Preparing for General Convention: Considering TREC

IMG_9819 Episcopal General Convention 2015 logo

I am looking forward to attending General Convention (“GC”) next month in Salt Lake City, Utah. The deputation members from our Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real (stretching from the Silicon Valley to San Luis Obispo on California’s central coast) and our Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves have been preparing for this two-week-long event for a long time, some since the last GC three years ago. Rev. Tom Sramek (Co-Rector, Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, San Jose) and I (parishioner at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Saratoga) have been asked to serve as lead social media communicators, to keep the diocese informed. This is the first in a series of blog posts which will continue for several months.

There will be several major discussions at GC, the election of a new Presiding Bishop to a 9 year term being foremost. Another topic almost as important as the election goes by the acronym TREC – for the “Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church“.

Episcopal Church TREC 2014

At the 2012 GC, the Task Force was charged to create a plan for reforming the Church’s structures, governance, and administration. Bishop Mary was a member of the Task Force. TREC’s charter and other documents are on their web site.  TREC was discussed in a church-wide meeting held in the National Cathedral in Washington DC in October 2014, including a video broadcast for those who could not join in person.

Episcopal Church TREC Poster October 2014

About 2,000 people participated in 2012-2014 TREC discussions, plus about 4,000 who participated in-person or remotely in the meeting at National Cathedral. The 74-page TREC Final Report was published in December 2014. The urgency of this work was well expressed by the Task Force on p.6 of that report:

“We believe that to adapt to today’s needs and to strengthen its ability to serve God’s mission as Luke described, The Episcopal Church must address how we “do the work we have been given to do” at every level—congregational, diocesan, and Church-wide. We believe that the Church must reconsider many of its current practices around congregational and diocesan collaboration, congregational and leadership development, clergy formation, Church Pension Fund incentives and initiatives, and the use of our sacred buildings.  … we believe the Church needs to address these issues directly and immediately, and the legislative process is the primary means by which we as The Episcopal Church endorse and fund our communal priorities and directions. The “perfecting” of resolutions is a process shared by members of the Church who are General Convention, bishops, priests, deacons, and lay people from around the whole Church. We recognize that what TREC presents is only one of the steps in this Church-wide conversation and process. And so we put forth three resolutions for General Convention that, if embraced as critical issues and adopted for further action, will engage the Church at every level in faithful and constructive conversation and planning.

We believe this work is at the heart of the reimagination to which we have been called as a task force…”

The Task Force put forth three resolutions for consideration at GC next month (the full text of each is in the TREC Final Report):

  1. A001: Restructure for Spiritual Encounter – more: p.7 and following
  2. A002: Reimagine Dioceses, Bishops, and General Convention – more: p.8 and following
  3. A003: Restructure Assets in Service of God’s Mission in the Future – more: p.10 and following

These are major shifts proposed for how the Church will do its work in the world going forward. Between 25 June – 3 July 2015, GC will discuss its own restructuring – including the possibility of merging the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies in a unicameral model. The TREC resolutions have already proven to be controversial, generating passionate and thoughtful discussion as well as prayerful consideration. The GC next month will surely be energetic and very interesting indeed!

Photo Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

[18 June 2015 – corrections: changed “delegation” to “deputation” and 10-year-term to 9-year-term]

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