Higher Education Accessibility and Affordability resolution passes Council

For those concerned about issues of higher education access and affordability -- especially with respect to education debt -- I offer this file, which contains an UNOFFICIAL version of the text and explanation that has just passed a full vote of Executive Council. I want to emphasize that there may be typos and other inaccuracies in this document, but it should give readers an idea of what the resolution covers and the approaches it takes.

The Standing Commission on Social Justice and Public Policy is engaging in a triennium-long study of higher education issues, including student debt, and will be reporting to General Convention in 2015 -- probably with some potential resolutions on the subject.

For that reason, we in Executive Council tried to concentrate on matters calling for urgent action, such as interest rates, transparency of conditions, and access to housing and employment indebted former students face and the budgetary crises faced by many state and community colleges.

I'm pleased and proud that this resolution passed unanimously. I think it takes a stand that is not tied to any single political party's proposals but incorporates some good ideas from all parties, and I hope it will help the millions of students, former students, and their families for whom policies regarding education debt have a profound and often lifelong impact.

Download A&N Higher Education Access and Affordability resolution - FINAL

September 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Nimble Governance (Theme for GC2012)"

To the tune of "Burning Down the House":

"Nimble Governance"


1) All right

We're solving all our problems

Hang tight

The market might hit bottom

But you'll see from debt we'll soon be free

Selling 815


No sweat

We'll get just what we're after

Just get that all of that Five Marks patter

down pat; you will sweep them off their feet

Selling 815




And you'll get in that blessed set cramped in a seat on a cheap jet to

a Special Commission

You'll never get to breathe real air but all your friends will meet you there from

the last five Conventions


Gonna make some

nimble governance



nimble governance


2) My House

has the best resolutions

Your House

in this here institution

is the source of all that's wrong and weak

not nimble governance


And so

I'll tell you the solution

That's right. Reboot the institution

My awesome DNA will save the day

nimble governance




So church be nimble, church be quick

Don't sit there on your candlestick

That smell isn't incense

If you just do what I suggest, we'll get right out of every mess

I'm just that intense


I'm a genius, yeah

nimble governance


I'll run the budget now

nimble governance


What's a "canon"?

nimble governance


I'm your Moses, baby

nimble governance


Drown like an Egyptian

nimble governance


It's an Exodus

nimble governance


I'm your Moses, I'm your Moses

Follow me to nimble governance


July 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Making Peace (Mary Miller's Song)"

To the tune of "Let It Be":

When the world’s a mess and I’m a muddle

Mary Miller comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom

Making peace


Making peace, making peace

Making peace, making peace

There is Mary Miller making peace


And although some obsess about structure

Mary she will rise to speak

Speaking words of wisdom

Making peace


Making peace, making peace

Making peace, making peace

Mary Miller standing up for peace


Give a shout, hoist a glass

Get both Houses off their ass

In Mary Miller’s honor

let’s make peace


Making peace, making peace

Making peace, making peace

In Mary Miller’s honor, let’s make peace


July 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"God Save the Quean/Louie Louie (We Are His Crew)"

To the tune of "God Save the Queen" (of course) and then "Louie, Louie" (of course):

God save our gracious Quean

Luti, our noble Quean

God save our Quean

His victories were ours

Shower him now with flowers

He’s Quean of all our hearts

God save the Quean



Louie, Louie whoa

we’re his Crew


For decades he has worked his charm

to see the church -- would bless -- instead of harm

He’s Quean of verse -- you know that it’s true

with wit far sharper than our Blue Book is blue


Louie, Louie whoa

we’re his Crew


Without him I just wouldn’t be here

And countless folk the hets and the Queer

Felt God’s love first from his reach online

and may I say his coding skills make him truly fine


Louie Louie whoa

we’re his Crew


There’s a pow’r behind this gracious Quean’s throne

It’s time we rise to Ernest’s virtues own

Commands the skies with service divine

Makes sure the Quean’s reign sees the Crown truly shine


Oh Ernest, Ernest

thanks for lending us Louie Crew


So God save the Quean and his consort dear

take up his exhortations without fear

He may say that he’s gonna retire

But he will spark us on until we see asbestos on fire


July 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

We have THREE winners!

