The Task Force for Re-imaging the Episcopal Church (TREC) has released a draft report on the identity and vision of the Episcopal Church. It includes this passage, which we’d like to discuss:
The four areas, then, that we suggest we explore to define a clear role for the churchwide organization of the 21st century are:
Catalyst: The Episcopal churchwide organization should inspire and provoke all members of the church to live fully into its mission of “restoring all people to unity with God and one another in Christ” (BCP, p. 855).
Connector: The Episcopal churchwide organization should establish and maintain relationships among its member communities and constituents in order to cultivate Episcopal identity, to magnify the mission impact of local communities by connecting them to each other, and to facilitate the sharing of ideas and learnings across the Episcopal and broader Anglican networks. Part of this connectional work involves canonical authority to foster and preserve the church’s catholicity (unity-in-diversity with the wider Christian Church).
Capability Builder: The Episcopal churchwide organization should support leadership development around the critical skills necessary for individual and community-wide Christian formation in 21st century contexts. The Episcopal churchwide organization should also ensure that the church is a learning organization—rapidly learning from successes and failures across the church and rapidly sharing these lessons across the church network. Key capabilities needed in today’s missionary context include skills in ministry, community organization, reviving congregations, planting congregations, multicultural leadership, evangelism, Christian formation, reaching new generations, and reaching new populations. The expertise in these areas lies primarily at the grass roots, but the churchwide function can foster mutual learning, especially on a peer-to-peer basis.
Convenor: The Episcopal churchwide organization should assemble the church in traditional and non-traditional ways as a missionary convocation. The Episcopal Churchwide organization should also convene the church with the broader Anglican Communion, with ecumenical church partners, and with other potential partners and collaborators in proclaiming Christ’s Gospel and living the Five Marks of Mission.
These roles begin to suggest particular activities and resources that must be reflected in churchwide structures, governance and administration—some of which exist already, and some which may need to be created or strengthened. They also suggest activities and resources that may no longer be appropriate for the churchwide organization.
Do these seem like the right functions? What would you add or subtract?
My own sense is that in this report some folks on TREC are laying the groundwork for getting the Episcopal Church out of the advocacy business. I think this would be a significant mistake not simply because our society needs to hear our voice, but because our advocacy efforts are what initially make us attractive to many of the people who join our church.