Monday, June 19, 2006

All Day Monday, June 19, the 7th Day

General Convention, Monday, June 19 --

Whew. It's been a full day.
This is a long email (I couldn't get to a pause long enough to get an earlier email sent). The "hottest" stuff is toward the end.

Picking up on something from yesterday. The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican communion spoke to Convention yesterday. He spoke of the four strands of the Windsor process: (1) the Panel of Reference, to offer slow, careful consideration of the relationships in communion; (2) the Small Group which is assessing the Episcopal Church response; (3) the Listening Process which began last January, to monitor and share information about local listening processes; (4) the Anglican Covenant, there is interest in the possibility of an Anglican Covenant (although there is little interest in the text about the covenant in the Windsor Report). He imagines a 6 to 9 year consultative process to create such a Covenant.

Also yesterday, the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops recommending some fundamental principles on immigration, following the recommendations of the report "The Alien Among You" as the policy of the Episcopal Church:

1. Undocumented aliens should have reasonable opportunity to pursue permanent residence.
2 Legal workers should be allowed to enter the United States to respond to recognized labor force needs.
3. Close family members should be allowed to reunite without undue delay with individuals lawfully present in the United State.
4. Fundamental U.S. principles of legal due process should be granted all persons.
5. Enforcement of national borders and immigration policies should be proportional and humane.

And we further resolved that the Episcopal Church deplores any action by the Government of the US which unduly emphasizes enforcement, including militarization of the border between the US and Mexico, as the primary response to immigrants entering the US to work. There were two other resolves connected with this resolution.

The issue and policies became more personal with the story told by Dianne Aid. Her home parish was very excited a little over a year ago when they were able to hire a Hispanic/Latino Missioner and Youth Director. Juan is Mexican born and has lived in the U.S. for 20 years (originally coming as an undocumented 14 year old). He was adopted by an Episcopal priest and his wife, an ESL teacher. He graduated from a U.S. college, English became his dominant language and U.S. culture his dominant culture. In the late 90's, Juan gained legal status through a religious worker visa. Due to a paperwork glitch and a lost in the mail application for an extension, Juan's visa lapsed. Their parish re-petitioned -- Juan left in December for his visa interview. Six months and $8,000 in attorney fees later, he is stuck in Mexico while U.S. immigration sits on his request for a waiver. Juan is one individual of millions separated from family, his job and community by our broken immigration system.

Picking up with today (Monday), our Prayer Book and Liturgy Committee believes we finished all of our work during this morning's session. We approved a resolution that would urge development of a pastoral plan for future revisions of the Book of Common Prayer; we simplified a resolution acknowledging the authority of the Triune God as exercised through scripture; we passed a resolution authorizing beginning a discussion about the relationship between baptism and Eucharist, recognizing the canons that prohibit communion to the un-baptized and the wide practice of ignoring of that canon in congregations and dioceses who promote an open communion; we passed a request to create prayers for the death of a companion animal. All of these resolutions will now go to the House of Bishops for action before coming to the House of Deputies.

When we reconvened, the Diocese of Fort Worth made a formal appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion requesting alternative oversight following the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop. Bishop Iker of Fort Worth has left the convention.

I've had a chance to talk to several friends who are bishops, and each of them said they were surprised by her election. There was no "campaigning" or "politicking" they said, but a slow rising tide of quiet consensus kept growing. Each of them said that it felt like the Spirit was truly at work. I sensed among them a feeling of awe and gratefulness about how their voting process evolved. One bishop said it was as if this was the first time (in a long time) that they simply voted their hearts rather than strategizing and thinking politically.


This afternoon began with the presentation from Program, Budget and Finance. Pan Adams is the chair of PB&F and lead that presentation. If I'm reading the budgetary stuff correctly, we have a budget of over $152 million. To balance the budget, the church management will have to effect staff cost reductions of $825,000 through attrition and retirement. If every diocese gave their asking, we'd have over $8 million more. Quite a number of dioceses contribute little or nothing to the Episcopal Church budget, including Dallas, 0%; Quincy, 0%; West Texas, 1.2%; Central Florida, 1.9%; Tennessee, 1.9%; Navajoland Mission, 2.1%; Fort Worth, 3.2%; and the following dioceses did not provide their diocesan reports and no pledge was listed: Western Kansas, South Carolina, Springfield.

Our largest increase in spending during the next triennium will be with Millennium Development Goal related projects of several kinds.

