Monday, July 13, 2009

D025: Good News from the House of Deputies

And a Serious and Pointed (and Funny) Prayer

I am very pleased to learn that tonight our House of Deputies passed resolution D025, which moves beyond B033, while reaffirming our commitment to the Anglican Communion. I think it’s a brilliantly worded, generously nuanced resolution. It
  • affirms our commitment to the Anglican Communion (including financial support)
  • acknowledges our Church includes ”same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships ‘characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God’” who are serving in various ministries in our Church
  • affirms that God has called and will continue to call such persons “to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church” consistent with our Constitution and Canons
  • acknowledges there is still disagreement in our Church, and that we have come to our conclusions “based on careful study of the Holy Scriptures, and in light of tradition and reason”
You can see the current text of D025 at the GC site here.

It passed by a 2:1 majority in both the lay and clergy orders of the House of Deputies. That is overwhelming support! Thanks be to God.

If you want to get a sense of the HoD’s debate/deliberations, read Jim Naughton’s liveblogs here and here. [And an aside: Where, oh where would we be if it weren’t for the fine work Jim and his Episcopal Café team are doing during this General Convention?]

As usual, Jim has a wise perspective on this vote, writing in part:
It does not so much pave the way for the election of another bishop in a same-sex partnership as it does remove an artificial impediment to our ongoing discernment on this issue which may, just may, resume diocese by diocese and case by case.
Indeed. B033 was in direct contravention of our canons, which specifically state that sexual orientation is not ipso facto a bar to the discernment process for deacons, priests, or bishops.

Similarly, Mark Harris (who served on the subcommittee to craft D025) writes:
…passage of D025 does not end caution and restraint expressed by any bishop or standing committee convinced by the arguments of the Anglican Covenant or the various pronouncements following the Windsor Report. What it does do is say that The Episcopal Church will not mandate such caution and restraint by legislative action.
I thank God that Mark is serving on the World Mission Committee this triennium, and I give thanks for his good head, heart, and spirit.

Resolution D025 came out of the World Mission Committee, which was charged to handle all the B033-related resolutions. Center Aisle, the GC newsletter of the Diocese of Virginia, included this sad, sobering news in its Sunday edition: “Bishops on World Mission voted 3-2 against the proposal, while deputies on the panel approved it 24-2.” To me, that further portends the train wreck that I fear is coming between the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops. Jim Naughton, however, urges us not too read to much into that vote by the bishops on the committee. He writes: “I would also caution against reading too much into the opposition of the bishops on the panel who voted 3-2 against it. The sample size is small, and the vote close. One of the bishops who voted in favor of D025 was Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island, who is very much a centrist.”

Many fellow bloggers and Facebook friends are dancing the happy dance about the Deputies’ passage of D025. I am happy, but I do not yet see any cause for dancing.

For now the rubber hits the road, as the resolution goes to the House of Bishops. As you know, I am none too sanguine about how our bishops may deal with any of the resolutions related to B033, the place of partnered gay men and lesbians in the Episcopal Church, or the blessing of same-sex unions or marriages. In fact, I am downright depressed about their probable actions … though I cling to the hope of being surprised by joy.

So … on a lighter note, I am thankful for this lovely prayer from fellow blogger Paul Strid, which I am reproducing in full (with his gracious permission):
Dear God, you are our Source, our Goal, and our Way. Your Word calls the cosmos into being and sustains it, your Spirit gives it life, blessing us with an endless diversity and that unity which is your gift to creation. Some of us are prone to anxiety and dread when church legislative bodies gather. Lift that cloud from us, we pray, and remind us that when your faithful people gather it is you who have called them together, you who are in their midst, you who work your purposes through the most fragile, flawed, and recalcitrant vessels. Pour out your Spirit in abundance on the Deputies and Bishops gathered in Anaheim and open their hearts to you and to one another. Keep us all ever mindful of the mission of your Church and of your initiative for the salvation and sanctification of the world, that we may align ourselves to your intentions and work rather than presume to harness you for ours. May our representatives in General Convention and all of us never lose sight of those we are called to serve. If it is not too presumptuous of me to ask this, please remind the bishops that they are the junior house in our Church, called to serve and not to rule, and feel free to use a two-by-four if necessary. Help us all to love one another and unite in shared mission and ministry.
--Your wayward brat, Paul
Amen.
And amen. If need be, may God lay a spiritual two-by-four upon the heads and hearts and souls of our bishops.

[Photo credit: Photo of the D025 text shamelessly nicked from Mark Harris. Thanks, Mark.]

9 Comments:

Blogger Göran Koch-Swahne said...

This is good! All the best!

7/13/2009 2:22 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Yes, the news is good ... so far as it goes.
We live in hope. Jesus commanded us to do so, I think.

7/13/2009 2:26 AM  
Blogger Joanna Depue said...

Amen!

7/13/2009 2:41 AM  
Blogger Bill Carroll said...

Both Southern Ohio bishops were cautiously optimistic in their comments. Our diocesan (Bishop Breidenthal) was elected after 2006, and I believe that he will speak powerfully in favor of adopting this carefully worded resolution. (One of our clergy deputies assures me of this in a facebook comment.) As with secular politics in the U.S. (I know TEC is bigger), Ohio is very much a bellweather.

There are no guarantees, to be sure, and the vote may be closer than in the Deputies. But I am very hopeful that the bishops will do the right thing. The huge margin in the deputies will make it easier for them to do this. Many of them also want to do the right thing and are tired of the duplicity of the last three years.

7/13/2009 4:16 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

That is heartening news, Bill. I do hope and pray that others will do the right thing. We will need not just the "reliable liberals," but also the "thoughtful moderates" for this to come to pass. If the bishops vote to concur, I will probably faint dead away.

7/13/2009 4:27 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Nice prayer. Mine for GC is a bit shorter: Keep them from stupidity Oh Lord.

OK, so it did not help in 06, but maybe if enough of us ask?

FWIW
jimB

7/13/2009 8:48 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Lisa,

I've offered a few thoughts on my blog. I still don't think that folks "get" the full nature of why B033 hurt far beyond moratorium or not.

7/13/2009 10:57 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

LOL, Jim.

7/14/2009 8:58 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Christopher, I blogged and blogged and blogged about B033 in 2006. Would you send me a link to your blogpost so I can link it here?

7/14/2009 8:59 PM  

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