Ladies and gentlemen and all of God's people:

I am pleased to announce that we have not one, but THREE winners to the "name a tune for the GC2012 Totally Way UnOfficial Theme Song"!

All three were performed at the Episcopal Peace Fellowship's pub evening honoring giants of just and peacemaking Louie Crew, Mary Miller, and Jackie Lynn.

Alas, I did not know Jackie was an honoree until after the event was underway, so I haven't written a song for her ... yet. I threaten to do so unless at least $1000 is pledged to Episcopal Peace Fellowship in my name. And if you don't want to get the song, then $2000 paid up to EPF will buy my silence. Or you can donate to Episcopal Relief and Development. Just pick something good.

Recordings with music are in progress, but for now, I'll give you the lyrics and the tune to which they were written:

"Louie Louie (We Are His Crew)"

"Making Peace (Mary Miller's Song)"

"Nimble Governance (Theme to GC2012)"


July 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Don't make me Moses: On spiritually hazardous uses of models and metaphors

It's very common in the organizational culture of the Episcopal church, and in a quite a lot of other church cultures, to hear any argument against a proposed change dismissed as anxiety in our family system. That language of family systems theory, popularized amongst religious congregations chiefly by Ed Friedman, whose books are easily found and widely consumed.

Sometimes -- perhaps even often -- it might be true that those who resist change are motivated primarily by anxiety. And sometimes (even some of the same occasions), family systems enthusiasts use language of "anxiousness" as a functional synonym for "pathological wrong-headedness, in contrast to my fabulous and almost unerring instinct for what this family needs."

And yet we also have in our tradition the Benedictine model of stability, which I perhaps simplistically sum up in brief as "until you feel strongly called and communally affirmed in a particular direction, stay and pray."

Taken to extremes or applied without care, thought, and prayer, either one can be destructive. Either one can be used, whether cynically or unintentionally, to spiritualize as the very voice of God a position or direction that is a personal preference or idea.

Not every idea and not even every really well-informed and carefully considered idea amounts to holy revelation or command. Very few do, I suspect. Our preferences and ideas sometimes do match up with something greater.

I am wary, though, of nearly all comparisons of suggestions regarding our polity to the burning bush Moses saw.

I believe that metaphor should be used for one's own position only with care and prayer. It's a metaphor with immense potential to assist us in overestimate our own prophetic gifts and the magnitude of revelation and what's at stake. I think the name of YHWH outranks anything that will ever appear in our constitution and canons.

Furthermore, if adopting a particular set of polity reforms is the Exodus and someone (let's say me) gets to be Moses, then just about everyone who disagrees with me gets cast in roles such as these:

  • an Egyptian slaver/soldier about to be drowned by God in the Sea of Reeds
  • an eater of dead quail about to be as stiff as the bird was when it fell
  • a willing and eager slave, happy to go that way for some leeks and onions
  • a stubborn Pharoah who's about to get every firstborn son of his people, including his own child, struck dead by God
  • an idolater building a golden calf while the good guy is seeing God's back and receiving the Torah
  • a constantly grumbling crowd about to get the great prophet so angry that he'll hit a rock and shut himself out of the Promised Land

... you get the idea.

None of these people gets a name, let alone a voice or a story of their own, and they're all portrayed more or less as villains who get what's coming to them when God strikes. Heck, most of the people who DO agree with me in that metaphor don't get a name either; they just get to be a nameless Israelite wanderer who sticks with the prophet and the conqueror and hence survives until the credits roll.

Language matters, and I think sometimes we intentionally or unintentionally use the most inspiring and awesome words of Holy Writ in ways that are far from respectful of the dignity of those frustrating our understandable desires to see our vision realized regarding some matter.

I also think I should be very careful -- actually, it should probably reach the level of trembling before God -- before I use any metaphor that makes me Moses. And any metaphor that makes me Jesus should be a cue for my friends to take me aside for a gentle word of caution.

