Daily Archives: July 13, 2009

John Howe (Central Florida) on General Convention 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have reached the mid-point, and I want to give you some impressions. This is a remarkably different General Convention than any of the previous six I have attended as a Bishop. I would characterize all the previous Conventions as highly contentious. This one is not. We still have the same recurrent issues ahead of us, but the “conservative” wing is so greatly diminished that its voice is almost irrelevant.

I made that comment to one person who questioned whether I really meant it, “Irrelevant? Don’t you mean “hated?” No, there is no sense of animosity here. The conservatives state their position(s) respectfully and they are treated with respect in return. It is just that they are so hugely outnumbered that it doesn’t matter.

At the open hearings on the sexuality questions the “progressives” outnumber the “conservatives” somewhere between six and ten to one. I have been proud of the members of the Central Florida deputation entering into the debate, but often they have been nearly the only ones speaking on behalf of a “traditionalist” position. (Some of our folks have been approached and questioned by members of the “Youth Presence” that is here who seem never to have heard a “traditionalist” position articulated previously.)

All of which is to say that passage of some sort of authorization of same-sex blessings seems nearly a foregone conclusion. Two main arguments have emerged for doing so.

The first is “all the sacraments [and access to all offices and positions of leadership] for all the baptized.” This is the new basis for the position of the “Consultation” – a coalition of “progressive” activist groups including Integrity, the Oasis, Beyond Inclusion, etc. I think it is a complete misunderstanding of the nature of baptism, conversion, salvation, and what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ, but it has now become pervasive: “If I am unworthy of being ordained – or having my relationships blessed – why did you baptize me?”

The second is that we need to be “generous” in providing access to blessings in those (currently six) states where same-sex “marriage” is now authorized. It is being said that as many as twenty states may have authorized such “marriages” by the end of this triennium [how can anyone know this?], and the Bishops in those states need to be given the right to authorize their clergy to bless such unions.

There are over 30 resolutions addressing these matters in a variety of ways. My own sense at this point is that B033 from three years ago, pushed through at the last minute by the heavy endorsement of +Katharine Jefferts Schori, will not be formally rescinded or repealed, but rather we will “move beyond” it by giving some kind of limited authority to Bishops to make their own decisions about these things.

There may well be some sort of “conscience clause” saying that those who cannot accept such an innovation will not be required to do so. (The problem with that, of course, is that it can be over-ridden in the future, as was the case with regard to women’s ordination.)

Even a limited authorization BY THE GENERAL CONVENTION would put The Episcopal Church officially at variance with one of the key provisions of the Windsor Report and the Dar es Salaam Communique, and the Communion Partner Bishops will oppose it as vigorously as possible. (Not that our opposition will prevail.)

+KJS’s opening sermon provoked much discussion. To many she seemed to be saying that there is no such thing as personal, individual salvation. I think that is a misreading of what she was trying to say. I THINK she meant there is always a corporate dimension to the work of Christ, i.e., to be reconciled to God is to (have to) be in a new relationship to other people, as well. The “first and great” commandment has “another, like it.” “Whoever says, ‘I have come to know him,’ but does not obey his commandments is a liar…” (I wish she had said it a bit more clearly!)

Southern California is beautiful this time of year, and I am told it is about ten degrees cooler than usual – mid 70s, a nice break from Central Florida’s 90s! It is very weird to look out my hotel window and see Space Mountain about a block away (and smaller than it should be!) The prices are outrageous – a Continental Breakfast is $13, room service includes both an 18% gratuity AND a $3.00 service charge.

The atmosphere of Convention is cordial, the hours are long, and the heavy lifting is still ahead. The good news is this will all be over in another five days.

Love to all of you,

–(The Rt. Rev.) John W. Howe is Bishop of Central Florida

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, TEC Bishops

Live Blog: PLM Committee Passes Resolution Authorizing Creation Of Liturgies For SSB & Marriage

This is a paraphrase, she was speaking very fast:

1.SCLM in consultation with HOB theological committee”¦collect and create liturgies for presentation at the next general convention

2. That the SCLM devise an open process for its work in this matter seeking input from all interested diocese and individual throughout the Anglican communion”¦

3. Further”¦that resolved, that”¦all bishops noting particularly those within diocese within civil jurisdiction where civil unions and marriages are legal may provide pastoral response”

4. Honoring the theological diversity no bishop or clergy shall be required or compelled to participate in any liturgy or pastoral response

5…missed it

Question called

Bishops: All vote yes”¦.

