Wednesday, June 17, 2009

the run up to General Convention

It's been quite a while since I posted anything here. My excuse is that I've been reading all 400 pages of the report from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. I'm down to reading through the lessons proposed for particular commemorations. Some of them work well and others leave me scratching my head. Of course, some of the lessons assigned to existing commemorations also leave me scratching my head! I can't complain too loudly, though, as I have no desire to or expertise for assigning more appropriate lessons.

There are many weighty matters that will come before the General Convention in July. I think that the most important one is returning ourselves to a mission-oriented church. We have become so overwhelmed by program - Episcopalians love writing and reading, after all - that we have lost sight of the purpose of program. If it doesn't directly result in or support mission, then perhaps we can do without it.

We also like to reinvent the wheel or at least make it better. This is a concept borrowed straight from capitalism. The notion that streamlining the bumpers or adding cruise control will get consumers to buy the new model when there really isn't much, if anything, wrong with the old one. Our commissions and committees, though, must come up with something to do or they may find themselves dissolved.

So I propose that we suspend the work of almost every single commission, committee and board for the next three years unless the work is clearly missional. I also believe we can do most of this kind of work electronically. Face to face meetings are really great but conference calls, emails and skype will drastically reduce expenditures. Consolidating efforts - for instance, information gathering which is done well by Church Pension and the State of the Church group might join forces and produce one report - would reduce duplication and save hundreds of trees.

And then when we come together for the General Convention of 2012, we can consider whether we have managed nicely without certain CCABs or whether they need to be reactivated. Would it be so bad, for instance, if the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music didn't produce a new addition to the Enriching Our Worship series or revise The Book of Occasional Services? Can we manage to survive with the current Book of Common Prayer, the five EOW books, Lesser Feasts and Fasts and the current Book of Occasional Services for three to six years? I think the answer is probably yes.

Of course, the hardest thing in the world is to stop a group from meeting after they have gotten used to doing so regularly. And there just might be groups whose work we would miss. But we will never know unless we try to get along without them and redirect our focus outward.

And that's my nickel's worth!

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