Thursday, May 25, 2006

One Deputies Update & Take on Ted Mollegens List of Potential General Convention Issues

Looking Ahead to General Convention 2006

February 8, 2006 revision

It's still too early to have a totally clear view as to what will be the key issues at the 2006 General Convention . The Convention will be held June 13-21, 2006 in Columbus, Ohio.. Nonetheless, I thought it would be helpful to the Church to stimulate thinking and conversation about the key issues that I see. While waiting for a meeting of the Connecticut Deputation to begin last September, a friend and I originally came up with an initial list of thoughts, and I have now updated the list. I share the below with the hope that the effort will be helpful to other persons throughout the Church, and especially to other deputations as they plan their pre-Convention communications between the Deputations and the people in the pews in their dioceses.

Ted Mollegen
Deputy from CT, 1991, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006
Alternate Deputy from Connecticut, 1982, 1985, 1988
Member of (national) Executive Council 2003-2009
Member of Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop, 2000-2006

May 25, 2006 comments

I have reviewed these issues and eliminated those that seem to have not materialized in the Blue Book or issues that actual circumstances have by-passed.

Andrew T. Gerns

Deputy from Bethlehem, 2006

Topics:

  1. Katrina aftermath
    • (TM) economic outreach to displaced people & affected congregations
    • pastoral (including liturgical) care to the displaced
      • Episcopalians
      • unchurched
    • (TM) evangelistic outreach to the unchurched (or de-churched) displaced
    • (TM) church plants in areas of intense, immediate population growth due to the displaced, such as Louisiana (Baton Rouge and beyond), adjacent Texas, and central Mississippi).
    • (TM) re-building of destroyed churches, in both the physical-plant sense and the people sense.
    • (TM) salary and benefits continuation for diocesan and parish clergy and lay staffs when their employer's income is either seriously diminished or even zero.
  2. Revisions to the Disciplinary Canons (Title 4)

(AG) A major overhaul is proposed with two underlying assumptions

    • First, to move the basis of the code away from something like the Uniform Code of Military Justice to one that assumes Restorative Justice
    • Second, to include procedures toward the disciplining of lay people alongside the discipline in place for clergy.
    • The current system is big, expensive and unwieldy. The proposed system would require a total overhaul of both process and thinking, and probably also require every diocese to revise their own canons. It is not at all clear if the laity mentioned in the proposed Title IV are all baptized members (“laos”) or laity with a specific office (“ordo”). I (Andrew) believes there it is to vague and too big—a nice theory but without sufficient regard to the Law of Unintended Consequences—to pass. It will either fail or be sent back.
  1. Conversations on intercommunion with the Methodists along the lines of our agreement with the ELCA
    • Make Us One: A Study Guide for the Bilateral Dialogue between the Episcopal Church in the USA and the United Methodist Church
  2. Key elections:
    • New Presiding Bishop -- the House of Bishops elects, and the House of Deputies concurs. Nominating Committee nominees have been announced, and include three men and one woman. Three others may be nominated.
      • Ted Mollegen asks:Will the Bishops elect a strong leader, or will act they like the barons negotiating with King John in establishing the Magna Carta in 1215, and elect someone who will pretty much leave them alone?
      • Andrew Gerns asks: Will the Bishops elect a Public Presiding Bishop who understands communications, media-relations, and who can stand toe-to-toe with Rowan Williams as a theologian?
    • New President of the House of Deputies (The present President, Dean George Werner , will continue in this office through this Convention, but is not eligible for re-election, because he was not re-elected a Deputy by the Diocese of Pittsburgh). TM says the smart money is on Ms. Bonnie Anderson, a well-respected and well-liked laywoman from Michigan, who has previously been Chair (and earlier, Vice-Chair) of the the General Convention's powerful Program, Budget, & Finance Committee (PB&F), and who is now a member of the Executive Council, and its Administration & Finance Committee. AG thinks this is still the case.
  3. Response to Windsor Report and to subsequent related events.
    • Primates' Meeting
    • Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting
    • Declarations of impaired/broken communion
    • Meetings of Regional Primates
    • Potential new actions yet to come between now and the General Convention:
      • in Anglican Communion TM says: Informal inputs from many of the Anglican Communion provinces indicate that the strident, schism-threatening statements of some archbishops do not reflect the opinions of anywhere near all of their constituents. Many do not agree with TEC's sexuality-related actions in 2003, but do not see schism as an appropriate response. Throughout the Communion, women are particularly inclined to see upset over homosexuals in the church as mainly an issue for males.)
      • in the Episcopal Church (e.g., departures and/or returns of clergy or organizations). AG says: Recent rulings from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel on Reference (which attempts to assist in the adjudication of disputes between departing clergy/parishes and their bishops) has stated outright that they won’t weigh in on cases that also before civil courts and they will side with the Bishop/Local Province in setting up alternative oversight. This means that direct legal action against dioceses won’t work. Recent trends show that what works best is when departure-minded clergy sit down with their bishops and Standing Committees and make a deal. Conservatives are finding that when individuals leave, even in groups, they are no longer officials or members of the diocese or congregation that they previously belonged to. The property continues to belong to the Episcopal Church, and when any elected or appointed officials leave, they will be replaced by new officials, in accordance with the Canons.
  4. The Special Commission on Communion has put forward 12 resolutions in response to the Windsor Report. (AG says) This is the first chance since the Windsor Report was issued for the Episcopal Church to officially respond to it and to weigh in on some of the recommendations.
  5. Some pastoral direction will have to be made regarding the church’s response to same-sex marriage (now legal in one state = two dioceses) and same-sex civil unions (now legal in several states).
    • (TM) Can Episcopal clergy conduct these marriages/unions (if permitted by the laws of the applicable state)? Can Episcopal clergy bless these marriages/unions if someone else has conducted them?
    • (AG) Even though any action on even studying such rites is on hold indefinitely and all Bishops and clergy are not to carry them out, there will still be proposals coming to the floor to both stop the practice indefinitely or to move forward immediately.
    • (AG) IMHO—nothing of substance will happen here, which means the status quo will remain. This means that those who want a blanket prohibition and those who want study/experimentation will be equally angry.
  6. Episcopal Church positions on Public Policy
    • (AG) These are important because General Convention guides and directs our lobbyists in how they represent us to Congress and the Executive Branch.
  7. Other Episcopal Church Issues
(AG) There is a backlog of Episcopal elections to be ratified. No gay or lesbian bishops have been elected so that hot-button issue is not before us. Northern California did elect a thrice divorced and re-married man to be their bishop. Some groups have attempted to make this the focus of a response since there is no explicitly gay electee.

1 comment:

Marshall said...

Interesting review. I do think there will be a lot of talk about the Report of the Standing Commission on the Structure of the Church. As you will understand, I am particularly interested in funding and mission for a revitalized Standing Commission on Health.

There is little on health issues in this Blue Book. I have some some reflection on what might be found there on my own blog.

Andrew, good to know you're still out there.