The volume is a collection of essays by members of the House of Deputies Special Study Committee on Church Governance and Polity, appointed by President of the House Bonnie Anderson after the 2009 General Convention. I had the pleasure to be the chair of the committee and to work with the members to produce this resource. The essays cover the history and theology that underlies a system of church governance in which decision-making and implementation is shared among all church members, lay and ordained, at every level from the parish to the General Convention. Essays focus on the two Houses of the General Convention, their origin, structure, and interaction; on the role of the presiding officers of each House, and how their offices have changed and evolved since their creation; and on the Executive Council and the other committees, commissions, agencies and boards that function in the periods between sessions of the General Convention. There is also a brief essay on the wider Communion and Church.
The collection is intended specifically as an educational and reflection tool for Deputies to the General Convention, and offers a number of insights particularly geared to their work; however, any Episcopalian wanting to be better informed about how and why our church came to function in the way it does will find the essays helpful. Throughout the collection, effort has been made to provide an accurate perspective for the reader, and to dispel or correct some of the prevailing mythology concerning the origins and practice of our shared governance.
Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG