|Image borrowed from Art of Manliness|
All sarcasm aside, there is a topic that many of us in The Episcopal Church have been contending with for quite a while now: the Taskforce for Reimagining the Episcopal Church (TREC).
A little bit of background: from its own website, "The Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church has been charged by the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church [read: national church governing body] to create a plan for reforming the Church's structures, governance, and administration." So basically, the intent was to convene a group of people who would study, ask, and then imagine ways that the Episcopal Church could streamline General Convention and generally the way that we, as Episcopalians, do church. TREC's final report can be found here.
In all honesty, I've been pretty pumped for a month or two, because I knew that the report would be coming out. I had high hopes that this would be a document that would give new energy and momentum to an organization that, from my standpoint, has been growing lethargic and possibly too self-interested. I've been increasingly fed up with with all these church doomsday-sayers going on about "Oh! We're dying! Woe is us in God's Holy Church!" Not that I've had any strong opinions about that, or anything...
So I guess, when TREC's final report finally came out, I was... underwhelmed. There are a few things in there that have everything to do with issues that I'm interested in, being a postulant to the diaconate and all. The two biggest items are 1) the charge to explore ways to support clergy "to make a living inside and outside of the Church," and 2) a specific charge to the Pension Fund to find ways to support clergy who do not fit the traditional model (a much more in-depth and comprehensive summary can be found on the Rev. Adam Trambley's blog). But more than anything, TREC's final report is a legislative document, where I had been hoping for something that would infuse life into this organization that I love so much.
I want to impress upon you, dear reader, that despite my consternation, I have not simply thrown up my hands and dismissed all of TREC. Something I found very helpful was a tweet chat hosted by the Acts 8 Moment earlier in December. There were some very opinionated, very influential people who participated in that event online, and so I was able to interact with them how I wished, but I did spend a good amount of time just being a fly on the wall, reading their comments and interjecting when I found it useful or found that I needed clarification. It was during that conversation that this gem was dropped:
@nurya @Acts8Moment @RevJenAdams I actually tried to talk to some folks about TREC. They were baffled, bemused then bored.
— Polly Hewitt (@Polly_Hewitt) December 23, 2014
As soon as I saw that, I knew that all the BS had just been called. Here we are, a bunch of church folk, for one reason or another interested in revising the institution, and somehow we have forgotten to touch base with the majority of the Church. I know that I certainly haven't thought to bring up the TREC report on a Sunday morning ever since I first heard of it. What do you think that says about this document that has had so much hype with, apparently, a very small group of people?
I will be the first to admit that maybe I was just expecting too much out of TREC. Perhaps, in their commissioning, it was made clear what kind of a scale should be working on and maybe I've come to expect more than that of them. Then that would mean that it's just on me. But nonetheless, part of the reason why I was excited about this thing in the first place was because I knew there were scholars and leaders who want to encourage the Church to leave the building and go. Go out into the neighborhood to meet God's movement there. That was really what I was hoping for. More of the impetus to go.
So maybe my takeaway is right there: in hoping for a commission to infuse life and energy into this church organization I love so much, I forgot that that's my job. I can't depend on a commission to do my work for me; as a deacon (in-training), it is part of my charge to lead the Church into the world, seeking and serving every person as Christ himself.
Here, then, is my invitation: who would like to go with me? Who would like to go out into the world, onto the streets, looking for the ways that God has already been at work? This is what gives me life and love. How about you?
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Has the TREC report been on your radar? Do you think you'd want to help me infuse some life into this ol' she-whale, the Church? Please leave a comment here, or dive into the conversation on Twitter or Facebook! Also, please subscribe to my blog by email with the subscription bar in the navigation menu on the right-hand side of this page, and/or send me a friend request/follow me to make that social connection and participate in a deeper dialogue. Thanks!