Saturday, July 11, 2009

Where Trust Can Live

Note: I wrote a version of this for ISSUES, the publication of the Consultation, which is published daily at General Convention.

On Wednesday night, General Convention heard the Archbishop of Canterbury talk about the economic crisis in the world. Among the points he made was one concerning transparency, truthfulness and trust. He pointed out the obvious but too often ignored connection between these three things. Trust cannot live amid darkness and lies.

I appreciated his remarks. I have experienced firsthand how trust struggles to survive in a place where decision-making was reserved for a hand-picked few, where information was hoarded like gold, and where opacity had long replaced transparency.

It was that experience that gave birth to a resolution D045 – transparency in committee memberships. I crafted this resolution because I was alarmed by the decision to keep secret the names of members of a committee studying the theology of same-sex unions. (Aside from the outrageousness of once again studying this subject that has been been studied for more than 30 years I also was struck by the sheer weirdness of a decision to have a closeted committee studying this subject.)

D045 says:
Resolved, the House of ______ concurring, that the 76th General Convention direct that the membership of all committees, subcommittees, task forces and panels elected or appointed by any body or leader of The Episcopal Church (including, but not limited to, the House of Deputies, the House of Bishops, the Executive Council, Standing Commissions, Committees, Agencies and Boards of The Episcopal Church and their respective Presiding Officers and Chairs) be made public no later than 30 days after election or appointment.

The explanation says, “The Episcopal Church should model in its governance and life the transparency and openness all Christians are called to demonstrate. Our Baptismal Covenant calls us to seek Christ in all people and to respect the dignity of every human being. Transparency in our dealings with one another is one way human dignity is respected. Conversely, secrecy is destructive of human dignity and of our common life. Making public the names of persons elected or appointed to any body charged to work in Christ’s name for the good of the Church serves the Church’s health and promotes trust in one another.”

Deputies Nancy Key of San Joaquin and Joan Gundersen of Pittsburgh endorsed this resolution.

The Committee on Structure has sent it to be voted on after doing some slight wordsmithing. Let's hope both Houses pass it.

As we learned to our sorrow in Fort Worth, trust cannot grow in the dark.


Elaine C. said...

Hooray! Love this!

David@Montreal said...

right on Katie!

personally I've always had some difficulty understanding how the House of Bishops can have 'executive sessions' when only they are present. if we baptized are all priests in the living Body of Christ how can they possibly justify this perogative?

Katie once again you speak truth to power for all of us. Thank-you


Lisa Fox said...

Hooray! It is passed by the House of Deputies, and now concurred by the House of Bishops.

Thank you, Katie.

Lisa Fox said...

BTW, I wrote a celebratory piece -- with much thanks to you -- on my blog.

Christopher said...

As one who wrote a rather strong letter of rebuke to the HOD/HOB listserv, I thank you Katie. Secrecy harms the Body and has often been the shroud by which abuse is allowed and continued. Transparency is not an optional extra, and I appreciate that we have now made this binding in our processes of discussion and decision-making.

WilliamK said...

THANKS and BLESSINGS for having proposed this resolution! And congratulations on its passage!

RevMama said...

Thank you. Katie, for putting forward a resolution that will put an end to secret committees who think they can act with impunity and disregard for the church they are supposed to be serving. And isn't it an amazing thing to be a delegate to the General Convention that finally states clearly that it is an inclusive church!