Task Force for Re-Imagining the Episcopal Church provides report

Posted Jul 16, 2013

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Task Force for Re-Imagining the Episcopal Church (TREC) met July 12-13 at the Maritime Institute of Technology in Linthicum, Maryland. The following is a report on their work.

The Task Force for Re-Imagining the Episcopal Church

Background, challenge, and learning

Since our initial meeting in February, we have been working in smaller groups to
1) ensure that all of our members have a common understanding of our current structures, governance and administration;
2) research both successful and unsuccessful attempts at large-scale change in other Christian traditions, in our own history as The Episcopal Church, and in other kinds of organizations, and consult with individuals who helped lead those efforts;
3) develop a common understanding  of the central marks of Episcopal identity from the vast work that has already been done in that area; and
4) establish the building blocks for a broad churchwide engagement process that we believe will be a critical piece of our work. We heard reports from each of these smaller working groups. Two of the groups offered written reports, and those are available on our website or here

Our greatest challenge so far has been developing a common understanding of the proper scope of our mandate. We are very conscious of the extraordinary energy and consensus demonstrated by the 77th General Convention about the need for bold and large-scale change in our church. Our work thus far has consisted of vigorous and Spirit-filled conversations about the best ways The Episcopal Church might begin to effect the kind of change that was called for and needed, and what specific areas in our common life are most in need of the kind of reform that convention called for.

At least two important principles have emerged from our conversations and our research:
1) Structural, administrative, and governance change is only one component of the renewal to which the church is being called. Our deepest hope and prayer for our work is that it will be part of, and will continue to catalyze, the renewal that is taking place in many places around the church.
2) In order for structural, administrative, and governance reforms to be compelling and to effect meaningful change, they must be grounded in a coherent vision for what those structures are supposed to do in the life of the church.

Our plan moving forward

To that end, we organized into two main working groups for the next phase of our task. The first will continue to research and begin to codify the broad principles and vision for the overarching purpose of our structures. We have defined a rough working draft of principles based on the Episcopal identity research and will refine those over the next two months. We have also begun to define the specific areas within churchwide governance, structure and administration that they will review as part of their work.

The other working group will focus on moving our engagement efforts toward the kind of broad, proactive, and intentional churchwide conversation that is both mandated by the resolution CO95, and which will be an important piece of any meaningful change the church ultimately adopts. We will begin that process in earnest in early September, and we will use this process to share and test our emerging work on principles and scope with the church as it develops. We hope to share our preliminary work around vision and principles as part of this engagement process.

We will proactively seek out some groups within the church, both some with particular interests and/or capacity for influence, and some that represent voices not often heard from both within and outside the church. We will also make resources available so that any local or regional group can participate in this wide listening process, and provide their input to us.

Our next full meeting will be held in December. At that meeting, we will receive a report on that listening process, finalize a coherent vision for structural reform that takes into account both our own research and what we have heard from the church, and begin to outline a plan for specific change proposals. Between December 2013 and March 2014, we will begin to develop specific and concrete proposals for reform. Between March 2014 and July 2014, we will take those back to the church for engagement and feedback, before finalizing our report to the 78th General Convention, which must be submitted by November 2014. A copy of our projected work plan is also attached and available on our website.

Funding and the Churchwide gathering

Resolution C095 of the 77th General Convention called upon us to convene a churchwide gathering as part of this engagement process. The resolution also asked for $400,000 to fund our work. The final budget adopted by General Convention included a $200,000 budget for all of our work during the triennium, including meetings, administrative expenses, travel, and the churchwide gathering. The budget we have been allotted will not allow for us to fund the kind of gathering mandated by the resolution (the General Convention Office has estimated that fully funding travel and arrangements for a gathering imagined by the resolution would cost around $450,000).

We are continuing to explore ways of convening either a partially funded gathering, a smaller version of the gathering, several regional gatherings, or some other way of fulfilling the spirit of the resolution within the constraints of our available funds. Additionally, we have solicited and received a $150,000 grant from the Rector and Wardens’ Fund at Trinity Wall Street to assist with this work. We are extraordinarily grateful to Trinity for their generosity and support of our critical task. We welcome input from the church on the best way to fulfill this part of our mandate given our budget constraints.

