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TEC Executive Council begins 3-day meeting

TEC Executive Council begins 3-day meeting

The Episcopal Church Executive Council began its 3 day meeting at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum Heights, MD (Diocese of Maryland).

Both the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies made opening remarks.


The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings offered a top ten mid-triennium questions for Executive Council leaders, including:

7. What is your theology of power? As I said in Rochester, “We all make choices about how we use power and exercise leadership – choices that shape not only the church and diocese and congregations we serve, but our very hearts and souls. At its most basic, leadership is the exercise of power. As people with power, we have the power to influence people and shape lives. We have the power of making decisions, and we are given authority, through baptism or ordination or appointment or election, to act on behalf of others. How we exercise the power and authority we have been given is at its core a spiritual and theological issue.” How are you using your power and authority on this body? If you are passive, why is that? Think about how you exercise your power.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori began with an announcement on Haiti:

Four years ago this month, Executive Council passed a resolution expressing its deep concern for our Haitian sisters and brothers following the devastating earthquake on January 12. That resolution challenged “The Episcopal Church to raise an extrabudgetary sum of at least $10,000,000 for the long term rebuilding of the Diocese of Haiti.” I am absolutely overjoyed to tell you that we have received a written pledge of $5 million to assist the Diocese of Haiti in its recovery and rebuilding efforts. We are grateful beyond measure for this expression of generosity and faith in the Church’s work in Haiti.

Jefferts-Schori also talked of change for the church:

The Episcopal Church as a whole is growing into a new way of seeing our place in the wider world. We continue to move from a utilitarian or objectified understanding of mission to a more organic one. Those may seem like harsh and overly critical words for past behavior that was often done in entirely good faith, yet there is always an element of human self-centered sinfulness in the ways we engage others, especially those who are seen as the other. Missionaries who engage others as objects of pity or as beneficiaries or subjects for transformation are treating those others as things, rather than incarnate reflections of the creative spirit of God. It is an eternal exercise of turning around (i.e. repentance) to allow ourselves to be sent into the world to discover what God is up to, and to expect that we will be the ones transformed. It’s a way of engaging God’s creation as part of the community rather than its ruler, as a member rather than the head, as a friend or sibling rather than an all-knowing parent. Sometimes we’ve used the shorthand of moving from colonial missionary work to post-colonial mission efforts. We will never do it perfectly, but we continue to seek ways to be eager and expectant recipients of God’s abundant grace rather than its providers – and to understand that as the only way we and the whole of creation will ever find wholeness, salvation, healing, and shalom.

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barbara snyder

Good questions, Frederick W. Schmidt....

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Frederick W. Schmidt

Is authority the exercise of power?

Is that all there is to it? What are the possible positions you can adopt to authority if it is all about the exercise of power? Apart from the choices to (1) wield power or (2) to be subjugated by power --- are there any other positions possible?

If not, should we begin to look at other understandings of authority? For example, should we see authority (with Sara Charles and Eugene Kennedy) as the conservation of the creative space within which people live, capitalizing on the root of the word, "author."

How would that change the way in which we exercise authority? How would that change the way we lead? How would that change the way that we respond to leadership?

Is it possible that authority would cease to be about the conservation of power?

Would the exercise of authority become less reactive?

Would the exercise of power no longer center on the person in authority and focus instead on the conservation of the creative space, whose care is his or her responsibility (for the moment)?

How would we exercise that kind of authority?

What would be our demeanor?

Our goals?

Our attitude toward those who disagree with us?

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