To enable the vision set forth in the Memorial to the Church, we offer several resolutions for consideration by the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. Here you will find the explanations and a link to a PDF of each resolution. You can also download a document with the Memorial, all the resolutions, and explanations together.
Believing that planting new churches is imperative in order to fulfill the Great Commission and help the church grow in this time of transition, we propose creating a churchwide network for church planting, in order to reach new people and new populations with the good news of the gospel. We propose that this network should consist of a number of interrelated parts:
- Funding three new seminary faculty positions in order to teach church planting methods to future lay and ordained leaders;
- Developing a churchwide church planting training program;
- Recruiting and training 40 to 50 new church planters this triennium, including providing internships for some planters in current church plants;
- Developing a bi-lingual and bicultural training program for lay and ordained leaders of Latino/Hispanic ministries;
- Providing $1.5 million of grants in each year of the triennium to support diocesan church plants;
- Creating a task force of persons experienced in church planting to support and encourage this work; and
- Providing staff positions, including support staff, to coordinate the program.
We propose empowering existing congregations to do the work of following Jesus into the neighborhood, traveling lightly, by providing training, conferences, resources, and people to consult with congregations about ministry and revitalization in their contexts. The resolution provides grants for congregations doing this work, especially those reaching out to populations that are underrepresented in The Episcopal Church that have a high potential for growth.
We propose canonical changes to allow dioceses to explore mutual ministries together. Specifically, we suggest that dioceses may wish to share a Commission on Ministry. They may also wish to share a bishop, which is currently not possible due to the requirement that a bishop must live within the diocese she or he serves. Dioceses, as long as they are exist as corporate entities, would continue to be required to maintain Standing Committees and Finance Committees. Current Title IV disciplinary measures already allow shared structures among dioceses.
We propose a constitutional change which will make it possible for dioceses to merge when one or both merging dioceses do not have a sitting bishop. We think this is important because it is precisely in transitional moments when new possibilities may emerge. The current process — with its many safeguards and checks — remains otherwise unchanged.
We propose a task force to study episcopal elections and report to the 79th General Convention with possible changes to our current process of discernment, nomination, election, and transition of bishops, including the selection and training of transition consultants. We also propose that this task force be given the authority to work with the Office of Pastoral Development to provide updated and digitized resources for dioceses in search processes. We have requested significant funding in order to make the updating work possible.
We propose a change to the Constitution to allow Joint Sessions of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies to occur. This change seems necessary both to allow the current practice of both Houses sitting together in Joint Sessions to receive reports, as well as any future canonical changes that may offer different ways of structuring how our Houses choose to deliberate together.
Our current canons contain a number of unclear, conflicting, and outdated budget procedures. We propose updating them to reflect current practice regarding budget development and oversight. In addition, we propose changing the provisions regarding the support asked from dioceses to clarify that full support is expected from all dioceses, and that dioceses that do not comply with the full assessment amount, and that do not receive a waiver from Executive Council, may be subject to some sanctions, including ineligibility for DFMS grants or loans, and ineligibility of lay, clergy, or bishops from those dioceses to be elected or appointed to church-wide bodies.
We propose a change in the office of the Executive Director of The Episcopal Church (ED). The ED will be nominated by the Presiding Officers and appointed by Executive Council, reporting to Executive Council. The ED will be responsible for all staff except for the staff directly allocable to the offices of the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies and the staff of the Office of the General Convention. The ED will ensure that churchwide staff are working toward strategic priorities set by General Convention and Executive Council, under the leadership of the Presiding Bishop. This change will free up the Presiding Bishop to be the chief pastor of our bishops and to be a public voice of the church. The PB will be the President of DFMS, the chair of the board of directors and the chair of Executive Council, and the leader who guides the Council and staff in setting strategic priorities for the church. The President of the House of Deputies (PHoD) will be the Vice President of DFMS, vice chair of the board of directors, and vice chair of Executive Council. We have also included a provision to provide a stipend for the PHoD. We believe that this structure will bring together staff and governance structure in a collaborative, working team which will better serve the church.
Under our proposal, there is an Executive Officer of General Convention, who will fulfill the functions of Secretary of General Convention and lead the Office of General Convention, and also serve as corporate secretary of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. There will no longer be a separate canonical position of Secretary of General Convention.
The current canons name several distinct roles, and it is unclear how they interrelate: Treasurer of General Convention, Treasurer of Executive Council, Chief Financial Officer, etc. The proposed revisions clarify that there is one elected Treasurer of The Episcopal Church, who also serves as the Treasurer of General Convention, of the Executive Council, and of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. This person need not be the same as the staff position of Chief Financial Officer, who will report to the Executive Director.
We propose adding the position of General Counsel of The Episcopal Church, who will advise the Executive Counsel and General Convention Office on legal matters. The presiding officers may still name their own chancellors, but may also use the services of the General Counsel. This person need not be the same as the staff person of Chief Legal Officer, who will report to the Executive Director.
All of these positions – Executive Director, Executive Officer of General Convention, Treasurer of The Episcopal Church, and General Counsel of The Episcopal Church – would be nominated by the presiding officers and elected by Executive Council. They would report to Executive Council, and Council could terminate any of them by a two-thirds vote.
First established over a hundred years ago after decades of discussion, provinces have served their useful purpose. In today’s age of easy travel, we wish to open up collaborative possibilities beyond the constrained boundaries of provinces, to permit shared ministry across current lines, if desired. This layer of denominational structure serves little purpose today other than to ensure geographic diversity on certain committees. We believe that we can ensure continued geographic diversity without rigid lines, similar to our current practice of seeking diversity of race, age, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression. Interest-based provincial networks, such as young adult gatherings, deployment officer gatherings, etc., can continue to meet under this change; there is nothing that requires a governance structure to exist in order to allow an affinity group to meet. Removing the provincial structure allows such affinity gatherings to choose the geographic groupings that make the most sense in their context. This change will free up resources currently spent on maintaining an outmoded structural model.
At the same time, we wish to acknowledge the good work of the dioceses in Province IX, and the particular circumstances of our international dioceses. This resolution calls for their continued support, and for our Presiding Officers to continue to include participation from dioceses outside of the United States in the church’s committees and commissions.
Since Title IV currently uses a Provincial Court of Review, we propose the creation of a single churchwide Court of Review. We believe that a churchwide court will be an equally satisfactory alternative to the current structure.
Eliminating provinces also allows the numbers of members on certain committees to be adjusted, since provincial representation is no longer needed. Specifically, we propose to change the following:
- Executive Council from 38 members to 30
- The Joint Nominating Committee for the Presiding Bishop from 29 to 20
- Increase the Official Youth Presence from 18 to up to 24.