A Message from Executive Council to The Episcopal Church
The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church has issued the following message following the conclusion of its four-day meeting in Omaha, NE.
A Message from the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church,
meeting in Omaha February 19-22, 2010
The Executive Council was exhorted to humility and patience, inspired to action in the cause of justice, and reminded of the importance of the seemingly mundane during the course of our four-day meeting in snowy Omaha, Nebraska, February 19-22, 2010. Meeting in the beginning of Lent we were constantly reminded of the Power of God in Jesus Christ to redeem and save, in the moment and for all time.
The presence in our hotel of soldiers and their families attending an orientation session prior to the soldiers" deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan was a constant sobering reminder of the harsh reality that some families are paying a much higher price in our nation"s armed conflicts than others. As our committees met throughout the day Saturday, the soldiers" children could be heard running and laughing through the halls. It never occurred to anyone to complain.
Our work at this meeting ranged from humanitarian concerns about Haiti and the ice storm in the Dakotas to economic justice concerns centering on a labor dispute at the Church Center to more pragmatic structural issues such as bylaws and Council norms as we undertook our responsibility, as described by the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, of "equipping the larger church to serve the needs of our neighbors for transformation in this country and beyond."
The Presiding Bishop"s update on the rising tensions in the Diocese of South Carolina kept us mindful of the work we all face in teasing out threads of honest theological differences from a fabric of misinformation and misunderstandings in more than one place in our Church and the Anglican Communion.
Chief Operating Officer Linda Watt"s update on developments at the Church Center in the wake of last summer"s budget and staff cuts and Congregational Research Program Officer Kirk Hadaway"s briefing on the drop in Church membership and attendance, not only in The Episcopal Church but in all mainline Protestant denominations, placed our work in the context of current realities and gave added impetus to finding creative approaches to the challenges facing us.
The bulk of our work is done in five standing committees we established at our first meeting of this triennium in October: Local Ministry and Mission (LMM), Advocacy and Networking for Mission (A&N), World Mission (WM), Governance and Administration for Mission (GAM) and Finances for Mission (FFM). We were heartened to see that the reconfiguration of our work into these five committees seems appropriate to the work before us.
On Sunday we devoted our morning and evening to worship and companionship with the members of the Diocese of Nebraska. Executive Council members worshipped at All Saints Church, Church of the Resurrection and Trinity Cathedral. The Presiding Bishop preached and celebrated at All Saints, the President of the House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson, preached at Church of the Resurrection, and David Beers, chancellor to the presiding bishop, preached at the Cathedral.
Sunday evening Executive Council hosted an evening with members of the Diocese of Nebraska, including their deputies to General Convention and their bishop, the Rt. Rev. Joe Burnett, as well as the leaders of the Tri-Faith Initiative, a Jewish, Christian and Islamic effort to honor the witness of each faith community to the God of Abraham and to find new ways to work and pray with one another and serve the wider community. The Tri-Faith Initiative provided us a powerful image of renewing and redemptive faith that overcomes barriers of prejudice and fear. President Anderson introduced the deputies present and described their committee work and terms of service, reminding us of the many ways dioceses are a vital part of the governance of our Church.
Executive Council concluded its work Monday with the hours of discussion in the five standing committees distilled into resolutions for the entire Council"s consideration. Resolutions regarding how Executive Council manages its own work and relationships among committees and members passed earlier on Sunday afternoon reflecting the need for new norms for the new committee structure.
The makeup of Council changed with the resignation of the Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas due to his change in orders, and the election of the Rev. Jim Simons of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Key resolutions adopted by Council at this meeting include the following:
· Resolution supporting the goal of achieving a just and lasting peace in Afghanistan free of terrorism and foreign occupation.
· Resolution reaffirming support for Colombian people and refugees adversely affected by their country"s internal armed conflict.
· Resolution expressing deep solidarity and continuing long term support for the recovery and reconstruction of Haiti with an emphasis on honoring the authority and autonomy of the Haitian leaders and people.
· Resolution challenging The Episcopal Church to raise an extra-budgetary sum of at least $10 million, approximately equal to a tithe of the church"s budget for the final two years of the 2010-2012 triennium for the long-term rebuilding of the Diocese of Haiti.
· Resolution calling upon the President of the United States and the Congress to press the State of Israel to end the blockade of the Gaza Strip and recognizing that the use of force, violence or arbitrary power by Israelis or Palestinians to determine the outcome of this conflict must be condemned absolutely.
· Resolution reconstituting the Board of Governors of Episcopal Life into the Episcopal News Service Advisory Committee.
· Resolutions addressing a large variety of shareholder resolutions studied and recommended by the Standing Commission on Corporate Social Responsibility.
· Resolution adopting a revised budget for 2010.
· Resolution adopting a Strategic Plan for the Executive Council and forming a new Executive Council Committee on Strategic Planning that will oversee and report on progress towards implementation of the Strategic Plan.
The Episcopal Church welcomes all who worship Jesus Christ in 109 dioceses and three regional areas in 16 nations. The Episcopal Church is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Executive Council: http://generalconvention.org/ec
The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org