US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has challenged the Episcopal Church's Executive Council to look outwards and avoid "suicide by governance."
Jefferts Schori said that the council and the church face a "life-or-death decision," describing life as "a renewed and continually renewing focus on mission" and death as "an appeal to old ways and to internal focus" which devotes ever-greater resources to the institution and its internal conflicts.
The Presiding Bishop said that research shows that when the Episcopal Church tells its story well, it attracts young adults for its liturgy, social-justice stances and passion for wholistics mission; and migrants and women at transition points in their lives.
"However, I think we're in some danger of committing suicide by governance by focusing internally rather than externally," she added.
"Dying organisms pay most attention to survival. Our Haiti initiative is a positive counter-force to that. It's an example of what's possible when we turn outward rather than inward."
The Council today (25 October 2010) reaffirmed its February challenge to the church to raise US$10 million to help begin to rebuild the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti.
"We need some structural change across the Episcopal Church," Jefferts Schori said. "Almost everywhere I go I hear dioceses wrestling with this; dioceses addressing what they often think of as their own governance handcuffs, the structures that are preventing them from moving more flexibly into a more open future."
Later in her remarks, the Episcopal Church (Anglican) leader said "we need a system that is more nimble, that is more able to respond to change," calling for "a more responsive and adaptable and less rigid set of systems."
The Presiding Bishop, who also chairs the council, issued her challenge during her traditional opening remarks to its first plenary session, which came in the middle of its 23-25 October meeting.
Episcopal Church: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/