The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church meets for two days next week, in Salt Lake City Utah, for the sole purpose of considering the Windsor Report. The arrangements for this meeting are described here: Frank Griswold Writes the Episcopal Church Bishops about the Upcoming House of Bishops Meeting in Utah in January. You can follow these links to find out more about the Public Conversations Project, consultants Laura Chasin and Robert Stains, and their previous related work.
The local newspaper, the Deseret Morning News has this advance report Episcopalians plan Salt Lake session to take on same-sex furor.
Associated Press has issued Episcopal Bishops to Discuss Gay Ordination Issue in Salt Lake (copy via the Casper Wyoming Star)
The local diocese has Wrestling With Windsor.
…In all honesty, I confess that an unclear or ambiguous response would be a pastoral disaster for me and I believe, for many others in our beloved Church. Even worse would be for us to create the perception that we are dodging the Report altogether or trying to “buy time” by employing delaying tactics.
I write in charity to request your support when I rise to ask that the House consider addressing those specific portions of the Report that are directed to us as Bishops of ECUSA. The Windsor Report is lengthy and complex and I realize we cannot address those sections of the Report that require action of the entire Church. I believe we need to focus on, and begin to shape our response to, the recommendations of the Windsor Report that call upon us as Bishops to:
- Express our regret (as defined by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Advent Letter to the Primates) for having so damaged the Communion.
- Demonstrate our desire to continue to “walk together” with the rest of the Communion.
- Agree to a moratorium on same sex-blessings and the consecration of non-celibate homosexual persons until or unless a “new consensus” emerges in the Communion that such actions are seen as legitimate in the light of Scripture and Christian tradition.
- Ask those among us who believe such actions are legitimate to “make their case” to the rest of the Communion.
- And Ask those of us who participated in the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire to refrain from representing the Anglican Communion in international and ecumenical gatherings following the example of our Primate who resigned from leadership in the ARCIC work.
I know not all of us will be in agreement with all of the recommendations in the Report. But I am certain we need to focus on the recommendations themselves rather than debating how well sections C and D flow from sections A and B…
The weekly magazine The Living Church has just (issue dated 9 January) published this editorial: More Needed from Bishops.
…Business as usual for the bishops would involve issuing a pastoral letter following adjournment of the meeting which states that the bishops receive thankfully the Windsor Report and commend the theologians who worked so diligently on it. The letter would contain an announcement that says the bishops have met amid prayer and Bible study and have reflected upon the Windsor Report and that they are pleased to commend it to the 75th General Convention in 2006 for further study and response.
At this time, the Episcopal Church needs more than that from its bishops. The foundations of the Church are crumbling and the bishops need to provide what the Church needs most — leadership and direction. A recommendation by the House of Bishops could be the foundation upon which the next General Convention will build legislation. It would indicate to the Anglican primates, who gather in Northern Ireland next month, whether the American Church is likely to take the recommendations of the Windsor Report seriously. By now members of the House of Bishops have had a chance to digest the Windsor Report. Most of them have issued public statements about it. Many of them have participated in discussions about the report with other bishops at the provincial level. By now they ought to have formed concrete opinions. A clear communication to the Church is in order…