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The final count was 85. That's how many resolutions the Committee on Structures has been sifting through since the beginning of General Convention. No matter who you talk to -- young, old, white, person of color, well-to-do, not-so-well-off, gay, straight, "conservative," "liberal," lay, clergy, old-timer, or newcomer -- nearly everyone agrees that the present system, whether you call it the National Church, "815," or the Episcopal Church Center, is broken. From the very first day, General Convention has been hit with an avalanche of structure reform resolutions demanding everything from drastically reducing staff, to radically changing the size and scope of General Convention itself, to the Presiding Bishop's alternative budget based on the Five Marks of Mission. And yesterday, the House of Deputies passed a no-nonsense resolution calling for the sale of the Episcopal Church Center building. Restructure. Restructure. Restructure. But is it enough?
Like many of our congregations, our beloved Episcopal Church is undergoing a transition of seismic proportions. And there is more than enough evidence to suggest that we don't have a clue about what to do next. The move to adopt the Anglican Church's Five Marks of Mission (see my July 5 blog) as the framework for the Church's Mission strategy, is the latest chapter in the continuing story of our search for God's mission. But there are a significant number here saying that just as our churches cannot hope to create sustainable communities of faith without dismantling structures that stifle the creativity and imagination necessary for the Holy Spirit to breathe new life, the national church must be about this work in earnest as well. But more must be done besides. Discerning and planning for a Re-Incarnated Church must go beyond changing or removing a structure here and there. We are talking about a radical rethinking of who we are and what God is up to.
There is no doubt that much of this talk about retructuring is fueled by dwindling financial resources. But if all our efforts are motivated solely by money, then God's true call to mission will continue to go unheard. Let us pray that we will keep our "eyes on the prize," embracing first and foremost a vision that must be guided by God's dream for us. Call it restructuring, call it destructuring. God's hope and call to us doesn't end there. In fact it is a small (but necessary) part of our ongoing journey with this God who is ever making all things new.