Whats Happening with the Communion of the UnBaptized?

Here is the latest from the committee–amended C029–

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 77th General Convention direct the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies to appoint a special commission charged with conducting a study of the theology underlying access to Holy Baptism and Holy Communion in this Church and to recommend for consideration by the 78th General Convention any amendment to Title I, Canon 17, Section 7, of the Canons of General Convention that it deems appropriate; and be it further Resolved, That the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $30,000 for the implementation of this Resolution.
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that The Episcopal Church reaffirms that baptism is the ancient and normative entry point to receiving Holy Communion and that our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to go into the world and baptize all peoples. We also acknowledge that in various local contexts there is the exercise of pastoral sensitivity with those who are not yet baptized.

You can find a copy of it here.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Gen. Con. 2012, Anthropology, Baptism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Eucharist, General Convention, Pastoral Theology, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

24 comments on “Whats Happening with the Communion of the UnBaptized?

  1. Karen B. says:

    I predict this will pass EASILY.

    Basically it follows the precedent set by SSBs – talk about pastoral sensitivity – a “generous pastoral response” – very few will want to appear against such.

    So basically it will no longer be “uncanonical” (even if still LITERALLY against the unamended canons) to offer CWOB. This just allows for local option. TEC is following the playbook written by Integrity et al very well.

  2. Karen B. says:

    Would be interesting to compare this to the resolution, I think it was from Denver in 2000, (or maybe it was GC03?) that recognized different local contexts for marriage…

    Many conservative bishops were “snookered” (sorry, there is no better word) into voting for that, believing the resolution was DESCRIPTIVE, not PRESCRIPTIVE. But we all have seen how that worked out!

  3. Karen B. says:

    Ok, because it’s IMPORTANT, I took time to do the research.

    [url=http://www.episcopalarchives.org/cgi-bin/acts/acts_resolution-complete.pl?resolution=2000-D039]Here is the resolution from Denver in 2000 [D-039][/url] The Title: “Acknowledge Relationships Other Than Marriage and Existence of Disagreement on the Church’s Teaching.” Key excerpts:

    [blockquote]Resolved, That we acknowledge that while the issues of human sexuality are not yet resolved, [b]there are currently couples[/b] in the Body of Christ and in this Church who are living in marriage and couples in the Body of Christ and in this Church who are living in other life-long committed relationships; and be it further …

    Resolved, That this Church … will provide for them the prayerful support, encouragement, and [b]pastoral care[/b] necessary … and be it further

    Resolved, That we [b]acknowledge that some, acting in good conscience, who disagree with the traditional teaching[/b] of the Church on human sexuality, will act in contradiction to that position;[/blockquote]

    D039 from 2000 will go down as a HUGE turning point in TEC history. When the official theology and polity became “it’s ok to disagree… we have certain Biblical teaching and polity but rather than punish, we will actively support those who contradict our teaching and law.” [unless you’re a reasserter and theologically conservative, that is…]

    Just for kicks, here too is [url=http://www.episcopalarchives.org/cgi-bin/acts/acts_resolution.pl?resolution=2003-C051]Resolution C051 from 2003[/url] which just added fuel to the fire:
    Consider Blessing Committed, Same-Gender Relationships

    key excerpts:
    [blockquote][b]That we recognize that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life[/b] as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions.

    That we commit ourselves, and call our church… to… [b]pastoral care[/b] for gay and lesbian persons, to include the compilation and development … of resources …

    That… we commit ourselves to … a [b]diversity of pastoral practice[/b] with the gay men and lesbians among us.[/blockquote]

    So there you have it. The perfect model for this revised CWOB resolution!!!

    Hat tip to this excellent resource from several years ago for helping me find the relevant resolutions very easily:

  4. C. Wingate says:

    Yeah, I too would read this as “OK, we have to keep saying that baptism is required, but in practice nobody is allowed to go after those who don’t respect the requirement, and maybe eventually we’ll get enough numbers to overturn the requirement.”

  5. David Keller says:

    Very good reserach, Karen. I was mentioning to my wife, this morning, about the 2000 resloution, which at the time seemed so innocuous, but which you correctly note, really threw the tent flap wide open. By 2003, it became evident what had happened, and well, the rest is very sad history.

