Resolutions

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.

Creating Capacity to Plant Churches (Web version or PDF)

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.

 

Revitalization of Congregations (Web version or PDF)

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.

 

Permit Dioceses to Explore Shared Ministry and Collaboration (Web version or PDF)

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.

 

Amend Article V of the Constitution (Web version or PDF)

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.

 

Task Force to Study Episcopal Elections (Web version or PDF)

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.

 

Amend Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution (Web version or PDF)

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.

 

Budget Process for the Episcopal Church (Web version or PDF)

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.

 

Clarify Officers of The Episcopal Church (Web version or PDF)

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.

 

Eliminate Provinces (Web version or PDF)

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.

7 Comments

  1. Sandi Carter

    Reason prevails. Thank you to all who put this together

    Reply
  2. marcia jacobs

    Concerning Budget Process of the Episcopal Church. It is harsh. If a diocese doesn’t have the asking support to give they should not be punished. Instead, help them get there by giving them ideas and personal assistance. Maybe dioceses that are flush should be given the opportunity to held others.

    Reply
  3. Episcopal Resurrection (Post author)

    Marcia, your point is well taken, which is why we hope that two ways we see dealing with that reality will make it not as difficult as we live into it. First, the budget as it stands has a $150,000 deductible for dioceses which will mean the nine with the lowest budgets will not be asked to pay anything at all. This amount basically covers the cost of a Bishop and so provides some assistance to each diocese in paying the amount.

    But, beyond this, those of us who drafted the resolution also know that many situations could arise which would present a problem to the Diocese. That is why our proposed resolution has a process of appeal. I serve in the Diocese of Georgia where we moved to this system with appeals to Diocesan Council and it has worked effectively. We feel that between the deductible and the system of appeal which could lower the assessment with Executive Council’s approval, that this would not be too harsh.

    -Frank
    The Rev. Canon Frank Logue
    Canon to the Ordinary
    Episcopal Diocese of Georgia

    Reply
  4. Josh Thomas

    The Memorial is one gassy sermonette that says we have to change a bunch of stuff around here. Okay, like what? For that you have to read the resolutions – and they’re a pretty tough go.

    There are some good ideas and some trivial ones, but the overall thrust is to weaken the Presiding Bishop and strengthen the 30 (or 38) members of Executive Council, when less than 1% of this Church can tell you who represents us on EC. Most Episcopalians have never heard of Executive Council, much less who’s on it. But a good number know the name of the PB.

    So why don’t we really shake things up and have direct election of the Presiding Bishop, eliminating once and for all the absurd notion that the PB’s job is to be a “calming voice” while the bishops secretly fight like cats and dogs?

    That’s half the problem, but that’s how we got the last one, and she’s been your basic disaster as an evangelist; she doesn’t even believe that Christ is the way, the truth and the life. As long as our public spokesperson equivocates on that, three seminary professors training 40 or 50 church planters aren’t going to do us enough good. They can help, but not enough to turn the tide.

    Evangelism has to be national, diocesan and local. The Presiding Bishop should be Evangelist in Chief. I see only one nominee capable of fulfilling that role – and I trust the People, not the Bishops or even General Convention, to elect the best candidate.

    Look at our polity, supposedly modeled centuries ago on the U.S. Constitution; we have a Congress and a President with slightly different names. But the Congress (General Convention) only meets for 10 days every three years, so then we have to have a super-Congress (Executive Council) to take up the slack. But even meeting for a week every three months in the four corners of the USA, at great expense to themselves and to the rest of us, EC has no continuity in the decisions it makes, leaving the actual governance of the Church to the PB, the squabbling bishops and the whiplashed bureaucracy.

    A few years ago EC decided we needed a chief evangelist, so it scraped together some change and hired one. Then six months later the change ran out, so (prudent financial managers that they were) they laid him right off. That’s what evangelism has been in this Church, the lowest priority of all.

    It’s no wonder, in this post-religious, post-Christian age, that TEC and every other church is in a panic – closing churches, merging dioceses, abolishing provinces, upping this and cutting that, searching high and low for the magic formula. Well, there’s only one magic formula, and that’s evangelism, which has to be far more sophisticated than we’ve ever dreamed of up to now.

