The Episcopal Church's committees, commissions, agencies and boards (CCABs) are the "connective tissue and the circulatory system and the nervous system" of the church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the November 16 session of a combined meeting of 25 of 53 such groups.
"Go to it," Jefferts Schori said. "Do it faithfully. Do it with energy. Do it with passion. You can help us change the world."
House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson told nearly 350 CCAB members that they "have shown great generosity" in being willing to share their "incredible, amazing gifts and skills" with the rest of the church.
The majority of the November 16 agenda is given over to seven hours of anti-racism training, which is required of all the CCABs. Many members have already had the training elsewhere, but this joint training allows a large number of CCABs to develop a base level from which they can do additional anti-racism training that is specifically related to their work.
The General Convention has said that the Episcopal Church is determined to become an anti-racist church.
As the Rev. Jayne Oasin, the church's staff officer for social justice, introduced the training, the invitation "May your heart be warmed and your mind inspired by the Color-loving God who created us all" was projected on a large screen.
She marveled at the "rich diversity of God's creation sitting in this room."
The training, called "Seeing the Face of God in Each Other," began "Praying the Baptismal Covenant," a liturgy developed by the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer. Oasin said that anti-racism training is "entirely about fulfilling the Baptismal Covenant."
The committees, commissions, agencies and boards (commonly known as CCABs) receive resolutions from General Convention and set policies for their implementation during the following three years until the next convention.
The groups were invited to the meeting based on their canonical mandates and whether General Convention resolutions have been assigned to them. The November 15-18 meeting overlapped the end of the November 12-15 meeting of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council, and council liaisons to those CCABs present are remaining to meet with their assigned groups. The meeting is taking place at the Chicago Marriott O'Hare hotel.
This is the first time that a group of CCABs has met together before the official beginning of a triennium to begin planning their work. The 2007-2009 triennium begins January 1, 2007.
In her greeting, Anderson gave the members some advice.
- "Be sure to treat each other with kindness and honesty; those aren't mutually exclusive."
- "Be accountable to each other and to the church."
- "Give your gifts in full; don't hold back."
- "Let's not be business as usual."
- Worship together so that they can "remember who we are and who we are called to serve."
Executive Officer and General Convention Secretary Gregory Straub told the members that they are "to employ all the gifts God has given you" as well as their own experience in the church to do their work.
"You are to be open to the working of the Holy Spirit," he said.
The members are also to make use of Church Center and General Convention Office staff, as well as experts and consultants.
Straub explained that the Episcopal Church Center staff is responsible for developing and running the programs that implement the policies determined by the General Convention and the CCABs.
The staff meets with the CCABs to "inform, guide and counsel" the members while the CCABS are "not there to micromanage the staff."
The work of the CCABs shapes the church and the world in many ways, Straub said, such as creating liturgies, creating or changing canon law, acting as the "moral compasses" of the church and influencing secular legislation.
Straub predicted that, at the end of the 2007-2009 triennium, CCAB members will have the satisfaction of "having moved forward the mission of the church."
The joint meeting is partially an effort to help their members see where they can collaborate, both Anderson and Straub said.
It's also a chance to orient a large number of the CCABs to their responsibilities without a General Convention office staff person having to travel to each group's meeting.
The gathering will give Jefferts Schori and Anderson a chance to meet with a large number of the people they have appointed to the groups and become familiar with the work assigned to them by the General Convention.
The groups participating in the CCAB meeting are: House of Bishops Committee on Pastoral Development; House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church; Joint Standing Committee on Nominations; Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns; Standing Commission on Constitution & Canons; Standing Commission on Domestic Mission and Evangelism; Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations; Standing Commission on Episcopal Communication; Standing Commission on Health; Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music; Standing Commission on Ministry Development; Standing Commission on National Concerns; Standing Commission on Small Congregations; Standing Commission on Stewardship and Development; Standing Commission on the Structure of the Church; Standing Commission on World Mission; Standing Commission on Youth and Christian Formation; Executive Council Committee on Anti-Racism; Executive Council Committee on HIV/AIDS; Executive Council Committee on Indigenous Ministries; Executive Council Committee on Science, Technology and Faith; Executive Council Committee on Status of Women; Executive Council Committee on Social Responsibility in Investments; Executive Council Investment Committee; and the Board for Church Deployment.