Sunday, July 12, 2009

The soap opera prelude to the quote of the day

For those of you not following the soap opera that is General Convention, in our last episode: a cliff hanger! On the very last day, delegates were asked to pass a resolution (B033) that "Resolved, That this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion." (For "manner of life" substitute "openly gay.")

Many people voted for it though it was against their own consciences for reasons not worth repeating in this blog. But the passing of it didn't exactly ease relations within the Anglican Communion as various bishops left for other climes, lawsuits continued, gays and lesbians stood as candidates for bishop in several dioceses, etc., etc. In short, B033 doesn't appear to have changed anyone or anything.

Enter: General Convention 2009 and a whole lot of delegates riled up to repeal or generally undo B033.

Suddenly...the Archbishop of Canterbury appears! For the first time ever at a General Convention of the Episcopal Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury comes to speak. And he says, among other things, "Along with many in the Communion, I hope and pray that there won't be decisions in the coming days that could push us further apart." And my personal favorite, in a meeting with the president of the House of Deputies (i.e. non-Bishops who have an equal voice in setting the agenda for the Episcopal Church), "Williams told the group that Episcopalians had to be aware that in some parts of the Communion, 'bishops only want to hear from other bishops,' Johnson said."

In this context, the House of Deputies resoundingly passed D025, which sounds reasonable to me. Given how riled up the House of Deputies probably was at the Archbishop's statements, I think it's fairly moderate in tone. It says, in part,

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, which call is tested 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.

Now this is going to the House of Bishops and there's a great deal of anxiety that the Bishops will balk. Tune in for our next episode.

This morning's installment: As reported in the London Times, "The Archbishop of Canterbury told General Synod today that he 'regrets' the decision by The Episcopal Church house of deputies to overturn the moratorium on the ordination of gay bishops." Cue suspenseful organ music. What will the House of Bishops do? Tune in next time.

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