colorful church with RESOLUTIONPALOOZA written below

This post, and indeed the coming series of related posts, will be of interest only to church geeks from the Episcopal Church. If you are interested in the upcoming triennial General Convention and its workings, stay tuned. If you are most people, move along and — as the youths say — touch grass.

OK, fellow church geeks, now that we are here on our own, here we go. Long-time readers of this site will recall that in previous years, I have blogged about resolutions to be considered by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. For several conventions, I blogged my way through the Blue Book, that is, the official reports and resolutions from committees, commissions, agencies, and boards of the Episcopal Church.

In 2022, I hit upon a new method of looking at the resolutions: I blogged about them by legislative committee. Each of the resolutions to be considered is assigned to one of 25 legislative committees. One thing I love about our polity is that every resolution MUST have a public hearing in which anyone can register to speak about the matter at hand, listen to others’ views, and watch the deliberations of the committee. Until recently, these hearings were all held in person at Convention, which meant that only people wealthy enough to travel and spend two weeks at a convention center could follow along. Thanks to the technological acceleration of the pandemic, we now do some work in advance of the convention, which means you can watch the legislative sausage being made from the comfort of your own home.

Because I’m not blogging the Blue Book as such, I will not use a blue-based clever title for the series such as Tangled Up in Blue, Blogging Blue, Blue’s Clues, or And Also With Blue. Instead, this exploration of the joys and sorrows of hundreds of resolutions will be called RESOLUTIONPALOOZA. It’s a veritable festival of legislative writing. Sorry, I don’t have a band or a concession stand, but you can send me $100 if you feel like buying an overpriced ticket to this particular palooza.

In any case, I will move through the resolutions as they’ve been assigned by committee. This will make it easier for me to keep things grouped by subject matter, and it will make it easier for you, dear reader, to refer to my witty, helpful, and/or acerbic commentary before and during General Convention.

I must confess that for quite a while I was planning to skip this work for 2024. I mean, I’m literally going to write enough that it would make a decent-sized book. If I’m making this much effort to write, do I want my next “book” to be commentary on church legislation? I was thinking I’d put my efforts toward a fifth book on some other topic.  But over the last few weeks, a number of people have asked me to do this as a service to the church. Some deputies and bishops seem to find this blog’s review of resolutions to be helpful. Given all the chaos of the world, I decided that if I can help folks make sense of things, perhaps I should do that.

But there is another issue at work here, and it’s important for you to know this. In 2022, I almost died. It was pretty public, and I’ve written about it on this blog. Long story short, my heart stopped while I was traveling overseas. When I collapsed from that, I got a pretty serious brain injury. Thanks to God’s grace and mercy, excellent medical care, a supportive spouse, and prayers from friends and strangers around the world, I’ve made a full recovery. I’m probably healthier than I was before all this. It’s really amazing.

At first, it wasn’t so amazing to me. I remember clearly the first few weeks after I got out of the hospital in Singapore. I had enough energy to read, but not much more. Several doctors told me that my continued life is a literal miracle; they couldn’t explain how I had lived through a set of medical events that just about always kill people. When doctor after doctor tells you that you’re a walking miracle, you pay attention!

Naturally, I started asking myself — and God, in my prayers — why my life had been preserved. Surely, God has a purpose for doing this wonderful deed. I’m still trying to figure that out, but I must think God has work for me to do. Allow me to do one thing right now, to testify: God is completely amazing, and I cannot glorify God enough to thank him for his grace and mercy.

What does this have to do with this blog, you ask? Well, as I was sitting around reading in those first few weeks in July 2022, the church news was filled with continued commentary on the recently-concluded General Convention of the Episcopal Church and the Lambeth Conference happening in England. As I read the news from these church gatherings, I saw with stark clarity the gap between matters of (eternal) life & death and the institutional fixation with the status quo. It wasn’t just about my life, but about every life. We have the literal best news ever to share with a world that is starving for hope and meaning, and instead we too often have internal conversations about things that in the end matter very little.

down graph

Scott’s tolerance for nonsense plummeted in 2022, and it has not gone up yet.

I already had a pretty low tolerance for nonsense, but it plummeted further. In my own life, I have continued to treat each day as a gift from God. “How can I use this day to serve God and glorify him?” 2022 changed my perspective. When it comes to church, I wonder how we can change our perspective so that we see church as existing for one primary reason: to make disciples for Jesus Christ. Why are we wasting our time, energy, and God’s gifts to us on anything else besides helping people know Jesus Christ?

