The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church meets this week in Chicago. Mark Harris, writing at Preludium has the agenda, some thoughts about the items on the agenda, “executive sessions” and why the UTO discussions and the out come matters:
…there is a gathering storm of issues facing EC and the Episcopal Church and that that storm is daunting.
The budget process will be increasingly complex.
The re-visioning process is beginning to involve major changes in understanding just what church-wide offices and programs look like.
The UTO “issue” just scratches the surface of the issues to come concerning creative new possibilities for a church with carryover corporate mentality.
The emergence of a very different sort of missionary sensibility will challenge old ways of relating to “mission areas” of our own church, both internal and external to the United States.
Tuesday, October 15
8:00 Morning Prayer
8:30 – 12:00 Opening Plenary
• Roll Call, Announcements, Approval
of Agenda, Acceptance of Minutes
• Opening Remarks Chair and Vice Chair
• Welcome – ELCA PB Mark Hanson
• Election of Executive Committee
• UTO Update
• Executive Session (if moved)
• TREC update (90 min)
Harris continues with comments on executive sessions and the dangers inherent in less than open meetings.
Why is the UTO case a test for the future of The Episcopal Church and restructuring?
The reason why the UTO mess is so important at this moment is because UTO under existing bylaws, approved by Executive Council, attempts to be both autonomous and interdependent. It attempts to make its own decisions, for its own work, knowledgeable of its own financial resources, doing its own communication, while at the same time conforming to the financial and other norms of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. If there is no solution except for UTO to become totally subsumed into the DFMS, then this tells TREC that there is no way to reconfigure the Episcopal Church making it more a network of nationally active Episcopal Church related agencies and less a centralized regulatory system for management.
If the so called necessary changes are indeed necessary then there is no hope for a new improved Episcopal Church that is not top down organized. Gone will be any possibility of genuine national church efforts guided by local prayer and giving with leadership chosen from local communities.
Executive Council alone can put the brakes on this.
Should they fail to do so UTO will indeed continue, and perhaps will continue to be funded by local folk praying and giving. But it will be a less interesting sort of church world and finally less interesting to this writer, who may find other places to plant his prayers and funds.
If Executive Council fails to find a way forward that includes the possibility of seeing UTO as a test case of new possibilities in organizing The Episcopal Church, there will be great disappointment in some quarters, including here in the small world of Preludium – which finds its hope is seeing the present as, well, the present, but also a prelude of a song to come.
And we offer prayers for the meeting and wise decisions. Follow them on Twitter at #ExCoun