Friday, 17 July 2009

General Convention last day actions

Updated again Thursday

The “Anaheim statement” current information has been moved over here.

Resolution C056 has now been passed by the House of Deputies. The voting was Lay: 78 yes, 23 no, 7 divided. Clergy: 74 yes, 27 no, 7 divided. The text is here.

The Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury concerning Resolution D025. The original is available as a PDF. The full text of this letter is reproduced below the fold. The same letter was sent to all Primates of the Anglican Communion with a cover letter. This also is reproduced below the fold.

These documents were issued under the cover of a short press release which reads as follows:

Presiding Bishop, HOD President send letter to Archbishop Williams,Anglican Primates on GC actions, affirms close relationship with Anglican Communion

[July 17, 2009] A letter describing the steps taken by The Episcopal Church’s 76th General Convention and reaffirming the close relationship with the Anglican Communion was sent today to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson. A copy of the letter also was sent to the 38 Primates, and clergy and lay leaders of the Anglican Communion

The letter to Archbishop Williams outlined Resolution D025, which was adopted at this General Convention, explaining that Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and President Anderson understood Resolution D025 to be more descriptive than prescriptive in nature. It stated that some are concerned that the adoption of Resolution D025 has effectively repealed Resolution B033 but reiterated that is not the case. The letter continued, “This General Convention has not repealed Resolution B033. It remains to be seen how Resolution B033 will be understood and interpreted in light of Resolution D025.

The letter also states that the Episcopal Church “is deeply and genuinely committed to our relationships in the Anglican Communion.” It also says, “In adopting this Resolution, it is not our desire to give offense. We remain keenly aware of the concerns and sensibilities of our brothers and sisters in other Churches across the Communion. We believe also that the honesty reflected in this resolution is essential if indeed we are to live into the deep communion that we all profess
and earnestly desire.”

The letter expresses the profound appreciation of the Presiding Officers that Archbishop Williams, 16 Anglican Primates, and lay and clergy leaders of the Anglican Communion attended the General Convention and stressed the importance of finding ways to communicate directly about different cultural and ecclesial contexts.

The letter to Archbishop Williams was hand-delivered. Copies of the letter were emailed to the Primates and to Anglican lay and clergy leaders on July 17, and were distributed to the House of Bishops and House of Deputies.

General Convention 2009 continues until July 17 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California (Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles).

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention, held every three years, is the bicameral governing body of the church. General Convention, the second largest legislative body in the world, is comprised of the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 members, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay representatives from the 110 dioceses, at over 850 members.

16 July 2009

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Rowan Williams
Lambeth Palace

Dear Archbishop Williams,

We are writing to you as the Presiding Officers of the two Houses of The General Convention of The Episcopal Church. As your friends in Christ, we remain deeply grateful to you for your gracious presence among us recently during our 76th General Convention in Anaheim.

As you know, The General Convention voted this week to adopt Resolution D025, “Commitment and Witness to the Anglican Communion”—a multilayered resolution that addresses a range of important issues in the life of The Episcopal Church that clearly have implications for our relationships within the Anglican Communion.

Because this action is already being variously interpreted by different individuals and groups, we want to offer our perspective to you with the hope that some background, context, and information will be helpful in understanding this action of our General Convention. If you have not already had an opportunity to read it, a copy of the resolution is attached.

We understand Resolution D025 to be more descriptive than prescriptive in nature—a statement that reaffirms commitments already made by The Episcopal Church and that acknowledges certain realities of our common life. Nothing in the Resolution goes beyond what has already been provided under our Constitution and Canons for many years. In reading the resolution, you will note its key points, that:

  • Our Church is deeply and genuinely committed to our relationships in the Anglican Communion;
  • We recognize the contributions gay and lesbian Christians, members of our Church both lay and ordained, have made and continue to make to our common life and ministry;
  • Our Church can and does bear witness to the fact that many of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters live in faithful, monogamous, lifelong and life-giving committed relationships;
  • While ordination is not a “right” guaranteed to any individual, access to our Church’s discernment and ordination process is open to all baptized members according to our Constitution and Canons; and
  • Members of The Episcopal Church do, in fact, disagree faithfully and conscientiously about issues of human sexuality.

It is important to understand the process through which this Resolution came into being.

In 2006, the 75th General Convention adopted Resolution B033 which “called upon Standing Committees and Bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider Church and will lead to further strains on communion.”

While adoption of that resolution was offered with a genuine desire “to embrace The Windsor Report’s invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation” within the Anglican Communion, it has also been a source of strain within the life of our own Church.

