Blogging “Blue”: Ministry Development

This is the sixteenth in a series of posts on the “Blue” Book for General Convention 2012. Previously, I blogged about Liturgy Sundries II (SCLM). Next up is Mission and Evangelism. Please see my index of General Convention 2012 resolutions, with a summary of the 7WD position on them.

baptismal fontThe Standing Commission on Ministry Development is not exactly the most famous of standing commissions. That’s too bad, because their mandate is the “affirmation, development and exercise of ministry by all baptized persons.” There’s more, but it all flows from that. Seems like something that should get loads of energy, because it involves, literally, everyone in the church.

Sadly, like diocesan commissions on ministry, who are also supposed to attend to the ministry of all the baptized, most of the energy here concerns ordained ministers, but I suppose that is inevitable. I don’t think the SCMD is to be blamed. They’ve done a good job with their mandate and assigned work. For the record, one sign of a healthier time in our church will be when we see folks actually focused on the ministry of all the baptized — and not dwelling too much on the few clergy in our church.

Here are their resolutions.

A065: Add Canon III.12.9. Likely vote: YES.
This resolution provides a mechanism for the removal of a bishop when her or his leadership becomes untenable. You might call this the “Bennison Canon” (see here, here, or here for more info). That sad situation provides precisely the example of why we need a parallel process to remove bishops as we have for rectors. As with rectors, the process should be moderately lengthy with a high bar — and err on the side of due process. But we need this, the sooner the better. I have read over this resolution a few times, and it seems pretty solid.

A066: Add Canon III.9.14. Likely vote: YES.
Sometimes parish clergy become ineffective due to impairment (e.g. addiction or a health problem), though they have not gone to the level of a Title IV disciplinary infraction. In a way, this resolution helps to avert real disaster by providing a mechanism for helping, and if necessary removing, impaired clergy. There are a few minor things I’d change if it were up to me, but it seems basically solid.

A parenthetical note: I will be happy when our clergy disciplinary canons and procedures are more parallel between bishops, priests, and deacons. The levels of authority are different, but the crises are likely to be the same. Our current Title IV canons are a mess partly because they do not adequately account for problems with bishops. But I have digressed.

A067: Theological Education: Ministry Formation. Likely vote: YES.
If passed and funded, this would convene a consultation and foster networking at several levels of the church toward the end of making recommendations to improve ministry formation and education. While I do not think churchwide networking should require General Convention’s involvement necessarily, I don’t see another way to get this particular task done. It is important work, and I will gladly vote in favor of this.

One quibble: the first resolve asks General Convention to “affirm that baptism is the source of all ministry.” Well, yes and no. It is true in that our fundamental ministry stems not from ordination but from baptism. But God’s grace, conferred in baptism, is our actual source of ministry. It might seem like a pedantic point to make, but our ecclesiastical anxiety would be lessened if we increased our theological acuity. So there.

A068: Furthering the Ministry of all the Baptized. Likely vote: YES.
This resolution basically tells some people at 815 to post a PDF on their website. While it might seem like overkill, the resource is a fairly useful bibliography of resources to foster ministry of all people. I am a big fan of identifying and raising up existing resources, so this gets my vote. I’d like to live in an era in which the SCMD could just phone up 815 and say “Pretty please” but we don’t seem to be there yet. Rather than wait, let’s start making use of a good resource, which will be continually updated by the SCMD. Note for the folks on the SCMD: you might also want to set up a wiki or a blog, so you can just post stuff without recourse to staff who have a zillion bosses.

A069: Fund the Standing Commission on Ministry Development. Likely vote: YES.
Let’s give them some money to do their work. Someday we’ll have fewer CCABs, I hope. But until then, we need to give them resources to do the work we ask them to do.

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