Henry: I would like to make a minority report on the third resolve”¦if I can do that I will vote yes.

6 yes to 0 no

House of Deputies

1 no vote and 26 yes

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Notable and Quotable

Under the heading, “How to get married in an Episcopal Church….”

“Episcopalians love weddings. We see them as an earthly representation of the mysterious union between Christ and Christ’s Church. The love of two people that leads them toward a life-long commitment to one another reflects God’s commitment to always be by our side. And since God accepts all of us, some of our parishes offer the blessing of same gender couples. So the bottom line is, if you’d like to get married in an Episcopal Church, contact the parish you’re interested in and ask about their particular guidelines. They differ slightly from place to place, but each is intended to help the marriage succeed, flourish, and outlast any church building.”

The Episcopal Handbook (Morehouse Publishing), p. 69

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

Integrity: Episcopal Church HOD Overhelmingly Overrides Ban on [non-celibate] Gay Bishops

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Today's Edition of Centre Aisle

Check it out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

(London) Times: Schism closer as US Anglicans vote to overturn ban on gay ordinations

Dr Rowan Williams made clear his concern after clergy and laity in The Episcopal Church voted at the General Convention in California to overturn a moratorium on gay ordinations.

Clergy and laity in the US backed a motion that “acknowledges that God has called and may call any individual in the church to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, in accordance with the discernment process set forth in the Constitution and Canons of the church.”

This means that anyone can be ordained regardless of sexuality.

If the US bishops back the move when they vote on it later today or tomorrow, a formal split in the Anglican Communion seems inevitable.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Presiding Bishop, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

LA Times–Anglican and Roman Catholic leaders say the market is lacking morals

In the midst of a global recession, religious leaders are looking beyond the recent regulatory fixes and bailouts aimed at repairing an ailing financial system.

They are questioning the underlying assumptions of a market economy that they say has lost its moral bearings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Archbishop of Canterbury, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Presiding Bishop, Roman Catholic, Stock Market

Jordan Hylden: The General Convention of Tomorrow

What’s the buzz? Perhaps the first thing to note is that the absence of those who left the church to form ACNA has been felt. The conservative presence, many delegates say, is noticeably smaller, and somewhat muted in tone. It is, perhaps, the natural resignation of a group that feels a Rubicon has already been crossed, and which does not feel anymore that its causes will find much agreement at the Convention. But although that may well be true, it is not the whole story. Dioceses such as South Carolina and Dallas have their eyes trained toward larger Anglican Communion matters””although the largest portion of the Episcopal Church may well choose to walk apart from the rest of Anglicanism, for their part they intend to stay the course and stick with Canterbury and the Communion. Rowan Williams, for his part, attended the Convention and signaled his support for their cause.

And what will come of it all? Of course, at this point, it’s hard to say. The Convention is divided into two houses, the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies (made up of laypeople and clergy), both of which must agree if any legislation is to be passed. The House of Deputies, from all reports, seems quite strongly committed to passing same-sex blessings in some form, and also to changing the church’s present position of restraint on homosexual bishops. The House of Bishops, however, may be another story. Many bishops are fresh from the Lambeth Conference of a year ago, with minds more attuned to the Communion-wide and ecumenical implications of their actions. So, too, many bishops have looked closely at survey data and demographic reports that show a sharp decline in membership following the consecration of Gene Robinson in 2003, as well as high levels of parish-level and diocesan conflict. Neither the Episcopal Church nor the wider Anglican Communion may be ready for further changes, they may reason. And initial reports are, indeed, that many bishops are reasoning just this way. Gene Robinson, for his part, has expressed consternation that the bishops seem not be marching in step with the House of Deputies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

The Diocese of West Texas on Yesterday at General Covention 2009

The Rev. Gay Jennings (Ohio), chair of the Committee on World Mission, said the committee chose this resolution as its vehicle to describe the mind of the church. “It is the best reflection of where we are today as a church on episcopal elections and the Anglican Communion,” she said at the start of debate.

