1/02/2009

Moving on from B033

It was a resolution that was born in the anxiety of the last days of the 2006 General Convention and lived a life untested but encumbering:

It read,
"Resolved, That the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report's invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation; and be it further
Resolved, That this Convention therefore call 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."


The first resolve assumed that The Windsor Report's invitation was going to be engaged by others in some active way. Until Lambeth 2008 signs of such listening and reconciliation were few and far between. At Lambeth many of those bishops with whom bishops of The Episcopal Church might have engaged stayed away rather than "receive and embrace The Windsor Report's invitation. The first resolve mostly beat a dead horse.



The second resolve called on bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of unnamed categories of candidates, but meaning gay and lesbian candidates in committed relationships to persons of the same sex. It was never used. No challenging candidates were elected.

There were such candidates nominated, but elections being what they are and the secrets of all hearts being closed, the role of this resolution as an determining impediment to the consideration of particular candidates is hard to gauge. Still, the second resolution in B033 stands as a finely crafted impediment to any sort of open process of ordination. It encumbers and prejudges.


More importantly, B033 flies in the face of the directives of Title III.1.2-3 which concerns the full access to the discernment process by baptized persons of this Church. There may well be questions concerning the "good standing" of baptized persons, but that is determined to some considerable extent by the discernment process itself. A persons who is duly nominated and made a candidate for particular ministry is assumed already to have been subject to examination concerning their good standing and appropriateness to the office to which they are called. To admit persons in particular to the process of discernment regarding election as a bishop and then elected and then to request that bishops and dioceses withhold consent essentially voids the intent of the full and equal access canons.


Title III.1.2 does not assume the "right" of any person to particular ministries of the church. The canon states, "No right to licensing, ordination, or election is hereby established." There is nothing that would not permit a challenge to the "manner of life" of the possible candidate at that point. And electors, of course, do or do not vote for a particular candidate for all sorts of reasons, hidden, thank God, to all but God. What the canon does do is to affirm that all baptized persons have access to the discernment process.


It appears that B033 has never been needed to serve as a "check" against the election of a bishop. Rather it has served the anxiety out of which it arose. It has served as a caution to electors and in such a role it may well have undermined due process. It's role, if any, has been one of sabotage.



The history of just how B033 came to be and what ecclesial and political issues played into its passage has been hashed over again and again. As far as I can tell no good purpose is to be found in rehearsing the matter again. Enough people have been beat on on this. Suffice to say it is a resolution of Convention that has never seen implementation and has served no end except that of fear and anxiety.


It is time to put it to rest.


Here then is a possible resolution, not yet put forward, for the upcoming General Convention:



Resolved, the House of _________ concurring, that the 76th General Convention affirms the canonical commitment to full access by members of this Church to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, (Title III.1.2-3) and be it further
Resolved that this Convention affirms the existing canonical process for the election, consents and ordination of a bishop in this church, in which the Christ centered manner of life of candidates and later bishops-elect is tested by the theological, moral and psychological concerns of this church, understanding that determination of the appropriateness of such election and subsequent consents and ordination includes concerns for the challenges such election may present to members of this church or of other churches in the Anglican Communion, and be it further

Resolved, that this Convention continues its pledge to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation with member churches of the Anglican Communion who have declared themselves in a state of impaired communion with the is church, and be it further

Resolved, that the content of this resolution supersedes the content of resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention.

The first resolve commits General Convention to the intent of Title III.1.2-3. The second resolve affirms that we have in our canons a process sufficient to provide for election of bishops, one which includes concerns for those who might have objections in specific cases, both within and without The Episcopal Church. The third resolve takes the matter of healing and reconciliation out of the Windsor context where it was never engaged. The fourth resolve takes B033 out of the picture.
I suppose one could propose a shorter resolution:
"Resolved, the House of _____________ concurring, that the 76th General Convention rescinds resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention."
I don't particularly like this option because I believe B033 has sufficiently called into question our commitment to Title lll.1.2-3 to where we need to reaffirm that commitment. I am also concerned that we reaffirm that our process and intent is to ordain bishops who will take their place in the councils of the churches and we therefore take the concerns of this worldwide community of churches into reasonable account.

Which do you think is the better way to go, assuming you think anything needs to be done at all? Do you have yet another option?

Try to keep it civil.

