Conveniently for the existing staff the bunkum budget doc doesn’t do any staff cutting, while presenting a total mess on program. I favor pushing program to more local levels, because centrally produced programs are only rarely locally inspiring. But to do that in the bunkum budget and not cut staff is so transparently self serving that it would be humorous if not so banal.

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