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Canons, Take Three: New Reality TV ideas, and Confusing Sacraments

Welkommen, bienvenue, welcome…
to the third and final part of Megan’s Fun-Filled Romp through the Proposed Canonical Changes in 2012!

As I said before, I’m just hitting the highlights, so I’m going to breeze right on past the resolutions cleaning up language, and asking for revisions of Title IV (they are legion).

So we come to:

A106:Hey, Remember that time we gave you that money?
Proposed by: Standing Committee on the Structure of the Church

This resolution requires each province to give the Executive Council a detailed report of activities it does each year, and alsowhat it does with the money allotted to it by Convention. Right now, Provinces are not required to report back on their activities or spending.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and advocate for this resolution. It is a good idea that if we give someone money, they can tell us how they spend it.

And now, before I dwell too deeply on what the heck was happening for all the years before no one was reporting on the money they were getting at the provincial level, let’s look at:

A119:Let’s fire the GCO head, too
Proposed by:Executive Council

So, evidently we’re on somewhat of a “let’s make sure we can fire people” kick. And that’s the main reason I point out this resolution.
There exists an entire office to run the triennial behemoth that is General Convention, and its executive officer is selected jointly by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the HoD.

This resolution would give Executive Council confirmatory powers of that selection, and give them firing power as well. It is an interesting move. I am fine with someone being able to remove the GChead, but why make it someone different than the folks who hired you?

A041:Everyone Should Learn Things!
Proposed by: Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education

If the standing committees and commissions were locked in some variety of cage match,* Hunger Games-style, these guys would win. I have no doubt about it. They are smart, they are well networked, and they are very intense about their jobs. Never mess with Christian educators.

They’ve got a couple resolutions up, and this one calls for every congregation in The Episcopal Church to offer instruction in the “history, structure, and governance of this church”, and also makes completing this instruction a prerequisite for holding any sort of leadership position.

This is a great idea. I really like this idea, because it will cut down on the number of people who try to tell me that Jesus was a Christian, Episcopalians believe in sola scriptura, etc. This is a wonderful idea.

This is also going to be hell on wheels to achieve, much less enforce.

Because what qualifies as enough education? What qualifies as passing? Who’s going to check and make sure? Theoretically, this has already happened– confirmation classes should cover this. But everyone knows that few among us retain that information for very long. And the content and quality of confirmation preparation varies widely.

So there are some practical issues to iron out.

And speaking of that:

A042: Whoops, Turns out Baptism and Being 16 Were Enough After All
Proposed by: Standing Commission on Lifetime Christian Formation and Education

This is an omnibus resolution which changes the canons from requiring confirmation for lay leadership in the church to: being an adult.
(In the eyes of the church, ‘adult’ is defined as ’16 years old and older’.)
In other words, you no longer have to be confirmed to run for the vestry, or run for GC deputy; you just have to be 16 or older.

Clearly, these two resolutions are meant to be taken together– the thinking is that baptism, plus education, qualifies you for wider service in the church. (Their report is very good, and is worth reading in its entirety.)

Awesome. No objection from me. That’s good baptismal theology. (Though, also clearly: we have got to nail down what on earth happens at confirmation. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. It’s a sacrament, not a houseplant.)

I am a little uneasy about the separation of the two ideas though. If either one gets shot down, the other doesn’t look so great. Suddenly, you have people (at any age) with no education in the Episcopal Church trying to run things, or, you have dioceses scrambling to maintain compliance when they are already stretched thin.

These should probably rise or fall together.

The last thing to cover has to do with the (in)famous Anglican Covenant, but that gets its very own post later this week. Stay tuned!

*Which would be awesome provided there was no actual death, blood, or violence. Think of the ratings/marketing/evangelism potential! Budget deficit? What budget deficit? General Convention:Survivor Edition! Tonight at 8pm on Fox!

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