Sunday, February 21, 2010

Life as an Executive Council Newbie

I'm an Executive Council "EC" newbie, now attending my second EC meeting in the first year of my six-year term. We're meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, which is in Province VI, my home province, since I'm from the Diocese of Colorado. I was elected from my province and appreciate the opportunities I've had to visit and conduct Anti-Racism Trainings in five out of our six dioceses.

I've visited Nebraska twice recently: in November in North Platte as a member of the Anti-Racism Training team prior to Nebraska's diocesan annual council and in December in Omaha as a member of the provincial Anti-Racism Network planning group. Let me just say I am now experienced in Nebraska winter! The hospitality of Nebraskans is friendly, and I've sampled several restaurants with good hamburgers, ribs and ambiance. I'd like to come back in the spring or summer one of these days.

As an EC newbie, the learning curve is steep, and there are many people to help me, from my fellow EC members from the senior class, their term expiring in 2012, to the experienced Church Center staff, particularly those from the General Convention Office. Twenty other newbies started this triennium with me, and we have already seen turnover with one new replacement, Dr. Anita George from Mississippi, to fill a vacated seat from Province IV and the election on Monday of an at-large replacement to fill the soon to be vacated seat of newly elected bishop for Connecticut, Ian Douglas.

We met in plenary session the morning of day 1, when Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, and Chief Operating Officer, Linda Watt, gave opening remarks, reported here by Episcopal Life Online. The afternoon of day 1 and all of day 2 were spent in our EC Standing Committees.

At EC's meeting in October, 2009, we organized ourselves into five EC Standing Committees where there had previously been four. The October meeting was an orientation meeting to get everyone on board for the triennium and situated into the work that is mostly done at the EC Standing Committee level. This current meeting is the first actual experience for 22 newbies of the intensity, speed and stressfulness of delving into EC business. In some ways, one could say that an EC meeting is much like a mini-General Convention "GC," and we do it three times a year between GCs.

During our committee time, we spent up to an hour or two in joint sessions where the subject under discussion crossed the committee lines. The five EC Standing Committees are Local Ministry and Mission "LMM," Advocacy and Networking for Mission "A&N," World Mission "WM," Finances for Mission "FFM," and Governance and Administration for Mission "GAM." We also had the benefit of briefings by staff members on the current status of subjects being addressed by resolutions before our committees.

I'm a member of A&N, which met jointly for about an hour today with LMM. We spent time talking through which of the over twenty Commissions, Committees, Agencies and Boards (CCABs) of General Convention should be linked to our respective EC Standing Committees. For each CCAB, an EC member is assigned as liaison to bring resolutions and reports back to EC and serve as a point of contact. I'm assigned as liaison to the Standing Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility, which is linked to the EC Standing Committee on which I serve, namely A&N. The liaison and links aren't all aligned like mine happens to be. That's because liaison assignments are based on both individual experience and expertise and personal interest in the particular CCAB's work focus. I'm a former banker and trust officer; so the assignment to a committee dealing with socially responsible investments works for me and for the committee.

Examples of linkage questions include: Should the Standing Committee on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns be linked to WM or to A&N, or cross-linked to both? Peace with justice concerns certainly is about advocacy; yet, we're talking about advocacy at the Anglican and international levels. What about the EC Anti-Racism Committee? Assign it to LMM or A&N? On the basis of subsidiarity, Anti-Racism work ultimately must begin and end with individuals at the congregational and diocesan levels. Yet, it's an advocacy issue and a networking opportunity to address Anti-Racism at the churchwide and provincial levels. These discussions occupied our time, but not merely as an intellectual exercise, because we needed to know to which EC Standing Committee specific resolutions and reports received from CCABs should be directed for review and action.

The deadline for Consent Calendar resolutions (those resolutions which are deemed by the sponsoring EC Standing Committee not to require discussion) was today at 5:45pm. That meant we were finalizing resolution wording, researching, appending and writing supporting explanations, background and policy statements while also discussing other reports and resolutions that will all be heard during committee reports on day 4 of this meeting.

Tomorrow morning, we'll be going to two churches in Omaha for Sunday worship. In the afternoon, we'll be hearing remarks from the Vice Chair of EC, President of the House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson, as well as status reports on subjects such as Parochial Reports, Anti-Racism Training and Companion Church Relationships with the Anglican Church in Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Monday will be primarily devoted to EC Standing Committees reporting out resolutions.

When you say your prayers, say one for us EC members, the Church Center staff, and the work we're doing. We'd appreciate it. Goodnight!


Harry said...

Lelanda...Your blog regarding beingan EC Newbie was most interesting. It brought back good memories from my EC experiences from 1991 to 1997 as a Province representative during the time of PB Edmon d Browning. He was a great PB and leader during some difficult times in the church; especially the problems created by the church treasurer. The organizational chart is much different today, but I suspect much of the work experience is similar. I was laison with Small Churches and Communications. The opportunity allowed to meet many great leaders of the church and to develop lasting friendships. Hopefully along the way we are all good servants doing the Lord's work. Harry Denman



Thank you for reading my blog. I will be reflecting on my experience on ExCoun throughout my term. I am beginning to see how important it is not only to have passion and perspective on issues that come before the ExCoun, but also to have knowledge and be savvy about HOW to get the work of ExCoun done. A voice is not enough. One must also have the wherewithal to collaborate and the skills to work fast and effectively to move legislation along.

I am grateful for people like you, those who have gone before me, who laid the groundwork for where we are today.