Bishop Dan Martins, over at Confessions of a Carioca, wrote an important and well stated opinion regarding the Presiding Bishop's remarks to the House of Bishops and ended with one of his own, to wit,
"That the 2012 General Convention make issues of structure not only the primary issue, but the only issue. Let us elect to those offices that need electing to, and let us pass a straitened minimalist budget. But aside from those two things, we need to put everything else--everything else--in abeyance until we figure out what we need to morph into in order to be a responsibly faithful church in this post-Christian era."
I have made some suggestions about all this earlier this last year, with few takers. The primary question I raised was, "should we have a special convention."
In private conversation with several members of Executive Council I also raised the question of effectively doing the same as Bishop Dan suggests - pass a budget that does absolutely nothing more than required by canon, a 'straitened minimalist budget," and then get to the business of restructure.
I still believe a special convention is the way to go, but immediate suspension of business might be a dramatic way to put the matter before the governance of the church. That would require as well putting on hold many of the resolutions proposed to General Convention (including the Anglican Covenant ones?) and generally not doing business as usual. Many of the tabled or delayed motions might go to Executive Council for their consideration later.
As Elizabeth Kaeton is given to pointing out, the problem with all this is that putting the matter to General Convention is to put it to the people already part of the system, its hierarchies, ways of working, special interests, old-boy (usually) stuff, smoke filled rooms or their Episcopal equivalent, and so forth. Almost any other way of finding and making use of stakeholder opinions and idea, and drawing new ideas and blood into the system, will require some other sort of church wide and / or regional gatherings and drawing in people who might not otherwise care much one way or another about what we do.
So, Bishop Martins is on to something, something that is filled, as are all its alternatives, with problems and dangers.
So, are there any takers for the idea of making THIS convention one devoted to serious structural change?
My sense is that to do so would require that at the very beginning of the session of one of the two houses there would need to be a suspension of other business to debate and then vote on a proposal to direct Program Budget and Finance to produce such a minimalist budget - with very strict parameters- for consideration by the General Convention, and a proposal that the regular schedule of consideration of legislation be suspended in favor of a special order of business to consider such strategic changes in structure of General Convention and its CCABS and the work of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, to the end that church-wide activities directed by Executive Council on behalf of the General Convention and the DFMS better serve the mission of The Episcopal Church in its response to God's mission, in a post-Christian era.
There are times when Bishop Martins speaks from the front edge of imaginative possibilities for the Church. His posting today is such an occasion.
Go Bishop Dan!