All our work has been grounded in prayer, and we are at all times seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit for our work. We are deeply grateful to those of you who are watching our work, and in the spirit of the authentic community to which Christ calls us, we hope you will help keep us accountable for the task with which we’ve been entrusted. We are grateful, too, to those of you who are holding this process in prayer. We ask for the continued prayers of the whole church as we move into this next phase of this process, and we very much need your ongoing input in order that the whole church might most faithfully respond to God’s call in this moment.


TREC ofrece informe tras su reciente reunión

[16 de julio del 2013] El Grupo de Trabajo para la Re-imaginación de la Iglesia Episcopal (sus siglas en ingles, TREC) se reunió los días 12-13 de julio en el Instituto Marítimo de Tecnología en Linthicum, Maryland.   El siguiente es un informe de su trabajo.

Grupo de Trabajo para la Re-imaginación de la Iglesia Episcopal

Antecedente, desafío y aprendizaje

Desde nuestra reunión inicial en febrero, hemos estado trabajando en pequeños grupos para
1) asegurar que todos los miembros tengan un común entendimiento de las  estructuras actuales, del gobierno y la administración;
2) investigar los intentos correctos o fallidos de cambio a gran escala en otras  tradiciones cristianas, y en nuestra propia historia como Iglesia Episcopal, y en  otros tipos de organizaciones, y consultar con individuos que ayudaron a dirigir  esos esfuerzos;
3) desarrollar un común entendimiento de las marcas centrales de la identidad   Episcopal de la vasta labor que ya se ha hecho en esa área; y
4) establecer las bases para un amplio proceso de participación de toda la iglesia, el cual creemos será una pieza fundamental de nuestro trabajo.  Escuchamos informes de cada uno de los pequeños grupos.  Dos de los grupos ofrecieron informes escritos y estos están disponibles en nuestra página de internet o aquí:

Nuestro mayor desafío a la fecha ha sido el desarrollo de un entendimiento común sobre el adecuado alcance de nuestro mandato.   Estamos muy conscientes de la extraordinaria energía y consenso demostrado por la 77 Convención General acerca de la necesidad de un cambio audaz y de gran escala en nuestra iglesia.  Nuestro trabajo hasta ahora ha consistido en conversaciones vigorosas y llenas del Espíritu acerca de las mejores maneras en las cuales la Iglesia Episcopal podría comenzar a afectar la clase de cambio que se pedía y se necesita, y cuales áreas específicas en nuestra vida común están en mayor necesidad del tipo de reforma que solicitó la convención.

Por lo menos dos principios importantes han surgido de nuestras conversaciones e investigación:
1) El cambio estructural, administrativo y de gobierno es solo un componente de  la renovación a la cual la iglesia fue llamada.  Nuestra más profunda esperanza y  oración para nuestro trabajo es que sea parte de, y que continúe catalizando, la  renovación que está sucediendo en muchas partes de la iglesia.
2) Para que las reformas estructurales, administrativas y de gobierno sean  convincentes para lograr un cambio significativo deben estar basadas en una  visión coherente sobre lo que estas estructuras están supuestas a hacer en la vida  de la iglesia.

Nuestro plan en lo adelante

Para este fin, nos hemos organizado en dos grupos principales de trabajo para la próxima fase de nuestra tarea.   El primero continuará con la investigación y comenzará  a codificar los principios generales y la visión para los propósitos primordiales de nuestras estructuras.   Hemos definido un borrador de trabajo basado en la investigación de identidad Episcopal y lo refinaremos durante los próximos dos meses.  También hemos comenzado a definir áreas específicas dentro del gobierno, estructura y administración de toda la iglesia, los cuales serán revisados como parte de este trabajo.

El otro grupo de trabajo se enfocará en los esfuerzos de participación hacia el tipo de conversación amplia, proactiva e intencional a nivel de toda la iglesia, que es a la vez el mandato de la resolución C095, y que será una pieza importante de cualquier cambio significativo que la iglesia finalmente adopte.  Iniciaremos el proceso a principios de septiembre, y utilizaremos este proceso para compartir y poner a prueba nuestro trabajo emergente sobre los principios y el alcance con la iglesia en la medida que se desarrollen.  Esperamos compartir nuestro trabajo preliminar como parte de este proceso de participación.

