Monday, July 13, 2009

General Convention, Day 6, Monday, July 13

Monday, July 13 – Day 6

Conversation following yesterday's vote confirms the sense that D025 had strong support from the center of the Convention. The Diocese of Virginia publishes "The Center Aisle" as a forum for those who intentionally identify themselves as neither liberal nor conservative. "The Center Aisle" endorsed the resolution.

Although it is impossible in a vote-by-orders to get an accurate count of what the vote would be if it were a one-deputy-one-vote process, guesses that I've heard estimate the level of support somewhere around 75%.

7:30 a.m. – Committees Meet

Our task is to craft a resolution about same-gender blessings that will offer the Convention the opportunity to deliberate. We were especially focused on drafting something that will have a good likelihood passing the House of Bishops. The six bishops on our committee met together over the weekend and crafted for our consideration a document based on our earlier work with D056.

After considerable discussion and several amendments, we passed out of committee the resolution D056. (passed 6-0 by bishops and 26-1 by deputies on the committee; Bishop Parsley will write a minority report concerning one amendment that he hopes the House of Bishop will adopt).

As reported out of Prayer Book and Liturgy Committee, D056 would ask the Standing Comission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops Theology Committee, to "collect and develop theological resources and liturgies of blessing for same gender holy unions to be presented to the 77th General Convention for formal consideration" and to devise an open process that includes participation throughout the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. The resolution would allow bishops to provide "generous pastoral response" to meet the needs of our members, particularly those in civil jurisdictions where same gender marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships are legal. No bishop or other clergy would be compelled to authorize or officiate at such liturgies, and the Anglican Consultative Council would be invited into conversation about the resolution as well as other churches in the Anglican Communion. The resolution will go to the House of Bishops, where it is likely to be amended.

9:30 – Legislative Session

Opening Meditation by Chaplain Frank Wade:
We will be having elections today. There are many fine nominees. They are qualified. They will be called to serve whether chosen or not. More are not chosen than are chosen. Those not chosen have an important role. They have as much to say as those chosen.

There is a temptation for all not-chosen. They have done what was necessary to qualify, they have good ideas, they stand vulnerable. But those not chosen are subject to the temptation to resentment. Resentment, according to Carrie Fisher, is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. Resentment is human.

Eleazar of Damascus was Abraham's servant, whom Abraham expected would inherit his estate, until the birth of Isaac. Isaac's name means "laughter." (Eleazar probably had another name for the baby, a name thankfully lost to us in history.)

Hagar and her son were driven out from Abraham's family. Justus was a qualified apostle and witness to the resurrection. He was not chosen as the successor to Judas. By a role of the dice Matthias joined the 12.

Those not chosen have a unique opportunity to be the heart of Christian witness. Their attitude and spirit will reflect Christ as they resist temptation and continue to serve. They witness to something larger than their own individual interests. They show themselves to be a servant community, who follow the one who is a foot washer. Those who are not chosen show what kind of church we really are.

We began our deliberations with a very delicate matter dealing with conflicts emerging out of a challenged episcopal election in the Diocese of Ecuador Central.

Eucharist. Preacher was Courtney Cowart, Director of Disaster Response, Diocese of Louisiana.
The Gospel lesson was the story of the Good Samaritan.
From her sermon: The Jericho Road was notorious and dangerous. Along that road, the chance for help was nil. People would hurry along, out of fear and caution. It would be unlikely for anyone to find a neighbor along this road, known as "The Bloody Way."

But all God needs is one catalyst. A Samaritan came across his social enemy, looked at him face to face, and all of the angels held their breath. Eyes met. A Samaritan chose to transcend the history of his people. He had a choice, to help a stranger or to collude with the norm of the road. By grace, this Samaritan chose mercy. It was a revolutionary act.

2000 years later, during a hurricane, 100,000 people were thrown into a toxic ditch and left in the road to die. All God needs is one catalyst, one true neighbor. A descendant of slave owners, a man in a purple shirt, sees a woman on the television; she is abandoned, rotting, holding a sign saying, "I am an American too." In the background an Army truck passes by.