To be sure, there are lots of ways to make disciples. The church will be about many things beyond worship, prayer, and scripture study, but those ought to be front and center. The church is not a social club or a political advocacy organization, though we may well socialize and advocate for political actions — but I hope only in the context of our primary work of disciple-making.

So in this series, here is the fundamental principle: I’m going to take a hard pass on any legislation that cannot be tied back to making disciples. If we are not proclaiming and sharing the grace and mercy of God, what are we even doing?

This is how I decide if I will support proposed resolutions:

  • Does this resolution have a clear relation to making disciples of Jesus Christ?
  • Does this resolution propose tangible, measurable action, or is it merely seeking an emotional response by affirming, commending, or condemning something? Feeling-based resolutions can be counter-productive, in fact. Let’s take sexism in the church, for example. We can condemn sexism and affirm equality, but if we don’t take steps to dismantle sexism, we run the risk of convincing ourselves we’ve done something when we’ve really done nothing except try to make ourselves feel better. Instead of condemning sexism, let’s (for example) mandate parity among genders in clergy compensation.
  • Is this resolution realistic? We love passing resolutions without a realistic funding plan. “This work will be funded by a seventy bazillion dollar campaign by our development office” when there’s really no way we’re going to be able to raise this money. Or, more to the point: “this new task force will require a $500,000 budget” when the total amount for work like this is a fraction of the overall amount of funds sought by myriad resolutions. In other words, if we don’t have clearly identifiable means of achieving something, it’s a waste of our time to consider a practically unfunded resolution. We love to spend imaginary money, but we don’t much like to generate actual money to fund our ideas.
  • Is this a new topic? In our polity, what General Convention says continues to hold effect until that’s changed. So if we said gun violence is bad in 2006 (for instance), we don’t need to say that again in 2024. It’s still true. Now, we might want to modify what we said before, but unless we’re saying something new, we can use our precious time in other ways. I wish those who write resolutions would learn to use the digital archives to look up what General Convention has already said.

Over the years, some folks have appreciated my perspective here, while others have been unhappy that I wasn’t getting on board with affirming and commending this or that. This is fine. If you agree or disagree with what I say, your comments are welcome. We can all model kind, respectful conversation as we disagree on important things.

This time around, I will probably be even more pointed in critiques. Time is precious. The number of voting bishops and deputies is somewhere around 1,000. When 1,000 people don’t use their time well, the opportunity cost is immense. What if we focused on a very few things and did those things well? What if our time together included more prayer, study, service to those in need, and proclamation of Good News?

Let me be clear: I am profoundly grateful for our polity that insists on the participation of lay people, bishops, priests, and deacons as we govern our church. I am especially grateful that our church values and elevates the ministry and witness of lay leaders in our governance at all levels. (We do this imperfectly, but it is our laudable goal.) I never want to be heard as diminishing this principle. Rather, I’m suggesting that we use our limited time differently.

Let’s trust the churchwide staff to do their jobs. Let’s trust Executive Council to do its job. Let’s trust the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies to do their jobs. Then those of us who gather at General Convention can focus on doing those things that only we can do. It’s a pretty small list, actually, if we let the other members of the body of Christ do their thing.

Lastly, I want to be crystal clear about one more thing: I’m not telling you how to vote. I’m telling you how I intend to vote, and I will probably express thoughts about what I hope happens at the Convention. But I know that I am wrong sometimes, and each bishop and deputy needs to vote their conscience under (I hope) the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

As we gather and soon do the work of General Convention, let us all ground our work in prayer. Let’s keep the main thing the main thing.

Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel in Louisville for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

NOTE: Cover image art was generated by AI, specifically Photoshop generative AI.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed here are my own, and not those of my employer.

5 Responses

  1. Cathy Bagot says:


  2. Emily Schnabl says:

    I am keeping a notebook to keep track of resolutions. And beside the title, I’m putting the financial ask, so I see it right up front.

    We’ve let our theological education system collapse, and we’ve let many congregations and staff, lay and clergy, wither. I’m over it.

  3. David says:

    Scott, thank you for this public service, and thank you for your witness. Do less! Do it well! Make Disciples of Jesus! Nuff Said!

  4. Sue W Elliott says:

    I am a lapsed Episcopalian who now attends the Anglican Church. I feel as though the Episcopal Church left me. I read your writing with hope. Perhaps someday the wokeism of the modern-day Episcopal Church will be overcome with common sense and Biblical knowledge. I wish you luck at The Convention and will read with interest your comments. ✝️

  5. Drew Abbott says:

    As a member of the Interim Body Task Force on ‘Imagining a Church Grounded in Social Justice as Christian Ministry,’ I await your of our analysis of our draft resolution with bated breath! Thank you for doing this work.

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