October 10, 2013

Convention Journals

It had long been the practice of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to publish a pre-convention journal to be distributed to deputies before the annual diocesan convention. The journal included the agenda, minutes from the previous convention, reports, resolutions, diocesan budget, etc. Sometime after the convention, the diocese published a printed and bound convention journal that provided an archival record of the meeting. The convention journal, for example, included not only the issues dealt with but also the disposition of those issues.

The Episcopal diocese never produced a convention journal for the 2008 convention, at which the vote was taken to leave The Episcopal Church. What became the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh did produce a final journal. In fact, the Episcopal diocese chose, unwisely, I think, to discontinue the publication of convention journals. This had two unpleasant consequences. No longer were convention records available in a convenient booklet. There were instead available only on unbound, letter-size paper. Moreover, to research decisions taken at a convention, it became necessary to consult two pre-convention journals—one to see what was proposed and one to find the disposition of the item in the minutes of the next convention’s pre-convention journal.

As if the elimination of convention journals was not bad enough, Pittsburgh Episcopalians now find themselves less than a month away from the 2013 annual convention without a pre-convention journal. By this time in previous years, deputies had already received a copy of the pre-convention journal in the mail, and a PDF version was available on the diocesan Web site. In five days, the first information meeting takes place, and parts of the pre-convention journal are still not available. Apparently, the diocese has decided to no longer distribute the pre-convention journal except electronically. If deputies want paper copies, they must print them themselves at great inconvenience and expense. Worse still, as of this morning, this is what can be found of the convention material on the diocesan Web site:
Pre-Convention Journal

The latest versions of the 2013 Pre-Convention Journal information and reports will be posted here (in yellow) as they become available for download in PDF format. [Editorial note: available materials are shown as links here, but they are not yellow.}

 Section C – Action Items
  • Bishop’s Annual Report
  • Board of Trustees
  • Canon for Formation
  • Canon to the Ordinary
  • Commission on Archives & History
  • Commission on Ministry
  • Committee on Constitution and Canons
  • Diocesan Council
  • Standing Committee
Section F – Other Reports 
  • Administrator for Property & Archivist
  • Advisory Task Force on Collaboration
  • Chaplain to Retired Clergy
  • Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania
  • Coal Country Hangout Youth Center
  • Commission on Racism
  • Episcopal Relief & Development
  • Fresh Start
  • Order of the Daughters of the King
  • Shepherd Wellness Community
  • Trinity Cathedral Chapter
  • Trinity School for Ministry
Section G – Statistics
  • Listing of Clergy of the Diocese
  • 2012 Parochial Report Statistics
  • District Chart with Allocation of Deputies
  • List of Parishes
In other words, not only are parts of the “document” missing, but deputies are apparently being asked to print out nearly 50 individual PDF files. This is ridiculous!

No doubt, the handling of convention materials has been affected by a lack of resources at the diocesan office. A heavy burden has been transferred to deputies, however, who had no reason to expect that they would have to assemble their own pre-convention journals.

Why are parts of the journal missing? Have people not submitted reports in time? Was anyone paying attention to the schedule? Was there a schedule? Perhaps it is significant that the first missing piece of the pre-convention journal is titled “Statement of Purpose.”

1 comment:

  1. Lionel, We issued timely calls, but many pieces are still missing. All of the action items (budget, C&C report, resolutions, nominations) are now up. We did have a schedule, but not one responded on time despite multiple requests. It was a decision of the convention committee to go all electronic. Many dioceses "publish" their journals now as a CD and do not circulate paper. Going piecemeal was a decision of the publications people, of which I am not one.

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