Monday, September 14, 2009

A Letter from the President of the House of Deputies

Sept. 14, 2009

Dear Deputies and First Alternates,

It has been two months since I brought the gavel down to close the House of Deputies at the 76thGeneral Convention in Anaheim, but the remarkable spirit of those ten days has stayed with me. During our time together in the House of Deputies, we worshipped and prayed, shared some very deep feelings about the controversial issues that confront our Church, learned new skills through the Public Narrative Project, and acted on an extensive legislative agenda that will shape our Church for decades to come. Watching the sensitive, respectful way that deputies went about their business, observing the efficient committee work, and listening to the well-informed debate made me appreciate once again the wisdom of our founders, who determined that all orders of ministry should share in the governance of our Church.

We are living in difficult times, but the members of the House of Deputies have indicated that they are ready to make even stronger commitments to the work of God’s church. It is my hope that we can bring this new energy to bear on a new set of challenges. During this triennium, we must do more with less. We must determine how our interim bodies—the Commissions, Committees Agencies and Boards on which clergy and lay people have extensive representation—can continue to play a vital role in the governance of the Church. We must create ways to continue essential mission initiatives, even without the Church Center offices that once sustained this work. And we must begin to formulate our response to the Anglican Covenant once the final draft becomes available.

For my own part, I would like to begin the new triennium with three announcements:

1. In response to our financial situation, I have decided to reduce the size of my Council of Advice from 14 members to 8. Each member of the council will have a specific portfolio or project and will be supported by his or her own network of informal advisors whom I will call upon from time to time as the need arises. I believe this is the most cost-effective way for me to remain well-informed and advised.

2. This week I am sending letters to various lay and clergy leaders throughout the Church inviting them to serve on the Commissions, Committees, Agencies and Boards that play an essential role in the governance of the Church. In extending these invitations I paid special attention to balancing the new energy and insights of an emerging cohort of lay and clergy leaders with the experience and institutional memory of veteran deputies. Once the invitees have responded and rosters are complete, they will be posted on the General Convention Office Web site.

3. Circumstances including our impending consideration of the Anglican Covenant and the need to sustain the work of our CCABs in the face of reduced budgets suggest a need to speak clearly and convincingly about the distinctive way in which authority is exercised in our Church. To that end, I am appointing the House of Deputies Study Committee on Church Governance and Polity to examine and explain the history, theology, political structure and practical realities of the ways in which we believe God calls us to govern the Church. This group, whose membership I will announce shortly, may also make recommendations to the next General Convention on strengthening our self-understanding.

After this General Convention, I am more convinced than ever that it makes little sense to speak of governance and mission as two different things. Our Church is able to enlist the energy and talent of every member in building God’s Kingdom precisely because we make room for the Spirit-seeking wisdom of all orders of ministry in the governance of our Church. The relationship is symbiotic, it is a relationship of UBUNTU. I urge you to remember that deputies are deputies even when General Convention is not in session. Please remain involved in the life of your congregation and your diocese, and don’t hesitate to inform me of any developments you find significant. I am always available to you at banderson@episcopalchurch.org. Soon I will reactivate the HOD communications tool in the form of the deputy online forum that served us so well prior to General Convention. We will use it as a place for us to share information and opinions about matters pertaining to our work together as the House of Deputies on behalf of the Church.

As always, you are encouraged to share this communication with all the alternates of your deputation and other people of your diocese and beyond.

Thank you again for your participation in an inspiring General Convention...

1 comment:

  1. I am not sure about the line, "deputies are deputies even when GC is not in session." Are deputies not elected for each GC? I don't have many issues with the content of this letter, but I feel there is a definite shift in the role of the President of the House of Deputies and I guess, now, the House itself. I am not sure what I think about the expanding roles of either...

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