For the last triennium, I have served as a member of the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education. When it came time to indicate preferences for legislative committee assignments for General Convention, I figured that indicating Committee 12: Formation and Education for Ministry would be a good fit since the SCLCFE resolutions would likely land in Committee 12. Indeed they did and it has been quite fascinating to watch the legislative process from the beginning stages of crafting a resolution through to adoption on the convention floor.
This is my second time as a deputy, but my first on a legislative committee. When I indicated my interest in Formation and Education, I did not foresee how wide-ranging the topics assigned to our committee would be. And I certainly did not foresee the sheer number of resolutions we would be assigned. Last I heard, we had 63 resolutions come through our committee and they’ve included issues related to ordination, theological education, ethnic ministry funding requests, parental leave policies, and the list goes on. Thankfully we have designated subcommittees so while we are technically responsible for all resolutions in our committee, each individual member is able to focus on a manageable batch.
I have found that when we heard testimony on resolutions, it helped the decision-making process immensely. Following the hearings, we could incorporate feedback or suggestions from those who had testified, and that helped to make the resolution even stronger. It helped a great deal to hear from stakeholders who would be directly affected by the resolution. It was much more challenging to do something (if anything!) with resolutions on which we heard no testimony. I am grateful to those who have testified and been willing to assist us with questions we had, even if they arose later in the process.
While the resolution refining process can be tedious and we can get stuck in the weeds of wordsmithing (“do we want to say ‘may’ or ‘should?’”) at times, it is helpful to remember that this hard work and these long hours are all for the benefit of this Episcopal Church that we love.
And if we didn’t love this church, would we really be here doing all this work? I think not.
Kathryn Nishibayashi is a deputy from the Diocese of Los Angeles.