10/06/2009

News from Executive Council

I don't often comment on the doings at Executive Council since, as a member, I feel some need to keep a lower than usual profile while we are meeting. Still, occasionally it is good to pass on something we are working on.

The Episcopal News Service just published a piece on the work we did yesterday and today on matters of organizing ourselves for the work of the next three years.

Titled, "Executive Council reorganizes, expands its standing committee structure," the article reports on the work of reorganization. Read the article HERE. the photo to the right carries the caption, "A group of Executive Council members work October 6 in Memphis, Tennessee, on a plan to reconfigure the group's standing committees. They are, from left, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson, the Rev. Gay Jennings, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas, the Rev. Canon Mark Harris and the Rev. Dr. Lee Crawford."

Unfortunately I am easy to spot, the balding guy on the right. (Sigh). Still, I am honored to have my picture with Lee and Ian. The three of us have worked on a number of projects in the past three years and here we are again.

The upshot of the whole exercise was to see all the committees of Executive Council as committees concerned with mission, and to expand the committees of Executive Council by one, effectively separating "administration" from "finance."

While the final names for these committees is yet to be finally determined, the preliminary designations are as you see on the left.

Every three years, following General Convention, the Executive Council looks at its organization and determines just what it needs in the way of committees if it is to do the tasks set by General Convention.

The ENS article quoted me as saying, "Is there some way in which we can recapture the sense of the engagement with God's mission in the world, and by implication in our mission as Episcopalians to that end? Can we put our regulatory responsibilities as a corporate body into the context of a council gathered to proclaim good news in the context of the Episcopal Church?"

It will be interesting to see how the sense of engagement with God's mission will find voice in the next three years. The Episcopal Church is stretching again and there are lights on in the house.


Now of course we have to get the committees up and running and get to work.

4 comments:

Caminante said...

And believe me, I am honoured to work with you two!!!

Allen said...

"The Episcopal Church is stretching again and there are lights on in the house".


Canon Mark.

As a member of the Executive Council why do you think that Bonnie Anderson, Neva Rae Fox, and P.B. Schori stalled so much during a press conference and would not reveal the 2008 ASAs? Why do they know the figures yet would not reveal them?

Why the secrecy and the obfuscation about WHO and HOW MANY are actually showing up in TEC anymore? The plain forthcoming truth would go a long way to showing if the lights are on in the house.

Why the stall tactics and lack of cooperation?

Titus Presler said...

Thanks, Mark. I read the news story about the five committees and have reflected at some length on the proposed name shifts at http://www.titusonmission.wordpress.com. More briefly, it's good to be lifting up mission, but this exercise may overuse the term to an extent that blunts the good initial impulse. There is nothing to apologize for in the fact that the church has important internal work to do that may not be missional in any common understanding of the term. Indeed, community and mission are twin mandates for the church, and it does not help to suppress the reality and urgency of the internal life and work that is important both for nurturing the Body of Christ and for supporting mission. You're doing good work for mission. I just hope it doesn't get effaced by everything supposedly becoming mission.
With you in mission,
Titus

Mark Harris said...

Titus Presler... thanks for the note. I don't buy the "if everything is mission, nothing is" argument. What we were trying to do, and the committees themselves perfected, was to name the committees in some way that would constantly remind us what the activity of the committee was for. All of these activities are for mission. So in the final round of naming we ended up with: Local Ministry and Mission (LMM), Advocacy and Networking for Mission (ANM), World Mission (WM), Governance and Administration for Mission (GAM) and Finances for Mission (FFM). Note that only World Mission directly carries the name. LMM acknowledges Mission and Ministry both, Advocacy and Networking are in service to Mission, as are Governance and Administration and Finances. It is pretty clear that people continue to distinguish actions of Executive Council that serve mission and those that are mission.

The more important question is, "whose mission?" As you know the mandate to mission is ascribed to Jesus. The purpose for this mandate, however, is bound up with the purpose in God's redeeming work in Jesus Christ. We get other reads then as to what God's mission might look like. I vote for "Behold I make all things new." There are of course other statements, but all of them point, I believe, beyond the artificial divisions of mission, ministry, relief, development, outreach, etc, to a place of complete at-one-ness with God.

That idea of mission is behind the observation of the DFMS early charter - that we may distinguish between domestic and foreign mission, but that is for convenience only. The mission is One. And I might add, the mission is not ours, nor does it belong to missionaries, nor to the mission minded. It belongs to God and we, if we are most fortunate, get used to its end.

At least that is what I think at this late hour.