The question of whether or not this resolution overturns Resolution B033, passed at the 2006 General Convention, that called for The Episcopal Church to “exercise restraint” in ordaining practicing gay and lesbian persons to the Episcopate was not clear. When a deputy from Central Florida asked if it did, Chairman Jennings said only that the resolution is “operating within the canons of the church.”

The deputy replied that he took that “as open to interpretation. Some will regard this as ending B033 and some will not; the two bodies that must interpret it are diocesan standing committees and bishops.” He added that when “we send fuzzy signals” to the Anglican Communion, “they get confused about our relationship.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

Gene Robinson (New Hampshire) Liked What he Saw When Deputies Passed D025 Yesterday

The big news, of course, is that the House of Deputies considered D025 — a beautifully crafted resolution which did not expressly repeal the ban on gay partnered people from being called, elected and consecrated bishops, but simply and elegantly stated that we have canonical processes for the selection and “vetting” of nominees and bishops-elect, and this Church means to follow those processes. They have served us well, the resolution implied, and we intend to follow them WITHOUT extra-canonical promises or restrictions. All attempts to alter the proposed resolution failed. In effect, this resolution ends the informal ban on such bishops-elect. Its power is that it returns us to the canons of the Church, which have always served us well and which allow the Holy Spirit to call those whom the Spirit calls.

I was in the gallery when this vote (which was overwhelming, with a 2/3 majority in EACH of the orders of laity and clergy!) was announced. Rules of the House prevented any display of emotion, support or non-support. But the exuberance of the Deputies could be felt in the air. We had finally moved beyond that dark cloud of last Convention’s B033 and into the Church of the future.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

Lowell Grisham (Arkansas) on Yesterday's Happenings at General Convention

Halfway point. Daunting list of decisions not yet made. They are the most complex. We feel as if we’ve been straining at gnats and still must swallow camels. We feel like we’ve been here a long time.

We’ve settled into a routine. Parliamentary decisions are making more sense. The shuffle between legislation and worship; liturgy and politics mean the same thing ”“ the work of the people. We say “Aye” in one hall and “Amen” in the other hall. They are the same.

This is where we ought to be. It takes time to let the big decisions percolate. Our uncertainties are among the most familiar themes in scripture.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

South Carolina Deputy John Burwell on General Convention Yesterday

Here’s something interesting. We are handed out carbon copy forms the chair of the delegation has to fill out officially recording the delegations vote. If these forms are incorrect your vote will not count. See if you can spot what’s wrong with the first form that South Carolina got handed….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

George Clifford: When tradition and modernity collide

The Episcopal Church sits at a crossroads. The Church, on several fronts, must choose between a static, centuries-old portrayal of Jesus and the Bible, a perspective increasingly remote from twenty-first century American life, and a dynamic portrayal of Jesus, retelling his story in images and language relevant and comprehensible to post-moderns. Cutting-edge challenges exist not only with respect to human sexuality but also at other points at which theology collides with advances in science.

Will the Episcopal Church succumb to fundamentalist pressures from within and without the Anglican Communion to become a Church that seeks creedal uniformity? The cost of choosing that direction is to concretize Jesus’ charisma, the vital Spirit of the living God. This displaces risky personal encounters that can lead to life-giving transformation with safe and standardized creedal orthodoxy. Such formulas are like good Christian art: appropriate to a particular moment in the spatio-temporal matrix and not eternally definitive.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

The full text of the General Synod Private members Motion in reference to ACNA

It is on the Fifth Notice Paper, and reads as follows:

Anglican Church in North America
Mrs Lorna Ashworth (Chichester) to move:

‘That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America.’

(Hat tip: Simon Sarmiento)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Breaking News: C of E Synod ACNA members Motion Gains Over 100 names, Including Six Bishops

The Six Bishops Are:

Blackburn
Winchester
Europe
Rochester
Beverley
Burnley

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, ACNA Inaugural Assembly June 2009, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention