Structure Decisions Deferred

By Zachary Guiliano

The Committee on Structure and Governance declined Saturday night to recommend another three years of work by the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church. A subcommittee noted that TREC’s work was only envisioned as continuing between the 77th and 78th General Conventions.

The Rev. Valerie Balling, deputy from New Jersey, said any further structural study could be committed “to the Standing Commission on the Structure of the Church for the next triennium.”

After brief discussion, the committee moved to reject the resolution.

It also moved to keep this resolution from the consent calendar in order that “the first thing we say to TREC is not that ‘we reject them,’” as Sally Johnson, deputy from Minnesota and co-chair of the committee, put it.

The committee next considered various resolutions regarding the dissolution of provinces. Discussion was slowed by technological problems, a repeated theme at this General Convention.

Some members of the full committee hesitated about adopting any resolution that called for abolishing provinces, while others would not accept a resolution that implied a continued life for provinces.

“Provinces are not necessarily a ‘forever’ thing,” said Canon Thomas O’Brien, deputy from Southeast Florida. “If we were to present the notion of provinces disappearing now, whatever would take its place” is currently unclear and achieving clarity “would require some work on the part of somebody.”

“We’re not in the position to do that,” he said. “It may be that this [situation] will continue on for some time.”

The committee engaged in deliberation, pausing over particular words and phrases, for several more minutes before passing a heavily amended resolution.

Proposals regarding a unicameral General Convention arose next. The relevant subcommittee did not recommend transforming General Convention from a bicameral system, but expressed a desire to amend the canons such that the House of Bishops and House of Deputies could sit, deliberate, or vote together whenever they chose.

William Fleener, Jr., deputy from Western Michigan, said the issue “would be referred for study or for the generation of canons for the next three years.” He added that “the attempt here was to incorporate the existing joint sessions where we sit together” with some provision for deliberation and voting.

After several minutes of discussion Johnson asked, “Would it be the will of the group that three of four canon lawyers take a look at it and bring a new draft bright and early on Monday morning?”

The committee agreed to refer the draft resolution back to subcommittee.

Two subcommittees, including the subcommittee dealing with the budget resolutions, had no progress to report; they will report to the committee on Monday.

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