Thursday, January 3, 2008

The President Of The House Of Deputies

In the midst of all the political wrangling within the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church, I have noticed something that appears new. As a disclaimer, I might be wrong that it is new. I simply may have missed it in the past.

It seems that every time I catch the latest Episcopal news, the President of the House of Deputies seems to be meeting somewhere. I suppose past Presidents of the House addressed Episcopal audiences, but the difference seems to be one of degree. I just don’t recall this happening as often, and taking the role of spokesperson for the Episcopal Church.

I don’t mean to imply there is anything wrong with this, and as I said, I could be uninformed. News travels much faster these days, and that could be one explanation. I might be simply more aware.

Another possibility might be that the role of the President of the House of Deputies is evolving within canonical limits. It could be that the current climate of the Episcopal Church requires another “official” voice. In seeking clarity about the Anglican Communion, and the relationships that comprise it, a point could be being made, by encouraging a more upfront role for the President of the House of Deputies. The Episcopal Church is structured in a bicameral shape, and the exercise of leadership reflects it.

It would seem that speaking for the House of Deputies would be more difficult, since the connection among members of that house is more transitory, than the House of Bishops. However, the President of the House of Deputies is a member of the Executive Council. I suppose it is also possible that the President of the House of Deputies is less a spokesperson, and more of an executor of General Convention policy decisions. A cursory read of the Canons didn’t provide the clarity I seek. Any thoughts out there from those more in the know?

6 comments: said...

It has seemed that HoD President Anderson has taken a higher profile than I recall in previous officeholders. But I don't in all fairness recall much about what previous officeholders did during their tenures. I remember Ms. Chinnis and Fr. Werner making statements of course. It could be that there are simply more venues now for coverage?

Marshall said...

I think more coverage is part of the picture. However, I do think there is an increase. Perhaps this has come from our insistence, louder and louder, that primacy in the Episcopal Church is actually exercised by General Convention, and by the Presiding Bishop only by extension. Having announced the authority of General Convention more clearly (I say "announced" because it's always been that way, but, like all other resorting to Canons, we've only been driven to the clarification by events.) Previously there was enough concert in our work in the Episcopal Church that neither House, nor any of us in the Church, presumed conflict between Houses or with outside Provinces.

With the primacy of the General Convention brought forward, and so by extension the role of Executive Council, there has been more opportunity and perhaps more need to hear from both leading officers of Executive Council, the Presiding Officers of the two houses. This might also allay any sense of conflict between the two Houses of Convention if the two Presiding Officers are speaking on concurrence.

Deacon Charlie Perrin said...

I believe that it is the result of the current climate and the personality of the incumbent.

Whether the incumbent's opinions carry any weight is entirely up to those who read and hear them.

The Vice President of the United States has no official job other than presiding over the Senate (and breaking tie votes). However the lack of any real authority does not not preclude the incumbent from expressing opinions.

There again any weight they have is purely the product the the reader or hearer.

Wayne said...

There is also the practical reality that the President of the HoD, as a lay person (in this case), and not subject to canonical limits is able to move more freely into Dioceses and meetings in parts of the Church where the PB might have trouble getting approval of the Bishop Diocesan.

She can thus bring a supportive word on behalf of the wider church to those who are seeking to remain in the Episcopal Church.


Chris+ said...
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Chris+ said...


I understand the canonical issues about entering another diocese. I always seek the permission of a bishop to function, sacramentally, in his or her diocese. It often generates a nice chat or pleasant correspondence.

The support of the wider Church must be communicated in a conflicted diocese, but I am somewhat conflicted about about living only to the letter of the law.

There was some discussion about the President of the House visiting the diocese of +Iker, without his knowledge. I have know way of knowing what actually transpired between all parties, but think there would be nothing wrong with informing a bishop of one's intent, even if not absolutely required to do so.

Don't get me wrong, +Iker and I don't see eye to eye, but shouldn't there be some civility? Otherwise, as we complain about about border crossings, we become a tad hypocritical.