A good faith effort from the Diocese of Lexington

The Diocese of Lexington is the latest to weigh in on how the Episcopal Church should attempt to restructure itself.

Whereas the mission of the Episcopal Church is to seek and serve Christ in all persons and

Whereas, this Church’s faithful engagement in Christ’s mission is to proclaim good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed and the acceptable years of the Lord in a way that maximizes the resources available for that mission at all levels of the Church, and

Whereas, the administrative and governance structures of The Episcopal Church have grown over the years so that they now comprise approximately 47% of the church-wide budget resulting in a situation that hinders rather than furthers this Church’s engagement in God’s mission,

Be it resolved that this 116th Convention of the Diocese of Lexington directs that the following resolution be filed with the Secretary of the General Convention for consideration by the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church:

Resolved that a Special Commission on Mission Structure and Strategy be created, the composition of which shall include the chairs of the Standing Committee for Structure of the Church, two persons appointed by the Presiding Bishop, two persons appointed by the President of the House of Deputies, and one lay and one clergy person appointed by each province of The Episcopal Church, keeping in mind that the representation of this Special Commission express the diversity of persons that make up the Episcopal Church, and be it further

Resolved that this Special Commission be formed within 60 days following the adjournment of this 77th General Convention, and be it further

Resolved that the several dioceses hold conversations concerning the re-structuring of the Episcopal Church with the goal of better aligning missional organization and enhancing ministry at all levels of The Episcopal Church, and report the findings of these conversations to the Special Commission by no later than the end of calendar year 2013, and be it further

Resolved that the Special Commission recommend a plan for restructuring the administration and governance of The Episcopal Church to be considered at the 78th General Convention, and be it further

Resolved, that the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance consider adding appropriate monies to the General Convention Budget to cover the cost of this mandate.

I don’t know whether 47 percent of the budget passed by General Convention is devoted to administration and governance, but setting that aside, I think this resolution moves the process in a helpful direction both in what it does include and in what it doesn’t. Directing dioceses to initiate conversations about church reform can only be helpful, providing information we don’t currently have. Dropping the requirement that we hold a special convention will save money, reduce the drama a special convention would have ginned up, and allow the people of the church to elect representatives to the 2015 convention who represent their views on issues surrounding restructuring, if they so choose.

I don’t have a firm opinion on the manner in which this special committee would be put together, mostly because I don’t know how decisions are made on the provincial level. I like the idea of representing the broad diversity of the church, as the legislation says, but I am not entirely sure that provinces, appointing to represent their own interests, are going to give us any kind of diversity other than the geographic. I am also not clear on why the Standing Committee on Structure can’t do this job itself.

That said, this resolution feels like a good faith effort to respond to some of the criticisms of previous legislation.

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