The work of the wider Episcopal Church between General Conventions began last week with a joint meeting of commissions, committees, agencies, and boards of the Church in St. Louis, MO, from November 12-15. These groups exist to move the mission of the church forward and prepare new legislation and other outcomes for the next General Convention in 2015.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh was represented by two individuals at this meeting: the Rev. Dr. James Simons from St. Michael's of the Valley, Ligioner, and Jamie McMahon from Calvary, East Liberty.
Simons serves as a member of the Executive Council (EC) of The Episcopal Church, which has the duty to carry out programs and policies adopted by General Convention and oversee the ministry and mission of the Church. The EC is comprised of twenty members elected by General Convention (four bishops, four priests or deacons and twelve laypersons) and eighteen members elected by province.
Simons attended this meeting as the EC liaison to the Standing Commission on Stewardship and Development. In a slightly humorous twist, McMahon has served on this same commission since 2009, and at this meeting in St. Louis, he was elected as chair for the next three years. The duty of this commission is to recommend policies that foster a broad understanding of Christian stewardship, both individual and corporate. The Commission recommends strategies to General Convention for stewardship, including education, development, and planned giving, with special sensitivity to the cultural and linguistic diversity of the Church. Its membership consists of three bishops, three clergy, and six lay people from across the church.
Of particular interest at this meeting was the special budget allocation of $4.1 million by General Convention for the creation of a newly reconfigured church wide development office. Besides this, there was wide-ranging conversation about providing resources for stewardship education across the church, forming better steward leaders from among our clergy and bishops, and thinking about how the ethics of fundraising relates to the work of the church.
Many other interim bodies met during this gathering covering topics as wide ranging as world mission, liturgy and music, the structure of the church, and constitution and canons.
The first meeting was held of the newly formed Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop that will work over the next three years to present nominees to the House of Bishops at General Convention in 2015. The committee has already created a Facebook page and Twitter account (PB27Nominations or #JNCPB) to communicate its work to the wider church.