Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Episcopal Church bishops pass D025
Updated again late Tuesday evening
Here is the text of Resolution D025, as amended, and then passed by the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church.
Commitment and Witness to Anglican Communion.
ENS news story: Bishops approve resolution opening ordination to gays, lesbians Headline later changed to read: Bishops affirm openness of ordination process
Bishops voted 99-45, with two abstentions, for the revised resolution, which goes to the House of Deputies world mission legislative committee. The committee must make a recommendation to the full house about whether to concur in the amended resolution, amend it further, or defeat it, according to Deputy Sally Johnson (Minnesota).
The bishops amended the fourth resolve, which originally read “that the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church which call is tested through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.” They inserted the words “and that God’s call to the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church is a mystery which the church attempts to discern for all people” after the words “to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church” and deleted “which call is tested.”
Church Times blog has some more here.
First update 10 am Tuesday
Associated Press Rachel Zoll Episcopal church to affirm gay clergy
BBC US Church drops gay bishops ban
press release from Integrity Bishops Vote For “No Outcasts”
Second update 6.30 pm Tuesday
press release from Fulcrum Fulcrum Press Statement on the decision by the House of Bishops of TEC to pass D025
leading article: Honest to God
Ruth Gledhill Schism ‘inevitable’ after US bishops approve gay ordination
Guardian Riazat Butt and agencies US Episcopal church bishops vote for ordaining gay clergy
Los Angeles Times Episcopal Church, at Anaheim convention, moves to end ban on gay bishops
New York Times Laurie Goodstein Episcopal Church Moves to End Ban on Gay Bishops
Episcopal Café How to interpret D025, and its consequences and also Updated, but imperfect roll call
Third update 10.30 pm Tuesday
Cif belief Savitri Hensman Episcopals vote for inclusion
Ekklesia Savitri Hensman US Anglicans forty years after Stonewall
The Times Tom Wright The Americans know this will end in schism
press release Anglican Mainstream Anglican Mainstream responds to decision of TEC House of Bishops to overturn moratorium on consecrating bishops in same-sex relationships
press release Anglican Communion Institute Statement on the Repudiation of B033
Living Church George Conger News Analysis: Passage of D025 May Place TEC Outside Communion
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Tuesday, 14 July 2009 at 7:45am BST
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This is the TEC I know of, admire and that gives many of us some hope.
I love the way they do theology- so reflective , thoughtful and creative. The way they seem open to and touched by the spirit. Rather than the reinteration of tired, lifeless and meaningless mantras,which so often comes from other parts of the Anglican world. So free of self serving and cowardly motivations.
I'd love to sign up. Will they now be opening a branch in Britain or some scheme for individual membeship for overseas persons ?
Will General Synod (C of E) manage to find some guts and follow TEC's lead now ? If I tell you I am not holding my breath you will not be at all surprised, I am sure.
However, we have been protected by Establishment, so far, from the worst excesses of sectional extremists and obscurantists, who would turn the C of E into a narrow and narrow-minded sect, a santuary of the smug. No, the C of E cannot possibly be left to manage its own affairs, without the supervision of the nation via Queen, Parliament and the framewwork of Law.
I never ever thought I would be supporting Establishment !
This is in fact very subtle, and deeply nuanced.
@Martin Reynolds: Subtle indeed. In fact on ECUSA's HoB/D mailing list, people of various theological stripe (including some who voted for D025) have insisted that this does *not* mean the end of the moratorium, nor does it overturn B033-2006. Rather, it is intended to express the mind of the church while not actually changing canon.
Unfortunately, such subtlety is lost on the average reporter and blogger, so the idea that B033 is history is going to get spread no matter what else happens.
I think it is now clear the CofE has got itself into a terrible fix on this issue which will be hard to get out of.
We seem to be at the point of cutting off relations with (at least - or at least agitating doing so) the US, Canada and Sweden.
Which sort of tells its own story, really.
An odd kind of "listening".
"I'd love to sign up. Will they now be opening a branch in Britain or some scheme for individual membeship for overseas persons?"
TEC has parishes in Europe, Father Roberts. Perhaps you could become a parish extension.
Is there a place to find a list of how the different bishops voted on this issue? Many thanks.
Check out the reference to St Augustine. Isn't that a slap in the face to say "ok you can be ordained", and then remind people that the validity of the sacrament is not dependent on the character of the priest? What one hand giveth the other taketh away.
