[Episcopal News Service – New Brunswick, New Jersey] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the Rev. Gay Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, said Oct. 17 that they expect to announce on or about Dec. 1 the names of the members who will make up a special task force to re-imagine the workings of the Episcopal Church in the 21st century.
General Convention called in July (via Resolution C095 for a group to research and present to the next meeting of convention in 2015 “a plan for reforming the church’s structures, governance, and administration.”
The task force will gather ideas from all levels of the church about possible reforms to its structures, governance and administration. Its work will culminate in a special gathering of people from every diocese to hear what recommendations the task force plans to make to the 78th meeting of General Convention. Its final report is due by November 2014.
Resolution C095 called for the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies to appoint the task force, which can include as many as 24 people, by Sept. 30. However, the statement noted that more than 450 people were nominated for those seats and Jennings said Oct. 15 during the first day of the Episcopal Church Executive Council’s four day meeting here that the two of them have been working their way through those nominations since Jefferts Schori returned in early October from sabbatical.
“At this point, we are reviewing all the nominations, and we are discerning the composition of this important task force,” the two said in their Oct. 17 statement.
They added that after the council meeting in October and their planned participation in the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting in New Zealand Oct. 27-Nov. 7, “we will devote our attention to this large and critical task.”
“It is important to know that we are carefully reviewing each and every nomination and then discerning whom to appoint, given the many gifted people who have offered to serve,” they said.
“There is an abundance of rich gifts being offered for this work, and we are delighted to discover how far we agree on the direction and potential names for this task force,” Jefferts Schori and Jennings said, adding that they wished to express “our deep thanks and appreciation” to those who were nominated or indicated a willingness to serve.
Jefferts Schori and Jennings noted that the task force’s mandate and budget begins in 2013.
Of the almost 400 resolutions submitted to General Convention more than 90 related to structural reform. Most of those resolutions were similar in nature and it was the work of the convention’s legislative committee on structure to consider the legislation and make its recommendations.
The driving force behind those resolutions was a proposal last fall by Bishop Stacy Sauls, the Episcopal Church’s chief operating officer, calling for a special General Convention in 2014 to begin to make changes to the church’s constitution. Because amendments to the constitution can only take place at a regular convention, attention turned to how the spirit of change could begin to take shape at the 2012 convention and lead to options for its next meeting in 2015.
During a packed public hearing on the structure resolutions at convention, testimony was short on the specifics about the nature of what some of the witnesses called an emergency that prevents it from doing the mission work of spreading the gospel in the world. And there were few specifics about what changes each witness wanted to see made in the church’s structure in response. There were repeated calls for putting “everything on the table.”
Eventually, C095 were passed unanimously to great applause in both the House of Deputies and House of Bishops. A day earlier, deputies also had passed the resolution unanimously.