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April 24, 2008: This Is A Good Idea

You know, the longer I think about the idea of amending the Standing Rules to provide a more engaging election process for the Stated Clerk, the better I like it.

If ever there was an Assembly that could handle the addition of a commissioners committee to do this work, it would be the 218th GA. This is the first Assembly with the increased number of commissioners. There are more hands to do the work. The early reports from the Committee on Local Arrangements (COLA) is that the convention center area is ideal. It is one of the best convention center setups we have seen for an Assembly. There appears to be a good amount of flexibility possible -- that is, lots of space which could be used for this purpose. The task is straightforward. The job description is readily available. The candidates will be known ahead of time -- it all seems very do-able.

I cannot see a downside to having commissioners and advisory delegates involved in extended interviews of the candidates. It does not hurt any of the other committees. It is business that is intended for the General Assembly to handle. It would not be difficult to organize.

Does it hurt the candidates? I do not think it does. Yes, it changes their expectation of what they will be doing during the Assembly week -- but in a way that offers them a chance to more fully share their vision, their qualifications, their hopes, and their understanding of the challenges. (Personally, I would concerned about a Stated Clerk candidate who wanted to keep the process closed.)

By the way, my objection to the process is not intended to be a slam on the Stated Clerk Nominating Committee. It has followed the rules and performed its task. It came up with a nominee for the Assembly to consider.

Further, my objection to the process is not intended to be a slam on their discernment; they may have selected as their nominee the best person for the job. At this point, I do not know. I have not done the research necessary to know or make an informed decision. What I do know is this: what is provided by the current rules will not make me much better informed than I am now. The reality is that I will be Google-ing and Yahoo-ing "Gradye Parsons" and "Ed Koster" (and "Candidate C", and so on...) in order to get a better picture of who they are and what they are bringing to the table.

Basically, the current process invites the Assembly to delegate the discernment responsibility to a committee. Given the denomination-wide impact this position carries, I do not think that it is wise for the Assembly to delegate that responsibility.

I have not worked the phones on this -- I have not solicited opinion from the candidates or any of the special interest groups -- but I am hard pressed to see a theological, political, or ideological objection. Opening up the election process seems like a win-win for everyone.

Am I missing something? (That's a real question, not rhetorical.)