There was never a de jure ban on gay/lesbian bishops in the Episcopal Church anyway; BO33 achieved a de facto limitation in that it would have been exceptionally difficult for any diocese to get the required consents from the other dioceses for the election of a gay/lesbian bishop in a relationship. (Mind you, the issue never has been one of having gay/lesbian bishops, yes or no. The issue has been - and is, everywhere - whether they are in a relationship, that is, to be blunt, whether they have sexual relations with their partner.)
The Episcopal Church has affirmed its unqualified commitment to the Anglican Communion and a desire to live into the greatest degree of communion possible, given differences of thought and practice with regard to issues of biblical hermeneutics and human sexuality. What better tribute could there be to such a diverse worldwide body of churches - that is not achieved, that is, at the expense of many of its members?
Yes, this situation in the Anglican Communion is very challenging for those who believe firmly that Christianity and homosexuality are fundamentally irreconcilable. But which is worse: being permanently marginalized in the church and blamed for causing problems by virtue of one's very existence, or having to live with the reality that Anglicans disagree with each other about some things? If opposition to homosexuality is believed to be a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith as received and practiced by Anglicans no matter what, then the latter perhaps. But is this really an issue that should make or break Anglican unity? Is our unity really defined at its core by our understanding of sex?
"This is in fact very subtle, and deeply nuanced."
But it will definitely not "play" that way in the media nor be seen that way by many opponents! What a shame politics intrudes so heavily
Once again I am left wondering why our Roman Catholic bishops seem incapable of producing anything as honest, reflective, evangelical as this. TEC are mapping the future path.
Perhaps you can imagine how proud I am to be a priest in the Episcopal Church this morning.
In spite of eleven years of attempts to threaten and manipulate our Church, beginning at Lambeth 1998; despite the unChristian derision directed at us and at LGBT persons, couples, and families; despite the utterly dishonest claims that we are formenting schism, while all the time the conservatives in the Communion have been funding, elaborately planning, and executing schism; despite the fact that foreign intrusions into the Episcopal Church began at least three years before the consecration of Gene Robinson; in spite of the unseemly and uncanonical attempts of Rowan Williams to extend his authority into other churches (both Canada and TEC); in spite of the claims that we are arrogant, first world imperialists, who care nothing about Scripture and mindlessly follow the culture, while the majority of Scripture scholars disagree with the positions of the conservatives; in spite of the fact that our chief detractors have placed the considerable weight of their churches behind legislation in their provinces that would arrest and imprison LGBT persons for merely associating to advocate for their rights; in spite of the fact that Rowan Williams appointed to head the group designing a Covenant for the Communion the primate whose province is known as the most vociously homophobic region in the Western hemisphere, who is entirely silent and complicit while LGBT persons are routinely murdered with the complicitly of the governments of his province;
still the Deputies and the Bishops of the Episcopal Church have chosen to listen to the Holy Spirit and their experience of LGBT persons; to find in that authentic listening the virtues and values that reflect Christ in our midst; and have declared to the Anglican Communion our love for our sister Churches, our willingness to participate in the Communion in mutual support, and our faithfulness to our LGBT members whose presence in our Church is a grace for which we are thankful.
I could not be more proud or more humbled by the dignity and gracefulness of our Deputies and Bishops at this General Convention.
Many thanks,'Spirit'. It is so good continually to be reminded (one knows it, of course, but in a passive way) that there are many in the RC Church who admire Anglican 'liberalism'.
Very proud to be an Episcopalian today.
And very glad that my church has learned to no longer live in fear of the threats from Rowan or the schismatics.
What is right is right and it is good that this step has been taken. There are more steps to be taken.
I hope that we also come to some agreement before the next Lambeth that says that if one of our bishops is not invited, none of our bishops should go. Rowan still owes Gene Robinson and the Episcopal Church an apology for that insult.
"Check out the reference to St Augustine. Isn't that a slap in the face to say "ok you can be ordained", and then remind people that the validity of the sacrament is not dependent on the character of the priest? What one hand giveth the other taketh away."
No, it is a reminder to those opposed to this idea that the sacraments are in no way harmed or made less holy by it.
All this is the outcome of the Anglican Communion accepting at the 1930 Lambeth Conferemce that sex does not have to be primarily for procreation.
If Bishop Wright wants to break communion with, and commit schism against, us Episcopalians, he is free to do so. (God forgive me, I can't really get too disturbed by that possibility)
If we in TEC must bear the cross of Anglican-exile, we will follow Christ regardless: there's Resurrection on the other side, Alleluia! :-D
I think this action will split the C of E before it splits the Communion.
