Tuesday, June 20, afternoon & evening
We've tried unsuccessfully a couple of times to reintroduce A161 (the Election of Bishops) to give the house a chance to consider (for the first time) the wording as it was originally offered from the Special Commission. Rumor around here has it that we'll get a chance to add it as an amendment to another resolution from the Special Committee.
We've made some progress on a resolutions calendar that is far behind. Dispatch of Business will have to work up a list of resolutions that will take priority since we are unlikely to be able to act on all of the matters that have been filed.
After lengthy discussion the deputies concurred with the bishops to confirm Barry Beisner who was elected Bishop by the Diocese of Northern California. Beisner has been divorced twice and married three times. Although that was not an issue in his diocesan election, it has been heatedly debated at General Convention. His election was confirmed, but not without considerable dissent.
We passed the Budget.
We concurred with the House of Bishops on a first reading of the Constitutional change that would give all bishops voice in the House of Bishops but give vote only to bishops having jurisdiction and bishops holding an office created by General Convention. It also defines a quorum as a majority of all Bishops entitled to vote. There have been times when the House of Bishops has had trouble getting a majority vote because of the large number of retired bishops who are absent but who are counted for a quorum.
We adjourned at 6:00 p.m. and returned for an evening session at 7:30.
The chair announced that the Presiding Bishop has called for a joint session of both houses tomorrow morning. The assumption is that Bishop Griswold wants the houses to work together on our response to the Windsor Report. The Special Committee is working with the Presiding Bishop and other leaders to perfect some alternative language for us to consider tomorrow. I assume we would have to suspend the rules in order to do that. Some powerful negotiating is going on.
Our first consideration tonight is A159 -- Anglican Communion: Commitment to Interdependence in the Anglican Communion
This resolution reaffirms "the abiding commitment of The Episcopal Church to the fellowship of church that constitute the Anglican Communion and seek to live into the highest degree of communion possible..." Our house had already passed this resolution on June 14. It was amended by the House of Bishops in a way the bishops felt protected our autonomy. The Committee believed that the Bishop's insertion sent conflicting messages. A conference committee re-wrote A159, and we now are considering that substitute resolution. The intent of the resolution is to say we have a basic commitment to the Anglican Communion. The voice vote to affirm our commitment to the Anglican Communion sounded unanimous. Amazing!
The next resolution is the more controversial "Anglican Covenant Development Process" resolution. It is imagined that a Covenant process would take nine years in taking form. There are at least three possible forms of Covenant that have been imagined -- theological, canonical, or relational. This resolution only asks us to support the idea, follow it, and report back. It is not a commitment to a form of covenant or to accept whatever may be proposed. There is some suspicion that this is a "blank check" resolution. Will we be included the process of the creation of a Covenant? There is nervousness that we will be committing ourselves to something about which we will have little influence. The resolution is carefully crafted so as not to commit us to a Covenant but rather to get us in the conversation about whatever Covenant might be developed within the Anglican Communion. The house voted overwhelmingly in favor of the un-amended resolution. There is some momentum building.
We've just extended the time of adjournment. It is ten minutes until 9:00 p.m. We want to take on the major work of amending the Canon III ordination canons. This is big work to try to make the processes for ordination for deacons and priests more similar, and to delineate the formation processes more clearly. This is a 38 page resolution. It's been a hot topic of conversation and study. There are new policies for receiving and forming clergy being received from another denomination. The excellent work of the committee was rewarded. At 9:20 p.m. we passed the Canonical changes without amendment. We're cooking!
We'll start a little earlier tomorrow.
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The Rev. Lowell Grisham
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Clergy Deputy to General Convention