Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Statement from Anaheim after CO56

I believe we have all had a couple of tough days in the House of Bishops.

We’ve been debating and passed D025, "Commitment and Witness to Anglican Communion," in the House of Bishops, and yesterday C056, "Liturgy For Blessings", in a substitute amendment was passed.

I want to say a couple of things about the process.

As a deputation we have worked hard to talk honestly about our responses and feelings to the events surrounding the Convention. We have met regularly for a caucus and for fellowship and for prayer. I believe this has been essential to our life lived together in this place. The deputation is so very diverse that I hope we are modeling how our life can be when we return.

The legislative process has been wholly unsatisfactory for me and a number of other bishops. I spoke to the "discharge" motion yesterday because I believe the House of Bishops has in its power to make decisions and take actions through pastoral letters to the church without the House of Deputies. And, on issues as divisive as sexuality it is imperative that the Bishops be willing to speak to the whole church, the whole flock, across political lines. Win or loose resolutions do not accomplish the unity that Jesus prayed to God to grant his disciples.

On Tuesday, I felt as though there was no place for me that might hear my voice because of the legislative process, I found myself very frustrated. I did not feel that there was room for a moderate voice. I was not the only one and the Presiding Bishop announced that a group of bishops were going to gather that night. I joined in.

It was a diverse group of 26 bishops. We each took turns telling our story and speaking about the unique missionary context in which we do ministry, the repurcusions of our actions, and how we felt about the work before us.

This was an important time for me because it gave me the opportunity to be very clear about who we are in the Diocese of Texas. I shared with them my very clear commitment to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Windsor Process, and the Covenant Process. I also shared with them that we are a diverse diocese in our opinions on sexuality issues, though a clear majority of our members continue to reaffirm a traditional understanding of marriage and a commitment to the processes I outlined above.

The substitute resolution that was written after the group met was not materially different than the original. The words that I felt should be removed in order to continue to honor our commitment to the Anglican Communion were not removed. So, I did not vote in favor.

The process though was helpful and it was a process where by I felt as though people of the broader Episcopal Church were able to hear your voices from within the Diocese of Texas.

I voted against passage of both DO25 and CO56, Dena voted against both, and Rayford voted against DO25 and for CO56.

Both resolutions (DO25 and CO56) will, I am most certain, place strain on the Anglican Communion. Reactions I've received support this belief. However, we need to give the communion time to respond, and we need to listen to our Archbishop as he speaks to us about his thoughts and reflections on the events of General Convention.

My [no] votes represent where I believe the majority of our diocese is right now; though I know it does not reflect the totality of who we are as a community. Press releases, news stories, and magazine articles can never carry the fullness of that reality, nor can they capture my desire to be shepherd to all my sheep in the diocese.

We remain part of the Episcopal Church. That’s my stance. I also intend to maintain the same balance as Don Wimberly, that we also remain active, constituent, members of the Anglican Communion.

I am committed to the Windsor Report recommendations and process which include a moratoria on blessings and elections of partnered gay clergy to the office of bishop.

I am committed to the Covenant and a process.

I do this out of a vocation of my heart.

I support a group of bishops who I believe will make a similar statement. I am writing to you directly.

As the bishop of the Diocese of Texas I am letting you know about my votes and the reasons for my votes. And, I am writing to you that you may know my commitment to our life together as one church. And, that you will know of my very clear intention to continue on the Windsor Path and to engage as a Bishop Diocesan in the Covenant process all as a full and active member in the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

House of Bishop's Passes DO25

DO25 was passed by the House of Deputies today and moved to the House of Bishops this afternoon.

You may read the text of the resolution here:

The resolution despite the headlines of a number of news organizations was descriptive and offers a vision of where the Episcopal Church is at this time. It speaks to the fact that we are not of one mind on the issues of sexuality, that there is disagreement within the church on issues of ordination, marriage/unions. I think it reflects the reality that there are differences of opinion on how to deal with our differences.

I do not believe the house intended the passage of the resolution to be prescriptive. In other words the resolution did not pass same sex blessings, or ordinations of partnered gay and lesbians. It was not a permission giving resolution or a canonical change to our understanding of marriage.

Interestingly enough, DO25 passed in the HOD clergy order by a 2 to 1 margin, in the HOD lay order by a 2 to 1 margin, and in the HOB by a 2 to 1 margin. I do believe this shows some consistency within this body at this time.

