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Reactions to TREC presentation continues

Reactions to TREC presentation continues

Kyle Matthew Oliver, in VTS’ Key Resources blog, writes on two points from the TREC meeting, including “the contractor thing”:

What’s encouraging to me about what followed is two-fold. First, TREC members made it very clear—both at the meeting and to me afterward—that they have heard loud and clear the large amount of feedback on this issue. (In fact, Dwight Zscheile had said earlier, “We’ve heard from a lot of you … don’t take away all the program staff; there’s stuff that’s working.”)

Second, all the push-back seems to have clarified the position. What contractors have, or should have, is a high amount of mission clarity and accountability. It’s clear from the Letter to the Church that that was the attractive aspect of contractor-type language.

And it was clear from the meeting that the feedback they were responding to in choosing that language reflected some very real concerns (in what offices, I don’t know) about authority, accountability, chain of command, etc.

What seems to be emerging is an understanding of churchwide staff that have a high level of clarity and authority—and appropriate accountability structures to match—for the mission of catalyzing, connecting, convening, and capability building. That’s the mission I see the Lifelong Faith Formation officers, and so many others, living out every day. (Obviously, I can’t speak to the authority and accountability issues the TREC members raised.)

So my great hope is that “the contractor thing” will serve, in the end, as an example of how this process worked fairly well. A new idea was put forward, feedback was received, further clarity emerged. Of course, we don’t know if the final report will reflect this learning process. And the question of General Convention’s reception of the report looms larger still.

From Susan Russell reflections on her blog:

Then there’s this response by Jen Adams and Michael Curry to a questioner about specific ideas to reach out to those “hungry for God” — particularly younger people. The segment comes at 23:30 on the video, but here are the quotes:

Jen Adams: One of the things that I’ve learned as a part of this TREC project is how very little there is in terms of structure or governance or administration that stands in our way. We’re in our way at times, but it’s not generally our structure or governance or administration that keeps us from getting out there and finding those people and inviting those people and feeding those people and being those people. There are some technical changes we can make … but for the most part it isn’t the structure that needs to change. There’s something culturally that needs to change among us so we can inspire each other more fully be the people who are hungry to feed the people who are hungry for the good news.

Michael Curry: You’re talking about a revival. And TREC is about getting the bones rearranged so that they’re ready for the revival. We’re just doing a little piece – the cracking open.

That’s the part that inspired this tweet with a question I’m still asking myself:

Seriously. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t want the church to me more nimbly response to all those great goals listed above in the enabling resolution — but if what the Task Force for Reimagining the Church has discovered after two years of work is that it isn’t actually the STRUCTURES that are getting in our way, then why are we going to spend a whole boatload of time writing, re-writing, debating and voting on resolutions to restructure structures that don’t seem to the problem to begin with?

It’s like a patient with a health issue being referred to a surgeon — who does a battery of tests and comes back and says, “The good news is what you have doesn’t require surgery. The bad news is we’ve scheduled it for Monday.

Derek Olsen recaps the meeting in The Living Church:

There were no straightforward answers about the shape or scope of TREC’s resolutions to come before General Convention; there was no detailed discussions of church structure. What did become clear was that TREC contains deep resources of intelligence, wisdom, and faith — and that its members are still bringing these virtues to bear on the issues facing the Episcopal Church. A subtle refrain throughout the night emphasized that the work accomplished this triennium would be a beginning, a start, an initial movement, and by no means a finished work….

Throughout the presentations and the questions, it became clear that TREC was approaching its work from a very particular perspective, and not others; its members’ attention is and has been focused on clarity of roles at the highest level of the church, not on monetary or theological questions. The greatest energy centered on the roles of the Presiding Bishop, the Executive Council, and General Convention. Both the size of General Convention and which bodies continue the work of convention between its triennial meetings were present in the discussion. Other issues of structure seem not to have been discussed.


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I agree with Paul about us reacting more to our own anxiety than responding to God’s Spirit. In fact, I blogged about it:

Andrew Ford

Paul Woodrum

It all sounds a bit backwards. No great movement of the Spirit through the church resulted from rearranging the deck chairs though most resulted in some rearrangments. I keep having this nagging premonition that we are reacting far more to our own anxiety rather than responding to God’s Spirit. Maybe we need more time in the crevice and less in the storm.

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