You will have to read the Rev. Gay Jennings’ entire sermon at the closing Eucharist of Executive Council to understand the headline on this item. Below is a passage that was especially heartening to me.
As the Church engages in surprisingly passionate conversations about structure, governance, roles, responsibilities, canonical and constitutional amendments, rules of order, CCABs, budgets, staff, and General Convention, we need to remember that we are about the business of the restoration, together.
No more false choices between mission and governance. No more false wars between individuals or groups. No more jockeying for turf or control. Rather, we have to find ways to move forward together, and envision and incarnate the future God calls us to embrace – and I pray that we will throw ourselves into it with wholehearted abandon.
As leaders, we need to consider how we might exercise new models of leadership. Nicholas Petrie of the Center for Creative Leadership writes about interdependent leadership. He suggests that interdependent leadership is a collaborative enterprise and more a shared process than an individual skill set. Who the leader is becomes less important than what is needed in the system and how we together can produce it.
This kind of leadership is more likely to flourish when there is open flow of information, flexible hierarchies, distributed resources, distributed decision-making, and loosening of centralized controls. Petrie writes, “We are still at the early stages of thinking about leadership development at a collective level, but I have no doubt that future generations will see networked, interdependent leadership as a natural phenomenon, the way of the world.” We need to pay close attention to this.
As I talk to people around the Church, people are clear that there is a need for something new, people are passionate, but there aren’t many concrete suggestions offered, and some are not sure about what the structure of the Church actually consists of. The good news is that people care about how we are structured. Structure is simply the arrangement of relations between the parts or elements of something complex.
Structure in the Church is simply the arrangements of relations between the parts or elements for the purpose of the restoration of creation through covenant relationships to the glory of God. How we go about restructuring is as important as how we restructured. Will we be true to our Baptismal Covenant? Will we be courageous and brave? Will we accept what Jesus offers us?
I have a vague sense in the wake of the Executive Council meeting, that many of the people who have been pushing restructuring proposals, and those who have been pushing back against them, regret the way that the conversation has unfolded. I count myself in that number. After reading Gay’s generous sermon, I am wondering if we can all agree to push the reset button, and proceed in this important work in a collaborative, accountable and mutually supportive fashion. I don’t exactly know what that will look like, or what sort of sacrifices it will require from all of those involved, but I think it is worth finding out.