Episcopal Life Convention Daily
Thursday, 6 July 2000  

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Chinnis favors continued volunteer status for president

The president of the House of Deputies warned against blurring the line between governance and program in an address to the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance. While she originally favored providing astipend for her office, Dr.PamelaChinnis said she now feels ``very uneasy about this because it would be one more step in the bureacratization of the General Convention.'' Since 1920, she noted, the presiding bishop and secretary and treasurer of convention have moved from volunteer status to full-time DFMS employees with staff.

``The line between governance and program is often difficult to locate, particularly when officers of the governing body are also staff of the implementing agency,'' she said. ``Thus far, the House of Deputies has been outside the program structures and its senior officers have remained volunteers. Its governance role is subsequently much easier to define and recognize. I don't want that distinction to be lost.'' While she did not recommend returning other officers to volunteer status, she suggested a review of other offices before going further in changing the status of the president.

Chinnis also discussed the pros and cons of the president's office being located in the General Convention office at the national church center, as it is now. The office's location and the president's volunteer status make it ``easy for the unconscious assumption to develop that the president of the House of Deputies is part of a unit headed by the executive officer [of General Convention],'' she said.

Answering questions from the Program, Budget and Finance Committee, Chinnis said, ``I think it might be better if the president of the House of Deputies were not physically lodged in the General Convention office. . . It would give a certain independence to the office.'' But she resists locating the office outside the national church center, she said, because ``it's very easy for the president of the House of Deputies to feel marginalized.''

As coequal with the House of Bishops, the House of Deputies should have the same access to the power structure, she said. ``I hesitate to use `in the General Convention structure' because I think that's part of our problem. We think of the General Convention structure taking over the function and role of the House of Deputies, and it should be, in my opinion, just the reverse.''

Chinnis also stressed the need for professional support for the president, noting how invaluable Special Assistant Pam Darling had been.

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