Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Newbies Need Not Apply

I don't quite understand this story from Episcopal News Service. If I'm reading the report correctly, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson basically decided a priori not to appoint new Deputies to our legislative committees serving in Anaheim.


Reportedly, we are trying to reach out to newer members of the Episcopal Church. I have been impressed by the "newer voices" on the HoBD listserv. Many of them bring insight and fresh voices to the discussion. "New" Deputies to General Convention certainly are not "new" to the Episcopal Church; they are people who have been recognized as leaders in their dioceses.

If I read this ENS report correctly, the HoD President made a conscious, intentional decision to cut out new voices from the GC committees. I don't get it. I "get" wanting to have plenty of seasoned, veteran Deputies on the committees. That makes sense to me. But I do not understand a press release that essentially brags that "Anderson generally did not appoint first-time deputies to the committees."

Many of the first-time Deputies are seasoned veterans in their dioceses. Many have been active participants in the GC discussions. Apparently, that does not matter.

I am reminded, though, that PHOD Anderson also launched a private/secret listserv "for Deputies only" in the past year.

Here's a snippet from the ENS story:

Deputies are assigned to General Convention Committees
By Mary Frances Schjonberg

[Episcopal News Service] Just more than half of the 847 members of the House of Deputies will serve on the 76th General Convention's 22 legislative committees, according to a just-released summary of those appointments.

The vast majority of committee members are returning deputies. Of the 508 deputies who have previously been to convention, 442 will serve on committees. The committees hold hearings and make recommendations about resolutions proposed to the convention by the church's standing commissions, as well as bishops, deputies, dioceses and provinces. The current list of resolutions is available here.

House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson generally did not appoint first-time deputies to the committees, in an effort to allow the 339 new deputies to get a broad experience of convention. [Emphasis mine.] She said in a letter to deputies that she considered deputies' committee preference, experience as a deputy, service in the wider church, and demographic information such as gender, ethnicity, age, province and diocese.

Full story: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_106405_ENG_HTM.htm

What do you make of this?


Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

It's a control thing. With established deputies, you know what you are going to get, vote-wise.

Doesn't show much faith in the Holy Spirit, does it?


3/24/2009 10:35 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Doxy, I am very proud of many of our friends who are long-established Deputies. It's a long honor roll.

But for Anderson to "brag" that she essentially blackballed newly-elected Deputies?? That's what I don't understand.

3/24/2009 10:38 PM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

I totally agree, Lisa. Who wouldn't want Louie Crew on a committee?!?!?

I was just agreeing with you--it's ridiculous to blackball new deputies. It's guaranteed to create hard feelings--like we don't have enough of those already?!?! And it's a denial of the talent of these people who wanted to go to GC badly enough to stand for election.


3/24/2009 10:44 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for clarifying, Doxy.

Yep! I think it's a form of infantilizing ... and [dare I say it?] even paternalism.

Just flat ticks me off.

3/24/2009 10:47 PM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

It annoys me because it is such an Old-Boys'-Network way of doing things...and I always expect better of intelligent women. I wish I weren't disappointed so often...


3/24/2009 10:57 PM  
Blogger Lindy said...

While I certainly wouldn't have advertised the fact that I'd done it, I really don't think it's all that bad. If I were a first time deputy I don't think I'd want to be tied up in legislative meetings. I'd want to be able to poke around and see what everybody was doing. I think that to say she "Blackballed" them is a little bit of a reach. But, I see it Paige's way too. So many women in leadership fail to being any feminist values to the table. And that is disappointing. I am just not sure that's the case here. More information is needed.

3/25/2009 1:12 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Good points, Lindy. I'll confess: I woke around 3:30 this morning, and thought, "Hmmm... I'm not sure I totally agree with myself" about this post. I thought about getting up and taking it offline. I haven't ... yet.

3/25/2009 7:28 AM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

If I were a first time deputy I don't think I'd want to be tied up in legislative meetings.

But that's where everything happens. If I understand the process correctly (and I may not!), the committees determine most of what gets voted on on the floor. If you want to shape the choices you are given, committee work is crucial.

You will never find a new member of Congress who says "Well, I just want to look around for a while before I start getting involved in committee work." We can all decry the similarities between church and secular politics, but it's impossible to deny that they exist. Might as well take that knowledge and put it to work...


3/25/2009 7:56 AM  
Blogger Laura Toepfer said...

I don't know what to make of it either. I do know that if I were a deputy, I'd want to be involved in the legislative work; that's why I'd want to be there.

I want more information!

3/25/2009 10:29 AM  
Blogger IT said...