March 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

voices we want to hear from

We are talking in The Episcopal Church (TEC) about major restructuring to help us respond better to God's call to us in this time and in our cultures.

We are talking about what TEC might look like if we took seriously the potential of horizontal networking, cloud networking, and crowd sourcing, among other phenomena that have been used successfully and with great impact by many leaders outside of the church, and leaders who are Episcopalian, but whose vast experience of and wisdom regarding networking and organizing in the 21st century has been ignored in the church even as they profoundly shape our world.

Do you know of such a person whose genius is underutilized or not called upon at all in TEC, someone who's not enmeshed in existing church structures, someone who might have something truly fresh and valuable to say if s/he is given the information s/he needs about our resources and an invitation to present her/his vision of what TEC might look like if we dreamed it up all over again with a structure perfectly suited to our context now?

If so, please give the person's name, why you thought of this person, and some kind of link or information that might help someone get a sense of this person's work and how to contact her/him.

We can work together to invite these folks to add their vision to the mix of ideas that we as TEC -- not just the people with titles, but everyone -- want to talk about. So, go for it! Dream big!

February 14, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

analysis coming

Well, much to my surprise, I ended up using Twitter and Facebook updates for just about all updates related to General Convention. As one gal on no one's payroll, that seemed best in the moment to communicate as much as possible about what was happening as it happened.

What I miss from Twitter-type updates is any kind of analysis or commentary. I still plan to offer that, but I'm doing something different this time around. The tweets were offered as cookie dough -- delicious, I hope, by the spoonful, and I hope at least some of you got to eat some Ben & Jerry's or Hagen Daaz with 'em. But rather than offer half-baked analysis, I'm going to get a little sleep and try to build up a reservoir of a few mental calories before I start blogging about what I think really happened and what I think it really means.

This is not the norm for the blogosphere, the greatest strength of which is generally the ability to get news and ideas out as quickly as possible. But somehow I'm feeling that the void left by The Witness' hiatus from publication was more about thoughtful and progressive analysis than it was about anything else. So that's my plan. And if you miss The Witness as much as I do, please drop me a line. The year 2017 would be The Witness' 100th anniversary, and I'd love to have a current copy in my hand (and/or on a screen) to toast the occasion.

July 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Dr. Jenny Te Paa's address to the House of Deputies

Source: Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs

Jenny Te Paa addresses House of Deputies
at the Episcopal Church General Convention

[July 12, 2009]  The following is the address presented by Jenny Te Paa, dean of Te Rau Kahikatea (College of St. John the Evangelist) in Auckland, New Zealand, on July 11 to the House of Deputies at the Episcopal Church 76th General Convention. (Video will be available on the Media Hub, 

Dr Jenny Plane Te Paa
On the occasion of the House of Deputies gathering at General Convention in Anaheim - July 2009

President of the House of Deputies, my sister my friend Bonnie, I along with my international colleagues are deeply honoured by your invitation to be here present at the 76th General Convention and by this privileged opportunity for us all to address the House of Deputies.

I pause momentarily and ask you all to note that President Bonnie has here represented Brazil, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Aotearoa New Zealand – what she has done of course is actually invite the true global south into your midst!

Sisters and brothers all of the House of Deputies, I bring you very warm greetings from the Primates, indeed from the Church of the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. Ours is a Province, which has always prided itself on its global partners in mission relationships, on its Diocesan exchange relationships, on its ability and willingness to variously give generously and to receive graciously from among those 38 Provinces and 6 or 7 regional churches, which together comprise our beloved global Anglican Communion. Our enduring mutual affection for this The Episcopal Church is readily evidenced in the historical record.

We are as a Provincial Church both proudly autonomous and yet not to the extent that we cannot hear the cries of the poor beyond our own national gates. We are as a Provincial Church confidently relational and yet not to the extent that we render our unique identity ambivalent. We have in past times been bold in asserting what we see as necessary ‘innovations’ for our context and times. We have brought these respectfully to the councils of the global Anglican Communion and we have on occasion known the sharp sting of rebuff and rebuke. Many of you may not realize that my Province is the only one to ever have been officially censured by the Anglican Consultative Council. It was recent and was to do with our 1992 decision to revise our Constitution along what our critics claimed were ‘dangerously unprecedented racially prescriptive lines’!

