As you may remember, our diocese sent three of us to the Province V Synod earlier in April. You’ve heard from Deputy Felicity Thompson and me already; this week we have Deputy Lizzie Anderson’s thoughts on her experience at Synod:
I am a self-identified “church nerd.” I love to see “how the sausage gets made,” as they say, and Provincial Synod is one of the opportunities in the Church to get in on the action! It’s not quite how it used to be though. For a long time, Provincial Synod was an opportunity for Deputies to General Convention to learn about upcoming legislation, Robert’s Rules of Order, and other opportunities that would come up three months later at General Convention.
As the Province moved away from this practice, and the Episcopal Church began offering online orientation opportunities for Deputies, Province V has been using the triennial Synod in Chicago as a way for people from our different dioceses to network, learn about opportunities throughout our Province, and worship together. For example, this triennium’s Province V Synod focused on three ideas: connect, network, and support. We had opportunities to meet new people from around the Province, share ministry ideas and experiences, and learn about the different resources around the Province and the Church that support things like children and youth ministries, college chaplaincies, congregational development, Fierce Conversations, and so much more.
Because Provincial Synod no longer serves as an orientation for Deputies, many of the dioceses in Province V have changed their canons to allow people to run to represent their diocese at Synod who have not been elected as Deputies to General Convention. Our diocese still only opens nominations for Provincial Synod representatives to elected Deputies.
I have to say, I think this change in nomination is a great idea! It opens up more opportunities for folks to serve their diocese, our Province, and the Church. Most of the people I met at Provincial Synod in April were not Deputies to General Convention, and I probably wouldn’t have had an opportunity to network with them otherwise. It was also the first time many of them had been involved in the Church in a role like this. I think it can be harder for people to get a foot in the door of the Church’s governance and structure when there are only a few areas with limited seats especially if they’re new to the diocese. By loosening the restrictions on some of these positions, it opens up positions for people to try their hand at this kind of work in the church.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve the Diocese of Michigan as a representative to Provincial Synod and as a deputy to General Convention. It has blessed me so much, and I hope that I have been able to share those blessings with our Diocese.
Sr. Elizabeth Marguerite, AF (better known as Lizzie Anderson)
Thank you, Lizzie, for sharing some of your experience with us.
Speaking of General Convention, the Blue Book is ready for your reading pleasure! You can find all the reports from standing committees, Executive Council, task forces, etc. here. I can imagine that these reports might not be your first choice for bedtime reading; however, I’d love to suggest that you take a look at the table of contents and see if there are particular issues of concern that you would like your deputies to consider before we go to Austin in July. Then read the report and resolutions which will be submitted on that topic. Unlike diocesan conventions to which congregations send delegates, your representatives to General Convention are called deputies. Delegates vote the will of the people whom they represent whereas deputies vote their own conscience – so it’s important that our consciences are well-informed through education and conversation. We really want and need to hear from you so that we can do the best job we can.
There are a couple of reports I’d like to highlight. The first is the Report on Resolutions Referred to Dioceses from the 2015 General Convention which you can find on page 133 in Volume 1 of the Blue Book reports. There are 109 dioceses in The Episcopal Church of which only 44 sent in reports on their actions on the resolutions. It’s this report, as well as the work of our own Convention and Council that gave birth to the Nuts and Bolts Blog. Our diocese takes seriously the work done by the many individuals, committees, and task forces that bring resolutions to Convention. Our mandate as the Resolution Review Committee of Council is to inform and educate our diocese about all the resolutions that appropriate action might be taken. I am pleased to tell you that the Diocese of Michigan is one of the 44 reporting dioceses so our data is included in this Blue Book report. We’re not letting this important work fall through the cracks!
The other report I’d like to suggest reading is the report by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music Subcommittee on the Revision of the Book of Common Prayer, page 193 in Volume 1. The question of revising the BCP has already elicited strong reaction by many in the Church and the discussions could be fraught with strong opinions and emotions – just think back to the introduction of the 1979 BCP. All the deputies will need to come to this with open minds and a willingness to listen to the Holy Spirit’s guiding rather than our own agendas.
As our deputation begins to meet more regularly to discuss our time in Austin, I ask your prayers and your input. Please help us by letting us hear your thoughts that we might make godly and wise decisions.
Let us pray –
Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Collect for Guidance – The Book of Common Prayer)
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council