Looking into eyes, that man chooses to transcend history. He assumes, as a cleansing honor, this stranger's plight. To mobilize is to risk defections from his diocese. It is a revolutionary moment; solidarity; compassion. These are our people, he says. A new communion. And a zillion Samaritan acts – the most powerful acts in the world – take place on the whole Jericho Road.

There is poverty and racism in the U.S. 37.3 million Americans are thrown into the ditch of poverty. So much of it is racial. Children. The 2006 poverty rate for children was the highest rate in the developed world. 58% of all children who grow up in the U.S. will spend at least one year living below the poverty line. We need to make choices about being neighbors. Ubuntu? Yes or No. All God needs is one neighbor. What if we all committed? I've seen the empathy of the world come to us, she said. It changed my view of humanity forever. 3 million people have engaged in a sustained pilgrimage to the Gulf Coast to glorify God on every Jericho Road.

Meeting during lunch.

2:00 p.m. – Legislative Session


After extensive presentations and debate, the House confirmed the election of the Rev. Luis Fernando Ruiz Restrepo, bishop of Ecuador Central.

To speed our deliberations debate has been shortened to two minutes per speaker, total time 20 minutes.

Making good progress. One major piece of work was passed this afternoon – a major rewrite of the Title IV disciplinary canons. This is the culmination of 10 years of work. Thank God for good lawyers. A bunch of them worked hard to make this successful.

Some other items.

Program, Budget and Finance is going to recommend that the asking for diocesan assessments be reduced in the next three years.

The House of Bishops earlier passed a resolution establishing interim eucharistic sharing with the Northern Province and the Southern Province of the Moravian Church. The House of Deputies will receive that resolution sometime in the near future. With our growing relationships with the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA, and the Church of Sweden – we are experiencing something of a reversal of the Reformation.

The Bishops also have passed a major proposal to expand health insurance coverage for all church employees working a minimum of 1,500 hours annually. The proposal will be coming to the House of Deputies.

C061 was introduced on the floor of the House of Deputies. It proposes to add the words "gender identity or expression" to the class of persons who would not be barred from access to the discernment process solely because of those reasons. Definitions were helpful (I hope my notes are correct.) Gender identity is one's own understanding of one's gender; gender expression is how a person represents or expresses one's gender identity to another, such as hair, clothes, voice, etc. It is what an individual does. It does not include one's relational behavior or one's sexual behavior. This proposal would prohibit excluding transgendered persons from a discernment process solely on the basis of their gender identity. No one has a right to ordination, and all persons in discernment must go through their diocesan discernment processes. We had a vote by orders, and we adjourned before the vote was counted and reported.

As we adjourned we received news that the House of Bishops had voted on D025, the significant resolution that the Deputies previously passed on a vote by orders. The Bishops concurred with amendment. The vote was 99 yes; 45 no; 2 abstentions. We do not yet have the amendment text. The resolution must come back to the House of Deputies for us to decide whether to concur with the Bishops' amended version. I'm told that the amendment says something about the mystery of call, but doesn't change the fundamentals of the version the deputies passed.

Randall Curtis told us that our Bishop Larry Benfield was the first to speak on the matter. Randall said that the Bishop was eloquent and moving in his support of the resolution. I'll send the text of the Bishop's comments as soon as I have it.

The House adjourned about 6:20 p.m.

7:00 p.m. – Our Prayer Book and Liturgy Committee has a special meeting to try to work on what continues to be a long list of resolutions.

I'm going to try to get this sent out before we begin.



At 8:10 PM , Blogger Doug said...

Thanks be to God! We are praying for your resolution on exploring rites for same sex unions!

At 5:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I asked this also of THE Bishop, Larry Benfield. How is the GC addressing militarism and war? Particularly with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? And, our country's promotion of weapons of war?

At 8:11 AM , Anonymous joseph lane said...

Thanks Lowell

At 7:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so proud to be an Episcopalian! With God's help and guidance we can live in love with all God's children!

Thanks to you and to all at GC who are working so hard to make God's love visible in our actions and sacraments.


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