Late this afternoon we began to take up two of the resolutions from the Special Committee #26 (I think I referred to it incorrectly as #25 in earlier emails) on the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report. There is more energy around these resolutions than anything else that we've considered.

The first resolution A160 is titled "Expression of Regret." Here is the resolution that passed with 68% of the vote:

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, mindful of "the repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ" (Windsor Report, paragraph 134), express its regret for straining the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003 and the consequences which followed; offer its sincerest apology to those within our Anglican Communion who are offended by our failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion; and ask forgiveness as we seek to live into deeper levels of communion with one another.

After lengthy discussion, the final wording above included substituting the word "straining" for the committee's proposed phrase "breaching the proper constraints of."

We were unable to finish debate and take up possible amendments to the next resolution from the Special Committee, the Election of Bishops, A161.

I am unhappy with the first resolve in this resolution, and especially the changes that the committee made to the original wording from the Special Commission.

Here's the text as it is now proposed:
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church regrets the extent to which we have, by action and inaction, contributed to strains on communion and caused deep offense to many faithful Anglican Christians as we consented to the consecration of a bishop living openly in a same-gender union. Accordingly, we are obliged to urge nominating committees, electing conventions, Standing Committees, and bishops with jurisdiction to refrain from the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion, and be it further
Resolved that this General Convention not proceed to to develop or authorize Rites for the Blessing of same-sex unions at this time, thereby concurring with the Windsor Report in its exhortation to bishops of the Anglican Communion to honor the Primates' Pastoral Letter of May 2003; and be it further
Resolved that this General Convention affirm the need to maintain a breadth of responses to situations of pastoral care for gay and lesbian Christians in this Church.
Resolved that this General Convention apologize to those gay and lesbian Episcopalians and their supporters hurt by these decisions.

We extended the afternoon session to almost 7:30 to finish the opening debate on this resolution. We'll begin with it tomorrow, hearing proposed amendments.

Two changes from the original wording proposed by the Commission have damaged this resolution in my mind. In the first resolve, the previous version read "we urge nominating committees, electing conventions, Standing Committees, and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise very considerable caution in the nomination, etc..." I might have lived with that. But the new "refrain from" language bothers me. I keep thinking of Martin Luther King's letter from the Birmingham Jail written to those moderate, compromising clergy who were saying "now is not the time, please stop agitating, we're not ready yet." Let the Holy Spirit constrain us, if we must be constrained -- as seems to have happened in the recent election in California -- but I do not like constraining the Holy Spirit through this kind of external legislative process.

Our debate was hampered by a malfunctioning automated system for tracking the order of speakers. That was frustrating to all. We'll pick back up with A161 "Election of Bishops" tomorrow when we reconvene at 10:45 following the Eucharist. Since our committee finished its work, I can sleep late tomorrow! Thanks be to God.


To add your voice to the conversation, please post a comment. Click on "comment" below.


At 8:20 AM , Blogger hapax said...

Fort Worth hasn't been part of the EC for a long time. Peace be on them, but don't let the red door "marked with the blood of the Lamb" hit them on the way out...

So, we "apologize" to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters who "might be hurt" by our turning our backs on the movement of the Holy Spirit, and denying them the full measure of God's grace? Mighty good of us!

Pfeh. Good thing I'm not there. I'd have difficulty contributing to a spirit of reconciliation...

-- Lesley K

-- Lesley K

At 9:54 AM , Blogger Stephen K said...

I agree that the response to the Windsor Report is so flawed that it is now difficult to support. I could not vote for the wording in the first item.

At 11:56 AM , Blogger jencole said...

i am deaply afraid that in just how long this proposal is taking. Are not the men and women of alternative lifestyle worthy? why it should even take this long to deside yes they are human and deserve Gods blessing is beyond me. The Bible teaches us Jesus teaches us to love one another. I am afraid that two many people still have not opened there minds and hearts but i pray difrent. I have blue hair, should some one have to vote on weather that is ok , for my marrige to be acnowlaged since i am so difrent. It must be very hard to keep composure at times. Bless you for all the hard work and keeping us up Lowell. Yes that wordign did also bother me..... I am wondering if this debate as big and strong as it is will ever end in peace and aceptance but i pray some how it can.

At 1:07 PM , Blogger Northernview said...

I am heartsick over this proposed resolution. I'm reminded of other points in history when someone or some group stood up for what was right. Imagine the Civil Rights Movement without Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King. Imagine the United States in 1860 without Abraham Lincoln. What if he had said, "The country's not ready for an economy without slavery. We will tolerate slavery in the South in order to stay united. We will not go to war over this." Imagine.
Or, what if our founding patriots had decided to continue paying taxes to England instead of forming a new and independent constitution.