This year at least sixteen resolutions were submitted asking the 76th General Convention to take further action regarding B033. These resolutions fell into three categories—those calling for the repeal of B033; those restating or seeking to strengthen our Church’s nondiscrimination Canons; and those stating where The Episcopal Church is today. From these options, our General Convention chose the third—along with reaffirming our commitments to the Anglican Communion—with the hope that such authenticity would contribute to deeper conversation in these matters.

The complex and deliberative nature of our legislative process involving bishops, lay deputies, and clerical deputies prevents the General Convention from acting rashly. However, it does lead eventually to a profound consensus. Sometimes this consensus takes years to achieve. As Resolution D025 itself states, we are still not all of one mind. Passage of this Resolution represents another step in a conversation that began with the 65th General Convention in 1976 which stated that homosexual persons are “children of God and have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.” The discussion of these issues has continued consistently through every General Convention for the past thirty-three years, and we understand it to be an important contribution to the listening process invited by the successive Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988, and 1998.

Some are concerned that the adoption of Resolution D025 has effectively repealed Resolution B033. That is not the case. This General Convention has not repealed Resolution B033. It remains to be seen how Resolution B033 will be understood and interpreted in light of Resolution D025.

Some within our Church may understand Resolution D025 to give Standing Committees (made up of elected clergy and laity) and Bishops with jurisdiction more latitude in consenting to episcopal elections. Others, in light of Resolution B033, will not. In either case, we trust that the Bishops and Standing Committees of The Episcopal Church will continue to exercise prayerful discernment in making such decisions, mindful and appreciative of our relationships in the Anglican Communion.

In adopting this Resolution, it is not our desire to give offense. We remain keenly aware of the concerns and sensibilities of our brothers and sisters in other Churches across the Communion. We believe also that the honesty reflected in this resolution is essential if indeed we are to live into the deep communion that we all profess and earnestly desire.

Please know that we continue to hold you in our prayers even as we invite yours for us.
We remain,


Your sisters in Christ,

Bonnie Anderson, D.D.
President of The House of Deputies

The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate

15 July 2009

Dear Brothers in Christ,

My heart was filled with joy at seeing so many of you here last week at the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church meeting in Anaheim, California. It is important to me that we continue to find ways to communicate with one another directly about our different cultural and ecclesial contexts, and thereby prevent any misunderstandings.

For this reason, I am sending you a copy of a letter addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and co-signed by myself and the President of our House of Deputies. It outlines in some detail Resolution D025, which was adopted at this Convention, explaining both what this resolution means and what it does not mean. With so much misinformation circulating through the press and other sources, it is crucial to me that I provide the Archbishop and all of you with accurate information. To this end, I am also attaching a copy of Resolution D025, so that you may read it in its entirety for yourself.

As the attached letter notes, some people have been concerned that the adoption of D025 has effectively repealed the 2006 General Convention Resolution B033. Let me stress that this is not the case. Rather, we understand D025 to be more descriptive than prescriptive in nature, acknowledging the realities we face in various parts of our own Church while reaffirming our ongoing commitment on all levels to our relationships within the Anglican Communion.

I would welcome any questions or feedback you might have, and reiterate yet again my profound appreciation and joy at having so many of you with us as we gathered as a Church to worship, fellowship, and deliberate together. May God continue to bless your ministries and strengthen our bonds of affection.

Your servant in Christ,
[signed] Katharine Jefferts Schori

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 10:17pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

I'm rather surprised to find that my bishop (+Wolf, RI) did not sign the "Anaheim Statement." She was one of the group called the Windsor Bishops, but not part of the Anaheim group (or whatever).

By the way, it was fitting that today was the feast day of William White, our first PB. His collect reads,

"O Lord, in a time of turmoil and confusion you raised up your servant William White, and endowed him with wisdom, patience, and a reconciling temper, that he might lead your Church into ways of stability and peace: Hear our prayer, and give us wise and faithful leaders, that through their ministry your people may be blessed and your will be done; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

Posted by: BillyD on Saturday, 18 July 2009 at 12:09am BST

Thanks lots to the authors of the communion wide letter. I had not realized earlier that the draft submissions to GC fell into the three contexts described in the letter. That little piece of info is very helpful, at least at the moment.

Short of Rowan Williams actually getting a clue for a change, I'm not too optimistic about the educational impact of this letter as such. RW has already started going on record with remarks that suggest he will slide along with the whole big walking apart mantra from the farthest Anglican rights, a repetitive scapegoating of the queer folks and their family-friends for causing Anglicans to go downhill yet again. The right did it with Dromantine, Windsor, Dar Es Salaam, and the last Lambeth. What else is news?

