02 October 2014

Further on Re-imagnining

In my initial, negative, comments on the letter sent to the church by the members of the commission to "re-imagine" the church, I said I would be offering some further thoughts. In the way news cycles work, that letter no longer on the radar. It perhaps should not be so easily dismissed.

Central (you should pardon the word) to the entire letter are two assumptions. The church is not nimble and responsive enough. The role of the councils, General Convention and Executive Council in particular, is the source of the problem. Both assumptions are worthy of consideration, but neither are as they appear in the letter, givens. In fact, both should be postulates to be tested.

It is true that I like many an activist at either the national or in my case more local theatre might like to see the church snap into things I want.

Is caution always a bad idea? In the instance of women in priesthood, the episcopate, and in governance generally, conflicts many sought to settle in the 1950'spersist somewhere in the world. Our fellowship with some in Africa has been damaged by the decision to ordain women. I think the church has decided that the cost is worth the move to equity. The whole church, not the elites made that Spirit informed decision.

The chronicle of how we have dealt with race in our society covers centuries. Anyone who thinks we have dealt with the problem needs to look at Ferguson Missouri and most especially the "conservative talk show" response. Do not look at national shows (Limbaugh and the like,) look at the regional broadcasts. When the national press is not watching, racists are much less restrained. Or examine how the, "stand your ground law are administered in Florida.

So, I am suggesting many people are often "change averse." We are called to convert them, not overrule them. Key to our mission is commitment at every level. The New York staff cannot simply command that

How nimble and responsive should the church be? To what inputs should it respond? I do not know the answers, after I read the letter. What I think I know is that while the church should lead to justice, it is critical that all levels of the church be on board. Yes, GC is deliberative, and perhaps a bit slow. But from the crucible of conflicting views, comes an ability to act in a unified way. Yes, Executive Council's oversight constrains and sometimes annoys the "operating officer." I am fine with that. We move best when we move in consensus. And we often respond to change best at the local (diocian) level.

I read some of the letter and the activity of the commission as push back from New York staff who resent and have ignored the mandarte to sell the 815 building and move the church's headquarters. And given the often toxic relationship between some on Council and the presiding bishop and her executive staff, there is reason to see an intended power grab. It won't wash. If TEC begins to exclude lay and priestly inputs, it is on the road to disaster.

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