The Diocese of Texas Deputation was divided in their vote and so their vote was registered as a "no" vote. This diversity, appointed by the people of the Diocese at Council, reflects who we are as a diocese. I thought our deputies did their discernment well. We shared together over lunch their thoughts and concerns about the church at home. They too felt as though the resolution was descriptive and not prescriptive.

Bishop High, Bishop Harrison and I each voted against the resolution as we have been and continue to be concerned regarding the repercussions throughout the Anglican Communion. And we were concerned with the idea that DO25 repeals BO33 from the 2006 General Convention. I should add most every one of the Episcopal Church's diocese in a foreign country voted against the passage as well. Also, bishops of Dallas, Northwest Texas, Rio Grande and West Texas voted no.

There are several thoughts that seem important when reflecting on the resolution and its meaning for us in our diocese. The Diocese of Texas honors the moratorium not because of DO25 or BO33, but because of our belief that the teachings of the church on sexuality have not changed, that the Windsor Report asks the American church to refrain from election and ordination of a bishop who is living in a partnered relationship, from the development of rites for same sex blessings, and our own resolutions and canons currently have reaffirmed our views on the topic.

The House of Bishops carried on a deep debate of listening ears and open hearts. Bishop Hines once called this the "exquisite pain of being a bishop" -- living and praying through times of great division with your brother and sister bishops. This was very hard work today. I thought that the House deliberated and conversed well, prayerfully, and mindful of those who were not like minded in the room.

God's mission is greater that the passage or defeat of any resolution at this Convention. Regardless of which side of the argument you may find yourself embracing, or what you believe the best way of resolving this situation is, we have a mission that is given to us in partnership with Jesus Christ.

I believe that God intends the restoration of creation and those that live within it. I believe that God intends the incarnational body of Christ in the church to be the chief instrument in this work. God intends the Episcopal Church as a member of the worldwide Communion to be a part of this restoration. No resolution will get in the way of this work, nor can it resend the love and providence of God to offer both blessings and challenges.

I will continue to lead us as a Diocese as a member of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. I have plans to be in London in the Fall for a Compass Rose meeting and believe this will be a good time to get a sense of the communion's response.

I am concerned about how this affects our people in every manner of life and relationship, in every congregation. How will this affect our relationship with one another? Nevertheless, our history tells us that we can move through this together and by continuing to focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have already asked Canon Case, Janie Stevens, and Cecilia Smith to help me design a pastoral and small group program for congregations to respond to the actions of General Convention and enable me and the leadership of the diocese to receive feedback regarding strategies in dealing with the pastoral issues which arise out of the actions of this convention.

The Diocese of Texas has self-differentiated itself by council on the issues of sexuality and the church's teaching on marriage, which is a more traditional stance. I do not believe that the Diocese is prepared to change that stance. It is with greater clarity, I believe that we now see the reality of the church within which and from which we do our ministry.

I should say that the work of this week is not over. We have many more important resolutions to follow. We need to see how the rest of the week continues to play out and what the reactions of the greater communion will be.

Bishop Gary Lillibridge hosted a wonderful gathering for the Diocese of Texas and West Texas deputations. It was a very good time to be together and to have fellowship. Afterwards we had the deputation dinner and broke bread together. This was an important time and while we spoke some of the business of the day, there was also laughter, reconnecting friendships, and new relationships born out of the evening. I think we were again reminded of our deep communion relationships built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ.

I hope you will keep our deputation in your prayers as we continue to move through ever longer legislative days.

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 12, 2009

I very much enjoyed the UTO service. The music was wonderful. I thought the sermon on mission had a number of good points, which I twittered, along with the prayers of the people, and UTO ingathering.

I met with the deputation shortly after and we discussed a number of things. The consent for the Bishop of Ecuador Central came up in conversation. This is a major issue in a very divided diocese, where we have been aiding to restore health. The House of Bishops elected a fine man, The Rev. Luis Fernando Ruiz. He will bring skills of leadership, transparency, administration and a love of Jesus Christ to the office. He received an almost unanimous vote by the house at our March meeting. I believe that some of the dysfunctional elements of his diocese have attempted to disrupt this process throwing the House of Deputies into some confusion. We will receive the vote tomorrow: the 13th, God willing

We discussed the Title IV revision. A number of very fine brothers and sisters have worked on this revision. I very much believe our current Title IV serves us well. There is also a great deal of continued discussion in several areas of the proposed Title that I just don't feel are yet worked out. We will have to see what the House of Deputies does with this, but I am concerned that the level of structure needed for the new Title will be very burdensome for us, let alone a small diocese with limited resources.