Sadly, I still guess that RW will find going along doesn't keep his own church from being assaulted in the going IRD-planned manner. A conscientious walking apart is increasingly the only sane and ethical path, faced with the greasy sleazy Anglican conservative manner in which believers show their street cred by talking about how lovely it is when God magically turns queer folks into totally conformed straight people, just like themselves.

Sooner or later, like an initiate in a violent straight male teenage gang, Rowan will have to actually bash some queer person to show how serious and pure his religion is, pumping holy testosterone. Or else. I'm estimating the Jeffrey J affair writ large, with very overt polarizations.

Maybe going all ballistic with TEC and Canada as targets will seem to serve; but I think the Anglican sharks smell blood - have for quite a while now - and will push to escalate the realignment feeding frenzy. Chum. In the Anglican waters. Yum. Yum. Early retirement?

Let's pause all the Anglican fight club stuff, and concentrate on alternatives all around the planet, according to our best conscience. Freedom Train, Freedom Train, Underground Railroads, Safe Houses .... we have a good legacy that sparks ideas of what to do besides keep fighting with the Anglican rights.

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 18 July 2009 at 12:32am BST

What Dr Dan said!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 18 July 2009 at 7:01am BST

Yes it is fitting it was the " feast " of Bishop White..he wanted to throw the Nicene Creed out of the American Paryer Book, but the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop Seabury insisted he put it back.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 18 July 2009 at 7:16am BST

BillyD, maybe someone pointed out to good ole Geralyn the hypocrisy of claiming to defend traditional marriage while being married to a divorced man.

Posted by: JPM on Saturday, 18 July 2009 at 3:55pm BST

Bishop White was very much the Low Church Latitudinarian, RIW. Unlike Bishop Seabury, who was very much the High Church Catholic.

Posted by: Kurt on Saturday, 18 July 2009 at 4:02pm BST

Robert, there's no reason for the catty scare quotes around the word feast. No one's going to mistake you for anything but a loyal son of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church if, out of common courtesy, you use the terminology of us heretics when writing about us. I would think this also reaches to writing things like, "Bishop Duncan offered what he thought was Benediction..." Humor us, if only out of charity. If not out of charity, then maybe out of mere politeness.

Re: the American BCP. Look on the bright side: at least we were able to get rid of the ghastly Athanasian Creed, and to include a full, unmutilated Service of Holy Communion, no matter what the then-AofC thought.

Posted by: BillyD on Saturday, 18 July 2009 at 4:25pm BST

Dear drdanfee,

I really don't think RW will dump on queer folks: he (unlike Wright) is too decent, and it still seems clear that his personal views on that subject are unchanged. In any case, acceptance of homosexuality is very widespread in the UK (more so than in the US) - 50%-ish and going upwards. The C of E has to take this into account. Your battle is won. Neither in the UK or in the US or in Canada are liberal Christians going to let you down.



Posted by: john on Saturday, 18 July 2009 at 5:55pm BST

Dear John,

Your optimism about Archbishop Williams's attitude is a welcome relief. I do believe that people have yet to realize (after seven years) that the role of Archbishop of Canterbury (and even more so, perhaps, the Bishop of Rome) is not to be an "activist" but rather to be a person who keeps the lines of dialogue open, so to speak. Pope Benedict's latest encyclical, with statements about "pro-life" matters that would make some readers here a little annoyed and words about capitalism that would infuriate some in Colorado Springs, is a good example of the kind of thinking behind the role that Williams exemplifies.

More importantly, I have seen for myself over the last week or so that attitudes in my part of the world are changing, quietly, even if more reactionary forces are about to launch their counterattack. There is hope yet, but it will take a while.

Posted by: Ren Aguila on Sunday, 19 July 2009 at 12:08am BST

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has issues with discussing the Archbishop of Canterbury together with the Bishop of Rome. The problem with Rowan Williams is precisely that he seems not to grasp that his office is not like that claimed by the Bishop of Rome. In short, +++Rowan is not now, nor has he ever been, nor will he ever be, a Pope.

Posted by: WilliamK on Sunday, 19 July 2009 at 8:21pm BST

I wonder how many of those bishops are divorced and remarried?

Posted by: JPM on Monday, 20 July 2009 at 3:45pm BST

"Humor us, if only out of charity. If not out of charity, then maybe out of mere politeness."

BillyD, there is, sadly, a certain brand of convert that seems to have forgotten common courtesy, let alone charity.

Posted by: Davis d'Ambly on Tuesday, 21 July 2009 at 3:09pm BST
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