The proposal lacks theological credibility said some. The proposal unjustly privileges one [racial] group over another, said others. We proceeded anyway, and we continue to live with faith and endless hope into the promises and the sometimes still untidy consequences of our rightful, timely and necessary decision.

We were at the time thankful for the opinions of others, we were appalled and saddened by others but at the end of the day we sought to proceed to do what we truly believed God was calling, urging, pleading with us to do, which was in our case to do with redeeming our Churches historic legacy of grave injustice toward minority indigenous peoples including indigenous or Maori Anglicans.

I see clear parallels here. Episcopal Church sisters and brothers, you too must follow your contextual spiritual conscience because in the first instance you have to live justly with yourselves in order that you can in turn and in time, live justly and in good faith with others in the Communion.

Permit me if you will at this point to offer a few observatory remarks.

Firstly a reflective comment on your polity. It is truly a formidable governance instrument, not in any oppressive sense but rather in its unequivocal demands for precision, in your attention to detail, in your faithfulness to procedure and in your deep concern for enabling appropriate consensus to emerge among and between your Houses.

Yours is a somewhat globally unique system and certainly it is one which holds in check, in fact preclude any tendency toward authoritarianism or autocratic presumption.

It may be worth my repeating here something I said the other day in my contribution to the Chicago Consultation luncheon event at which I spoke. I was sharing in all humility one of my deepest regrets (one that I know is shared by other Commissioners) that as members of the Lambeth Commission we were never fully apprised of the full facts of your polity and in particular of the limits to the power of the office of Presiding Bishop.

As a result of that crucial gap in knowledge and understanding it is my belief that the very unfair, in fact the odious myth of ‘The Episcopal Church acting (in the matter of the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson) with typical unchecked US imperialism’, was more readily enabled and abetted to grow wings and fly unchecked for way too long across the reaches of the Anglican Communion.

It was only in hindsight as a number of us as Commissioners managed to catch our breath, to compare notes and to consult with our trusted Episcopal Church sisters and brothers that I realized, that we realized, to our utterly deserved chagrin that we had perhaps failed albeit inadvertently to prevent something of the unprecedented vilification of the Episcopal Church and especially of its leadership that inevitably resulted. (Here I want to pay special tribute to the careful and valuable teachings which Reverend Canon Brian Grieves and Reverend Ian Douglas so generously and patiently provided me during this period).

I share this with you not by way of exploiting the privilege of this public platform as a confessional site but rather by way of affirming with boundless respect and gratitude the truly mutually redemptive moment it is that you now enable us all to live into.

Your generosity of spirit in spite of all you have suffered so unjustly and unnecessarily over the past few years is just so perfectly admirable. That you continue with such magnanimity to gather international friends, to share with us so openly, so willingly all that you do so formidably, so precisely, so efficiently and so compassionately is a gift offering of such magnitude that it seems so utterly insufficient for me to simply say thank you, thank you, thank you.

If I could be so bold I want also to assure you that among ourselves as your international friends we are now all quietly urging you not to dwell unduly with any sense of uncertainty about your place within the global Anglican Communion. Sure the fearmongerers abound – they always have and they always will but surely our gaze must always be fixed beyond the horizon of fear and just as surely that gaze must always apprehend first and foremost the images of those who are the least among us.

Well we all bore such poignant and powerful witness to just where the gaze of this Church is the other evening, especially in the second half of the Global Economic Forum. We see that your gaze is clearly and justifiably so upon the plight of the first peoples of this land. Sarah Eagleheart’s very gracious ministry presence enjoined with what I have to notice are still surely way too few Native American delegates in this House, makes for very compelling, very urgently needed missional responses. Michael Schutt’s appeals for an end to environmental degradation are clearly unable to be ignored any longer. Dr Sizi’s extraordinary malarial preventive ministry work was simply overwhelming.

