Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Final Afternoon

Wednesday afternoon -- the passage toward adjournment

The afternoon session is a calmer house, looking to take care of as many resolutions as possible. Many of these are significant.

We passed a resolution about Iraq, one crafted with the support of the Bishop for the Armed Services, asking our government to "develop for implementation a plan for the stabilization of Iraq, to be followed by the prompt withdrawal of U.S. Armed Forces."

We have a series of resolutions acknowledging the sin of slavery, our church's complicity and economic benefits gained because of slavery, an apology, and an agreement to a journey of reconciliation. We are called to think about what we should do and report back to the 76th Convention. Part of the moving testimony included a quote from a prayer by a 19th century Bishop of Virginia who led a prayer among a group of slaves commending them for accepting their role of service and sacrifice as God's will for them in this life. I asked the deputy for the book so I can look it up. The quote was from Harold Lewis' book "Yet With A Steady Beat" p. 43.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has sent a response to our passage of B-033
"There is much to appreciate in the hard and devoted work done by General Convention and before that by the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion in the crafting the resolutions. This and the actions taken today show how strong is their concern to seek reconciliation and conversation with the rest of the Communion.

"It is not yet clear how far the resolutions passed this week and today represent the adoption by the Episcopal Church of all the proposals set out in the Windsor Report. The wider Communion will therefore need to reflect carefully on the significance of what has been decided before we respond more fully."

We've continued to pass more legislation in concurrence with the House of Bishops. Including the Liturgies for Transitions that our Prayer Book Committee worked on so hard. We've referred a bunch of stuff to the Executive Committee for their action. We've added some Lesser Feasts for trial use. We passed money and program for rebuilding in Louisiana. We passed a study about seminarian debt. We passed another piece of our response to the Windsor Report, affirming a listening process.

I know some parishioners will be pleased to know we passed a resolution about creation and evolution:
"That the 75th General Convention affirm that God is Creator, in accordance with the witness of Scripture and the ancient Creeds of the Church, and be it further,
Resolved, that the theory of evolution provides a fruitful and unifying scientific explanation for the emergence of life on earth, that many theological interpretations of origins can readily embrace an evolutionary outlook, and that an acceptance of evolution is entirely compatible with an authentic and living Christian faith; and be it further,
Resolved, that Episcopalians strongly encourage state legislatures and state and local boards of education to establish standards for science education based on the best available scientific knowledge as accepted by a consensus of the scientific community; and be it further
Resolved, That Episcopal dioceses and congregations seek the assistance of scientists and science educators in understanding what constitutes reliable scientific knowledge."

We passed recommendations for Nonviolence Training and for Reconciliation Training. Kathy will be pleased with a resolution supporting efforts to achieve accessible, affordable, high quality, universal health care and commending organizations such as our own Community Clinic at St. Francis House.

We authorized Interim Eucharistic Sharing with the United Methodist Church, recognizing that the UMC is "a member of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church in which the Gospel is rightly preached and taught" and encouraging our mutual prayer, common study, joint programed and mission. We welcome members of the UMC to receive Communion in Episcopal Churches. It also set up policies for the sharing of worship and Interim Sharing of the Eucharist as well as future dialogue. I am told that this policy has already passed in the Methodist Church.

We ran out of time before being able to deal with some resolutions concerning Israel and Palestine.

We closed with George Werner leading us in the Prayer of St. Francis, his voice breaking as he finishes his service in this office for the church he loves so much.

We are adjourned!
Thanks be to God!

Lowell

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