Quick News re: UTO
I write not representing any person or group other than myself here. My perspective is subjective and my memory fallible, but I wanted to share today's news and lack of news from Executive Council actions (insofar as I'm aware of them) regarding the UTO's relationship with the DFMS.
I have posted to Facebook and Twitter already about one motion at Executive Council today regarding relations between the UTO (United Thank Offering) and the DFMS (which in this case I'm using as shorthand for the nonprofit corporation "DFMS" of which Executive Council is the board of directors.
That was the motion in Council's Governance and Administration for Mission (GAM) affirming the recommendation GAM's chair made to hol discussions with and about the UTO in executive session that excluded members of Council from other committees as well as other persons not previously invited.
I had hoped to listen prayerfully in that meeting so that I could hear directly from the UTO guests, the Presiding Bishop, the President of the House of Deputies, DFMS's Chief Operating Officer, and the legal counsel hired by the DFMS, and thereby better come to understand:
1) what legal and/or other issues necessitated, in the view of any and all, the development of new bylaws this year;
2) what accounts all people involved and present wanted to offer of what went awry in the relationships and diminished mutual trust, such as we've seen manifested in various emails and blogs recently; and
3) what ideas all present had as to the best route forward for reconciliation and furtherance of God's mission via the UTO and the DFMS.
But the GAM session was ruled out as a place where I and other members of Council could do that listening.
So I offered a motion in the Advocacy & Networking committee of Council, to which I belong, to amend our agenda so we could have the opportunity to invite all UTO guests, all interested members of Council, and all other participants from the GAM executive session to speak -- in executive session, open session, or not at all, according the the preference of each -- and be heard. The motion was ruled out of order by the chair of Advocacy & Networking on the grounds (as I recall them, but it will all be in the minutes) that doing so would undermine the process set forth by our presiding officers.
The third action taken with respect to UTO today was that a motion put forward by Dahn Gandell as Council's Liaison to the Committee on the Status of Women -- one I'd summarize as advocating a listening process and restraint with respect to major changes without such a process -- was ruled as out of order by the chair of Advocacy & Networking on the same grounds (that it would undermine the process set forth by the presiding officers).
So I apologize to anyone from the UTO, Council, staff, or anyone else involved who might have wanted to speak and be heard beyond the GAM executive session -- the contents of which must remain in total confidence among the participants.
And I apologize to those who were hoping I'd be able to provide more information (as appropriate and within the law and rules, of course) on the virtues of the positions taken by those on the DFMS side so far. I'm sure we'll get more information eventually, and perhaps even tomorrow or Thursday, but I don't know anything substantial on the DFMS side of things that I didn't know last week.
I respect and assume positive intent on the part of all involved; please don't read this as a public criticism of anyone except, perhaps, myself, if anyone sees shortcomings in what I have and have not done.
I have heard from some who were in the GAM session that they feel a good beginning was made.
I would say at this point that I do not have anything like definitively BAD news to share; I am simply disappointed that I wasn't able to hear others' perspectives and come to understand the situation better today.
If there is more news later, I'll share it later -- as much, of course, as is appropriate and within laws and rules that bind members of Council.
I am grateful to the presiding officers and my colleagues on Council for their patience with my efforts today, and wish peace to all.
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Thanks for trying, Dylan. How unfortunate that even members of EC are excluded from this important discussion. So much for transparency and communications and all those nice words.I appreciate your delicacy in reporting this situation. Sometimes processes are used to stifle positive opportunities. Form and function and all that.
Posted by: Liz Zivanov | Oct 15, 2013 7:05:42 PM
Just to report that there is nothing to report is helpful to the women out there. Just to know that the EC is addressing, in some way, the UTO situation and not ignoring it as insignificant or decided is hopeful. Prayers for an amicable solution will continue throughout your meeting and beyond.
Posted by: Nancy Crawford | Oct 15, 2013 7:17:42 PM
Dylan's post describes church governance at its most depressing. Members of Executive Council should be discussing a change in the structure of the UTO in open session. Otherwise nonparticipants in the closed session will be forced to cast their votes on the basis of secondhand information, never a good idea, especially when there are manifest disagreements concerning the intent and the effect of the proposed changes. And the idea that civil law requires that the DFMS run the UTO and control its money is just plain hooey. Virtually every Episcopal congregation in the country derives its 501(c)(3) status from the DFMS "determination letter" in the same way the UTO does, as a subsidiary organization under the DFMS umbrella. The idea that The Leadership might start prescribing the fiscal policy of local churches is ludicrous.
Posted by: William R. MacKaye | Oct 15, 2013 9:34:38 PM
I am appalled, Dylan, that members of Executive Council were barred from some sessions of EC.
What the heck has TEC so afraid???
Posted by: Lisa Fox | Oct 16, 2013 12:49:49 AM
Just to be clear:
Executive Council is NOT, as a body and at this point, addressing anything related to the UTO. We merely heard that the presiding officers and the executive committee of Council had decided on a process ahead of time, and then I failed in three attempts today to get more information and/or to hear the perspectives of the UTO guests invited to Council before they were sent home.
We do have Wednesday and Thursday yet to go. The rest of Council can no longer hear from the UTO guests brought to this meeting; I was told that they weren't invited to stay for any Council business after that one block of committee time today.
I hope that what we hear over the rest of the meeting will prove helpful, and that we will be able to restore some of the trust lost.
Posted by: Sarah Dylan Breuer | Oct 16, 2013 5:30:39 AM