General Convention Concludes

As I see it, the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church:

1. Worked hard to try and stay focused on mission – to the poor and to our overseas dioceses and beyond – even while continuing to struggle with internal issues which tend to divide us.

2. Reaffirmed that the canons of this church make it clear that access to the ordination process (though not ordination itself necessarily — there is no “right” to ordination) is open to all the baptized.

3. Did not repeal B033 (last Convention’s resolution which asks bishops and standing committees to exercize “restraint” in consenting to the election of any bishop whose “manner of life” would cause additional strains on the Anglican Communion.)

4. Welcomed and enagaged scores of Anglican, ecumenical, and interfaith guests to participate in the Convention, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. 

5. Authorized the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to work on designing rites for the blessing of same gender unions which would need to be brought back to the next General Convention for possible authorization in “trial use.”

6. Did not authorize any “public rites” for such blessings at the present time. The point of working on these for the future is so that we can get our theology right on these to know what we are actually doing as a church. This is crucial because the society is moving so quickly toward “gay marriage” and the church needs to be clear about what we think we are going when, and if, we bless such civil unions.

7. Passed a drastically reduced budget, due primarily to the global and national economic meltdown, in which 37 staff members will lose their jobs and program dollars will be reduced by approximately 25%. This was very painful, but probably inevitable.

8. Celebrated together in daily Eucharists, led by a rich diversity of all the ministers of the church — lay persons, bishops, deacons, and priests. The music was stunning!

9. Passed a full communion proposal for the Moravian Church (they must vote on it in 2010), a modest missional proposal with the Presbyterian Church, USA, commended ongoing dialogue with the United Methodist Church and encouraged involving the three historic Black Methodist churches in that, authorized opening a dialogue with the Church of Sweden, and accepted a theological statement/rationale for interreligious dialogue.

10. Got all its business done for the first time in many, many years. No resolutions died because there was not time to get to them. This was, in part, due to the skill of our two Presiding offiicers, Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson.

It’s time to go home!

16 Responses to “General Convention Concludes”

  1. Bryan Owen Says:

    What I find troubling is that we are eliminating the entire Evangelism program at 815, while dramatically increasing litigation funding. If budgets are moral documents (and I think they are), then the values and priorities this suggests run directly contrary to the Baptismal Covenant and the basic reason why we exist as a Church in the first place.

    If this is putting our money where our true priorities lie, then it suggests that we are more maintenance than mission-minded on the home front, even as empirical evidence (such as the “Episcopal Congregations Overview: Findings from the 2008 Faith Communities Today Survey,” as well as the report submitted to General Convention by the HoD State of the Church Committee) shows that the institutional Episcopal Church is dying.

    I find this quite disheartening.

  2. ecubishop Says:

    Believe me, you are not the only one to find decisions on the budget disheartening!

  3. JB Says:

    I dunno, bishop, how leaders in TEC can state #3 with a straight face. If B033 is still in effect for members of TEC, then a false hope has been given to GLBT’s with respect to ordination. It’s like clubs and government organizations claiming to be open to diversity but then blackballing every “diverse” candidate that appears before it.
    By the same token, if C025 is a sincere promise to that community that the ordination process is open to them, then we have chosen to walk apart from the rest of the Anglican Communion and the rest of the body of Christ.

    I also share Mr. Owen’s concerns about evangelism. We have chosen a path not unlike zombie companies (companies that are dead but do not know it) in the business world. Their gut response is often to cut the sales force or income producers, which causes the final death spiral (revenues decline which leads to further cuts, etc). We have jettisoned a large segment of our church and now have no visible way to grow the church. It does not bode well. Lucky for us we serve a God who specializes in resurrection!


  4. The_Archer_of_the_Forest Says:

    I suppose technically B033 was not repealed de jure. However, what exactly was the point of DO25 if not a de facto repeal or at least a serious backtracking? If BO33 is still in full effect, then what exactly was the need for DO25? It had to have had some purpose.

