What good are Standing Commissions?

The Rev Susan Snook asks some good questions about the need for Standing Committees of General Convention:

I’ve just returned from a gathering in St. Louis of the Committees, Commissions, Agencies, and Boards of The Episcopal Church, where some 200-250 people gathered to advance the work of the church. I serve as the Executive Council liaison to the Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism (SCME), and I found myself in the room with some very bright and passionate people. … This group was ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work empowering Episcopal evangelism and mission. When you gather so many talented people together, it is always an opportunity for synergy, for the Holy Spirit to begin to blow.

Yet we immediately ran into a roadblock, and that was the very nature of our mandate. Pay attention here, Restructure Task Force Players-to-be-Named-Later, because I heard a similar frustration coming from members of at least four other CCABs. That frustration is this: CCABs are not actually supposed to DO anything. All we are supposed to do is think up ideas and draft legislation for the next General Convention to approve or reject. Here is the stated mandate of the SCME:

CANON I.1.2(n) (4) A Standing Commission on the Mission and Evangelism of The Episcopal Church. It shall be the duty of the Commission to identify, study and consider policies, priorities and concerns as to the effectiveness of The Episcopal Church in advancing, within this Church’s jurisdictions, God’s mission to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ, including patterns and directions for evangelism, Church planting, leadership development, and ministries that engage the diversity of the Church’s membership and the communities it serves, and to make recommendations to General Convention. …

Get it? You gather a group of bright, talented leaders in the church, experts in their various fields, representing the diversity of the church in age, ethnicity, ordination status, etc., get them excited about a particular area of mission, and then tell them they can’t actually DO anything. You pay $1,100 per person for an in-person meeting of hundreds of people, to be repeated at least once and maybe more during the triennium, and the end product of all this work is … The Blue Book?

Snook raises questions that many of us have had when serving on these commissions – may the church pay attention now that money is forcing us to hear.

Past Posts