5/14/2009

Saying where we are today in 2009...

Susan Russell posted this comment on An Inch at a Time concerning the webcast conference with The Presiding Bishop, the President of the House of Bishops, the Bishop of Los Angeles and the Secretary of General Convention: From A little preview from Anaheim -

"this was the "take away" quote from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori -- in response to a question from AP reporter Rachel Zoll about the likelihood of "repealing B033."
My hope is that we not attempt to repeal past legislation at General Convention. It's a bad practice ... a bad legislative practice. I would far more prefer us to say where we are today in 2009 ... to make a positive statement about our desire to include all people fully in this church and that we be clear about who we are as the Episcopal Church.

We can not only live with that ... we can WORK with that. A positive statement about our desire to include all people fully in this church is EXACTLY what we mean by "the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments" -- and it is exactly what we are going to Anaheim to help our deputies and bishops both craft and implement."

Absolutely. Susan Russell once again gets it right.

I think we ought to do p
recisely that: "move on."

I hope we will consider a resolution that (i) assures the Church and the Communion that TEC makes its decisions regarding elections to the episcopate and ordinations to all orders of ministry mindful of our participation in the life of the Anglican Communion, and (ii) reaffirms the existing canons regarding ordination as sufficient to assure that persons nominated, elected and for whom consents are secured are suitable for the ministries to which they have been called.

Hopefully this sort of resolution will pass in both Houses. It will no doubt be seen as a "reversal" of B033 in spite of it being a statement of where we are in 2009. It will make a number of bishops a bit nervous and they will attempt some sort of revised standard version of B033, or a substitute for the resolution above, or something.

One of the more dreadful possibilities is that some group of bishops will propose a common pledge to continue B033 as a matter of shared individual decision - signing on to continue a de facto moratorium. If they get a majority of bishops with jurisdiction to sign on they would then have the proof of TEC continuing the moratorium, not by common decision at General Convention but by diocesan bishops.

While this might satisfy some in the international community -including the Archbishop of Canterbury- who are looking for precisely a continuation of the moratorium, it is a move that would play into the hands of those who want the authority of the church to devolve (or evolve) to the bishops of jurisdictions and to the dioceses and completely away from the General Convention. This would include bishops who want to sign on to the Covenant as dioceses, those who believe that dioceses can determine if they wish to continue as part of the "General Convention Episcopal Church" or not, and those who believe that the Presiding Bishop has so few powers that she is not and cannot be a Metropolitan - that is the equivalent of the Archbishop of a Province.

It might be of some importance to bring to General Convention a resolution to the effect that mememoranda of agreement for common action by members of either house taken outside the proper constraints and directions of General Convention itself, such that limitations are imposed on the actions or decisions of members of a house are effected, are not morally or legally binding on the church or any of its bishops or deputies. Further, it might also be necessary to resolve that such memoranda of agreement attempt to override the constitutional freedoms of members of either house to independent action and are therefore contrary to the Constitution and Canons.

Of course the real problem with an agreement among a majority of the bishops to continue B033 in some form independent of the actions pro or con of the General Convention is that such an agreement is on the face of it prejudicial against a class of people. This class is immediately gay and lesbian persons not celibate, but could easily include divorced persons and women. It no longer does (but could) include persons of color. It could be applied against any group.

Whether or not it is appropriate to distinguish a class of people (non-celibate gay or lesbian persons elected as bishops) and uniformly agree to deny consent to their election is of course the up-front issue. But behind this issue is that it snips out the gray cells, the thinking, between the presented situation (here is the bishop-elect, who is gay and in relationship) and the action (to consent or not.) It reduces the consent to a formula - if A then B.


That was not the situation that held concerning the consent to Bishop Robinson's election. There considerable energy went into "connecting the dots" between the abstract presenting case and the concrete action required. There, at least, people were asked to consider the matter in its concrete and specific context. There, at least, people were asked to think.

An organized pledge to continue the moratorium, without reference to action of General Convention, would be a mistake and the damage done a constitutional system of church governance would be immense. We already have plenty of churches in which the necessity to think things out has been removed. Why would we want another?

By the way, this thinking business cuts many ways. If in fact a majority of bishops or standing committees withhold consent for whatever reason, prejudicial against those who have problems with the matter of the oath of conformity or who practice meditation informed by Buddhism, or whatever, we are stuck. People did think it through and voted against the bishop-elect. Then we either have to get the electors to reconsider by electing the bishop again or we have to move on. Thinking does not guarantee one sort of result or another. (Sound familiar?)

Under the heading of where we are in 2009 we need also to state by resolution that this church is ready to consider public rites for blessing with the understanding that this is a process that would require at least six years to complete, in which there would be significant time for comment and input from our sisters and brothers in the Anglican Communion.