POlitics is about power

It's about consolidating power

and it's about keeping other people out of power

organized religion is a political institution

GoTo Line 1

3/25/2009 7:24 PM  
Blogger Cranmer49 said...

The thing about committee assignments is that a deputy can decline an appointment. If it's left up to the deputy -- first time or not -- then the deputy can make his or her own decision.

It's basically what you identified, Lisa -- maternalism. But in an institution where the ordained are addressed as Father and Mother, why would we expect differently?

3/25/2009 7:55 PM  
Blogger it's margaret said...

It's really a very bad sign.

So is the secret list-serve.

Almost like it is fear-based. Lisa, are you a Delegate? Why not ask her why motivated her decision.

Actually, this means with a third or more of the Delegates not being re-elected (as would be common), the committees will be full of truly inexperienced people at the next GC.

3/25/2009 7:59 PM  
Blogger Caminante said...

OTOH, as a five-time deputy, remembering just how wild my first GC was as far as a learning curve, it might have been easier not being on a legislative committee. Our deputation always sends those deputies not assigned to a committee to monitor the activities of one not covered by deputies appointed to a committee. So while they may not be involved in voting resolutions, they can follow as much as is possible (unless a committee goes into closed session) and their input is extremely important for the rest of the deputation. In fact, we rely heavily on them. Half of our deputation is not on committees this time which means that is four more committees we can track.

And, visitors can always sign up to testify at a committee hearing so their voices can be heard.

3/25/2009 10:06 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Six years ago, it might have made sense to me for her to avoid 1st-time Deputies. But I've subscribed to the HoBD listserv since 2003 ... and I have heard the voices of many people who are newly-elected Deputies, but who are very smart, very well-informed, and very, very savvy about politics, legislative activity, and the "politics" of the General Convention.

So tonight I return to the place where I was last night.

Maybe Bonnie Anderson doesn't read the HoBD listserv, so that she hasn't identified brilliant, passionate first-time Deputies. If so, more's the pity for her.

3/25/2009 10:19 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

No, It's Margaret, I'm not a Deputy. I received some encouragement here to stand for election. But I cannot afford (financially with vacation time) to be a Deputy. [No wonder it's mostly retired or wealthy people who can afford to run for lay Deputy slots.]

Caminante, I understand what you're saying ... as it may have been relevant a few years ago. But now that we are connected through the HoBD list, other listservs, and many blogs ... I don't think the learning curve would be as steep now for new Deputies. What do you think?

3/25/2009 10:23 PM  
Blogger Caminante said...

Yes and no. I am not sure what percentage of deputies are on this list serve. And it does tend to get bogged down on only a few subjects. But the list serve cannot prepare a deputy for the on-the-ground process such as forging a working deputation in the midst of an over-abundant schedule, dealing with the paperwork, tracking resolutions and all the rest. Anyway, I sense my voice is the minority voice here; that is OK. And in no way am I wanting to come off as maternalistic. That is not my nature or MO.

3/26/2009 12:18 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Caminante, I appreciate your willingness to continue the dialogue here – even and especially when your voice is in the minority – and to talk about your GC experience and perceptions. I’ve never been to GC, much less served as a Deputy.

I’m coming to a “yes and no” stance myself.

Having read the HoBD posts of a few new Deputies over the past couple of years, there are some I could quickly identify as leaders, articulate, organized, even sage – as “fresh voices” I would like to have on committees were the decision mine.

OTOH, I don’t know about the other duties you mention, having not been there.

My honest confession: I have heard and read enough paternalistic, “insiders-only” things from Bonnie Anderson that I approach her actions and decisions with a “hermeneutic of suspicion.” I suspect that’s what underlay my blogpost here – not the specifics of the decision, but my sense of her tone and “M.O.”

By contrast, m’dear, it has never occurred to me to question your “M.O.,” nor have I ever sniffed a tinge of maternalism from you.

Thanks for continuing the dialogue, Caminante, and for stimulating me to think a bit more about my reactions to this news story.

3/26/2009 10:52 PM  
Blogger Cranmer49 said...

Just a bottom-line reminder. We're all adults and can certainly make our own decisions about how to participate --- especially in the context of the kind of conversation that's happening here. The maternalism/paternalism happens when we think we know what's best for others. I'm afraid that's what Bonnie has done -- determined what she thinks is best for first-time deputies. Oh well. The more things change...., eh?

3/28/2009 7:33 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Cranmer, I just don't know what to make of Bonnie Anderson's actions on this or several other matters. As I said to Caminante, I no longer have confidence in the PHoD.

3/28/2009 9:54 PM  

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