18 comments:

  1. Mark,

    First, I think you are looking for the word rescinds (not resends) in the "shorter" version.

    Second, in the preamble there ought to be some verbiage that talks to the issues you mentioned. The fact that B033 was never really workable.
    Finally, perhaps in a separate resolution, an affirmation of full inclusion of all peoples in the Episcopal church is a floor" not a "ceiling" issue.

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  2. Hmmm. I see your argument for "superseding" B033 instead of simply repealing it. I'm not sure acknowledging open access is mutually exclusive with acknowledging sensitivity to the concerns of Anglicans elsewhere. However, since those most prepared to proclaim their concerns are also those most opposed to open access to the process, I don't know that any acknowledgment on our part will be seen as meaningful.

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  3. I believe that any resolution should include an apology to the GLBT members of this church for the grief 033 caused.

    At any rate, I expect the HOB to dig in their heals and remember that warm and fuzzy Lambeth experience and chose to be cowards instead of acting like responsible bishops of this church.

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  4. I rather prefer the one in red.

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  5. I think where you are going is absolutely the way to go, and I DO believe that reinforcing Title lll.1.2-3 is the point (it is central to our theology and what I view as sufficient given our discernment process, while rescinding BO33 clearly needs doing.

    If anything, we need to clean up and clear up all the "bogs" found in the last several years, this one included.

    I hope to God (Hear My Prayer!) that we can get PAST this in the 2009 convention in a very clear way.

    I also hope that--potentially right on the heals of a CA Supreme Court decision protecting current marriages of lgbt folks and advancing the right of future marriages--that the church will PASS uniform language for marriage rights in states that allow it. We don't need to--and must not--wait years and years for this to happen. Bishop Bruno (Los Angeles Diocese) has language, and it is beautiful.

    Fred might be right in suggesting language be included to talk about the failure of B033 thus stating the need, and Fred's final sentence, "...[p]erhaps in a separate resolution an affirmation of full inclusionof all peoples in the Epsiucopal church is a floor "not a ceiling" is something I strongly support.

    We have an opportunity at GC2009 to really do some good... and I hope we do.

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  6. I believe that any resolution should include an apology to the GLBT members of this church for the grief 033 caused.¨ James

    Yes, it´s time to speak out for what we BELIEVE and to quit dodging what we BELIEVE (because of pressure from very unloving fellow Christians who would thieve and destroy at TEC)!

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  7. I believe GC should be forthright in addressing the concerns raised by the Communion, and not hide its intent in a cloud of imprecise words (as B033 did). The right thing to do is to say something like, "Resolved, we find nothing whatsoever wrong with men or women engaging in homosexual activity, and such behavior shall not be prejudicial to the call of any person to any level of ordained ministry in this church." - And let the chips fall where they may. In other words, have the courage of your convictions.

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  8. I believe GC should be forthright in addressing the concerns raised by the Communion, and not hide its intent in a cloud of imprecise words (as B033 did). The right thing to do is to say something like, "Resolved, we find nothing whatsoever wrong with men or women engaging in homosexual activity, and such behavior shall not be prejudicial to the call of any person to any level of ordained ministry in this church." - And let the chips fall where they may. In other words, have the courage of your convictions.

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  9. There's nothing wrong with B033 as it is. It merely raises a significant issue for consideration when consenting to a consecration. It does not even require a certain answer to that consideration.

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  10. Mark, I'm sure you know there's an effort afoot to have many diocesan conventions pass resolutions urging General Convention to deal with the issues of B033 and same-sex blessings. To my great astonishment, the Diocese of Missouri [no hotbed of liberalism!] passed resolutions along the lines being supported by Integrity. You can find the text of our resolutions on my blog.

    That said, I like the long version of your resolution better than ours -- partly because you include something of our theology within the text. Good job!

    By the way, I am told by long-time Deputies that resolutions passed in a General Convention automatically expire at the end of that triennium. Thus, B033 will be officially and legally defunct when the gavel opens GC09 in Anaheim. So I don't think we need to rescind B033. But, like James and Leonardo, I do hope for an apology. And I hope for the kind of positive commitment and articulation that you have provided here.

