Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 76th General Convention direct that the membership of all committees, subcommittees, task forces and panels elected or appointed by any body or leader of The Episcopal Church (including, but not limited to, the House of Deputies, the House of Bishops, the Executive Council, Standing Commissions, Committees, Agencies and Boards of The Episcopal Church and their respective Presiding Officers and Chairs) be made public no later than 30 days after election or appointment.
The Episcopal Church should model in its governance and life the transparency and openness all Christians are called to demonstrate. Our Baptismal Covenant calls us to seek Christ in all people and to respect the dignity of every human being. Transparency in our dealings with one another is one way human dignity is respected. Conversely, secrecy is destructive of human dignity and of our common life. Making public the names of persons elected or appointed to any body charged to work in Christ's name for the good of the Church serves the Church's health and promotes trust in one another.
As Christopher concisely explains, the goal of this Resolution is to compel the House of Bishops to make public the names of all those it appointed to its committee designated to produce two studies (one from the left, and one from the right) on human sexuality in the Church. It seems that the EpiscoGLBTs were, er, slightly upset over not being permitted to know the names until the studies were delivered and made public.
Thus, the Episcoleft is demanding complete "transparency in our dealings with one another". Then why does Christopher Johnson rate the following Resolution's chances of succeeding as being that of a "snowball in Hell"? From the Diocese of West Texas, we have Resolution C 067:
Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church direct the office of the Presiding Bishop and the Executive Council to provide the following information to each Diocese of the Church:
(a) The dollar amount spent by TEC on litigation against dioceses, parishes, groups of churches and individuals since General Convention, 2006;
(b) A list of the church accounts and/or budget items from which these funds were taken;
(c) An explanation of the line item described in the Domestic & Foreign Missionary Society Budgetary Summary as: Additional Draw from short-term reserve for legal support to dioceses exceeding budget for 2008-$1,520.000.00;
(d) The amount of money budgeted for litigation for the next Triennium;
(e) An estimate of the amount of property value retained and expected to be retained by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (PECUSA) because of pending and completed litigation as of General Convention 2009.
The Episcopal Church has engaged in litigation in numerous dioceses across the country in cases involving property disputes with local parishes which have elected to depart TEC. This litigation has been initiated by either the local diocese or the parish against the other party. TEC intervened as a party in interest aligned with the local diocese. Substantial legal fees and related expenses have been incurred on behalf of TEC. Beginning in 2007, requests have been made by various parties to the Executive Council which is responsible for the governance of TEC between General Conventions for financial disclosure of the source of funds and the amounts expended. However no response has been made to date.
So the left demands the one disclosure, and the right demands the other. Both are cast in the form of a "direction" which General Convention issues: the first to no one in particular, and expressed in the passive voice; the second directed to the Presiding Bishop and the Executive Council. The only problem with such "directions" is that they are toothless, and can be disregarded with impunity. Once the 76th General Convention dissolves in ten days, there is no one left to hold accountable anyone who ignores its "directives". (The only way to add some teeth would be to turn these resolutions into proposed new canons of the Church. General Convention, however, is so absorbed with its ability to pass directives to all and sundry that it would require a collective understanding of the larger picture to do that --- a feat of which it is simply incapable.)
Still, demands from both the left and the right for "transparency" are remarkable when they coincide, as they do in these two Resolutions --- both from people in Texas, by the way. Watch to see whether they each pass, or only one does, or neither. They will serve as a good bellwether of the respective degrees of power commanded by the two factions.
Oh, yes, and the "inclusive Church of Ubuntu"? Remember? The theme of this year's General Convention, which symbolizes "the interconnectedness of humanity"? Please note the contrast between word and deed at General Convention. First, the word, from the opening remarks of Dr. Bonnie Anderson, also D.D., the President of the House of Deputies:
God’s Episcopal Church is my Church. It became my Church about 35 years ago for a reason that may seem simple. The Episcopal Church welcomed me. I don’t mean the kind of welcome that gave me coffee and shook my hand,, although that is important too. The Episcopal Church welcomed me in a way that told me the truth about who I am. The Episcopal Church told me that I am a child of God. The Episcopal Church told me that the gifts that God has given me will be put to good use. The Episcopal Church welcomed me in a way that brings me closer to wholeness.
Several weeks ago, Dr. Anderson matched a deed to these words, by announcing she had invited six special persons to be her guests at General Convention 2009. But that is apparently no longer her theme. For the General Convention Media Team, which she also heads (click on "Roster" to see the names), responded recently to the application by Father Matt Kennedy of StandFirm, until a while ago a priest in that same Church, for press credentials at General Convention (read the full story and comments here). Here is the complete text from "This Welcoming, Inclusive and Transparent Church", or "TWITCh" for short, speaking through the Program Officer of its Public Affairs office:
Upon review of your application, the credentialling committee has declined your request for credentials.
Neva Rae Fox