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Executive Council finds missing piece - puts it in place

No, it wasn't a treasure hunt; it was the Executive Council retreat December 7 and 8, 2012, at St. Christopher Episcopal Church, Fort Worth. But here's how Standing Committee member Elinor Normand described what happened there:

"It's the missing piece."

"It" is the reorganization of the Executive Council. The reorganization is the result of the revised Canon 10 passed at the Diocesan Convention November 2-3 in Stephenville. The Executive Council exercises "the powers of Convention between meetings thereof, implementing the directives and policies of that body, initiating and developing new work, but not acting in conflict with the expressed will of Convention."

The reorganization sets up a structure whereby the various committees/organizations/groups in the diocese can be in regular communication with the Executive Council and the bishop about their work and vice versa. As noted above, this structure closes the circle of communication to allow various bodies in the diocese to know what each is doing and for the Executive Council to have an overview of what's happening. This will allow the leadership to note where things are not happening as well, and take steps to either offer help to an existing body or set some new work in motion.

Five Work Groups were established by the canon: Congregation Development, Christian Formation, Finance ( which existed as a committee in the previous version of the canon), Structures, and Management. At the retreat, members of the Executive Council self-selected the Work Group they were most interested in, although the Canon provides that "prior to the first meeting of the Executive Council after the end of the Annual Convention each year, the Bishop, the President of the Standing Committee, and the President of the Corporation shall meet and initially assign new members of the Executive Council to one of the groups. Each group may increase its membership with Executive Council approval to ensure the group has the expertise to carry out the work assigned to it. The additional members shall have seat, voice and vote in the group, but not in Executive Council." (10.5.2)

Below are the Work Groups, the description of the work of each group as stated by the canon, the members of the Work Group, and their respective tasks:

Congregational Development: "This group serves as the Executive Council's Link with programs and services for the missionary work in the Diocese and development of congregations, which may include: church plants; overseeing missions and assisting congregations moving from mission to parish status and leadership development, stewardship and congregational life and ministry for all congregations. Also, this group oversees the communications efforts of the Diocese and recommends allocation of resources for congregation development and assistance." (10.5.2.a)

Elinor Normand is the convener of this Work Group, the clerk is Spencer Mabry and the representative to the Management Work Group is ClayOla Gitane. Other members are Sharla Marks, Curt Norman, Christopher Jambor, Katie Sherrod (also on Management Group), and Demi Prentiss.

The groups/organizations/tasks this Work Group oversees are Communication, InReach, Latino Ministry, Evangelism, Church Planting, and Insurance/Compensation Guidelines/Contracts/letters of agreement.

Christian Formation: "This group serves as the Executive Council's link to programs and services to promote and further the work of Christian education and formation throughout the Diocese for all age levels and to recommend allocation of resources for Christian education and formation." (10.5.2.b)

The convener Is Becky Snell, who also is the representative to the Management Work Group. The clerk is Marsha VanEtten DeChant. Other members are Susan Slaughter, Fredrieka Ankele and Jane Dennis.

The groups/organizations/tasks they oversee are Safeguarding God's Children and background checks; Christian Formation Committee (Lenten Series and Cursillo), difficult conversations, and using liturgy to develop leadership.

Finance: "This group shall be the Finance Committee of the Executive Council and shall have the duties as set out in applicable canons and overall responsibility for drafting the proposed budget of the Diocese, overseeing the audit processes for Diocesan and congregational institutions, training appropriate diocesan and parish officials on financial procedures, receiving and coordinating requests for assistance from congregations; recommending investment policy for church funds: and coordinating the financial affairs of the diocese in cooperation with the Fund for the Endowment for the Episcopate, and the Diocesan Corporation. The President of the Board of Trustees of the Diocesan Corporation, and the Treasurer of the Diocese shall be among the members of this group." (10.5.2.c)

The convener and representative to the Management Group is Floyd McKneely and the clerk is Jane McClain, assisted by Cherie Shipp. Other members are Brent Walker, Judy Cordell, Reuel Jentgen, Phyllis Bess, David Louder, Gretchen Smith, Malcom Cross, John Hunt, Richard Chowning, and Dick Van Gorder.

The groups/organizations/tasks they oversee are stewardship, support to assisted congregations, support for congregation funding beyond 2012, funding for any returned properties, bishop search, Parochial Reports, donation page for web site, and updating of policies for the Grants Committee (formerly Mission and Outreach Committee). This Work Group also will work with the Trustees for the Endowment of the Episcopate on organizing the Fund for the Episcopate and the fund raising process.

Structures: "This group carries out the Executive Council's responsibilities for the review and evaluation of the effectiveness of diocesan structure, programs and services and for the maintenance of sound and accepted best practices in the affairs of the Diocese, its organizations, institutions, and congregations." (10.5.2.d)

Sam McClain is the convener and Management Group representative. Bruce Coggin is the clerk. Other members are Joe Christopher, J.D. Todd, Brenda Hathaway, Edwin Barnett, Norm Snyder, and Marie Libby.

The Structure Work Group will establish protocols for contacting, observing, and overseeing organizations' progress. The focus is to determine the SSC's modus operandi and insure that future protocols are in line with the values of the Diocese: Participation, Transparency, and Accountable.

Management: "This group shall meet regularly between meetings of the Executive Council to monitor progress on Executive Council initiatives and resolves, undertake work delegated by the Executive Council, recommend action on time sensitive matters, appoint persons for organizations established by the Executive Council in Sec. 10.5.3, and develop the agenda for each Executive Council meeting. Its members shall be the Bishop Diocesan, the President of the Standing Committee, the President of the Diocesan Corporation, the Diocesan Treasurer, the Diocesan Chancellor, Chair of the Finance Committee, Director of Communications, and one member of the Executive Council from each of the other groups of the Executive Council." (10.5.2.e)

Rayford High, as provisional bishop, is convener of this group. Members by virtue of the positions they hold are Marti Fagley, Jim Hazel, Bob Hicks, Kathleen Wells, Floyd McKneely, and Katie Sherrod. Additional members are the representatives from the other Work Groups as noted above.

The revision to Canon 10 was the culmination of three years of work by the Committee on Diocesan Structure (CODS). CODS grew out of Resolution 4 passed at the Special Meeting of the Diocesan Convention in February 2009 that called for the creation of a decision making process in the diocese that was transparent, participatory and accountable.

As Bishop Gulick and Bishop Ohl both observed, it helps make us a much less "bishop-centric" diocese, a move they urged as a healthy one.