Vamos a acercarnos de manera proactiva a algunos grupos dentro de la iglesia, tanto con interés y/o capacidad para influenciar, así como también algunas de las voces que están presentes, pero que no son escuchadas frecuentemente, tanto dentro como fuera de la iglesia.  También vamos a hacer disponibles recursos, de manera tal que cualquier grupo local o regional puedan participar en este amplio proceso de escucha y proveernos sus aportes.

Nuestra próxima reunión se realizara en diciembre.  En esa reunión, recibiremos un informe sobre ese proceso de escucha, finalizaremos una visión coherente para la reforma estructural que tome en cuenta nuestra propia investigación y lo que hemos escuchado por parte de la iglesia, y comenzaremos a delinear un plan específico para la propuesta de cambios.   Entre diciembre del 2013 y marzo del 2014 comenzaremos a desarrollar propuestas especificas y concretas para la reforma.  Entre marzo del 2014 y julio del 2014, presentaremos estas propuestas a la iglesia para su participación y opiniones antes de finalizar el informe para la 78 Convención General, el cual deberá ser sometido en noviembre del 2014.  También anexamos una copia de nuestro proyectado plan de trabajo,  el cual también está disponible en nuestra página de internet.
Financiamiento y la reunión a nivel de toda la iglesia

La Resolución C095 de la 77 Convención General nos llamó a convocar un encuentro de la iglesia a nivel amplio como parte de este proceso de participación.  La resolución también pidió $ 400,000 para el financiamiento de nuestro trabajo.  El presupuesto final adoptado por la Convención General incluyó $ 200,000 en el presupuesto para todo nuestro trabajo del trienio, incluyendo reuniones, gastos administrativos y de viaje, y el encuentro de la iglesia a nivel amplio.  El presupuesto que nos ha sido asignado no nos permitirá el financiar el tipo de encuentro ordenado por la resolución (La Oficina de la Convención General ha estimado que el financiar completamente el viaje y los arreglos para un encuentro como lo sugiere la resolución costaría alrededor de $ 450,000)

Continuamos explorando maneras para convocar, ya sea un encuentro parcialmente financiado, una versión más pequeña del encuentro, varios encuentros regionales, u otras maneras de cumplir con el espíritu de la resolución dada las restricciones  de la disponibilidad de fondos.  Además, hemos solicitado y recibido una donación de $ 150,000 del Fondo del Rector y Guardianes de la Iglesia Trinidad en la calle Wall (” Trinity, Wall Street”)  para asistirnos con este trabajo.   Estamos extraordinariamente agradecidos con  la Iglesia Trinidad por su generosidad y apoyo a nuestra importante tarea.  Le damos la bienvenida a cualquier sugerencia por parte de la iglesia sobre maneras en la cuales poder lograr el cumplimiento de esta parte de nuestro mandato, dada las limitaciones presupuestarias.

Todo nuestro trabajo ha estado basado en la oración, y estamos en todo momento buscando la guía del Espíritu Santo en nuestro trabajo.  Estamos profundamente agradecidos con aquellos que están observando nuestro trabajo, y en el espíritu de la comunidad auténtica a la cual Cristo nos llama, esperamos que nos ayuden a mantenernos responsables de la tarea que se nos ha confiado.  Estamos también agradecidos con aquellos que han sostenido este proceso en oración.  Pedimos sus continuas oraciones por toda la iglesia a medida que avanzamos a la siguiente fase de este proceso, y también necesitamos mucho de su constante aporte de manera tal que toda la iglesia pueda fielmente responder al llamado de Dios en este momento.


Comments (12)

  1. In reference to the mandated Churchwide gathering as part of this process, please consider using live streaming events or web conferences in place of an actual conference-like gathering. This is precisely one area where (I believe) we in TEC need to change and utilize some of the technology now available and in use by organizations throughout the world. Travel and overnight accommodations are outside the budget for most clergy and parishes that I know (myself and my own included). Web-based meetings and a live-streamed conference are far more cost-effective and can be a far more inclusive way of involving more of our people in the process.

  2. Maureen Shea says:

    It would be very helpful to include the list of names of those both on the Task Force and attending the meeting.

  3. Andrew Sorbo says:

    I am not sure exactly what the parameters are for what “reforms” you are considering, but here are two thoughts that have been of concern to me for years: (1) we know that we are inclusive, but our congregations do not mirror the population of our country. What can we do to bring people of color into our communities? My own parish is now grappling with how to bring in more LGBT people like myself. (2) Our liturgy needs work! Going to the same service with the same prayers and order of service every Sunday, month after month, year after year is DEADENING to the spirit. How can our Sunday services have more life, more flexibility, more variety – while still maintaining our continuity with our heritage? That’s a tall order but needs to be addressed.

