Photo credit Mark Beach (photographer) and the World Council of Churches
Task Force to Coordinate Ecumenical and Interreligious Work
The General Convention in 2018 established a new Task Force to Coordinate Ecumenical and Interreligious Work. The twelve members of the group are appointed by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies to report annually to the Standing Commission on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons (SCSGCC). In addition, two members of the Presiding Bishop’s staff, who are subject matter experts in the particular areas of the group, are assigned to act as administrative and communication resources to the Task Force.
The work of the Task Force is to address matters of ecumenical and interreligious significance, to respond to ecumenical and interreligious issues arising between meetings of the General Convention, to develop responses to ecumenical and interreligious documents, to assist the Presiding Bishop, and his staff, and the Executive Council with formulating and implementing the ecumenical and interreligious policy of The Episcopal Church.
In addition, the Task Force provides assistance and counsel to the SCSGCC with regard to matters which come before the SCSGCC that have an ecumenical or interreligious dimension, always in collaboration with the Presiding Bishop’s Deputy for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations and the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers.
The membership of the Task Force includes three Bishops appointed by the Presiding Bishop for six-year terms; at least three Priests and Deacons and at least three lay persons appointed by the President of the House of Deputies for six-year terms, and it includes in addition three members of the SCSGCC appointed by the SCSGCC. A number of the members of the Task Force have significant experience as leaders and scholars in the areas of its work. The members also are drawn from a variety of age groups and geographical locations of The Episcopal Church in the United States and Europe.
The Task Force began its work on January 1, 2019, and its work will extend to the end of the 81st General Convention in 2024, unless its mandate is extended. The Task Force is divided into four Working Groups, and the Working Groups and the whole Task Force meet regularly by Zoom.
The four Working Groups are:
General Convention/Structure and Governance: which keeps track of Ecumenical/Interreligious resolutions from General Convention;
Theology: which evaluates, updates, and examines current theological policy statements such as the 2009 Interreligious statement of the Episcopal Church;
United Methodist and Bilateral Committees: which supports bilateral committees (Lutheran, Moravian, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and United Methodist), in their work through communication, resource gathering, and General Convention engagement;
Anglican Communion, Convocation of Churches in Europe, International full communion partners: is engaged with an emerging Memorandum of Understanding with the Church of Sweden, dialogue with the Evangelical Church in Bavaria, Anglican Communion ecumenical connections, and engagement with the Old Catholic Church and the Philippine Independent Church.