Resolutions for the Future

Several of the priests and other deputies involved in the Acts 8 Moment during General Convention in 2012 have issued a Memorial to the Church and proposed resolutions for this year’s convention.

Through a new website, Episcopal Resurrection, a seven-member drafting committee has invited endorsements of the memorial from bishops, deputies, and kindred spirits. On the morning of Ascension Day, before its public launch, the memorial had attracted endorsements from 10 bishops, 23 deputies and alternates, and 25 others (including Christopher Wells, editor of The Living Church).

“Signing the Memorial does not necessarily mean that you agree with the resolutions, just that you share the vision of the Memorial,” the organizers wrote. “Those of us who have worked on these materials offer them to the church in the hope that they will spur conversation and prayer. Our hope is that our church can be ever more effective in proclaiming resurrection and in sharing the riches of God’s grace with the world.”

The proposed resolutions address eight areas, which follow.

Plant Churches
“Believing that planting new churches is imperative in order to fulfill the Great Commission and help the church grow in this time of transition, we propose creating a churchwide network for church planting, in order to reach new people and new populations with the good news of the gospel.”
Requested funding: $6,433,800

Revitalize Congregations
“We propose empowering existing congregations to do the work of following Jesus into the neighborhood, traveling lightly, by providing training, conferences, resources, and people to consult with congregations about ministry and revitalization in their contexts. The resolution provides grants for congregations doing this work, especially those reaching out to populations that are underrepresented in the Episcopal Church that have a high potential for growth.”
Requested funding: $300,000 from the Development Office and $700,000 from the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance

Enable Diocesan Collaboration
“We propose canonical changes to allow dioceses to explore mutual ministries together. Specifically, we suggest that dioceses may wish to share a Commission on Ministry. They may also wish to share a bishop, which is currently not possible due to the requirement that a bishop must live within the diocese she or he serves. Dioceses, as long as they are exist as corporate entities, would continue to be required to maintain Standing Committees and Finance Committees. Current Title IV disciplinary measures already allow shared structures among dioceses.”

Amend Article V
“We propose a constitutional change which will make it possible for dioceses to merge when one or both merging dioceses do not have a sitting bishop. We think this is important because it is precisely in transitional moments when new possibilities may emerge. The current process — with its many safeguards and checks — remains otherwise unchanged.”

Study Episcopal Elections
“We propose a task force to study episcopal elections and report to the 79th General Convention with possible changes to our current process of discernment, nomination, election, and transition of bishops, including the selection and training of transition consultants.”
Requested funding: $150,000

Amend Article I
“We propose a change to the Constitution to allow Joint Sessions of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies to occur. This change seems necessary to allow the current practice of both Houses sitting together in Joint Sessions to receive reports, as well as any future canonical changes that may offer different ways of structuring how our Houses choose to deliberate together.”

Clarify the Budget
“Our current canons contain a number of unclear, conflicting, and outdated budget procedures. We propose updating them to reflect current practice regarding budget development and oversight. In addition, we propose changing the provisions regarding the support asked from dioceses to clarify that full support is expected from all dioceses, and that dioceses that do not comply with the full assessment amount, and that do not receive a waiver from Executive Council, may be subject to some sanctions, including ineligibility for DFMS grants or loans, and ineligibility of lay, clergy, or bishops from those dioceses to be elected or appointed to churchwide bodies.”

Clarify Officers of the Church
“We propose a change in the office of the Executive Director of the Episcopal Church (ED). The ED will be nominated by the Presiding Officers and appointed by Executive Council, reporting to Executive Council. The ED will be responsible for all staff except for the staff directly allocable to the offices of the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies and the staff of the Office of the General Convention.”

Eliminate Provinces
“First established over a hundred years ago after decades of discussion, provinces have served their useful purpose. In today’s age of easy travel, we wish to open up collaborative possibilities beyond the constrained boundaries of provinces, to permit shared ministry across current lines, if desired. This layer of denominational structure serves little purpose today other than to ensure geographic diversity on certain committees.”

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