By Zachary Guiliano
The House of Deputies and House of Bishops met together Friday morning and afternoon for the official nomination of presiding bishop nominees and to discuss issues of structure and governance.
This meeting was not strictly constitutional, as many deputies noted during Thursday night’s meeting of the Committee on Structure and Governance.
The Primate of Brazil, the Most Rev. Francisco de Assis da Silva, addressed the joint gathering first, highlighting the bonds between the two churches and the need for cooperation.
For 75 years “you were our mother, you nurtured us. And now we are sister churches, with common challenges, and in this way we face common commitments and common pains,” he said. Now, the two churches are “like the women together at the foot of the cross.”
After his address, the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the 27th Presiding Bishop announced the four nominees. The floor was open for discussion, but no one stepped forward.
The meeting moved on to the conversation on structure and governance. The co-chairs of the committee, Sally Johnson and the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III of Pennsylvania, gave a fairly lengthy presentation on governance in the history of the Episcopal Church, and how the structure has “always been changing.”
“Most people’s eyes glaze over when they hear these words [structure and governance],” Johnson said. “Why bother?”
The co-chairs encouraged the Convention to have a sense of freedom in changing church structures. They said that “the great thing about the Episcopal Church is that we decide these things for ourselves” and that “General Convention is the ultimate authority.”
The assembled bishops and deputies were asked to name five aspects of each major structure of the church that enable their ministry, and five they would change. The discussion moved sequentially from General Convention to Executive Council and staff, then to provinces, and then to dioceses.
The Convention broke into small groups comprising two deputations each, which were encouraged to send their suggestions by email or Twitter (using #gcgas).
The conversation was hard to follow, given the division of the Convention into small groups, and the inability of deputies or the press to circulate among bishops and deputies. The Twitter conversation was consumed by dozens of suggestions of change.
Committee members will have their work cut out for them when they gather all of these responses.