Friday, July 06, 2012

House of Deputies Structures Committee votes to sell 815

UPDATE: The House of Deputies votes to sell 815 (but removed the word "now" from the resolution).  George Conger has his story here.

The Diocese of Virginia's Center Aisle reports on the Committee on Structures from the House of Deputies made a dramatic turn and called for the sale of the Episcopal Church in Manhattan. Lauren Stanley reports for the Center Aisle:
The Episcopal Church headquarters in Manhattan.
But the mood changed dramatically when the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle of Texas, vice chair of the Bishop’s committee, spoke.

“I feel frustrated,” he said, “because there is nobody else. There’s us. There’s no special committee that is going to go away and do something and won’t have to come back to us.”

“This is a brilliant group of people,” he said, referring to the Structure committee. “We have expertise in this room to do this work. We believe, in our system, that God put us in this room to do this work. So the notion that we can’t do it is an unfaithful notion, in my opinion. It is unfaithful. That’s when the system no longer works.”

Doyle went on to declare, “The budget process does not work. PB&F right now is restructuring the Church by deciding who gets money and who doesn’t, even before we get the resolutions to vote.”

The governing system, he said, “is broken and we can fix that. We can change that. People are not happy with us spending this much money to talk to each other about people who are not here. … People are not happy that we have a building in New York that takes millions of dollars out of our missionary operations. They are not happy, and we have known that for years. How many studies have we done? Do we need to study it again? … Let’s force change. Don’t study it. Let’s sell [815]. We in this committee have the power to make change happen.”

He concluded, “We have the opportunity to make these changes. … To walk away and give it to somebody else is unfair.”

Other members of the committee voiced their own frustrations. Howard lamented that “we come into this place … without any real singular vision being projected and we’re let loose to debate things [with] no unified vision of what a budget for mission and ministry looks like.”

However, the Rev. Wendy Abrahamson of Iowa echoed Doyle’s call for action. “I do think there’s a need for a vision to be found, but I do think there are some specific themes that are well within our ability to address. The financial ones are very specific. All of the resolutions (on the structure of the Church) point out that administration is half the budget. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, parishes can’t afford a clergy person. … The stuff that we’re doing is not going to address that. But money in the world and the Church living in the world as it is, those are things we can do something about. … There are a lot of things that we can begin to attack that will create some room for maybe helping that vision to be clarified,” she said, referring to financial issues and the length of General Convention in particular.

Deputy Debby Melnyk of Florida ended that portion of Structure’s discussion by saying, “I left last night very enthusiastic, and I feel we have a wonderful opportunity right here to start some change. … We have an opportunity for creative thinking. … We have all sorts of opportunity to do greater thinking to create change. … I agree with Bishop Doyle. I think we can do it. We can put our minds to come up with a creative framework to effect that change.”

Twenty minutes later, Structure slashed seven “resolveds” from D016 and reduced it to the basics:

Sell 815 before the next General Convention and report back in 2015 on the sale.

Read it all here.  The committee is chaired by Gay Jennings, a leading candidate to replace Bonnie Anderson as President of the House of Deputies.

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