Saturday, July 11, 2009

July 10 at General Convention and BO33

I grew up in an Anglo-catholic family. One of those days that I walked with my father to church I can remember asking him (in the midst of debates over women's ordination) why he didn’t leave the church and find one that agreed with him (that ordains women). My father told me that we were as close to Rome as we could be and as far from Rome as he ever wished to go. For a 10- year old that didn’t make a lot of sense, but what did capture my heart was his reminder that we were part of a historic church and a global church—a church that was missionary and engaged across the entire world. And, I understood that change comes slowly in a church that holds up tradition as a value. This of course was at a time when the House of Bishops was much more progressive than the conservative House of Deputies -- not the situation we experience today.

The idea of a global communion meant a lot to me as a child and it is deeply a part of my spiritual journey and my own spiritual values. It is very much a part of my earliest thoughts about what it means to be an Episcopalian. I know that is not true for everyone, but it is for me. The idea of a global communion is the very reason I will forever remain both an Episcopalian and an Anglican.

Business continued in Anaheim while I was away. The issue of repealing BO33 was discussed at great length on Thursday and again on Friday morning. BO33 is the resolution from the 2006 Convention widely seen as a moratorium on consecrating gay bishops. The committee on World Mission, which received the legislation, heard testimony on Thursday evening on the measure.

I am grateful to Bishop Harrison for her work on this committee. She, along with the other bishops, continue to reflect what I believe is the mind of the House of Bishops, which is that we should not deal with BO33 at this Convention--sentiments echoed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori herself. Despite their efforts, a resolution is being prepared to propose a repeal and may indeed make it out of committee. We will have to wait and see.

I would also like to add my thanks to John Dawson who testified in the House of Deputies on Friday, giving a very personal testimony and offering his wisdom on why we should not repeal BO33. He was given two minutes to speak as part of a lottery system and he did a good job conveying his wish that we not re-address this measure.

There is another resolution making its way through convention. It is the resolution proposing “generous restraint” is granted bishops whose jurisdictions are within states that have passed laws allowing gay marriage. I understand today that it may be referred to my committee – Constitution. The committee on Urban Ministry is referring this and our own Joe Reynolds worked on the resolution in sub-committee.

I think it is important to remind those of you who may be reading that these issues are very difficult ones and not new to the church. They are issues relating to sexuality, however, as I watch the convention and visitors discuss the issues, I am reminded the issues also highlight the differences between the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops. They highlight vocational and theological differences.

I visited with a number of gay friends last night and they are as ready to move forward as are those friends I visited who are desirous of more time, or to not move forward at all. I feel a great sadness as I listen and observe the pain that is felt by fellow church members who are gay and lesbian, as well as those who love them when we decline to offer the blessing of their unions. I understand the pain that wells up in our own diocese among those churches and progressives who very much support these efforts.

I also understand the pain of those more conservative who do not believe this is what our church should be doing. I know they can feel silenced before a larger majority in the wider church who seem ready to move forward. Deputy Frankie Rodriquez shared his feelings that the church was leaving him behind and closing the door on his ministry as well.

Then there are those friends who have dioceses that are struggling. These actions make it very difficult to maintain a unity of stewardship and mission for them.

I will not be voting to repeal BO33. I believe we struggled with this in 2006 and made the right decision. That decision supports my own desire to maintain a healthy relationship with the greater communion and reflects my hope that a continued moratorium will enable a healing within the communion. It also reflects the current teaching of our church, the Windsor Report, the Covenant relationships with the wider church, and the views of our previous bishops.

I will also not be voting in favor of the measure allowing bishops to allow same sex unions in states where that is legal. I feel this view and my stance is in keeping with the above thoughts.

These issues will continue to unfold before us, the dialogue will continue, and there is yet to be any legislation brought to the floor. We still must wait to see how these issues play out on the floor of two houses.

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