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  11. textjunkie3/1/09 11:39 AM

    I think your proposed resolution is hitting the nail on the head--we have a system that is not arbitrary (hopefully) but depends on quite a bit of examination, and we affirm our commitment to that, while acknowledging not everyone will agree with our system or its output. C'est la vie. Nothing wrong with the system per se. (Actually there is, but that's a different issue. ;)

    I also think some acknowledgment of the damage that B033 caused, both in its method of passage and in the message it carried, should be included--acknowledgment that such occurred even if it was not intended, and that the church is committed to pastoral care of all...

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  12. First, yes absolutely, something should be done. There is no end to the ill done and no good come from B-033.

    Second, I prefer version 1. It is important to re-affirm the commitments made in Title III and dishonored by B-033.

    I would a sentence explicitly stating that this church never, ever, intentionally places anyone in a, 'crucified place.' But then, I think we gave the PB an utterly undeserved pass on this.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  13. Personally, I think everyone should stop keeping track of every bit of "pain" and "damage" caused by this, that, and the other resolution or report and just move on. Sorry, but I just don't see not having a gay candidate consecrated as bishop (for the time being) as constituting real suffering in a world wracked by war, starvation and disease. Can't we fight for gay rights without being so exquisitely attuned to our own psychic pain?

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  14. Apologies are meaningless unless they make some sort of restitution. You can spill red wine on my silk dress and say, "Oops, I'm so sorry." But, unless you offer to pay to have my dress cleaned, your apology is just a polite social requirement.

    Acknowledging that B033 is now legally defunct and offering an apology - at the very least - is absolutely in order.

    Reaffirming Title III.1.2 is a good thing, too. The general rule of thumb vis a vis resolution is the shorter, the better. The fewer words to have to wordsmith, the better.

    So, I would suggest something that (1) apologized to LGBT people for B033 (2) acknowledged that B033 is now legally defunct (3) re-affirmed the theology and authority of Title III 1.2.

    The Word Verification is "tretakes"

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  15. In the explanation, I would reaffirm the contributions that lay and ordained LGBT members of this Church make to the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church, reaffirm the non-discrimination canons as a direct corollary of the doctrine of our creation in the image of God, of the Gospel, and of the Baptismal Covenant.

    In the resolve, I would rescind B033, apologize for the spiritual violence it perpetrated against members of this Church and the way it compromised our witness before a watching world, and reaffirm the canonical process of elections to the Episcopate, as well as the non-discrimination canons in particular.

    In a separate canonical change, I would make it clear that not only is orientation protected but partnered status. Too many bishops evade the intent of the canon.

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  16. Sir, I disagree with your motion BUT I believe TECUSA should support it so that local actions have integrity (given they are, in reality, endorsed by TECUSA despite the existence of BO33)

    So, for the integrity of TECUSA, I hope a motion re BO33 such as yours is passed ...... and the voices which call for a dishonest, political statement (which is what BO33 has become) to stay at the AC top table do not hold sway.....but that means TECUSA must have the courage of its convictions re AC membership - I hope it does, for the sake of its own integrity. I can respect a liberal view which demonstrates such courage .....

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  17. I agree with the Rev. Dr. Carroll's suggestion. And from the opposite side of "the issue," find myself supporting Phil - TEC needs to be honest, forthright, and let the chips fall where they may (but like James, I fear the whole thing will come to naught with the HoB turning cowardly & wishy-washy).

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  18. The rhetoric with which some of you surround this resolution is simply amazing.

    The only place where I remember B033 being invoked at all was by some standing committees refusing to allow Mark Lawrence' dedication as bishop. I presume you will not be apologizing for spiritual violence done to Mark Lawrence or the diocese of South Carolina. Since this resolution never actually was used against one single gay or lesbian, I would let the language of spiritual violence go, and stop trying to impress everyone with your spiritual nosebleeds and spiritual black eyes.

    Since B033 certainly didn't fulfill the Primates' request (and BTW, the Windsor Report was written to the Primates and the ACC, not TEC), I don't think it would mean much to them whether you annulled it or not. But I agree with Phil that you be straightforward about it, and not cloak it in the ambiguous and misleading language so popular with the House of Bishops and this blog. Just say it straight out: the concerns of the wider Anglican Communion will have no bearing on whom we choose to be our bishops. Also, there is no need to pretend that you will be pursuing reconciliation with the provinces of the Global South, since we know that no actions will in fact be taken except offers of financial assistance.

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