(Photo: ENS/Mary Frances Schjonberg)
A task force created by The Episcopal Church to investigate changes within the denomination's ecclesiastical structure has met and released a new report.
"Structural, administrative, and governance change is only one component of the renewal to which the church is being called. Our deepest hope and prayer for our work is that it will be part of, and will continue to catalyze, the renewal that is taking place in many places around the church," reads part of the report from the Task Force for Re-Imagining the Episcopal Church (TREC). met last week at the Institute of Technology in Linthicum, Maryland.
"In order for structural, administrative, and governance reforms to be compelling and to effect meaningful change, they must be grounded in a coherent vision for what those structures are supposed to do in the life of the church," TREC stated in a news release provided by the Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs on Tuesday.
Based in St. Louis, Mo., the TREC was created via a resolution passed last year by the 77th General Convention of TEC in Indianapolis.
Known as Resolution C095, the measure called for a special task force to develop new ideas for the structure and governance of TEC, to be introduced at the 78th General Convention in 2014.
As the result of several calls for reform within the declining liberal Protestant denomination, Resolution CO95 passed unanimously in both The House of Deputies and The House of Bishops.
Jeff Walton, director of the Anglican Program at the Institute on Religion & Democracy, told The Christian Post that this task force was a way for TEC to adapt to modern times regarding funding and structure.
"Entrenched bureaucracies and dozens of committees or commissions have accumulated over time. This has occurred even as the Episcopal Church has dropped from a high of 3.6 million members in the mid-1960s to 1.9 million members today," said Walton. "The large amount of money that sustained these structures in the past is long gone, and the church looks very different than it did a generation ago."
Walton also told CP that while agreeing that the restructuring was necessary, he felt "skeptical at prospects for success."
"In order to successfully implement the kind of change needed, the task force will infringe on many fiefdoms," said Walton. "What some bishops and denominational officials value is often not in accord with what people in the pews find to be a priority. Any successful reorganization of the church will, by necessity, step on many toes."
The next meeting for the TREC will take place in December and involve incorporating feedback from various groups within the Church, according to the July report.