Saturday, February 15, 2014

Reimagining the Litigation Church

The 2012 General Convention of the Episcopal Church launched a Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church (TREC). Resolution C095 gave TREC a charge “to create a plan for reforming the Church’s structures, governance, and administration,” and authorized $400,000 for this thru 2015, when TREC is to report to the next General Convention with recommendations drawn from a church-wide conversation, conducted largely through interactive tools on the task force website.

But well ahead of any recommendations, the Presiding Bishop and her inner circle already changed significant “structures, governance and administration” without input from the wider church.  A “Chief Operating Officer” now wields significant discretionary power over the denomination, as does the PB herself.  The grass roots United Thank Offering was taken away from an elected board and is now a de facto discretionary fund for staff-favored projects.  The autocratic direction of the church is so pronounced that even some progressive Episcopalians are distressed.

More than this, the PB has taken over existing lawsuits against dissenting dioceses, clergy, lay people and congregations, redirecting donated “mission” funds for about 100 lawsuits, to the point that the denomination has spent an estimated $40,000,000 on suing and silencing other Christians, mainly on the current PB’s orders.

So, while that’s been going on, what about the “Reimagining?”  Well, TREC’s funding has been cut at least in half, according to the denomination’s “revised” budgeting (line 282 at the bottom),

At the same time, the whole “Reimagining” brand has been lifted and applied to the litigation and purging strategy,

The “reorganization” in Fort Worth, similar to that in other locales, was the creation of a legal entity through which the Presiding Bishop could launch multifaceted lawsuits against dissenters who wished to be out from under the new autocracy (or, in some cases, simply wished to protest it from within the denomination).  The “reorganization,” which the PB now goes to celebrate as “reimagining,” was part of a strategy by which new dioceses, in some cases existing more on paper than in flesh and blood, were created willy-nilly to sue flesh and blood Christians.

TREC was formed to solicit church-wide input.  Now the PB is using groups of her own creation to load the input with “recommendations” she’s already put into action.

So we have yet another “church-wide conversation,” in which “reimagining” is already complete in the minds of those who pretend to be listening, while in fact guiding the process to a predetermined outcome.  And General Convention plays right into it, either not realizing that its approach is hijacked or, even worse, playing out a process it never intended to honor.

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