Task group on U.S. Episcopal Church starts work

(Photo: Episcopal Church / Mike Collins)The Episcopal Church Center building in New York City is seen in a file photo.

More than 20 people charged with recommending ideas to revamp the U.S. Episcopal Church met for the first time on Thursday.

The 26-member group, meeting in Linthicum Heights, Maryland is meeting from Feb. 14-16. They are charged with presenting a final report and recommendations to the church by Nov. 2014.

Changes should be voted on by the church's governing body, its general convention, in 2015.

The meeting will include private small-group discussions and an open closing worship, with a statement by the group expected at the end of the meeting.

Members represent clergy and lay-persons from dioceses from around the nation.

The Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the church told those gathered that the restructured church would need to ensure that its faith communities were "sustainable," the  Episcopal News Service reported.

"We are going to need to rethink, restructure, and reform in order to ensure that all of these develop that are sustainable – as congregations and dioceses, and for clergy and lay leadership can be sustainable," she said.

Another leader also commented.

"We don't have agreement on what we mean when we say we intend to reimagine "The Episcopal Church" and reform our "structures, governance and administration," one of the denomination's top leaders, the The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings said.

She listed a variety of the church's ministries, governing structures, boards and its congregations.

"It is up to you to define the scope of what you will seek to restructure," she said.

The Rev. Jennings said that as president of the House of Deputies, she often hears from laypeople and young people.

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