We were back in session in the afternoon and moved pretty steadily through our resolutions. I am very pleased with the resolution on Immigration. We had a healthy discussion and I believe the resolution upholds the church's commitment to respect the dignity of human beings. Along with the Roman Catholic Church we are joining in a call for reform.

I was very proud of our own Mary MacGregor, director of leadership development,who spoke to ECW presidents and members on Sunday to accolades for her passion and expertise.

I had the honor and privilege of toasting (roasting) Bishop Wimberly at the Bishops' dinner tonight. What a great night of celebration for our retiring bishops. I was blessed to be asked and laughed and enjoyed my time listening to stories about the good people who have served with great hearts and a love for their church. I would say that there was a theme. The men who were honored last night were known for their dedication, their love of Jesus, their love of his church, their love for his people, their belief that that love is articulated in mission for the oppressed and those in need. They were also each known as friends in and of the House of Bishops. The histories and stories make me wish to be a servant bishop and a good bishop for the church, diocese, and Jesus.

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.

For All The Saints Who From Their Labors Rest

I am now returning to Anaheim and taking a few minutes to reflect on the day that is past.

The memorial service for Sue Scott was wonderful. The family and Jim Nelson planned a beautiful memorial service. The hymns were favorites and meaningful to those present. Rachel Suarez, a good friend of Sue’s gave a fine reflection on her life which I thought very much captured her beloved nature and gifts of love, kindness, grace, friendship, and family. Jim followed the reflection with one of his own that honored her and showed the influence she had on many of her clergy peers.

The good people at Good Shepherd were great hosts and the hospitality and kindness they showed to me and the family was what I have come to expect from this wonderful parish.

For all the saints who from their labors rest,Who Thee by faith before the world confess,Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest,Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.Alleluia! Alleluia!
Oh, may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old And win with them the victor's crown of gold.Alleluia! Alleluia!
O blest communion, fellowship divine,We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.Alleluia! Alleluia!
And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.Alleluia! Alleluia!
William W. How

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Heading Home

Before I left for General Convention two weeks ago I had the pleasure of con-celebrating a home Eucharist with the Rev. Sue Scott. That was not the plan.

It was one of the most grace-filled moments of my ministry (my whole ministry). I always found Sue to be a delightful person, a caring person, a creative person and my experience that day was no different.

The plan had been to take her communion. Ann and I arrived at Sue and Ron's lovely home to find Sue sitting up and visiting with Martha. We joined the conversation, Ron the consummate host offering tea and water on the 106 degree day.

During the conversation we talked about how wonderful the people of Trinity and Good Shepherd had been both in their visits and attentiveness to bring her communion regularly. I thanked them both for allowing me to come and visit. It was in this moment that Ron and I giggled about how communed Sue was, and he offered that it would be wonderful for Sue to celebrate one more time for a host of friends and family.

You know me, I just blurted out, not thinking really of the profound meaning or moment to come, saying that maybe Sue could con-celebrate with me. What an honor that would be!

Sue is known for her profound gifts of love given freely and shared with everyone she ministered to. So, it seemed like a real gift for me.

However, it was in that moment of celebration, of the words of institution, memorial acclamation, and eppiclesis that I was moved at the deepest level. Realizing my presence in that moment as icon of the church I was touched in my soul by the participation of the whole church and its presence in that room with Sue as she continued the service by giving me communion first. All her family and friends were present in that moment, as a friend used to say: all the saints of God where in that home filling the house wall-to-wall.

I have reflected on this moment repeatedly over the last two weeks. Each time, even now in writing this, I am tearful. What a holy moment that was...and in that moment...the recognition of God's love for each of us profoundly and freely given in his son Jesus Christ and in the action of breaking the bread.

I am heading home, writing this in the airport. It was a good thing to be welcomed into the home by Sue and Ron. Sue is home now. It is good to go home to that place where nothing separates us from the love of God. I am grateful, as priest, bishop, as a Christian for Sue's witness of Jesus' love for us. I am heading home. We are all heading home. Blessed is the journey home, and grateful are we for the saints along the way.

Press, Protesters, and People of God

Yesterday, July 8, USA Today (delivered to our rooms) announced "Tense Times for Episcopals."

Attendees had to walk through a line of protesters to get into the convention center.

However, my experience of the day was one of people in real conversations, speaking and listeninng to one another.

It was interesting to hear how a priest and deputy walked up to the protesters and engaged in a civil conversation. She invited one of them to sit for a while, have coffee, and visit. They did, perhaps not changing one another's mind but engaging in being the community of the church.

I experienced a house of bishops in an honest, open, and deliberate conversation. Respecting one another's views but thinking deeply about matters before us. While this occured during a time when visitors were not allowed into the House, I can say that I was keenly aware of a House not divided but living into the Body of Christ we are called to reflect and be.

I can bear witness to the global church that is gathered as a host of bishops from around the communion were introduced to us and the Archbishop led us in a meditation on our mission of stewardship and will lead us this morning in a bible study. These are reminders we are not a church alone in the US but a global communion.

In the exhibition hall, a market of ideas were being shared in many conversaitons as I spent time between meetings.

I visited with young Texans excited about seeing and experiencing the breadth of their church and feeling not only invited to be a part but truly feeling a part of a greater body. Others (James D. and Kevin S. who have been invited to lead the worship at the Young Adult gathering) ready to share the gifts and leadership of the Diocese of Texas with a wider church.

Our deputies have been meeting together and are a diverse group. They reflect us well. They also reflect well the best of the Diocese of Texas as I witness their work of deep listening to one another and attempts to understand their discerning role as our elected leaders.

Our Bishops, Dena and Rayford, are representing us well in their leadership on committees. I am thankful for their partnership and thier work with me and our deputation.

In these few days it has already been a time of renewed friendships from around the church, seeing friends from other ministries and times, it is like a family reunion in that sense of things.

This event as a whole is also an icon of who we are and has the potential for moments of clarity where we can witness the kingdom of God if our eyes can look beyond the headlines, harsh reactions, and into the eyes of our fellow Christians speaking our story and bearing witness to the a living Christ who died that we might truly glorify God in our mission and ministry.

This may be a hard time. However, we should also be proud of our church and the incredible work we do and witness we bear to the world of Jesus Christ's love for God's people.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Archbishop Rowan Williams at General Convention

Archbishop Rowan Williams has joined us at General Convention.

He will be meeting with a diverse group of representatives from across the Episcopal Church.

Evidently his meeting this evening is an open meeting. Tonight (7.08.09) Archbishop Williams will participate ina presentation and panel discussion hosted by both Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori and President Bonnie Anderson. We will gather at the Hilton Anaheim from 6:15-7:30 p.m. (PDT) under the theme "Christian Faithfulness in the Global Economic Crisis."

He will also lead a Bible study during the Thursday Daily Eucharist.

The Archbishop's website is:

I am looking forward to our time tonight and believe that we will probably hear the continuing theme of mission priorities.

July 7, 2008, First Day of General Convention

We began and ended the day with Committee Meetings. Tuesday morning the process of legislation lurched forward as the different committees began to channel work into the different houses.

Our deputies are all here and accounted for. We enjoyed a nice gathering last night in our room. If you are here in Anaheim from the Diocese of Texas please join us at 6 in the Oasis Tower of the Marriot, room 1748.

There was good discussion last night and people shared their different experiences in committees.

We are joined in Anaheim by ECW and Daughters of the King representatives, youth and young adult representatives. I am so very proud of our representation here!

The newcomers to convention have eyes wide open and are taking it all in...

Today we begin with a brief legislative session, followed by an opening Eucharist. JoAnne and the girls will join me for worship.

I understand that we will end the day with the Archbishop of Canterbury visiting with the House of Bishops, then JoAnne and I and the kids will join our class of bishops for dinner.

Keep us in your prayers as we begin our work today.



  • "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • "Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others." Kathleen Norris
  • "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
  • "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton
  • "One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans." C. S. Lewis
  • "When we say, 'I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,' we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the church seldom asks us for forgiveness." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
  • "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." Bono
  • "It's too easy to get caught in our little church subcultures, and the result is that the only younger people we might know are Christians who are already inside the church." Dan Kimball