Low Turnout for Early Debate

By Zachary Guiliano

When General Convention’s Committee on Governance and Structure met Wednesday evening, nobody had shown up to discuss various budget matters. The committee next moved to consider proposals from the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church (TREC), beginning with the resolutions proposing a unicameral legislative body for General Convention. Only four speakers rose to give testimony. One deputy, Paul Ray of the Diocese of West Texas, spoke in favor of a unicameral body. The other three were against it, citing a need for checks and balances.

A resolution regarding the reduction of the Episcopal Church’s CCABs (committees, commissions, agencies and boards) was up next; only two deputies were present to speak on this topic, and both thought TREC’s proposals cut too deep.

The Rev. Charlie Osberger, deputy from the Diocese of Easton, said there was “much to commend, especially a desire to sharpen the Church’s focus.” But he objected to specific cuts, noting how odd it would be “if the Domestic and Foreign Mission Society did not have a Standing Commission on World Mission.”

No speakers were present to address the other resolutions under discussion (A097, A109, and A002.B.4).

The meeting could have ended after about five minutes, but it was scheduled for 90. The committee welcomed testimony from anyone in the audience.

Mary Willoughy, deputy of the Diocese of Georgia, addressed the lack of speakers: “It has been my observation that there was a tremendous amount of discussion, energy, and focus around these issues. I don’t know if there was a broader lack of awareness that this important hearing was happening.”

She suggested that it was the result of the move to electronic scheduling and notification, a point echoed by Joan Gundersen, alternate deputy from Pittsburgh.

“I rather agree with our speaker,” said Bishop Clifton Daniel III of Pennsylvania. “The chair is rather surprised that no one is willing to speak.”

He invited more speakers to volunteer from the audience.

The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool, suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles and a member of the committee, expressed frustration about the scheduled meeting time.

“I’ve never seen a hearing before the Convention got officially started,” she said. “Combine that with the fact that we’re trying the new technological stuff. We scheduled debate on the major topics of General Convention the night before we open the Convention.”

After a few minutes of testimony, two members of the committee objected, and asked whether discussion might be moved to another day, so that deputies would have more time to consider the resolutions.

The committee co-chairs said that they would consider a longer hearing at a later time during Convention, in order to allow more testimony.

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