Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Resources for Episcopal Wonks

I have referred a number of times to great stuff one can find on line through the Digital Archives of the Episcopal Church. It's where I've found past Resolutions of General Convention and Actions of the Executive Council. Well, now there's a whole new resource there: the Reports to General Convention (better known as the Blue Book) for Conventions dating back to 1976.

What can you find there? Between Conventions there are a variety of groups who meet to carry forward the priorities set by each Convention. They are the Commissions, Committees, Agencies, and Boards (CCAB's) of the Church - some under the jurisdiction of General Convention itself, some of the Executive Council, and some of one or both of the Houses of Deputies and of Bishops (often referred to as the "Interim Bodies"). Each Interim Body reports to the next General Convention on its work. Part of those reports may be specific resolutions to General Convention (the "A" resolutions). However, each report also gives discussion, reflection, and rationale for the work and priorities of the Church. So, each report gives a window into the thinking within the Church on a given issue. To make matters easier, the good archivists separated out each report. So, you don't have to open up a 400+ page Blue Book. You can link to a specific report.

Now, sometimes you'll have to dig a little to see which body had responsibility for a particular topic. Some bodies have changed their names over time, and some have been added. However, each document is searchable. 

So, if you want to know what has been said to the General Convention on a topic, often by some of the best minds in the Episcopal Church, this is the place to look. It offers a depth and perspective on many issues that you won't get just looking at a resolution. And since these reports are received by General Convention, they will show for each Convention the best work for the time, if not necessarily the official statements (which resolutions would), often by some of our best minds.

So, go dive in. You'll be amazed (and perhaps sometimes appalled) by what you find.

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