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Standing Commission on Communications and Information Technology to dissolve

Standing Commission on Communications and Information Technology to dissolve

The Blue Book for General Convention 2015 is online here.  Reports are added from the Standing Commissions and other bodies of General Convention as they are received. The Standing Commission Communication and Information Technology (SCCIT) offers its report and one resolution:

Resolution A010: Dissolve the Standing Commission on Communication and Information Technology

1. Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church dissolve the Standing Commission on Communication and Information Technology or incorporate its charge with that of another standing body of The Episcopal Church.

Explanation
Created by the 73rd General Convention in 2000, the Standing Commission on Communication and Information Technology was formed at a time of great changes in technology. It was also formed just as the first Director of Communication was hired at the Episcopal Church Center. For many years prior to 2000, Episcopal News Service, Episcopal Life, information-technology staff, and the Presiding Bishop’s communications and public affairs staff operated with a good deal of independence of one another.

With an evolving staff structure in the Office of Communication emerging just as SCCIT began to tackle its charge, the roles, expectations, and relationships between the two entities were never fully defined.

Over the past 14 years, the fields of communications and technology have experienced a period of exponential change and growth. The three-year cycle of General Convention renders any recommendation that SCCIT might make obsolete within months of passage. Despite the talent, enthusiasm, creativity, and faithfulness of the members of SCCIT, such a far-flung group of volunteers lacks the capacity to achieve recommendations without program support.

Therefore, SCCIT’s members recommend the dissolution of the Commission so that its members may be free to share their gifts and energy in immediate and local projects within existing Episcopal networks.

Editorial opinion: This is a sad event as it was begun with such high hopes and lots of volunteer time. It was hoped that there could be some coordination between the various communication venues of the church but it was not to be. One wonders if all the hype about “networking” as the future is doomed to fail in this same way for lack of support or interest by those in power.

From the report:

Even without resolutions to work on, SCCIT has continued to meet quarterly and, over time, explored the relevance of our mandate. As a policy-focused commission, SCCIT’s aim is to propose policy changes regarding communications, a mandate that makes less and less sense for several reasons:

  • The field of communications is changing rapidly. Policy statements about current trends in communications today will be outmoded within a year or, likely, less.
  • There is no Church-wide office that would help dioceses and congregations realize policy recommendations that SCCIT might make. In the absence of such an office, the prior triennium’s commission turned its attention from policy-making to the creation of a resource website to support its “Website Challenge.” However, this website quickly became out-of-date without committed volunteers or program staff to support it.Without exaggeration, the members of SCCIT find themselves without a clear sense of purpose, without adequate resources, and stymied by the very nature and scope of the work. As General Convention 2015 approaches, we face the unsettling prospect of another three years of meeting for the sake of having said we met. SCCIT sees a greater likelihood for innovation and support in the areas of communication as coming from the Episcopal Communicators network, in partnership with The Episcopal Church’s Office of Communication; as well as from the work of innovative individuals and organizations that are pushing at the boundaries of The Episcopal Church’s communication efforts in timely and innovative ways.

 

posted by Ann Fontaine

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Pierre Whalon

The Standing Commission on Episcopal Church Communications was established by resolution D-069 of the 2003 General Convention. It was moved by the late Cynthia McFarland and Nick Kniseley in the House of Deputies, and the motion to concur in the House of Bishops was made by David Jones and myself. I was appointed as a member later that year.

There was a committee on communications established by Executive Council in 1994, I believe. So I am wondering which CCAB is under discussion here.

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Ann Fontaine

This one http://www.generalconvention.org/ccab/roster?id=394

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Joseph Jerome

Hi Heidi,

Good for you. I see your point of view. Keep it up. Be well. I will keep you in my prayers. God bless.

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Heidi Shott

The headline is a bit misleading. SCCIT will dissolve only if the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops concur with the recommendation of the membership.

Nor am I sure editorial opinion is helpful. As a member of the commission for the past six years, I hope that deputies and those interested will have a chance to read the report, hear our rationale, and draw their own conclusions.

There's been great change in communications since SCCIT was formed in 2000.

If someone had told me, when I graduated from college in 1984, that I would someday be a communication director for an Episcopal diocese I would have said, "yeah, I can see that." But what I would have envisioned was a job where I wrote and edited stories, took photos that I sized with a reduction wheel and sent text and specs to a printer to make into a newspaper. I would have handed press relations and issued the occasional press release. I might have ghost-written for the bishop if he (only he then) was a crappy writer (fortunately the two bishops I've worked for are both great writers.)

By 1990 or 1991, I would have been expected to become a graphic designer and bring the production in-house because, well, someone had invented Pagemaker, and designing in-house would save a lot of money.

By 1998 (when I started at the Diocese of Maine) it was a given that I would learn HTML and become a web designer and later to become conversant in a variety of content management systems - easy ones to help congregations establish a web presence and robust ones for the diocesan site.

By 2008, expertise with video production, email marketing, and social media was an absolute requirement for the job.

I still see that the primary function of my job as an Episcopal communicator is to be a storyteller: one who makes the invitation of Jesus available to the person most tenuously perched on the last pew of the smallest congregation in our diocese. Mastering the latest tools to tell that story well is part of the gig, but not the whole gig.

Perhaps we need to divest of our love for the tools and focus on story, and there's no Commission will help us do that.

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