Committees, Commissions continue the work of General Convention

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Committees, Commissions continue the work of General Convention

Note: this is another in an ongoing series discussing the governance of The Episcopal Church.

[November 11, 2009] In a few days, the CCABs of GC will gather at a huge meeting in the Windy City.

In regular, non-church language, that means that the Committees, Commissions, Agencies and Boards (CCABs) of General Convention (GC) of The Episcopal Church will be meeting in Chicago, Ill.

Committees, Commissions, Agencies and Boards of General Convention are commonly referred to by their abbreviation: CCABs. The first CCAB meeting, at which most of the CCABs are invited, is slated for November in Chicago, IL.

The Rev. Canon Gregory Straub, Executive Officer and Secretary of General Convention, explained, “Between General Conventions, the Convention’s work is carried out by interim bodies: Executive Council, Standing Committees of Executive Council, Standing Commissions of the General Convention, Committees of Executive Council and Task Forces, Agencies and Boards.”

The areas of interest range from domestic issues to international activities, liturgical topics to social justice issues, and lots in between.


Members Joint Standing Committees and Committees of a House of General Convention, as well as some Executive Council Committees, are appointed for triennium – that is, for the time up until the 2012 General Convention. All Standing Commissions and most Committees of Council have six-year terms, staggered.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori appoints bishops, while the President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson appoints priests/deacons and lay persons.

“Only the members of the Joint Standing Committees and Committees of a House of General Convention need be deputies,” Straub noted. “Most clerical and lay members of CCABs are not deputies.”

Additionally, staff liaisons are appointed to the Standing Commissions.

Roles of appointed bodies

Straub outlined the role and responsibilities of the Standing Commissions. “These are bodies, created by General Convention and enshrined in Canon, that have on-going areas of inquiry. They do not sunset, because their work is of continuing interest to the General Convention and to give them to freedom to engage in work that lasts longer than three years.”

Straub spoke about the reasons for the November meeting: “CCABs will receive together their legislation from General Convention, which will enable all bodies to know other bodies’ work.”

He also noted, “Standing Commissions and Committees do not do program work. That is the staff’s responsibility. CCABs generate policy through their legislation proposed to General Convention or to Executive Council. Once enacted by General Convention it becomes staff’s to execute.”

The role of staff

Straub reported that staff liaisons have been appointed to all Standing Commissions by the Presiding Bishop.

“They are the spokespersons for the Presiding Bishop’s point of view,” he said. “If she has concerns to raise or questions to ask, she does it through staff. The CCABs, in turn, can send concerns and questions through staff to the Presiding Bishop. It works both ways.”

Straub differentiated between the role of staff and CCABs. “Staff is there to provide information, to inform, guide and counsel. Likewise, CCABs are not there to micro-manage staff work. The relationship should be collaborative: the interim body crafts policy, which if adopted and funded by the General Convention, may be staff’s to carry out in the next or a subsequent triennium.”

Also, he added, the staff advises the CCABs in crafting resolutions that will help the program areas or department and the wider church.

He further noted, “The Standing Committees do not direct the work of staff, but they ensure that the work mandated by resolutions of General Convention or of Executive Council is being carried out.”

What are the CCABs?

Among the CCABs are:

Fourteen Standing Commissions: Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns; Communications and Information Technology; Constitution and Canons; Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations; Health; Lifelong Christian Formation and Education; Liturgy and Music; Ministry Development; Mission and Evangelism of the Episcopal Church; Social Justice and Public Policy; Small Congregations; Stewardship and Development; Structure of the Church; World Mission

Three Joint Standing Committees: Nominations; Planning & Arrangements; Program, Budget and Finance.

Nine Executive Council Committees: Science, Technology and Faith, Status of Women, Anti-Racism, Indigenous Ministries, Investment, Jubilee Advisory, Economic Justice Loan, HIV/AIDS and Corporate Social Responsibility.

Two House of Deputies Committees: State of the Church; and Study Committee on Church Governance and Polity.

The list with roster of members is here:

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