    That’s why we need an Evangelist in Chief – someone who can talk to the media and not embarrass us; someone who can unite people and get them excited; someone about whom there is no doubt of his or her commitment to Christ and to the unique charisms of The Episcopal Church. And someone who knows already what some of the best practices are – someone who’s already made the Church grow.

    Because in truth there isn’t a single problem we have that can’t be greatly improved by putting evangelism first.

    We have never had a better opportunity than we have right now, with all races, genders and sexual orientations empowered, finally, under our Reformed and Catholic umbrella.

    We didn’t set out to align ourselves with the culture, but we interact with it, and the culture is also aligning itself with us – because an unjust Church cannot thrive, especially in the digital age.

    That’s why Southern Baptists and their ilk are fighting a rear-guard action on women, on race, on immigration, on sexual orientation, on wars in the Middle East, evolution, climate change, on everything!

    Americans have already decided where justice lies – and it’s not with, say, Mike Huckabee or anyone like him.

    The “seculars,” in fact, have led this Church more than we’ve led them. But we have the spiritual dimension, the faith, they say they’ve stopped believing in. But I think that’s because the only “Christianity” they’ve ever heard of is a type they don’t want.

    They might be open to the Biblical, sacramental, missional Christianity we’ve tried and failed to communicate up to now.

    I don’t minimize what our sins have been or continue to be. I don’t minimize the pain it took to get here. And I don’t minimize the difficulty of combating toxic fundamentalism parading as our faith.

    But we are much closer to consensus on the biggest issues facing humanity than anyone seems to understand. From climate change to income inequality, immigration to war and peace, I trust Episcopalians to discern the will of God, to preach it and live it, if we select and empower the right leaders. For whatever the problems of life on this earth, the ultimate solutions are spiritual. God is in charge. We can trust God to lead us. And then we can gather some (not all) of the millions who are spiritually starving to death, to walk with us on the Way we already know.

    Let us have our checks and balances. Let us rearrange the boxes in the organizational diagram. Let us experiment and fail and succeed, confident that we know where we’re going – as a community, as a Church, as a nation, as a world.

    We’ll never get everyone to agree with us; Jesus didn’t either. But he was a strong leader, and he didn’t sit around waiting for the pronouncements of anonymous councils. He said, “The Way is here. This way.” And people followed him.

    We are an episcopal Church. The most important thing is electing the right bishop. And the most likely way to get the right bishop is to empower the People who already follow the Way.

    Give us that and we’ll vote for your constitutional amendments.++

    Reply
  5. Mark D.

    “Gassy sermonette”? Pot, meet kettle.

    Reply
  6. Episcopal Resurrection (Post author)

    Josh, I think the folks involved in writing this probably agree with you that we need to put a high priority on evangelism, and we have sadly not concentrated enough on it in the Episcopal Church. And a Presiding Bishop can offer essential, inspirational leadership in making evangelism a priority in the church. I think we see this as more than one person’s ministry, though. We hope that the whole church can come together, to set evangelism and mission as priorities, to take concrete action to support and empower these essential ministries, to train leaders and provide resources to make it possible. One great leader speaking with courage on these issues can do a lot – but we shouldn’t leave it in one person’s hands. What we’ve tried to do is propose some concrete actions in the resolutions, as well as provide some inspiration in the Memorial, to answer God’s call to mission. Thanks so much for the comment.

    Reply
  7. Doug Desper

    I’m glad that we’re seeing a renewed emphasis on what is local and the kind of leadership that is needed in the parish. I hate to say it but too many clergy and not electable as rectors and have an inordinate concern for rubrics and liturgy while their preaching and teaching suffers in want. Case in point is how one mid-West cathedral died and closed under the leadership of a politically attuned activist clergy. Another nearly identical scenario was seen more local to me. Politically active (usually revisionist/left), emphasis on externals. Little teaching and preaching engagement. We need priests who know and preach Christ and Him crucified.

    Reply

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