I don’t have a comprehensive and well-thought through proposal for restructuring the church at a national level, nor do I have a favorite among those that are out there. But I do have a strong suspicion that, if we manage to stumble across an effective solution for preventing institutional meltdown (and I’m not at all sanguine that we will do so), it will be a “back to the future” enterprise. The familiar Church Center apparatus emanating from 815 Second Avenue in New York did not exist in any form prior to 1919, and did not exist in its current form until after World War II. In many ways, the evolution of this institutional presence evolved right alongside corporate America, and it seemed to our forebears a very expedient development. It has been only since 1946 that we have had a Presiding Bishop who is not also the bishop of a diocese.
That was then, this is now. To borrow from Walter Russell Bowie, “new occasions teach new duties,” and “time makes ancient good uncouth.” In the internet age, amid the shadows of postmodern values, the kind of top-down hierarchical structure that seemed like such a no-brainer in the ’50s and ’60s is yesterday’s news. Now it’s all about subsidiarity. And networking. I’m not saying that adopting those two virtues du jour will get us where we need to be, but I am saying that not adopting them will prevent us from getting there.
So, in my occasionally-but-not-always-humble opinion, here’s what needs to happen…
|—||The Rt. Rev. Daniel Martins of Springfield in “Toward General Convention: Polity” (Read the article for his list of suggestions.)|