Not that one much cares what ACI thinks (some of us would still be far more interested in an accounting for their Colorado Springs involvement with Don Armstrong - a "Caesar's Wife" thing, as I've said before), but if they think that a third of the TEC dioceses are about to do the Jack Iker/Bob Duncan Gadarene Swine stampede, I strongly suspect that they're very much mistaken.
Interesting to contrast the "deep regret" of this statement with Seitz's initial "superb outcome"post at T19 yesterday evening. Guess that on reflection, crocodile tears were judged a more circumspect reaction, Dr Seitz?
"This is a superb outcome, if I may say so in Christ. 45 bishops said No. CP bishops said No. RDW asked that HoB would say No. He knows now who is prepared to say No. The new TEC is a battle between idealogues and institutionalists. 99 Bishops are declaring their chief priority to be autonomy in the cause of SSBs and US denominationalism. But 45 are unsure this is a cost worth paying. Lambeth has had an effect many did not measure. I believe we are seeing a new demographic in all this, and hope the General Synod realises that a goodly portion of the HoB is prepared to honour the Communion over ‘justice’ rhetoric. New lines may be emerging."
Walsingham, what exactly do you mean in your comment?
Strangely, for one otherwise so very thoughtful and insightful, Bishop Tom Wright is apparently firmly on the side of those who believe that Christianity and homosexuality are fundamentally irreconcilable, regardless of how long issues of sexual orientation have even been understood as such. (One must presume that he is equally opposed to divorce and remarriage for Anglican Christians, perhaps especially bishops; otherwise there is some difficulty in understanding his apparent certainty on this particular issue of biblical interpretation.)
In his article, he seems to overestimate the unanimity of the Jewish tradition on this issue, given the often surprising results of "listening processes" in certain quarters of Judaism of late, but, that aside, the question remains: Does Bishop Wright, like others, truly want to say that opposition to homosexuality - or, at the very least, "homosexual acts" - is a *defining issue* for Christian orthodoxy and, for that matter, loyalty to Jesus? What exactly makes this issue so very decisive for him, compared with all others one might consider?
And does he really see no room for diversity of thought and practice in this matter, as Anglicans still have, for example, with regard to women's ordination? Surely those opposed to women's ordination are just as convinced that it is as absolutely and clearly proscribed by scripture and tradition as Bishop Wright seems to believe homosexual acts to be. And yet, the Anglican Communion has been able to live with diversity. What exactly is different here?
As so often, the Bishop of Durham shows himselfto be be no historian. He treats marriage as though it has been a fixed 'thing' historically for thousands of years, rather than something that has changed and developed over time, and differs between cultures. The idea that I hope he would approve, that marriage is a union between two equals is a relatively modern notion and rather hard to defend from 'tradition'. But the Common Worship marriage service makes it clear that marriage is precisely that (I guess they were just failing to be 'counter-cultural'). But it is a real departure from the theology of the 1662 BCP - and a good departure. So did the rot really begin with the suggestion that marriage was a union of equals and chiefly for the companionship of marriage, rather than procreation? Stop blaming gay and lesbian people - it is the heterosexuals who are to blame for our current Anglican woes with their modern notions of marriage!
It is very strange that Tom Wright has gone the way he has on the gay issue. When he was chaplain at Worcester College, Oxford, he worked with gay people around him all the time, though he doesn't seem to have picked up on that at all. I don't know whether it's just insensitivity, a curious blind spot in his life experience, as some old-school straight Evangelicals often evidence: but he is sufficiently intellectually enquiring that one might reasonably expect him to have come up with something better than "gay people go away or at least be lonely and miserable" by now.
I know that many of us who were around him at that time, not just the gay ones like me, are really shocked and surprised that he has taken this turn towards being the episcopal voice of the BNP's view on the gay issue.
Its obvious that Tom Wright has a problem with gay people and gay and lesbian issues in general - or why is his position so extreme on that topic whereas he shows flexibility in all others?
I think the reason is clear enough. Homophobia can be visceral, not rational
Robert - the problem with that acceptance (and you may be right about the connection with Lambeth 1930) is what, precisely?
We are not a dogmatically-driven church: when you are, then you have to cope with the serious disconnect between Humanae Vitae and what Catholics around the world are manifectly doing which is artificially limiting their families. But neither are we a Scriptural-foundationalist church, where development of doctrine and ethics is not possible because you are held in a armlock over texts.
