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TREC and the 4 Cs

TREC and the 4 Cs

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:



Capability Builder


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.[3]

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.


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Diane Fruchter Strother

Is it possible the advocacy process would be part of what is being convened/catalyzed/etc.?

I share the general assessment that the first two sections are strong and the third I hope is very much a work in progress. I’m glad they put something out there far enough out to allow other ideas to enter the process, even if “4Cs” make my eyes roll.

I do not know what makes the most sense for the new advocacy, but it seems worthy of its own exploratory piece (hint, hint). The current advocacy apparatus is rather opaque to many in the pews–I wonder how many even know what our advocacy is/does? A huge pile of resolutions every three years at GC, which itself will clearly have to change, can’t be the best or only way. Perhaps a structure more like ERD? Perhaps more at the diocesan level? Other thoughts?

John B. Chilton

Hi Eric,

We say General Convention is in charge, that it’s the governing body. We say the PB and staff administer the General Convention’s mandates. I presume that General Convention doesn’t want to say how the staff is structured or do their jobs — those are managerial decisions and GC delegates that authority to the PB.

As Jim suggests it’s conceivable that a structure choice would be incompatible with a GC mandate. I speculated that the four C’s were not incompatible with social justice mandates.

Now clearly the four C’s, on paper, have the staff redeployed to assist regional provinces, coalitions of dioceses, dioceses, and parishes carry out locally set the agenda. (Does that subvert General Convention?)

Does that redeployment imply they will be taken away from achieving mandates of General Convention? I don’t know enough to know.

Eric Bonetti

Hi John. My concern, in reading the draft, is not so much with the Four C’s, as the over-reliance on a flat organizational structure. While there surely is a need to flatten our creaky bureaucracy, at the end of the day we still are hierarchical. Thus, there is a risk that the confusion between the HOD, the PB, and the HOB will get even worse with a flattened structure if we don’t establish clear lines of authority, including a person or entity with final authority over various issues.

In addition, the Four C’s may indeed signify that the primary purpose of the report is to suggest ways HQ can better serve the church. If, however, that’s the case, I would be deeply concerned, since TREC’s stated purpose is to make recommendations regarding our governance and structure.

John B. Chilton

As long as we, in the form of General Convention, are taking positions on public I don’t see why there’s any implication here that we’d be leaving the “advocacy business.” That’s something that will be done on GC’s behalf through the Government Relations ( )

The Presiding Bishop will continue, as one of her functions, to occupy the bully pulpit, and the PB is elected by GC.

From what I can see the four C’s



Capability Builder


are setting out what the role of HQ is in the modern age. It isn’t going to be to create curriculum, for example (again, example!). It’s going to foster it — the 4 C’s sound like a good start to me.

Compassion describes something we want to be. The four C’s are about how we can work together to remind this is one thing we want to be, and facilitate us working together to accomplish results that flow out of compassion.

I’ve not gone back and read the report, but if they are not front and center, perhaps the Five Marks of Mission should be. (In the portion Jim has quoted they are only under one C and that seems out of balance — they should infuse them all.)

Recall the Five Marks of Mission (they aren’t all that different from the ELCA quoted material in a previous comment):

~ To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom

~ To teach, baptize and nurture new believers

~ To respond to human need by loving service

~ To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation

~ To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth


Again, with the Five Marks set out, I don’t see how the four C’s signal anything other than an exploration of ways HQ can better serve the church.

Adam Spencer

And more to your discussion point, Jim: I agree that backing out of the advocacy business is a mistake. If I’m being honest, I feel like sometimes we get a little overly advocate-y at the expense of some other aspects of being the Church. (Catechesis, for example) But I also feel like abandoning the prophetic role of the Church, if that indeed is what’s going on here, is dead wrong. When it comes to issues of justice, the world DOES need our voice and, more importantly, it needs Jesus’s.

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