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Separating the set-aside bishop from the Call to Action

by Heather Hahn
April 24, 2012

Bishops have a message for General Conference delegates: Don’t confuse the proposed set-aside bishop with the Call to Action restructuring plan.

The confusion is understandable. The Call to Action informational materials say that the chair of the proposed 45-member General Council for Strategy and Oversight will be the Council of Bishops president.

Those materials also advocate for the constitutional amendment submitted by the Council of Bishops that would allow the council the elect an active bishop as president without the usual obligations of overseeing a geographic area. The Call to Action Interim Operations Team also endorsed the amendment.

But nowhere does theactual restructuring legislationspecify that the set-aside bishop be chair of General Council for Strategy and Oversight — only that the chair be a bishop.

Over the past six months, the Call to Action’s proposed consolidation of nine general agencies under a board of 15 has received a great deal of pushback. In the legislation, those 15 board members would report to the General Council for Strategy and Oversight.

But at this point, it looks like even the legislation’s draftersplan to drop the proposed 15 and go instead with the board of 45. Legislation also has been drafted for at leasttwo alternative reorganization plans.

So while restructuring is up in the air, many bishops don’t want the proposed set-aside bishop to be lost in the shuffle or to be abandoned by critics of the Call to Action reconfiguration.

“The set-aside bishop would accomplish exactly what critics of the Call to Action are calling for,” said Arkansas Area Bishop Charles N. Crutchfield, who himself supports the restructuring legislation.

He said having a president with no residential responsibilities would allow bishops to spend more time in their episcopal areas.