    1. Jay Woods says:

      I think that the writer of one comment here identified himself as an LGBT person and not “nuts” as another writer has suggested. There are people who identify themselves as mentally compromised, albeit the slang term “nuts” was used to identify persons in years past. Many including myself consider that old slang term derogatory when used today.

  4. David Krohne says:

    Going to the same service with basically same liturgy and hymns and prayers is part of the appeal of staying in the Episcopal Church. We don’t need more variety or whatever is meant by more life or more flexibility. This whole effort sounds to me misguided. If you want that kind of stuff go elsewhere and let us keep what is left of our heritage and worship, which is what drew many of us to the Episcopal church in the first place. Not to mention spending a ton of money playing around with things that don’t need playing around.

    1. Don Caron says:

      Repetition is called by some ritual, by others boring. Sometimes, in order to truly notice the beauty or the significance of something, it is necessary to miss it, or to experience something else that awakens us to what we had. There are a good many variations offered in the existing liturgical resources, so that changes may be implemented from those. The use of imagination can spark a service in many different ways without requiring the abandonment of our identity.

  5. Elta Wilson says:

    Episcopal art should lead change by exploring the nexus between art, science, and religion. We must change those images that imprint our subconscious and open ourselves to feel and sense the true universe around us. Rather than traditional icons that are really fantasized images of people during the time of Christ, let us use our new knowledge of the galaxies. We have real pictures of our own galaxy, black holes, and stars forming. This fundamentally changes our understanding of ourselves. As part of change, please provide artists with a forum for images that encourage all to sense and feel our new knowledge of the cosmos: Who are we; Where are we; and Where are we going. The art of the Church should display and encourage art as its seeks the nexus between art, science and religion.

  6. Jim Murdock says:

    What’s this about “churchwide?” Isn’t it a basic principle that the church is “the blessed company of all faithful people,” not a subset of the church but the whole church? Any action we take in regard to “identity” should only reflect the identity of the whole church, not some artificial “Anglican” identity. If it does the latter, then we are abandoning Anglican identity. In our historical circumstances, we have to act as a subset of the church, but we should do so with the whole church in mind, trying to understand what matters to the whole church and not to ourselves as a subset.

  7. Mary Ann Weiss says:

    Would this task force address the geographical boundaries of Dioceses? A person could walk from our parish in northern Kentucky to the Diocese of Southern Ohio in Cincinnati, but instead must drive an hour and a half to a meeting at our Diocese of Lexington Mission House (Diocese administrative center) in Lexington. I feel certain there are other odd boundaries throughout the church.

  8. Lorna Worley says:

    It is an amazing thing when a faith group has the courage to look critically at itself with the intent to open itself to a wider audience. I am very proud of my church that we do this regularly. As a life-long Episcopalian, I can say that our honesty with ourselves and our willingness to criticize ourselves is one of the many reasons I have spent nearly 60 years in this church. One of the other reasons is our willingness to welcome those that are different from us – who ever we may be. We are all God’s children and all brothers and sisters in Christ and as such, should all be welcome in God’s house without judgement or condemnation. That said, the liturgy is another reason I am still in the church. The ritual and traditions that surround us bind us together as a community. I am aware that it is often a barrier to those not familiar with the liturgy. There have been any number of solutions to this problem. I have no answers since I feel that there is never going to be and single answer that will fit every person. But I am proud to proclaim that I am Episcopalian and part of the long Anglican tradition. However the committee goes about this work, you will be in my prayers.

  9. Jeffrey Gross says:

    The Task Force should read carefully Burke’s “Reflections on the Revolution in France.” Changes should be as small as necessary and should emphasize continuity and tradition. TEC may need an American revolution, not a French one.


    Mr. Sorbo should explore the many alternate liturgies authorized for worship. There is a wide variety.
    At some point the Committee should identify and seek out those parishes that are growing in faith and membership to determine their best practices. After all, the purpose of the committee is to make the church have a strong appeal to as many as possible and so to grow in numbers. Of course regional differences will not permit all best practices to work everywhere.

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