6/25/2016

Meeting Behind Closed Doors: Bummer.

The Living Church published a disturbing piece on the frequent use of closed door sessions at the recent Executive Council meeting. Read it HERE.

I was particularly struck by the following: 

"When committees met in the afternoon, six more topics were deemed inappropriate for discussion in open session. Four of them arose in the World Missions Committee, although only three were identified prior to closing the doors.

“I do think that Cuba, the Mexico Covenant discussion, and the Province IX sustainability plan, including the recent Province IX council meeting and the appointment of the task force — I do think those are more sensitive,” said World Missions Committee Chair Karen Longenecker of the Diocese of Rio Grande. “I do think it’s a good idea to go into executive session.”

The session remained closed for three hours as the committee addressed those topics as well as one that wasn’t announced. Executive Council’s bylaws require topics of discussion to be disclosed prior to entering executive session."

The reporter for TLC listed what the Chair gave as the topics to be covered. It is hard to tell if there were three, one with inclusions, or four. But in either event the reporter believes there was another topic raised. One wonders just what that was.

The fact that matters are "sensitive" is not sufficient reason for the discussion in committees to be in executive session.  Some subjects may very well be controversial, alarming, confusing or otherwise difficult, but that is no reason for them to be discussed behind closed doors. In fact just the opposite. 

Very few of us not on Council have any sense of what happens there except insofar as reports come from members of Council itself or from observers. It is important to some of us that we have a sense of what it is that Executive Council is discussing. Effectively no one outside Executive Council has any idea what the World Mission Committee is discussing re Cuba, Mexico or Province IX. More, it seems that a different topic, the subject itself not announced, was taken up. Where did that information come from, and why wasn't the source able to say what the topic was?

So what the hell is going on here? Closed sessions breed suspicion, not clarity. 

Apparently Executive Council has come to the conclusion that its business is its business only, and not the business of the whole church. Apparently EC believes we outsiders don't need to know what they are thinking, talking about, or doing. 

They are wrong. 



5 comments:

Mike R. said...

I remember electing some folks to EC who were going to make things more transparent. What happened to them? Through only time a closed session might need apt is if they are discussing employee issues that might end in litigation. But World Mission?

We just changed one set of elites for another.

Michael Russell (last a Deputy in 2012)

Brother David said...

I know that Mexico voted in favor of the Anglican Covenant, but that was some while ago. And Mexico is an autonomous province, but it still receives financial support from TEC. As a member of that Church, it feels ominous that TEC feels the need to discuss us behind closed doors!

Joan Gundersen said...

The Executive Council is supposed to be General Convention in recess. What a contrast! General Convention does irs committee work with open galleries and open sessions.

Joan Gundersen said...

Council was developed as the General Convention in recess. Now it seems to think it governs the Church instead of General Convention. What a contrast to GC where all committees have open galleries and the House of Deputies certainly operates in public view.

Joan Gundersen

Paul Powers said...

I believe they are referring to the covenant between TEC and la Iglesia Anglicana de México.

http://archive.episcopalchurch.org/covenants/110057_42076_ENG_HTM.htm

They may have been discussing some aspect of the Mexican Church 's relationship with Province IX, most of whose dioceses are in Spanish-speaking countries (Haiti being a notable exception). But that's pure speculation on my part.