A Message from Executive Council To The Episcopal Church
[June 18, 2010] The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church has issued the following message following the conclusion of its three-day meeting at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum Heights, MD.
A Message to The Episcopal Church from the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, meeting in Linthicum, Maryland, June 16-18, 2010
In the 1960s U.S. Navy Admiral Hyman George Rickover, an Episcopalian, gave President Kennedy a plaque with the old Breton fisherman’s prayer 'O God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.' That prayer is on a carving in a hall at the Maritime Institute in Maryland where we are meeting.
Meeting at a place that teaches Celestial Navigation may seem a natural for a church governing body but the truth is we are meeting here because it is good stewardship of the church’s money. For the rest of the triennium we will be alternating meetings – with the exception of one meeting in the reorganized Diocese of Fort Worth – between the Maritime Institute and Salt Lake City. This decision allowed the General Convention office to negotiate much better rates for multiple meetings.
Finding a healthy balance between responsible stewardship of money and human resources while carrying out the directives of General Convention and all the many other needs that arise between General Conventions is the ongoing challenge and joy of all Executive Councils. Add to that the increasingly interesting developments in the Anglican Communion and you have the makings of an intense three-day meeting.
During its first session on Wednesday, the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb, provisional bishop of San Joaquin, briefed the Council about the challenges facing a diocese in which almost all the leadership is people who have never before been allowed to hold leadership positions; a diocese whose records, funds, and many buildings are in the hands of the former leadership; a diocese located in a state hit hard by the recession. In spite of this, San Joaquin has moved from a survival mode to a missional mode and remains firmly committed to the ministry and mission of The Episcopal Church.
Bishop Lamb’s presentation struck a chord with the Council and helped start a thread of conversation that reoccurred frequently in the course of the meeting. That is the fact that the reorganizing dioceses, like The Episcopal Church and indeed, the Anglican Communion, are dealing with what happens when the marginalized move to the center, and those formerly in the center are moved toward the margins. How does that change the formerly marginalized? Equally important, how does that change the diocese, the Church, the Communion?
This dynamic informed much of the business of the committee work that took up the entire day on Thursday as committees dealt with issues ranging from a request for continued financial support for the Dioceses of San Joaquin and Haiti to a discussion of the Gulf oil spill to responses to the proposed Anglican Covenant and the immigration law in Arizona.
Thursday concluded with dinner with the Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton and the Rt. Rev. John L. Rabb, and deputies of the Diocese of Maryland. Council members and staff had the opportunity over dinner to learn more about the work of the diocese, its challenges and its successes.
The 45-minute session on Friday with invited guest Canon Kenneth Kearon was carefully prepared for by the Standing Committee on World Mission, who wrote the thoughtful and substantive questions that made clear our commitment to being an inclusive church while also deeply committed to classic Anglicanism and deepening our relationship with our sisters and brothers across the Communion.
Canon Kearon began by describing the beginning of the current tensions as the increasing “problem of growth and diversity in the Anglican Communion.” This statement was significant to a body that has long seen diversity in the Body of Christ as an opportunity and has sought to base its actions on the baptismal promise that we will seek and serve Christ in all people and respect the dignity of every human being.
The questions sought clarification on the presenting issues, including the Archbishop of Canterbury’s removal of appointees from The Episcopal Church to ecumenical bodies and Canon Kearon’s statement that The Episcopal Church does not “share the faith and order of the vast majority of the Anglican Communion.” He also responded to concerns about incursions by other provinces of the Communion. He acknowledged that the Archbishop of Canterbury considers certain activities of the Province of the Southern Cone to constitute an incursion, but is awaiting clarification about the extent of these activities from the primate of that province. However, such ongoing breaches of the moratorium on incursions do not rise to the same level of departure from the faith and order of the Communion as does the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Christians.
The Council very much appreciated the chance to meet with Canon Kearon, who agreed to respond in writing to additional questions from members of the Council.
The Rt. Rev. Ian Douglas, bishop of Connecticut, and the Rev. Gay Jennings were elected to the Anglican Consultative Council. The Council also bid Dorothy Davies-Flindal, liaison from the Anglican Church of Canada, farewell with great appreciation and affection as she completed her time with us. The Rt. Rev. James Cowan, bishop of the Diocese of British Columbia, is the new ACC liaison and will meet with us at our October meeting in Salt Lake City.
Key resolutions adopted by Council at this meeting include the following:
Resolution reasserting The Episcopal Church’s historic opposition to nuclear weapons, considering their potential to cause catastrophic damage to humankind and all of God’s Creation.
Resolutions urging Episcopalians to participate in thoughtful engagement that supports those affected by Arizona Statute SB 1070, such as educating ourselves and our communities on immigration issues, developing and strengthening local partnerships, visiting border communities, or engaging in economic boycott and calling for the Federal Government to move swiftly to enact comprehensive immigration.
Resolution convening a steering committee to begin planning a fund-raising strategy for the rebuilding needs of the Diocese of Haiti.
Resolution convening a committee to lead the effort to oversee building a new site for the Archives, including fund-raising.
Resolution advising the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies to fix the length of the 77th General Convention in 2012 at eight days.
Resolution committing to the development of a Web conferencing system to support the Commissions, Committees, Agencies and Boards of General Convention and the Executive Council and its committees.
Elected an Audit Committee and a member to the Investment Committee.