Monday, July 09, 2012

Monday at General Convention: July 9

Today's Update from General Convention
  Monday, June 9

General Convention Notes

First thing:  A link to the incredible sermon from Bishop Michael Curry the other day.   

7:30 a.m. -- Our committee meeting started early in the morning, again.  Since I was chairing today, I had to get up early to get prepared, and missed getting a bite of breakfast.  But we had a big morning at the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music.  We had a brief hearing on two resolutions.  Then we passed a recommendation to forward the Creation liturgies to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. 

We debated resolution A049, the enabling resolution for the proposed rites of Blessing for Same-Sex Lifelong Relationships.  Our sub-committee brought a significant group of changes to both the enabling resolution and the text.  We had several amendments adopted to make the resolution more appealing to our conservative dioceses, insuring protection of conscience.  At two points Susan Russell, former president of Integrity, announced her agreement with Bishop Dan Martins, a beloved traditionalist -- joyful moments.  We had a couple of "hitches in our giddy-ups" before we passed A049, staying over about 20 minutes to do so.  The House of Bishops will fast-track the measure since it is something that is of great interest so many.

We accepted a Minority Report, but the composer left before submitting it, so I had some anxious moments trying to track him down to get the text of his report so it doesn't delay the process.  I ended up missing worship today trying to track that down.  But that gave me a chance to grab a bite of breakfast. 

11:15 a.m.  Back to the House.  We passed a few non-controversial things.  I got to present some proposals that were about to pass, but we learned that they hadn't been translated into Spanish.  We had to wait until later. 

Very pleasant lunch at the Canterbury House nearby.  No Archbishops of Canterbury sighted.

1:15 p.m.  Return to the House.  I had the privilege of being the nominator for Gay Jennings as a candidate for President of the House of Deputies.  Also nominated were Frank Logue of Georgia (I like him a lot), and Martha Alexander of North Carolina (who I don't know). 

A good part of the afternoon was taken up with debate on two measures that have already passed the House of Bishops assuring non-descriminatory policies toward people on the basis of gender identity and expression. 

One of the highlights of this Convention has been the testimony of transgender Episcopalians, including a number of priests.  Some of the stories were so moving.  Yesterday at lunch when our parishioner Cathy Campbell and her trans son told their stories, it was simply inspiring. 

We are voting by orders on D002 which reads "No person shall be denied access to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, [gender identity and expression], disabilities or age, except as otherwise provided by these Canons.  No right to licensing ordination, or election is hereby established."  This resolution adds "gender identity and expression" to the Canon. 

Voting by orders is a very conservative structure that we have for any controversial matters that the General Convention takes up.  
Here's how it works:  Each diocese has four lay deputies and four clergy deputies.  In a vote by orders, each diocese is given one vote in the lay order and one vote in the clergy order.  In order for a measure to pass, it must receive a majority of votes in both orders.  But here's the catch.  If a deputation votes 2-2, it is a divided vote and is considered as a "no." 

That means that when the House of Deputies passes any controversial matter through a vote by orders, it must pass by a super-majority.  (I once tried to do the math and it was beyond me, but I think it takes something between 55-67% to pass.)  We are a conservative body by our structure.  When we decide to change, it takes a pretty strong super-majority to effect that change.

The vote to add transgender persons to our protected classes passed by a vote by orders, Lay 94 yes/ 11 no /5 divided; Clergy 95 yes/16 no /0 divided.  By an overwhelming margin this House welcomes the ministries of our transgender members.  I love this church.
I presented our committee's resolution to create a task force to study the theology of marriage and report back to the next General Convention.  That proposal also was moved to a vote by orders.  It too passed, Lay: Yes 89 / no 15 / divided 5;  Clergy: Yes 92 / no 14 / divided 3

We had a special order for a discussion of a resolution about Israel and Palestine.  There has been a great deal of testimony about the grave living conditions of Christian Palestinians in the Holy Land.  The resolution calls for a cessation of violence, supports a two-state solution, and encourages Arab-Israeli-Palestinian interfaith dialogue.  There is an Episcopal Hospital in Gaza that is in dire circumstances.  The resolution supports forms of education, travel and dialogue.  It encourages investment in the Palestinian territories, especially institutions of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, which provide healthcare, education, and social services without discrimination. 

The House has received a publication "Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for a Just Peace."  It documents many of the things that we saw on our pilgrimage to the Holy Land -- the wall, the settlements, the economic stranglehold around the Palestinian people.  The document was not part of the resolution presented to us, however.

Our statement is a substitute resolution that has very measured and diplomatic language.  The committee chose to replace a more aggressive original proposal. B019.  It passed along with a companion, C060.
Resolution C060 commits the church to invest in Palestinian companies.  The resolution did not accept a proposal for any boycott or divestment of Israeli products or companies.

There was as minority report for a far stronger statement of advocacy for ending the occupation of Palestine.  The minority report commends "Steadfast Hope" as well as the Karios Palestine statement of 2009.  Those documents were not part of the resolutions.

We've just heard from Twitter that the House of Bishops has passed our rite of blessings and resources for same-sex lifelong unions:  111 yes, 42 no, 3 abstain with minor amendments.  Delighted!!  Let me say it again -- I love this church!

One of the things I enjoy each General Convention is the Integrity Eucharist.  It will be particularly joyful because of the passage of the Blessing rites.  But I am tired, and I am going to bed early.  Nite, nite.



At 1:30 AM , Blogger Michael Anglican said...

God bless us, everyone! AMEN!!!


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