In sum:

(i) My sense is the Presiding Bishop is right - we need to state where we are in 2009. So where we are is, "We make our decisions under the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church and mindful of our life in the Anglican Communion." We need to state that at this General Convention.

(ii) We need to dissuade or dismiss private arrangements among bishops independent of or contrary to the common and public context of decisions as General Convention.

(iii) We need to request the beginning work by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music on rites and include in that request the desire to consult widely on the content of such proposed rites.

There it is. Time to get on with the work.







11 comments:

  1. I wonder if TEC will be prepared to say if it plans to "maintain" any of the moratoria, or to declare they are over?
    John Sandeman /Obadiah Slope

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amen, and amen. So let it be written; so let it be done. Again, we, Anglicanism, are not like the other churches. I for one do not want to go the way of the Israelites, who, against the advice of their prophet, Samuel, wanted to be like the other nations and have a king.

    the magic word, for those who follow these things, is rolkword

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm someone who once took the Soto Zen vows of lay ordination. I came back to the Episcopal Church after a son's death, but I still take those Buddhist vows with some seriousness.

    I don't have any problems with Forrester's theology, as I've read it, but I do have problems with constant exclusive reference to meditation and to the dismissals of these vows as not even being vows (affirmations aren't that serious?).

    Well, I hope he gets elected anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think a more judicious approach would have been to make this GC a non-resolution GC altogether, and focus on a process similar to Indaba, an enriching of relationships in prayer, fellowship, and conversation.

    I also think that now is not the time to move on. We just barely passed through the ACC preserving our Anglican via media. Let's not push for a bit, but make some bit of space.

    I think that until our Church is willing to condemn with the same force the ACofC condemned violence against lgbt persons promoted by fellow Anglicans such as Archbishop Akinola, we have no business moving on the same-sex unions, muchless the episcopate. Our priorities seem on the whole driven by who gets to be bishop, and as a layman, I'm rather tired of what looks like a clerk driven approach.

    ReplyDelete
  5. While we're talking about moratoria, perhaps we should consider some other things to place under a moratorium. For instance, a moratorium on prosecuting men for beating their wives. In some parts of the world this is considered quite permissible -- for us to impose our standards would be Western cultural imperialism.

    Or perhaps a moratorium on racial justice. Some of us old coots remember when many in the Church actually advocated "going slow" on this issue, lest we upset and alienate some of our more "conservative" members.

    A group of bishops is now arguing for "diocesan rights." Most of them are old enough that they should remember that we've been there before, though apparently they have forgotten.

    My recollection is that in the 1970's some of the conversation about the ordination of women included phrases like "we need to go slowly" and "this issue requires more discussion."

    Blessed Martin Luther King, do you suppose you could please whisper in +Rowan's ear while he is sleeping some of your own insights on "moratoria"?

    ReplyDelete
  6. "I wonder if TEC will be prepared to say if it plans to "maintain" any of the moratoria,"

    Well, do the provinces that are making incursions into TEC lands also agree to respect the moratorium against incursions? Somehow, the last incursion is conveniently forgotten whereas the first two are the ones constantly hammered at.

    My word, trisre, is one letter off from the French, triste... sad.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Caminante,
    I think you mistook my tone. I am just wondering what TEC is likely to do, and whether the posters here think it is likely to reject the moratoria aimed at it.

    John Sandeman / Obadiah Slope

    ReplyDelete
  8. For John Sandeman/Obadiah Slope -
    For awhile now I've wanted to remark on your alias. What a self-deprecating name to choose! This is an educated bunch here; do many get reference? I don't often agree with your thought processes, Obadiah, but I remain intrigued by your name choice.

    By the way, you will recall that John was the Christian name of Eleanor's young, idealist first husband, John Bold. Mr. Arabin was her second husband, of course.

    Fond of literary discourse as I am, I'm heading off topic, so readers please pardon the digression. I just think that Mr. Sandeman/Slope's nom de plume must shed some light on his character.

    I also think it's time for our beloved TEC to move beyond moratoria and start acting on our principles. Let the chips fall where they may.

    ReplyDelete
  9. episcogal,
    When I first started posting at beliefnet, and then at the old Father Jake site, I close the name as an evangelical well aware of some of the faults that we evangelicals bear.
    Knowing Episcopalians to be a well-read bunch it was a way of getting that message across without labouring the point. I am glad it worked in your case.
    Obadiah Slope

    ReplyDelete
  10. "Whatever opinion of Mr. Slope might have been held in Barchester before he commenced his discourse, none of its hearers, when it was over, could mistake him either for a fool or a coward."

    ReplyDelete

OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.