You must all claim with such pride all of these tangible, creditable and powerful missional commitments because they are but a tiny part of your incredible overall contribution to the building up of the global Anglican body of Christ. My sisters and brothers of The Episcopal Church, in the cause of local, national and global mission you are treasured and needed for the common good of the Anglican Communion.

Theological education is yet another example. At any one time there would be across the Episcopal Churches seminaries any number of students drawn from across the Anglican Communion studying at all levels of theological educational endeavour. As one such beneficiary myself I remain profoundly grateful for the gifts of knowledge and understanding, for the gifts of care and hospitality, of nurture and comfort I received from this Church during the time of my own doctoral studies at the Graduate Theological Union. My sisters and brothers of The Episcopal Church, in the cause of theological education you are treasured and needed for the common good of the Anglican Communion.

At the most recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council held in Jamaica, the impact and influence of the Communion’s Networks was for the first time very specially acknowledged and affirmed as being crucial to the very lifeblood of mission and ministry across the Anglican Communion. Because of my close association with at least five of these networks which have only been able to have impact and be influential as a direct result of the resourcing and generous trust of The Episcopal Church then once again, I say from a place of absolute sincerity to you my sisters and brothers of The Episcopal Church that in the cause of the precious ministries of the Communion’s networks, you are indeed treasured and so needed for the common good of the Anglican Communion.

Relationality is of course of necessity, a reciprocal matter – at least with an for those relationships where quality and longevity are seen as optimum components!

And so I come to what I trust will be received as a word of loving advice from your indigenous sister.

I come from a cultural context characterized still by the absolute urgency of cultural, linguistic, artistic, traditional survival. We indigenous peoples are in many ways understandably very protective of our culturally unique traditions, we are very conscious of the ways in which aspects of our traditions have become such beacons of light and hope in a world increasingly bereft of strong kinship networks, of strong familial identity, of meaningful spiritual regard for all of God’s creation. We have seen how attractive indigenous spirituality; in fact indigenous tradition in its many forms has suddenly assumed a level of contemporary interests and attractiveness. We have in all of this become desperately afraid of cultural appropriation and so as this intensely beautiful and endlessly complex concept of ‘ubuntu’ is uttered and claimed, explained and proclaimed I cannot help but wonder if all the necessary precautions against even unwitting appropriation have been taken?

Now as I said I offer this comment not by way of a criticism but rather by way of a word of loving advice from this your indigenous sister. I don’t know what precautions you may well have taken but if I may suggest, one of the markers which we indigenous peoples have found most helpful in these matters is to ask of those seeking to enter more fully into the very different socio, politico, spiritual, cultural worlds of ‘the constructed other’, are you intent on becoming one with or one of ‘the other’?

The most respectful of these options if of course the former. In this way we are each freed to become fully whom God created us to be and to flourish into that God given identity. The actions of one seeking to become ‘one with’ are those of selfless, sacrificial and loving solidarity whereas the actions of one seeking to become ‘one of’, are likely to be characterized by unashamed self-interest! The former option is thus more likely to be true ubuntu, but then I would not be so bold to determine such a thing! I simply raise a respectful cautionary flag.

My friends the time is now to go forward together into our shared faithfilled future. Let me once again say to you Bonnie, indeed to you here gathered as the House of Deputies, thank you for your abundant generosity, your enabling missional presence in God’s world through your significant contributions to the Christian life and witness of the global Anglican Communion.

Your invitation to your true global sought friends to be with you is so deeply appreciated, especially in this precious time of being and shaping and becoming ever more fully the body of Christ that God so tirelessly, so patiently wills us ever more to become!

Thank you so much for allowing me this time to speak with you.

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July 12, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

leaflets allowed but barriers put up

Well, the convention center is now allowing leafleting (or at least security has not as of yet this morning chased away people distributing leaflets), but they've erected barriers something like what you'd see at amusement park rides to create clear corridors from the Hilton or street to the convention center doors. I'll put up a photo later if I get the chance, and assuming the barriers stay up. It's quite silly, though, since most people coming to convention WANT information about various views and candidates, so mostly the barriers are creating inconvenience. It's better than chasing us all away, at least.

July 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)