  6. Karen B. says:

    By the way, I’ll use my favorite word for the day (already used in one comment on a different thread) again. But the explanation section seems disingenuous when it states that this resolution merely “repeats past calls for further theological study of the issue.” (my paraphrase)

    The “RESOLVED” portion of the resolution makes no mention of renewing a call to further study. In fact it explicitly STRIKES the language about calling for a new study!

    Instead it promotes recognition of discordant practice from “ancient and normative” teaching, doctrine and polity as being legitimate under the guise of “pastoral sensitivity” in “various local contexts.”

    False advertising as to what this resolution is really about and what its consequences will be!!!


    [[i]added by elves at commenter’s request[/i]]

    Here’s the explanation supporting the revised resolution:

    The House of Deputies of the 74th General Convention (2003) [b]called for such a study[/b] by adopting
    Resolution 2003-A089. …. Subsequently, Resolution 2006-D084 of the 75th General Convention [b]called on the
    Theology Committee of the House of Bishops… to provide … a pastoral and theological understanding[/b]
    of the relationship between Holy Baptism and eucharistic practice. [b]This resolution repeats these calls.[/b]


  7. Michael S. Mills says:

    What does that last sentence even mean? In other contexts, we are insenstive to the unbaptized?

    If CWOB is acknowledged as a pastorally sensitive act, then it has passed (or soon will pass) the HOB. I think that this reveals more than it intended. It shows that, despite our harping on about the centrality of baptism and the importance of the common life of the people of God, we do not believe in either. It is hard to see now what the HOB believe baptism does. (Perhaps they believe that it “means” without “doing,” that is, that it is a sign but not a sacrament.) It also means that there is no connection between the things we called “communion”–the Eucharist and the Church, Holy Communion and the Communion of Saints.

    I wonder if that is why we can be so gung-ho about ecumenism and so offended that Roman Catholics do not invite us to receive at their altars.

  8. MarkP says:

    “so offended that Roman Catholics do not invite us to receive at their altars. ”

    And yet, of course, some do invite us to receive. And in some cases their bishops know about this but trust the pastoral sensitivity of their priests (in other cases, the bishops “go after” them in one way or another). The thing that’s different about TEC is that, for better or for worse, it writes this discretion into statute instead of informally looking the other way.

    I happen to agree with the majority opinion here about CWOB, by the way, but I think if there’s one thing the past decade or two has taught us in the church it’s that “going after” people is easier said than done (to pick one example among very many, Father Moyer stayed at Rosemont a very long time after the diocesan bishop decided to “go after” him).

  9. Uh Clint says:

    So, what’s going to be taught in confirmation classes and adult inquirer/conversion/reception classes? Will the students be told that the Canons require Baptism to receive Communion, but it’s okay for anyone to go ahead and receive Communion because their priest is a particularly “pastoral” chap? Or will they be told that baptism is indeed required, and not discuss this resolution?

    You can’t have a Canon that you openly allow to be violated. It’s worse than meaningless; it shows that you’re afraid to stand up for your principles. That’s just what this resolution will be – a way to allow CWOB and yet still have the liberals/revisionists be able to say, “but we didn’t change the Canons!”

    Apparently you *can* have your cake and eat it too.

  10. Joshua 24:15 says:

    Ah, well. I think it was four years ago that my wife and I attended our niece’s baptism, and then were treated to the revisionist priest encouraging all comers to receive Communion, while explicitly refusing our baptized, Christ-believing, 5 year-old nephew. I don’t wish to get into the debate over when children are ready for Communion. I just want to highlight the HYPOCRISY of CWOB, when the “local option” will also permit believing, baptized children to be turned away.

    How inclusive!

  11. Connecticutian says:

    To take the inverse of Karen B’s observation: I recall (though I can’t cite the details) when the Reasserters put forth a resolution some years back asking the GC to reaffirm the divinity of Jesus; I believe the Reappraisers defeated that by arguing that it’s needless to reaffirm what’s already been affirmed. So, by the same token, why should this camel-nose-under-the-tent amended resolution be given the time of day? The existing canon says what it says, so if they’re not going to change the canon (hopefully there’s not enough support for that… yet), then they should stop wasting time. But of course that just brings us ’round to Karen B’s analytical conclusion – the camel MUST get its nose into the tent.