  5. lagipson Says:

    Bishop Epting, your point #3 is deceptive. BO33 was not repealed, rather it was negated, invalidated, rendered valuless. Here’s why:
    According to ENS,The Rev. Gay Jennings of Ohio, the chairwoman of the House of Deputies Committee on World Mission which developed resolution DO25 acknowledged “that the passage of DO25 removed the recommendation for exercising restraint [expressed in BO33]. . . .”
    BO33 expressed the mind of the GC in 2003 in calling Bishops and Standing Committees “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 . . . ” (The HOB meeting in New Orleans in 2007 said that such “candidates” mentioned in the resolution included non-celibate gays and lesbians).
    Now in 2009, DO25 expresses the mind of the GC in affirming that that all orders of ordained ministry are open to all the baptized (including non-celibate gays and lesbians) and only the consitution and canons must be followed, that is, the resolution calls for nothing in addition to abiding by the constitution and canons–no longer must there also be restraint exercised by not consenting to the consecration of a non-celibate gay or lesbian to the episcopate as the canons are followed. As the Rev. Mrs. Jennings said, “the passage of DO25 removed the recommendation for exercising restraint [in BO33]. . . .”
    The basic principle of human thinking is the principle of non-contradiction (A cannot be both B and not B at the same time). The GC cannot both call for the recommendation for restraint and remove the recommendation of restraint at the same time. The mind of the GC cannot be both that only the constitution and canons guide the consent to the consecration of a person to the episcopate as DO25 says, and that restraint must be exercised (performed) in addition to abiding by the constitution and canons as BO33 says. Clearly, DO25 does not repeal CO33, but it does negate it, make it invalid, render it valueless.
    And since the thinking was that if the restraint called for in BO33 were exercised, a moratorium would be observed on the consecration of a non-celibate gay or lesbian to the episcopate, but, when that restraint is removed as in BO25, the moratorium it would create is also removed, and TEC has rejected the moratorium called for by the instruments of Anglican Communion including now the ACC.

  6. ecubishop Says:

    JB: I could not agree more that we are totally dependent on “a God who specializes in resurrection!”

    Archer: The purpose of D025 was to reassure those who needed reassuring that, as always, our ordination processes are governed by the canons of the church and not by General Convention resolutions (unless those resolution amend the canonos). B033 has always been voluntary and will remain so.

    Lagipson: Gay Jennings does not interpret the mind of General Convention. The presiding offifers have attempted to do so in their letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates. Ultimately, B033 and D025 will be interpreted by the way they are received and implemented by The Episcopal Church at large, operating through her bishops, standing committees, commissions on ministry, etc.

  7. Jeffersonian Says:

    But wait…didn’t the PB say there was a moratorium in place that wouldn’t be in place the moment a non-celibate homosexual was elected? Isn’t that the same thing as no moratorium at all?

    Why all the mealy-mouthed evasions, Bishop Epting? Windsor demanded a moratorium…is one in place or not?

  8. ecubishop Says:

    No ‘mealy-mouthed evasions” at all. The word “moratorium’ was never used in B033 or any other Convention action. What we agreed to do was to “exercize restraint”. I believe we should still do that.

    If “moratorium” is used descriptively, to describe what we have done (and, by the way, what some overseas bishops and primates have not done) then it will end not when a non-celibate homosexual person is elected, but when consents are given by a majority of bishops and standing committees for his or her consecration.

  9. lagipson Says:

    The Rev. Mrs. Jennings speaks to the original intention and purpose of DO25 as formed by its original authors. Your postmodern interpretation (that the meaning of a text does not come from the original authorial intention, but only from the interpretation of the reader) is very popular today since it enables one to make a text say whatever one wishes it to say.

    The Gnostics used this method to make many passages in what would become the New Testament support their theology. St. Irenaeus realized that the only way to prevent this wholesale hijacking of the Scripture was to use the “rule of faith” passed on by faithful apostolic witnesses to enable the Scriptural text to communicate its divine intention. The “rule of faith” was also used, of course, as a major standard for determining which books were included in the New Testament and which were not.

    What we need today is the faithful corporate witness of our Bishops (who are supposed to be our faithful apostolic witnesses) to the meaning of the resolutions of General as intended by the authors (including the emendators of the resolutions) and those who receive the resolutions by their consent. If Bishops, instead of “spinning” the resolutions for their own purposes (usually to avoid responsibility in the Communion and at home for what the resolutions permit), would provide a faithful corporate witness, then the people of the Episcopal Church could understand and respond effectively to what their Church is doing, rather than spending all their time and energy trying to see through the smoke and mirrors put forward by our leaders.

