In a statement issued after the December 3-5 meeting of the President of the House of Deputies Council of Advice, President Bonnie Anderson said she and Council members "spent a considerable amount of time discussing how the wider church can support those Episcopalians who want to remain in the church when and if their bishops attempt to lead their dioceses out of the Episcopal Church."
Anderson said the Council also discussed how the Episcopal Church "can best create the safest space possible for the largest number of Episcopalians" to remain in the church.
"I have learned during my travels throughout our church that there are Episcopalians in every one of those disaffected dioceses who need our prayers and our support," Anderson said in her statement. "I was very moved by the conversations I have had this year with such Episcopalians in the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh and San Joaquin."
The Council, composed of 15 persons, is appointed each triennium by the president of the House of Deputies under the authority of Title I, Canon 1.1(b) and gives the president, upon her request, consultation and advice.
The text of Anderson's statement, issued after the meeting at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, New Jersey, follows.
My Council of Advice and I had a very constructive meeting in Newark, discussing my work serving the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church in the 18 months since my election during the 75th General Convention.
Council members and I spent a considerable amount of time discussing how the wider church can support those Episcopalians who want to remain in the church when and if their bishops attempt to lead their dioceses out of the Episcopal Church. I have learned during my travels throughout our church that there are Episcopalians in every one of those disaffected dioceses who need our prayers and our support. I was very moved by the conversations I have had this year with such Episcopalians in the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh and San Joaquin.
We also considered how the church can best create the safest space possible for the largest number of Episcopalians to remain in our church and continue to use their gifts to further God's mission in our world.
During the first part of this triennium, I have focused my attention on the role of deputies in their own dioceses before and after General Convention. I have met with deputies across the church. I have also written a brochure to help deputies reflect on their roles from both historical and contemporary perspectives. That brochure is available here.
I told the Council that in my visits to dioceses I encourage conversation and exchange of ideas about governance of the Episcopal Church
The House of Deputies is currently in the midst of its triennial transition. It includes deputies who served at the 75th General Convention and whose dioceses have not elected deputies for the 76th General Convention. The House also includes deputies recently elected to serve at the 76th Convention. This fall, more than forty dioceses elected deputies to serve at that convention, which will meet in Anaheim, California, July 8-17, 2009. By early next summer, all deputies for the 76th General Convention will be elected. I will then turn my attention to appointment of the deputy members of General Convention's legislative committees.
General Convention Secretary Gregory Straub and I will provide early information for deputies regarding the legislative committee appointment process. Forms for deputies to indicate their legislative committee preferences will be available one year prior to General Convention, but information about the form, the role of the legislative committees and the area of responsibility of each committee will be available in the first quarter of 2008. During our Newark meeting, I asked the Council of Advice to be ready to provide me with recommendations for legislative committee membership after all 76th General Convention deputies are elected and their preferences are received.
During the remainder of this triennium, I will encourage communication between and among deputies and alternates using two methods. First, in early January, a new listserv will be launched for deputies and alternates. The listserv will share logistical and other relevant information about General Convention and will deputies begin to know each other -- as much as can be done electronically. Proposed legislation will not be discussed on the listserv, as that topic needs to be reserved for General Convention, particularly during the open hearing process. Guidelines and enrollment procedures will be sent to deputies and alternates. Second, I will be using an email service called "Constant Contact" to send information to deputies and alternates.
Above all, I was happy to report to the Council of Advice that the Episcopal Church is alive and well, and deeply engaged in the work of mission to which we are called by our Baptismal Covenant. During this blessed season of the Advent of Christ's first coming, I hope you will join me in praying for the church and all of its members.