I have forwarded this proposal to the Bishops/Deputies list, a web site which invites the Bishops and elected Deputies and Alternates to General Convention to enter into conversation.

<The divisions in our church are, I believe, to be tackled by members of TEC. The basic problem in addressing these issues is one of trust. They have become both issues of principle and issues in which individuals exhibit a lack of trust in each other.

I want to propose that immediately a bishop, a priest and a lay person from each “party” self nominated or proposed by whoever is thought to represent them, spend a week together in seclusion examining these dreadful problems and that at the end of this “retreat” issue a unanimous report to the church. Obviously such conclusions would not be official and perhaps the more important because of such an ad hoc nature.

Around the time of the 2000 GC Louis Crew, Brian Cox and others, of whom I was one, engaged in such discussions in what whas termed the “New Commandment Task Force”.  The manner in which these discussions took place was honest, respectful and fruitful. The initiative died in the politics which subsequently occurred.

Such engaged discussions might well be monitored and enabled by persons trained in a reconciliation process.  While such a process would obviously not change minds, what may result are suggestions pointing towards principles which go deeper and beyond the slogans and “political” rhetoric of our present atmosphere of accusations and of structural positions.

To my mind what may well emerge is not a legislative solution, but an appraisal of the strength or weakness of our determination to live together as a family within TEC. The participants would have to be persons of both clear conviction and also persons with a willingness to listen, learn and contribute in a positive manner. I do not believe that these qualities are mutually exclusive.

Our church mirrors the stark divisions in the country, present since the 60s. We need to bring to these stark divisions a Christian, realistic and compassionate spirit just as our present government is seeking a common will and mind to rescue the country from its grave problems and divisions.

Perhaps this suggestion seems symplistic and utopian, but surely as Christians we are utopians?