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#EpiscopalResurrection: Rez 5 – Amend Title V (to simplify the merger of dioceses)

By Ken Howard

I’ve interviewed for many executive positions in my day, both before and after my ordination. Once they’d finished interviewing me and it was my turn to ask them a few questions, I would often ask, “What would you suggest as priorities for my first year?”

Almost inevitably, they would day, “Don’t move too fast. Wait 12 months or so, and get to know us, before you make any significant changes.” Ironically, while this sounds like sage advice, it is actually a recipe for maintaining the status quo. Because will you are thinking through the changes that you think need to happen, the organization is doing one of the things it does best: organizing itself to sabotage any changes

I learned the hard way that the only way to make significant change in the organization was to have done my homework before I ever got there, know the one or two most important changes that needed to happen. Then on day one I would start running as fast and has hard as I could in the direction of those changes, until the organization re-solidified around them, and the changes became permanent.

As Rabbi Edwin Friedman points out organizations are predisposed to maintain homeostasis: they resist change and, consciously or unconsciously, they sabotage it. The time that an organization is most open to change is when its homeostasis has been disrupted, such as in a time of leadership transition. Dioceses, for example, are perhaps the most open to change – especially bug ones, like the merger of two struggling dioceses into one stronger diocese – when they are between bishops.

Under Article V of our church’s constitution, as currently written, merging two dioceses requires the written approval of the bishop of both dioceses, which make it specifically impossible to merge dioceses at the time dioceses are most open to change.

This resolution aims to amend this article of our constitution to make such mergers possible. And it just goes to show how tweaking a few legislative words can have a big impact. This resolution, obscurely entitled “Amend Article V of the Constitution,” strikes exactly 24 words from Article V and places them with 6, allowing the ecclesiastical authority – generally bishop or standing committee – of each diocese approved the merger.

Otherwise, it leaves all other checks and balances intact.

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