Positive development is not simply a capitulation to the mores of the world - but there has always been a dialogus between tradition and the world as we are coming to know it - which has to be a part of what it means to be led into truth by the Spirit. What we think now about divorce and remarriage in church is very different from what we thought about it a generation or so ago. Ditto contraception though with a longer time frame, obviously. This one seems more difficult for some than the rest of the accommodations put together - but I think it will come.
Tom Wright is a biblical fundamentalist and like many such he's terrified of change or development. He's also deeply anxious - as are many of his ilk - of being outflanked by other Evangelicals still more intransigent than himself.
But also, like many such, his oh so sonorous affirmation of principle is selective: it is self-evident that such people are not nearly so bothered (or even bothered at all) by divorce, re-marriage, or 'irregular' heterosexual sex.
The FULCRUM response was, as usual, pompous, boringly written, and highly selective in its judgments and condemnations.
No one would be more upset than me if the Anglican Communion or the C of E implodes. But at the end of the day we should do what in our hearts and minds we believe to be right, and I'm glad and proud of what TEC has done.
What a surprise! There's an opportunity for some media attention, and Tom Wright is the first to get it. This man can't resist getting himself in the spotlight.
Maybe he ought to stop commenting on everyone else's business and get back to shepherding his flock - he's a bit of a running joke in Durham diocese because he's never there!
I notice that discussion re full communion relations with the Church of Sweden is on the General Convention agenda. Why bilateral discussions, rather than becoming a signatory to Porvoo (as the Iberian churches did)? Is it possible that TEC anticipates no longer being a part of the Anglican Communion (and the Church of Sweden no longer a part of the Porvoo communion)?
"there is some difficulty in understanding his apparent certainty on this particular issue of biblical interpretation."
What's hard to understand? It doesn't apply to him, it gives him an "other" against which he can struggle and that can be the icon of the forces of liberality that must be opposed for the sake of society.
"Does Bishop Wright, like others, truly want to say that opposition to homosexuality - or, at the very least, "homosexual acts" - is a *defining issue* for Christian orthodoxy"
Yes. See above. We represent all that is wrong with modern society, all the ways the World has rejected everything that is moral and decent, especially Divinely Ordained Law. We are the icon of the modern world's rejection of God Himself.
"What exactly makes this issue so very decisive for him, compared with all others one might consider?"
See above. If left alone, Western society (aka Christendom) will continue its downward slide into immorality and Godlessness. Then our society will be run either by those who practice other religions, or by the Godless. Either way, Christians will be oppressed. If not made illegal, Christians will at least be silenced and unable to control public policy on anything.
He might not be as blatant about it as some, but that is the fear behind all conservatives, and what it is all about, in the end, is the death of the Imperial Church and the resultant loss of power of Christianity in the West. This is really a fight between those who are terrified of that, and those who either don't care, or think it a good thing.
"All this is the outcome of the Anglican Communion accepting at the 1930 Lambeth Conferemce that sex does not have to be primarily for procreation."
I agree with you. Why is it, though, that I hear a distinct sneer in your voice? Is it that, for you, sex is ONLY about procreation?
I mean that D025 is being parsed by the news media and blogosphere in a way that it simply wasn't intended. (In some cases possibly willfully.)
On ECUSA's HoB/D mailing list, delegates and bishops (including many who voted for it) have repeatedly stated that they viewed D025 as *not* overturning B033, out of sensitivity towards others in the Anglican Communion. One bishop reported that, when introducing the resolution for the vote, ++Katherine specifically said she felt that B033 was not affected by this resolution.
Yet the headlines (and +Tom Wright) are all proclaiming ECUSA has overturned the moratorium, schism is inevitable, hordes of stampeding gay bishops are on the way in a cloud of pink and lavender, etc. etc. etc., which is factually false and misleading. That certainly wasn't what ECUSA intended with this resolution, based on remarks by the people who voted for it. Even some conservatives said they voted for it, because on a strict literal interpretation of what it says, it's true: ECUSA won't turn people away from discernment because they are gay, just don't expect to be ordained just yet.
John: re Sweden and Porvoo -
I asked the same question and was told that the bilateral TEC/ Ch of Sweden agreement is necessary because a newcomer can't just tack on their church to the Porvoo agreement without every individual church already in it separately signing up again.
"It is very strange that Tom Wright has gone the way he has on the gay issue. When he was chaplain at Worcester College, Oxford, he worked with gay people around him all the time, though he doesn't seem to have picked up on that at all."