These decisions are very diffficult, but thank God they happened. It's at these times that we need leadership. I feel that the Church has come so close, and yet our leaders are walking away from the right decision. This takes away my pride in saying I'm an Episcopalian.

At 3:54 PM , Blogger Phyllis Stein said...

Would you all feel the same movement of the Holy Spirit had Bishop Robinson left his wife for a Hooter's waitress?

At 7:43 PM , Blogger hapax said...

If he was nominated, selected, and confirmed through the canonical process, with the same overwhelming support, why, of course I would.

It is a central tenet of ecclesiology that the Holy Spirit is the very breath of the Body of Christ -- that while individual church members and churches may err and go astray, the Living God will lead us out of darkness and into light. That is why we trust the Convention, and give the rules and procedures that Lowell describes (that sometimes seem so silly) precedence over our individual "self-evident" truths. This is why we pray daily for the delegates at Convention, not that they might agree with our opinions, but that all of us might be moved into concordance with the perspective of God -- who loves us all, male or female, gay or straight, Hebrew or Philistine, even college professor or "Hooter's waitress."

P.S. Gene Robinson's wife and family forgave and reconciled with him -- I don't think it's anybody else's business, do you?

At 7:35 AM , Blogger Phyllis Stein said...

Of course I beleive in the power of forgiveness. Jesus told sinners to "Go your way, and sin no more" not "You are forgiven for your past sins and may choose to continue to live in sin because those are forgiven too."

At 8:19 AM , Blogger Northernview said...

What's wrong with being a waitress at Hooter's?

At 8:24 AM , Blogger Northernview said...

It would help in this discussion if we were all on the same page and coming from the same place. I don't think the gay and lesbian community of Episcopalians is asking for forgiveness. I don't see their behavior as "sin" anymore than I see the cultural rules in Leviticus that we break everyday as sin.

The New Testament gives us two commandments to live by. If we obeyed them, we wouldn't have this divisiveness in our church or anywhere in the world.

At 9:10 AM , Blogger jencole said...

Hooters waitresses are people / humans two. As a matter a fact i know a very good one its the only way she can afford to be a single Mom. I don't like to go there myself, but i do not think any less of any one who dose. I am not supsed to judge. Including if a Rev. or any other church leader had left a maraige that had no love for love what diferance should it make if the woman works at hooters i am suprized to see that sort of thinking these days. We have come so far but then again we have not moved a inch.
I come from a small town church in NJ, my minister was re maried, it made him no less of a man teacher or Rev. , it made him no less a person as a matter a fact i belive it gave him more to share.
Did not Jesus wash Mary Magdalines feet?
how soon we forget
I hope we all can learn to accept , without acceptance we drive people who greatly need God/Worship away.
I would not wish to be on my knees on judgment day in front of God answering to why i refused some one seeking his blessings/Eukerist or healing worship becuase they where difrent or possably not as lucky as me.

At 9:23 AM , Blogger jencole said...

one more comment to this page and i will rest. I agree, we are not asking for forgiveness of alternative lifestlye people, I don't belive they live in "sin" if they live in love.
It is not a choise as "sin" is it is just how people are. Some people are atracted to opostie sex as some are attracted to the same sex. (tall people/ short people / white people/ black people/ brown hair/ green hair, every one has difrent taste). Alternative people arn't petifiles, that is a sin.
This is a feeling of love, did you choose who you fell in love with??? Or did your heart choose? If Same Sex couples must live in sin it is only becuase they have been denighed the rite to a blessing befor God by those who can not accept diversaty. However i do feel some times matters of the heart don't need a church confermation and please don't confuse me saying living in sin with the idia that i may feel that just becuase two who are in love live together first they are in sin, in my eyes it is between them and God not for me to judge. I lived with my second husband befor marring him to make sure it would work. I didn't wish to make the same mistake that i did the first marige in settling for some one who did not love me for the sake of being married . God knows what pains i went thru he understands my heart better then any comitty or human can. I know we are ok. I know that i had lessons in my first maraige and in every journey. I also got a one in a million son from my first marrige. So i don't guess i would chainge what i did when i was young becuase to not live and learn i would have also not had my wonderful son.
If we all just worried about being the best people we could be and not try to controle otheres the world would be a better place.
This is not to say there is no need for rules or laws, but as we grow and chainge so must they.


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