    I hope you will pardon me if I don’t accept the letter of the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies as such a faithful witness. The PB and Ms. Anderson make the same deceptive statement–DO25 doesn’t repeal BO33–as Bishop Epting makes in #3 above which occasioned my first comments on this site since this statement while true, hides the larger truth that DO25 moves beyond BO33.

    Further, the Presiding Bishop and Ms. Anderson write, “Nothing in the Resolution goes beyond what has already been provided under our Constitution and Canons for many years.” This statement is also deceptive because it also hides a larger truth: BO33 did not attempt to change the constitution and canons, but added something additional to the act of abiding by them–it added the exercise of “restraint by not consenting to the consecration” of non-celibate gays and lesbians to the episcopate. If you maintain that the mind of the General Convention, when it passed DO25, was to both a call for this exercise of restraint to be added to the keeping of the constitution and canons when consenting to the consecration of a person the episcopate, while at the same time maintaining that the mind of the General Convention was to proclaim that only the observing of the constitution and canons is necessary to consent to the election of a person to the episcopate, then you simply fall into contradiction. What you are saying is incoherent.

  10. ecubishop Says:

    Incoherent, perhaps, to you.

  11. lagipson Says:

    Ecubishop you said, “Incoherent, perhaps, to you.”

    You speak like a true relativist–you have your truth and I have mine and never the twain shall meet. Rather than laboring to demonstrate why your argument concerning DO25 and BO33 does not collapse in contradiction, you imply a claim to have a truth that is not subject to the principles of logical argument. By doing so, you cut off the possibility of any productive exchange on these matters with me or any of your people who wish to genuinely discern where our Church is leading us by the actions of the General Convention, rather than just taking your word for it, a word, if I may say so, you either cannot or will not demonstrate by normal discourse, i.e., principled conversation. My prayer is that the day will come when our bishops will once again be our models for defending the Faith and the decisions of our Church by the use of reasoned discourse (as well as the call to faith), rather than retreating into the fog of relativism and political statements. May we correspond on that day and enter into principled conversation. Until that day . . .

  12. ecubishop Says:

    I am not a relativist; nor do I believe in ‘your truth and my truth.’ There is only one truth. There are, however, diffferent perceptions of, and perspectives on, that truth. I have obviously failed to persuade you of my perspective as miserably as you have faild to persuade me of yours. Is it not possible then to “agree to disagree” until “that day” when all truth shall be revealed?

  13. Positive_Phototaxis Says:

    With respect, ecubishop – you may not be a relativist, but the statement was “speak like a” not “is” – and the current spin on the issue attempts to be all things to all people – whatever label we may choose to apply.

    Moratorium or not… overturned or not… the message attempts to satisfy two entirely different positions… and does so without honesty. To one side it says “your behavior is not sinful and is not a ban to ordination – in fact we may bless it.” To the other it says “we know and respect that you believe that unrepentant sexual sin is a ban to ordination. Since we’re not actually doing that at this very moment… don’t be mad at us”

    Matthew 5:37 applies well here. Of course we can “agree to disagree until that day” – but we can’t pretend to be one body while doing it. This isn’t a fence that can be straddled forever.

  14. ecubishop Says:

    Guess I am not the first “apostle” who sought to be all things to all people for the sake of Christ. The Christian faith often involves holding together two seemingly irreconciliable things — i.e. unity and justice, flesh and bread, wine and blood, God and man. And, I can not only “pretend” to be one body with those with whom I disagree, I am one body with them — that is the radical nature of baptism.

  15. Positive_Phototaxis Says:

    That’s probably not the first time “Christ” and “political expediency” have been used as synonyms… but they aren’t. 🙂 I think that Paul had something else in mind.

    As for the “radical nature of baptism” – Paul speaks of this too… just not in the way you think. He makes clear that there are many who are in the covenant who are not OF the covenant… that their circumcision is of no effect (yea… even worse). Baptism is no more a magic talisman that ensures unity than circumcision was.

    Also… please keep in mind that many of those baptized were called heretics this past week. The positions do not merely “seem” to be “irreconciliable.”

    It’s time to get off the fence. Both sides have good reason to be offended.

  16. Brave New Church | Fulcrum Anglican Says:

    […] Bishop Christopher Epting, the church’s deputy for ecumenical and interreligious relations, has asserted that despite Resolution C056 the convention actually “did not authorize any public […]

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