It's not uncommon for straight people who are homophobic to have rather limited, fixed, and naive ideas about what being gay is all about.
They often have a small number of stereotypes: "Bull Dyke" "Nancy Boy" "Fairy" and, absent those sterotyped images and behavior, simply can't 'see' gay people in all our splendid diversity.
Walsingham, thanks for your additional explanation.
TEC's canons state we have already open ministry to all. So, per D025, we'll follow the canons and not impose an extra barrier to ordination.
...not that there's anything wrong w/ being a "Bull Dyke" "Nancy Boy" or "Fairy", Cynthia! ;-)
JCF, who may resemble one (or more!) of the above stereotypes...
Hi Fr Mark-
Re Tom Wright's attitude when at Worcester, it looks like you have (as will always be the case where there are Christians around) witnessed 'love the sinner, hate the sin' in action.
Christopher: No, I don't think so at all. It was rather a being unaware of some important aspects of people's make-up. He's one of those bishops who has never worked in a parish, which indicates something important missing from his life experience.
It beggars belief that any balanced straight man should invest so much energy into waging mortal combat with those who only want to be fair to gay people; while the Church of England is in rapid decline, and English streets are awash with binge-drinking knife-wielding young men, pregnant teenage girls (the UK has the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the EU), and all sorts of other pressing problems caused by the heterosexual community...
Hi Fr Mark-
Yes, I agree that although being a double college chaplain is somewhat like having a parish, as is being a cathedral dean (and no less strenuous) there are important respects in which they differ.
The teen pregnancy thing has the same root in 1960s revolution as does the new attitude to homosexual practice. The root is stimply named: the divorce of sex from marriage. If you get one fruit (advocacy and spread of homosexual practice) you'll also get the other (advocacy and massive spread of teen intercourse) and many other related fruits besides.
But the other problems you mention are not controversial, in that everyone is opposed to them. No point preaching when everyone is already converted - unless you disagee? Rather, for a thinker, the place to concentrate is on controversial topics, since which way the pendulum swings will affect all our future lives.
Do you REALLY believe that modern teens are more sexually active than their peers of five or six decades past? Or are they merely more open, less discreet about it?
Is it possible that society is simply less inclined to force sexually active young people into inappropriate marriages than it was in the 1950s?
I not only believe it but know it:
(1) How else to explain pregnancy statistics?
(2) How else to explain abortion statistics?
(3) Contraception is more, not less, available than then, as well.
(4) Social attitudes have changed in the relevant direction.
(5) So have media.
"hordes of stampeding gay bishops are on the way in a cloud of pink and lavender"
But, but, but, that happens twice a year anyway: Gaudete and Laetare Sundays! Well, rose, actually, but sometimes rose looks pink, more times it can have a shade of magenta that is close to lavender. So, I guess this is really a fear among those for whom proper liturgical attire is a likely harbinger of the impending absorption of Anglicanism into Rome and the replacement of Her Protestant Majesty by a descendant of the King Over the Water.
"(1) How else to explain pregnancy statistics?"
Better record keeping, fewer people who run away in shame to have their babies at the home of some rural dwelling aunt, the baby being immediately put up for adoption.
"(2) How else to explain abortion statistics?"
Vide supra. Backroom abortions were only ever recorded when the woman, as happened far too often, died as a result. There were never any records that I know of as to how many survived. How could there be?
"(3) Contraception is more, not less, available than then, as well".
So why aren't more teens using it? Might it be the dictatorial, judgemental attitudes of those who oppose it, thereby giving teens something to rebel against?
"(4) Social attitudes have changed in the relevant direction."
The change is that it is not some life destroying event of permanent shame for a girl to get pregnant out of wedlock. Not a bad thing, that. Not only that, but attitudes might not have changed as much as you think. A recent Canadian study found that even 50 years ago, there were not as many virgins at marriage as was assumed. Just because people don't talk about it doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
"(5) So have media."
You sound like the Newfoundland merchants who resented Dr. Grenfell providing missionary health service in northern Newfoundland. He started keeping better records of births and deaths than had ever been kept before among people who had essentially been ignored by the government to be exploited by a rapacious merchant aristocracy. He, naturally, turned up alarming rates of sickness and death from malnutrition and infectious disease, particularly TB. The merchants, abetted by no less a personage than the RC bishop of Newfoundland, promptly accused him of killing people because death rates had never been known to be so high before.