Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In yesterday's episode of General Convention...

As I explained at great length here, in a previous episode, the House of Deputies had passed D025 by a wide margin and sent it to the House of Bishops. The Archbishop of Canterbury was disappointed. What would happen? Thoughts of gloom pervaded the Anglican blogosphere. The bishops might not even consider the resolution. They might revise it into something completely different.

But then, all of an instant, the vote was taken and D025, with only minor revisions, was passed by the House of Bishops by a vote of 99-45. Jubilation in many quarters! Dismay in others.

For my money, this is a beautiful resolution. And I don't normally say that about resolution language. But I think this one is beautiful because it's honest. It seems a very heartfelt statement about who we are as a church and where we currently stand. And as Bishop Mary Gray Reeves said in the discussion (live blogged at The Lead) and reiterated later by Dr. Ian Douglas from the Executive Council, "In order to be in full communion we need to be honest. Honesty leads into communon and not a facile understanding of church relationships." (NB: this isn't a direct quote, but a paraphrase from The Lead.)

I also very much like the amendment proposed by Bishop Hollingsworth which says:

Resolved that this 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals to any ordained ministry within TEC and that God's call to the ministry is a mystery which the Church attempts to discern for all people through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

As the late, great Harlow Russell would say, "Is it a puzzle to be solved or a mystery to be adored?" I am very happy to say that today the church has decided this thorny problem is a mystery to be adored.

Here's the whole resolution, which now needs to go back to the House of Deputies for final approval:

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 76th General Convention reaffirm the continued participation of The Episcopal Church as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion; give thanks for the work of the bishops at the Lambeth Conference of 2008; reaffirm the abiding commitment of The Episcopal Church to the fellowship of churches that constitute the Anglican Communion and seek to live into the highest degree of communion possible; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention encourage dioceses, congregations, and members of The Episcopal Church to participate to the fullest extent possible in the many instruments, networks and relationships of the Anglican Communion; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention reaffirm its financial commitment to the Anglican Communion and pledge to participate fully in the Inter-Anglican Budget; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm the value of "listening to the experience of homosexual persons," as called for by the Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988, and 1998, and acknowledge that through our own listening the General Convention has come to recognize that the baptized membership of The Episcopal Church includes same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships "characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God" (2000-D039); and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention recognize that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church,; and that God's call to the ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church is a mystery which the Church attempts to discern for all people through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge that members of The Episcopal Church as of the Anglican Communion, based on careful study of the Holy Scriptures, and in light of tradition and reason, are not of one mind, and Christians of good conscience disagree about some of these matters.

3 comments:

qoe said...

I am sure the only reason the ABC showed at this event was to make a last pitch effort to maintain the status quo of hypocrisy. I say, Amen to this decision. The ancient oral tradition says, after all, that the Sabbath was made for man (humanity) by God, not man (humanity) for the Sabbath. In the present context, I take this to mean that God did not intend us to be anything other than what we individually are, and that we should be free to celebrate that, whatever it is.

Anonymous said...

Bless you for remembering Russell! I am sure he would be very pleased and proud of his church as a result of this decision - as, indeed, am I.

Laura Toepfer said...

qoe: I'm sure you're right about the ABC.

Anonymous, and I know who you are, Russell was much on my mind this week, which was kind of a "This is your life in the Episcopal Church" event. More on that shortly.