GC2012

Structure’s Big, Holy, Audacious, Goal

Twelve years ago, I sat in on every session of Committee on the Church and Human Sexuality, otherwise known as Special Committee 25, and marveled at how well members of that committee worked together.

After 10 days of hard work, it was clear that the Holy Spirit had been both present and intensively active, bringing together people not only of varied backgrounds but of varied opinions on some really hot-button issues.

Those same feelings of holiness have pervaded the meetings of the Committee on Structure this past week. It wasn’t just that the members respected each other and played well in the same sandbox. It was … well, it was holy. The committee members thought big … really big.

The business world – and CREDO – talk Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goals, or BHAGs.

Structure’s proposed resolution? It’s a Big, Holy, Audacious Goal.

It wasn’t always like that in Structure. Before convention, it seemed that structural change would come about only through much weeping and gnashing of teeth. The first days were marked by a sense of being overwhelmed by repeated calls for change, as well as mistrust from the General Church and public that the Church could reform itself.

And then Texas Bishop Andy Doyle challenged the committee – “the notion that we can’t do it is an unfaithful notion, in my opinion” – and the Spirit came whirling through the room, and suddenly … suddenly …

We end up with C095 Substitute, a truly elegant answer to cris de coeur for restructuring the Church.

This proposal gives to convention exactly what the people have said they want: a way to let the Holy Spirit guide the Church into a new way of being.

Dr. Fredrica Thompsett of Massachusetts has called it “a splendid document of trust,” and she is right.

The committee worked incredibly hard to make sure that it did not micromanage the Task Force the legislation creates. Over and over again, committee members cautioned: “We don’t need to tell them exactly what to do.” “Don’t put in any details that are not necessary.” “The people have said …” “In hearings, we heard …”

Everything about this proposed Task Force is based on a huge leap of trust … trust in those who will be on the Task Force; trust in the work they will do; trust that they, too, will listen to the wider Church; trust that the wider Church will participate in the discussion; trust that the Task Force can come up with a plan that is, yes, nimble and pro-active instead of reactive; trust that we as a Church will go where the Holy Spirit is leading us.

Just as the committee wants to trust the work of the Task Force, so General Convention needs to trust the work of the committee.

Is that a leap of faith? Yes.

But it is going to take such a leap for the Church to get to this new place that God is showing us.

–Lauren R. Stanley

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