  12. David Keller says:

    #11–In 2003 Bp. Ackerman proposed a resoultion that said, essentially, we believe the Bible is the self contained and inspired word of God and contains all things necessary for salvation. The HOB voted that one down. (But they had to in order to approve VGR).

  13. wvparson says:

    “Itching ears” are a common phenomenon suffered by members of GC. In an iconoclastic age, the urge to deface anything which reminds of the past is irresistible. One can imagine these people daubing white wash on the walls of parish churches obscuring the wall paintings, tearing down the rood screens and burning them in the church yard, making copes and chasubles into curtains and taking pick axes to the altars.

    The comforting thing is that the time will come, as it always does, when things cast down are raised up, to quote that wonderful collect.

  14. wvparson says:

    raised. confounded spell check.

  15. Nikolaus says:

    That’s it! Game over! You can all go home folks…or off to find real churches. This essentially overturns any attempt at honest theology. There is no Truth, it is all opinion. Done! Finito! Toast!!

  16. Bernini says:

    I say this in all seriousness and humility: why would a faithful, orthodox Episcopalian remain a Protestant?

    Your local Catholic parish has RCIA classes waiting for you. B16 has erected the Ordinariate for you. There is absolutely no reason for you to remain outside of communion with the See of Rome.

    Come home.

  17. Kendall Harmon says:

    #10 can you be clear about the reason for the refusal? It is because of the child’s age?

  18. ReinertJ says:

    I am greatly saddened by the actions of GC12. This is most definitely the nail in the coffin for TEC as far as those outside the US are concerned.

    As for #10. I have personal experience of this when my daughter, not much more than five fronted the rector and demanded to know why she could not take communion. After a short discussion she was admitted to communion the following week. His words to me were “I cannot in all conscience deny her when her belief is more grounded and stronger than most of the rest of the congregation.”

  19. CJ says:

    #8, thank God for Catholic priests who do allow us to receive at their altars – I’ve been taking Communion at a Catholic church ever since my home parish selected a woman to fill the role of pastor here. It doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon, either – I don’t see any Anglican groups coming forward to plant alternative churches in our area.

  20. MarkP says:

    All these cases of people being denied Communion are very confusing. Can #10 or #15 give more detail? In the pre-1979 church, all this would have made sense in the context of not allowing Communion before Confirmation (and, indeed, I’ve heard of cases where unconfirmed Episcopalians couldn’t receive but non-Episcopalians of a similar age could because the rule on receiving in an Episcopal church you were visiting had to do with whether you would normally receive in your home denomination). But, especially given that #10 specified a “revisionist” priest, it’s hard to imagine why s/he would have refused a baptised person of whatever age.

  21. Karen B. says:

    Breaking news via TWITTER:
    Resolution C029 PASSED in the House of Deputies. {Note I do NOT know if there were amendments to the text from what kendall has posted above}

    77% of lay deputations, 64% of clergy deputations support the resolution on Communion and Baptism. More on that after VP vote. #GC77

    We have results on #C029: lay– 85 yea/ 25 no. Clergy: 70 yea/ 40 no. It passes. #GC77

  22. Karen B. says:

    You can read some of the Deputies’ Comments on Twitter about this resolution using the #c029 hashtag, or scrolling way down the #GC77 twitter feed.

    Very little substantive debate. Much more commentary on “BonnieBall” and “HOD Bingo”

    It defies satire.

  23. Karen B. says:

    Per a Tweet from the Episcopal Cafe, it sounds like the language in the resolution which passed is the same as the text in the resolution posted above. Here’s the Tweet:

    This lingo passed in Baptism/Communion rez: “acknowledge … in various local contexts, … the exercise of pastoral sensitivity.”

    So I guess this will go to HOB tomorrow. I predict it will pass there too, but that it will be closer.

  24. Kendall Harmon says:

    I have now posted on it Karen.