Friday, September 20, 2013

Check out two new links on the Links Page:
(CCAB - list of  UTO Board Membership)
(VirtueOnLine - The Voice for Global Orthodox Anglicanism)



A Triennial United Thank Offering Grant

The first John Hines Social Justice Award has been given to the United Thank Offering Grant titled "Five Smooth Stones."

"Five Smooth Stones" is a film created by St. Anthony's Episcopal Church in Winder, Georgia; Diocese of Atlanta.  The film was created to address the issue of bullying; an issue frequently in the news and that effects all of us.

Here is the description of the film from the producers: "Bullying is a major current societal problem wherever children are present. This film is by children, for children. It is to be used primarily as a tool for children, educators, religious, administrators, group leaders, etc. to learn and understand how, where and why bullying takes place and to create an awareness of the various situations that can lead to this type of abuse."

The grant funding will be used to fund the initial publishing of the film on bullying "Five Smooth Stones" and its companion Facilitator/Study Guide, for distribution, marketing and sales for the purpose of anti-bullying education.

There has long been a desire to celebrate the powerful memory of the Women of the Church supporting Presiding Bishop John Hines request that the United Thank Offering support his initiative titled "The General Convention Special Programs of 1967."  In that year, the women changed their grant focus for the 1967-1968 granting seasons, and gave the entire UTO offering to the Presiding Bishop's proposal to address the critical issues of Social Justice facing the United States during the years of Civil Rights struggles—a total of $3,000.000.00.  

  The Most Reverend John Elbridge Hines

John Hines asked the women of the church for help, and was required by the women to apply for their grant money, through the regular granting process.  He honored this request and in turn, his request was granted.  The Women of the Church are proud to this day that they, who were not seated at General Convention at that time, were not seated on Vestries, and were not able to be ordained, were able to support the efforts of a courageous leader of the church during the dark days of civil unrest.

 Hines Announces the General Convention Special Program - 1967

Loueta Bailey, a soft spoken southern belle doctor's wife from Atlanta heard the plea of a young Presiding Bishop who could see the world around him burning.  Yet Loueta challenged the PB--telling him he must apply for a grant like everyone else, and then the women would consider a request from him.  View video of Loueta telling her story:

 Loueta Bailey, ECW National PresideNT, first woman seated as a deputy to
  General Convention -- 1970

The General Convention Special Programs was one of the most controversial concepts undertaken by the church and many say the church has never been the same!

The John Hines Social Justice Award has been created to honor the history of the relationship between the Presiding Bishop and the Women of the Church, still a relationship celebrated by The United Thank Offering Board.

Each General Convention the plate offering received at the General Convention United Thank Offering Ingathering Eucharist is be used to fund a grant application that presents a grassroots, innovative and creative project that addresses significant issues of social justice and how to change unjust structures in a community.  This award will include the entire plate offering. The amount of the General Convention United Thank Offering Ingathering Eucharist 2013 was $34,280.91


Thursday, September 19, 2013

More of what does this mean?

(by Jim Tinder)

More of what does this mean…

Refer to the 9/12 screen shot on the 9/18 “What does this mean?” post.

Evidently they forgot to add one of their staff to the UTO board on the 9/12 list
(The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Barlowe)

Let’s see the UTO board now consist of:
            2 - Ex Officio
            3 – Appointed
            3 – DFMS staff

            7 – Currently elected UTO board members.

Hum, wonder how many are going to attend the September UTO board meeting?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What does this mean?

(source: Episcopal Church Web site | CCABs | Agencies/Boards | United Thank Offering Board)

Wonder what this means? 

  1. The 9/9/13 screen shot shows the United Thank Offering board listed under CCAB (Committees, Commissions, Agencies, and Boards) instead as a board autonomous and interdependent, reporting to Executive Council.

The CCAB Handbook
Annotated Table of Contents

The CCAB System (Page 1)
    • Role of CCABs in the generation of policy, and the topics discussed by CCABs
    • CCABs do not participate in the production of resources or in the carrying out of policy.
    • Types of CCABs, along with the source and scope of their authority.

Members and Officers (Page 3)
·        Appointment of new members at the beginning of the triennium. Convenor named to organize the first meeting and conduct an election of Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary. Each officer has specific duties.
·        Expectation of members. Members must attend all meetings; unexcused absence from two meetings can result in members removal [Canon I.1.2(b)]. Consultants can only be hired under special circumstances.

CCAB Operations (Page 5)
  • Chair’s duty to prepare an agenda for each meeting. Agenda will be circulated to the members and to the General Convention Office for posting.
  • Chair and Secretary responsible for maintaining records and meeting minutes in collaboration with the Archives. Documents need to be preserved, including minutes, correspondence, E-mails, substantive drafts, and information disseminated at or between meetings.
  • CCABs will file a triennial report which include General Convention resolutions. Reports will be compiled into a document commonly known as the Blue Book, which is produced before each General Convention. Blue Book reports must be submitted on time and prepared according to specific guidelines.

No UTO president or finance officer?
Vacant board members positions will be filled how?
Does this mean the UTO “board” will no longer participate in developing the design of the Blue Boxes, Face-to-Face training, or Granting Criteria and granting procedure?

  1. The past-President is listed as “Chair” instead of “President”. Under CCAB there are no Presidents only Chairs.

So does that mean that past-President & UTO board is already identified as being under CCAB’s of General Convention instead of Executive Council?

  1. The Executive Council member is listed as a member. The United Thank Offering by-laws identify the Executive Council member as a member of the board (as recommended in INC-055). The official notice received from the General Convention Office identified the member as a liaison.

Clarification is needed and has not been completed.
So what is the role of the liaison and the Executive Council as they relate to the UTO board?

Is it still and will  UTO continue to be a board?

The 9/12/13 screenshot

  1. The four members resigned are removed from the list.
  2. The UTO President’s office listed as “chair” in the 9/09/13 screen shot is now listed as a “Convener”. 
So does this mean the Vice President that would be the President, per current by laws, of UTO upon the resignation of the past-President really isn’t President or even “Chair”; but instead already just a “Convener”?

Is the UTO already considered as part of General Convention?

Does this mean this change is already in place as proposed by the DFMS by laws regardless of the INC-055 and the Executive Council’s approval?

  1. Two new entries on the 9/12/13 “board” list are: The Most Rev. Katherine Jefferts Shori and The Rev. Gay C. Jennings. The two added are listed as “Ex Officiowith voice and vote. Per CCABs Handbook – revised 2013 (? What were the revisions since the 2012 General Convention?)  

What does this mean to the United thank Offering’s ministry of thankfulness?

1) Is the United Thank Offering Board a Board created by General Convention as defined by the requirements of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church?

2) What process is used for this kind of decision?

3) Has this process been one in which the United Thank Offering governing board has participated??

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New: Letter of resignation from the past-President/Province I Representative to her parish (see Resignations blog page)

Monday, September 16, 2013

UTO Board Structure 2012-2015

An ongoing discussion regarding UTO Board representation

We have made absolutely no judgment statements regarding how members are selected to be on the United Thank Offering board. No person is diminished by how that person arrives on the board. All members are equal according to the 2012 Bylaws, therefore all members, elected or appointed have policies and procedures to follow and responsibilities for committee service
This particular United Thank Offering board has faced a demand for adapting to transition unprecedented in the history of the organization.  Every board meeting has included new members arriving, and old members no longer present.  The death of a president has never happened to any Episcopal Church Board; there were no precedents about how to cope with this event.  And it is certainly true that the "core" group is still grieving.

What might be called the  "core group" of the 2012-2015 Board first met each other and met together in Indianapolis at the 2012 Triennial meeting.  That group included the 9 elected province reps and the three at large reps elected from among the sitting reps to serve another term as At-Large members.  Since 2000, the United Thank Offering committee/board had been a twelve member board; the INC-055 bylaws of 2012 required that an additional three members be added; two to be appointed by Executive Council and one to be appointed by the PB, the POHD and the President of the United Thank Offering Board.  The three appointed members were appointed in April of 2013, almost one year after the Board first assembled.  (The United Thank Offering President was not included in the decisions as expected.)  

One of these members was able to attend all but two days of the May meeting; one was able to attend four days of the meeting; one was unable to attend at all.  Two of these members were able to attend the one-day special meeting in July with the PB.  This has meant that although all three have some level of knowledge of the United Thank Offering Board, none of them have had long experience of the working of the board prior to this tumultuous time.  They were appointed in the midst of it all.  It is assumed that anyone coming on the board has some knowledge of the United Thank Offering; the first meeting of the 12 member board in September was an orientation session, with time spent reviewing the bylaws and the policies and procedures of the board.  The members of the UTO board, all of whom served in some capacity on the INC-055 study committee, have not participated  in an orientation sessions, or even a session that included introduction of current board members and their backgrounds and interests.

The elected members of the board, most of whom had been working together for a year, chose to discuss some of the issues presented in the draft documents received from DFMS as a separate group, as they were and are the members directly affected by the change in the election process described in the proposed bylaws revisions.  The "elected" members of the board are the nine representatives elected to serve a particular constituency and they have very specific responsibilities to those who elected them; these tasks are different from those of at-large and appointed members.  That does not mean one group is more important than another.  Three provincial members chose to protest and resign; five members have chosen to object, but continue on the board; one, the Province 9 rep, who has still other responsibilities, has chosen to abstain until the September meeting. The thinking was that those elected from Provinces needed to talk among themselves regarding what impact these documents had on them.  or example, province responsibilities involve recruiting and training the diocesan coordinator networks that actually use the Blue Boxes.  There is concern about how this process will proceed without the relationship with ECW.

One at-large member has chosen to see the issues from a different perspective than the rest of the elected provincial reps who have chosen to continue on the board.  None of the board members, current or former, has denied her right to disagree.  As stated above, the at-large members of the board do not have provincial responsibilities; they do have board responsibilities.

The appointed members who have come on board in the midst of this "crisis" all have some history with United Thank Offering, but have not been part of the year long process of work that has been done. As a group, they have yet to participate in depth in the ongoing conversation around the table.  One member did attend and participate in the recent Face to Face diocesan coordinator training program in July. As a group, they come from a different perspective than the elected members who have emerged from diocesan leadership. All three appointed members are clergy, each with different Professional experience. The integration of these different perspectives offers an exciting opportunity for growth and direction for the United Thank Offering Board that everyone has been looking forward to, but the opportunity for this integration has not yet been available.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Statement from elected Province Representatives serving on United Thank Offering Board

            Most of you are aware of the conflict between the leadership of The Episcopal Church (the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society—DFMS) and the United Thank Offering Board. Four key UTO board members including the president/grants convener, the secretary, the communications convener and a respected long-time member of the Board have resigned from the board as a protest, citing irreconcilable differences with those of the senior leadership of DFMS.

·      2007   The Presiding Bishop called for a study to learn about Committees, Commissions, Agencies, and Boards (CCABs) and their relationship to the institutional church.
·      2008   The United Thank Offering Committee sought approval from the Executive Council to incorporate as a 501(c)(3) status. Executive Council felt this would undercut the church’s connection to UTO so they called for “a serious and extensive study….” INC-055 resulted.
·      2011   The Executive Council, meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, in October received the report of INC-055 Ad Hoc Task force and in their minutes stated, “Resolved, That the Executive Council receives and approves the newly developed Bylaws for the United Thank Offering Board….” The minutes also stated, “Canon Harris reported that DFMS’ counsel had reviewed the proposed Bylaws and approved them.” The Very Rev. Stacy Sauls was present at that meeting.
·      2013   Work that had begun on Memorandum of Understanding came to a halt with the death of Sarita Redd, UTO president in January.
·      July 2013   The UTO board drafted a Memorandum of Understanding between the UTO board and DFMS. The board was invited to New York by the Presiding Bishop to discuss “issues of governance and oversight.” And to create jointly new documents to define the relationship between DFMS and UTO. (specifically revision of the Bylaws)
·      August 2013   Paul Nix (legal council for DFMS) sent Robin Sumners (communication convener and UTO member who was supposed to work with Paul Nix on the Bylaws revision) a revision of the Bylaws created solely by DFMS.
·      September 2013   Four UTO board members resigned in protest because they felt the trust that they had put in DFMS had been betrayed and that the Bylaws under which UTO had been operating (AD Hoc INC-055) had been eviscerated.

Important Changes Under the Proposed Bylaws by DFMS
·      The proposed Bylaws will sever the relationship between UTO and Episcopal Church Women (ECW). The provinces, not the provincial ECWs, will elect UTO provincial representatives. There will be no presence of UTO at the Triennial, except by a member of the DFMS staff.
·      The board will no longer be autonomous.
·      Granting will be done by DFMS, not the UTO board.
·      No UTO Executive Committee   This committee sets program and policy. It had been working on revisioning and revamping the committee structure in UTO to be more effective.
·      No Communication Committee   This committee was responsible for revising and instituting a new electronic granting process that was faster and more equitable, for assisting board members to become more computer literate and electronically engaged, having UTO go paperless by 2014, posting the Face to Face training program on YOU tube, to name a few of its accomplishments. The committee was responsible for providing education on the UTO network, planning communication strategy and providing tools and materials. (This will now be under DFMS)
·      No finance Committee    This committee has not been able to operate effectively because it has not received a financial report from DFMS for 18 months.
·      Most importantly, the core value of UTO is no longer in the proposed Bylaws. Gone is the statement, “UTO as a daily ministry of prayer and gratitude for blessings received for tangible support for the work of the church throughout the world.”  It has been replaced with, “raising money to support mission.”

            The remaining members of the UTO board hold fast to the INC-055 Ad Hoc Study Report that recommended that the UTO "should continue to be an autonomous and interdependent Board under the Executive Council".  We feel that we have adhered to all documents of the Episcopal Church and the Constitution and Canons of TEC and the Policies and Procedures of the DFMS. We feel that understanding our finances; taking responsibility for the offerings given by our thankful people; the decision making of granting these funds; and being able to communicate and tell our story are vital to the continuance and well being of The United Thank Offering
            We are continuing to operate under the Bylaws established by the INC-055 Ad Hoc Study Report and will continue to do so until we are able to compromise on the proposed Bylaws.
            If the proposed Bylaws are passed, it will bring a close to a very important “grass-roots” ministry involved in mission.” That would be a great loss and very sad!

If you do not want this to happen, here are some suggestions:
1.   Contact your Bishop and tell him/her what is happening.  Explain that under the proposed Bylaws:
             a. The autonomy of the UTO board as outlined in Ad Hoc committee report INC-055 is in
             b. The historical relationship between the ECW and UTO is dissolved.
 DO IT THIS WEEK.                 
(Bishops meet in Nashville beginning September 19, 2013. There needs to be a conversation there.)

2.   PRAY and PRAY some more that this difficulty can be resolved for the best for the United Thank
      Offering and the mission of the church.

Each Elected Province Representative signed this statement: the continuing board members offered to send this statement to Provinces I, IV and VII, and have done so.

Province II:  Lois  Johnson-Rodney
                -- Finance Officer (Resigned as Finance Officer, but has remained Province Rep)
Province III:  Dena Lee
Province IV:  Marcie Cherau
Province V:  Peg Cooper
Province VIII:  Barbara Schafer, Vice President, now President

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Truth

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.   Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have to say what’s on my heart,  and I’m going to say it straight— the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I was never any good at bootlicking; my Maker would make short work of me if I started in now!   Job 32:14-16  (The Message)

The clever use of IRS requirements, which makes everyone quake in their boots, to imply that this group of "old women" just do not understand that some of these things have to happen, accomplishes the goal of taking control of UTO because the law say that DFMS has to bring the UTO under compliance.  This sounds so very logical; of course we all have to comply with the IRS!

This is reminiscent to me of how biblical quotes are often used--to prove women should not be ordained; to prove being gay is a "cardinal sin;" to prove marriage can only exist between one man and one woman.   We can now use the IRS regulations to prove that all money belongs to the part of the Episcopal Church living in the edifice of 815--which the United Thank Offering primarily built.

Ponder this quote from the press release describing the dedication of that great edifice called "815," on Monday, April 29, 1963.

NEW YORK, --- The new, national Episcopal Church Center, 815 Second Avenue, was dedicated Monday, April 29.
Presiding Bishop Lichtenberger laid the cornerstone. Also taking part in the dedication ceremonies was the Church's highest ranking layman, Clifford P. Morehouse, president of the House of Deputies.
The ceremony took place under the arcade that runs the full length of the Second Avenue facade. In the cornerstone the Presiding Bishop placed six foundation symbols: a cross, the Holy Scriptures, the Book of Common Prayer, the Constitution and Canons and the Journal of the 1961 General Convention, the United Thank Offering Box which belonged to the founder of the special women's offering, and the lists of memorials, thank-offerings, and other gifts in addition to lists of contributors to the building.

The sadness is that it is true that the thinking and dreaming of the women who began the United Thank Offering has been a main source of innovation in the church.  The possibility of international women missionaries; the idea of health and retirement benefits for those who have served faithfully without the option of building personal resources-the forerunner of the Church Pension Fund--a gift to the church from the women who serve; the establishment of The Church Building Fund to allow the building of small churches through out the world--all made possible by a grass-roots effort of women understanding that every penny counts. Under the oversight of the Chief Operating Officer, this process will cease to exit as it has been known.  The Institutional Church is not the hot-bed of imagination or innovation--and that is one of the reasons the church does not acquire membership among those of the digital age.  The Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, recently said, "Innovation never comes from established institutions."  One of the things that makes the United Thank Offering work is that it never becomes institutionalized because the board responsible is ever changing, sending out trained church leaders and bringing in new brains and new ideas.

Mark Harris said to me that one of the problems is that the women of the church have not created a power base; servant leadership is not about power--it is about service. Therefore, even the faithful women on the current board who have not resigned have stayed because, although they have experienced the same treatment and acknowledge that, they still can't believe that the clergy and bishops whom they serve really mean what they have said--they have said it, and done it, but don't mean it.

