This morning, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry addressed the staff of The Episcopal Church Center (affectionately known as “815” after its street address in NYC). The occasion was the conclusion of an independent investigation into “formal complaints and allegations of potential violations of personnel policies of the DFMS” (Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society). The investigation began on December 9, 2015 when the presiding bishop put Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Sam McDonald, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission, and Mr. Alex Baumgarten, Director of Public Engagement and Mission Communications on administrative leave.
I will refer you to the press release for details of the investigation’s findings and recommendations. What particularly struck me about the address, and what I will comment on, is the connection our presiding bishop makes between the seemingly mundane topic of personnel policies and the somewhat more “spiritual” concept of mission. Curry asserts that:
Our task as staff is to serve The Episcopal Church in such a way that it can serve the world in the Name and in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Our commitment to taking our place as part of the Jesus Movement in the world, our commitment to the work of evangelism, our commitment to the work of racial reconciliation is directly tied to this. And I am unswerving in my commitment to that.
This link between “infrastructure” and mission is an important one. It is easy to fall into the trap of considering our responsibilities to infrastructure—taking vestry minutes, paying bills, mowing the grass—as the collection of concerns that get in the way of mission. What the presiding bishop is saying, however, is that the way we take care of these infrastructure concerns is a both reflects our faith and commitment to our neighbor and enables the expression of that faith and commitment.
As we at Holy Trinity strive to put our own house in order, we too are called to investigate the ways in which our infrastructure (or lack thereof) undermines our mission. Let us remember that the time, care and approach we take in examining our stewardship, keeping records, and mopping floors is as much a matter of mission as our outreach efforts are.