Filled with Hope
Now that the first Executive Council meeting of this triennium is over, I am filled with hope. I am very hopeful that Council is embarked on a new path as we approach the work we have been given. The markers of this new path are a public acknowledgement from both presiding chairs* and the COO* of the importance of collaboration and cooperation between Council and the DFMS* staff. This collaboration is absolutely essential to make a meaningful dent in that work.
Collaboration and cooperation must also be supported by our willingness to remove our egos from the work. It should not matter to either Council or DFMS staff who gets the credit for initiating or completing the work. After all, neither Council nor staff are likewise eager to claim the blame when things go awry. From my perspective, the work is simply too urgent and too important to get bogged down in playing credit games. I somehow can’t see our Maker or St. Peter reviewing credit tally sheets at the Pearly Gates.
I am also overwhelmed at the amount of work before us. Maybe that volume of work always existed, and I was just unaware of it as a Council member. I suspect that staff has had a better awareness, because they have had to organize and implement the work.
In this triennium, I will be approaching this work as chair of Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Advocacy and Networking for Mission (A&N), and my field of vision seems vast. Part of my responsibility as a committee chair is to assist committee members in getting our arms around the work so that we can be both global and specific as we approach the work. I intend to articulate clearly the lenses that we will apply to view the work, the mandates and sources of the work assignments, and the time priorities that we will apply to doing the work.
An aside about priorities: I think that we sometimes get confused about priorities. I often hear talk about priorities, meaning some notion about the rank ordering of the importance of subjects. However, I also hear the notion of priorities applied to the sequencing of important activities or projects, but not necessarily in the same rank ordering as to their importance. When we lack clarity as to which priorities we are talking about, we then easily fall into a morass where there are blame and accusations as to our sisters and brothers not caring about those subjects that are nearest and dearest to our hearts.
In rank ordering tasks, considerations such as timing of budget expenditures, availability of staff time, and lead time needed for scheduled meetings must be factored into our planning, and they don’t always coincide exactly with the rank ordering of importance of these same tasks. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: my daughter’s surgery and preparing for the trip to the hospital rank high in importance as to subject. However, taking the trash to the curb ranks higher in terms of scheduled events and must be done before we pack the car and leave for the hospital, because the trash truck is coming today while we’ll be at the hospital. If we miss the trash truck today, we don’t get another chance to take the trash out again until next week.
The new class of Council members elected by both General Convention and the nine Provinces of The Episcopal Church is exciting. The new members arrive well equipped with numerous, relevant graduate degrees and thinking skills that indicate they got their money’s worth in their educations. They also have a plethora of for-profit, non-profit, and church leadership experience that they appear eager to tap and apply to our work. The new class’ desire to make a contribution and create new solutions to old problems reflects their deep love for our part of Christ’s Body. Their commitment is palpable.
The average age of the new Council members also appears to be, I’m estimating, about eight years younger than the continuing class. Listening to the new Council members in one-on-one conversations and as they participate in plenary and committee discussions, I feel assured that Council’s new members will not hold back, after this first introductory, orientational meeting. I would encourage them to be bold in speaking their minds, taking the chance that they just might be right and have something important to open up the conversations and take us to additional perspectives and solutions.
Balance between boldness and deliberateness in approaching Council’s decision-making is necessary, and I vote for erring on the side of boldness. Knowing when to be bold and when to be deliberate will always be a source of tension.
In this Council meeting, I did, however, speak up for deliberateness in discussing the Marks of Mission block grants. I believe there had been insufficient time for those discussions in our joint standing committees and in plenary in this Council meeting. I want to have in-depth discussions that allow Council members to be apprised of the thinking that went into the Marks of Mission project teams assembled by the COO and co-convened by staff and Council members. I want Council members to share their ideas that might further shape the proposed initiatives for living into the Marks of Mission and application of the block grant funds. I welcome the opportunity for Council committee members and staff to convene through online and teleconference meetings to do this work between this and the February 2013 Council meeting.
I promise to write often and openly about what I’m doing in Council in this triennium, and I invite your comments both here on this blog and also directly to me by email at LelandaLee@gmail.com. Please keep Council and DFMS staff in your prayers.