I will be sad if DFMS wins the battle of saying that the four who left just did not understand the need to be in compliance with the IRS; that is a story crafted to make us look incompetent at best.  And sadly, one day, the options of input from a group of people, for it is not only women, who seek to encourage innovation by the process of the granting program, will no longer be part of the Church.

There is this constant option of UTO becoming a 501c3, but UTO is a very different organization than ERD.  It is not a fundraising ministry, it is a life discipline--it provides for a lifetime awareness of thankful living and it belongs central to the church, if the church is living its mission, for it is a movement and not a fundraising body.  The people in the pews feel a relationship to the people who receive grants--to me UTO is the viable, extraordinary example of the Body of Christ at work--reaching out with love to provide for miracles.  I hate that this may come to an end on my watch.  Nowhere in the revised bylaws presented to us was this theology of a life discipline of thanksgiving central to the original bylaws ever mentioned. So while I might now advocate for a 501c3 to protect the life of UTO, I have always agreed that walking within, beside, above, and below the church was where we belong.

We UTO Four knew this protest would be hard; we had so many great plans for UTO --for the 125th anniversary; for an exciting new grant focus that addressed the violence in a hurting world; simple things like virtual blue boxes.  We each loved the work we had been given to do on this board—and each of us had a different task that was part of the whole. It is a real loss, and we will grieve for a while, and we are still grieving the loss of Sarita. She would say to us: "God has a plan."  I want Sarita to ask God to send us an angel to help us understand. I keep waiting to get a sense of what the plan is; and patience has never been my virtue.

Robin ( and barbi and georgie and renee in spirit!) 

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Purpose of the UTO Four

On September 2, 2013, four members of the 2012-2015 United Thank Offering Board resigned from the Board, and from their leadership positions, in protest against a process begun by the Episcopal Church Officers at the Church Center at 815 2nd Avenue to develop documents of governance for the United Thank Offering Board.  Three of these members had been part of a working group created by the Presiding Bishop to develop these documents jointly.  There were four members of the United Thank Offering Board, and three members of the staff at 815 and a representative of the Executive Council. (Three lawyers, and ultimately three priest; see how that adds up to four—or five!)

When the drafts of these documents were received, based on the content and the message which accompanied them, the working group of UTO had an immediate and visceral reaction.  The conversations undertaken regarding the process and the critical points identified by the United Thank Offering group were not represented in the documents; the four items stated by the UTO representatives as critical were eliminated completely, and the structure of UTO changed dramatically.  The message transmitting these documents said:

Attached is our revisions to the MOU and Bylaws for the UTO Board’s review. We have given this project significant time and thought and believe that these revisions best embrace the reality of the UTO Board being an integral and very important part of DFMS and a CCAB of The Episcopal Church. We also believe that these revisions will work to maximum the viability of the UTO Board for many years to come.

Per my conversation with Robin yesterday, we can convene upon my return to the office to discuss these revisions at a time suitable to all of us.

This did not to appear to invite restorations to the revisions of the critical points defined by the UTO working group of the items defined in the earlier discussions.  The telephone call between the legal counsel of DFMS and the UTO communication convener did not invite the option of discussing significant changes; the statement was made,  "We have removed the treasurer position on your board, as the finance of UTO will now be completely handled by DFMS."  The staff at DFMS, including the Presiding Bishop has repeatedly told the UTO Board that UTO has no money; all the money belongs to DFMS.  Although almost all of the women of the church know absolutely there is money that belongs to UTO.

When the elected members of the board, those immediately affected by the changes, were given the draft documents to read, all but one of the elected members were shocked and devastated by the structure the documents established; those on the working group, and a board member who had been part of the internal conversations concluded that the evidence put forth by the DFMS office was not created in good faith, would not be revised in good faith, and resigned in protest of the new direction forced upon the United Thank Offering by these documents.  The UTO Four, as they are being called, doubted that, based on their experience with DFMS during the entire last year, that there would be little integrity in any process.
Other elected board members decided to stay to try to change the minds of the DFMS leadership.  One continued to insist that there was nothing wrong with this process at all.

All of the documents made public from both UTO and DFMS regarding this sad and traumatic situation are available here.  The list of pages is found to the right; we who resigned have made our joint and our individual statements.  We have each done this in order to do our best to protect the integrity of the of the United Thank Offering within the Episcopal Church.

We will each have to grieve in our own way the loss of a vital and productive ministry of our lives that has ended.  We, each of us, has said all there is to be said.  We chose to shine a light on something being done in the dark.  We hope that light will preserve the historic and magnificent contribution to the Episcopal Church—The United Thank Offering of the Women of the Church.

Robin Sumners, UTO Four