By G. Jeffrey MacDonald

Deputies took an assertive step to preserve the presiding bishop’s executive power when they rejected a proposal that would have let a supermajority of the Executive Council fire three top church administrators.

In the process, they defeated a measure that the Legislative Committee on Governance and Structure had championed as necessary. The council has fiduciary responsibilities to the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, the committee said, but it lacks sufficient authority and tools to carry out that responsibility — it needs the ability to fire the church’s chief operating officer, chief financial officer, and chief legal officer.

But the council will not gain that power, at least not from this General Convention: 56 percent of deputies voted not to give the council power to fire. Forty-four percent supported the committee’s recommendation.

On another restructuring proposal, the deputies voted overwhelmingly to eliminate all but two standing commissions and give the council power to impanel task forces instead. Eighty-three percent voted to take the step, which had been recommended by the Task Force to Reimagine the Episcopal Church (TREC) as a bureaucracy-streamlining measure.

The move came over opposition from some who warned the church was losing important priorities and voices in eliminating a host of standing commissions, which work on a variety of issues between General Conventions.

“They threw out the baby with the bathwater,” said deputy Patricia Rhymer Todman of the U.S. Virgin Islands about TREC’s recommendation. “Our church needs a streamlined but suitable structure.”

But deputies received assurance that new task forces will largely reflect the current structure of commissions, committees, agencies and boards. Council member Rufus Runnels said task forces can and often will be rolled over to continue their work.

“This is a resolution that gives us nimbleness to move forward,” Runnels said.

Image: La Sagrada Familia by Vitold Muratov, via Wikimedia Commons • http://is.gd/jAf3Xd

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