Delegates Approve Resource Paper Process

Post a Comment » Written on June 17th, 2006     
Filed under: News
GRAND RAPIDS, MI (June 17, 2006) – Delegates to the 121st Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church this morning commissioned a “resource paper” on how the denomination engages in Biblical and theological reflection.

The decision came after an earlier vote to formalize the process for issuing such papers. The proposal added a new section to the bylaws – Article II, section 2.1. A copy of this material will be found elsewhere in he Covenant website.

The proposal for the first resource paper was introduced by Donn Engebretson, Covenant executive vice president, who represented the Executive Board. The paper will provide the groundwork for how future issues are addressed, he said.

Some delegates questioned whether the resource papers would put too many boundaries on what people in the Covenant must believe, violating a central ethos of the denomination that allows for “freedom in Christ.”

Engebretson said the papers will not place new boundaries, but will give Covenanters more opportunity and resources with which to dialogue. Like resolutions, the papers will be non-binding and will not be used for any form of discipline.

According to the bylaw change, resource papers differ in several ways from resolutions:

  • The papers tend to be much longer in length than resolutions, which generally run no more than two pages. Papers will offer “a longer, more dialogical and nuanced discussion of critical concerns,” according to the proposal.
  • ”Unlike a resolution, which is focused primarily on ethical and political concerns, a Covenant Resource Paper will inform ongoing discipleship and practice in all matters worthy of specific concern – matters of faith, doctrine and conduct,” Engebretson said.
  • A Covenant Resource Paper will remain in effect to inform ongoing discipleship and practice in the life of Covenant people until such time as it is replaced or removed by the Annual Meeting.
  • Papers will serve as resources for the future, whereas resolutions are summaries and crystallizations of a particular Annual Meeting.

The change in bylaws was needed, Engebretson said, to formalize a process that had no form previously, when resource papers could be called for by any commission, church or even the president. The process is needed to provide a “uniform process for communal discernment is critical to identity and ministry,” Engebretson said.

Under the new process:

  • A paper may be requested by a congregation, department, board, board, commission, conference or institution of the ECC. A new paper must be commissioned by a two-thirds vote by either the Annual Meeting or the Executive Board.
  • The papers will be written by a team of Covenant individuals nominated by the Council of Administrators and approved by the Executive Board.
  • The final draft must have the endorsement of each of the following bodies: the Board of Ordered Ministry, the Council of Administrators, the Council of Superintendents, and the Covenant Executive Board.
  • The resource paper must be approved by two-thirds majority vote of Annual Meeting delegates.

In other business, delegates approved a resolution affirming women in ministry and they elected new members to various boards. A listing of those elected will be found in a separate story in the online Covenant news report.

Delegates also extended for five years each the Commission on Stewardship and the Commission on Response to Domestic and Sexual Abuse.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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