6/29/2009

Using the House of Deputies as a Committee of the Whole.

The President of the House of Deputies has sent out a letter to all Deputies and First Alternates concerning the debate on concerns about B033 - the resolution from General Convention 2006 that stated,

"
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."

She has proposed that the House of Deputies meet as a Committee of the Whole to discuss B033 and ways to respond to it. Here is her letter dated June 29th:

Dear Deputies and First Alternates,

With just a few days left before we gather together in Anaheim for the 76th General Convention, I want to inform you of a procedure available to the House of Deputies that we will propose to use to have a discussion, not debate, regarding resolution B033 that was concurred at the 75th General Convention. We will have this discussion in the context of a “Committee of the Whole”. The purpose of this discussion will be to exchange information and viewpoints among the deputies, and to inform Legislative Committee #8 World Mission, to which committee all the resolutions relative to B033 have been assigned.

What it is:
Committee of the Whole is a parliamentary process that enables a legislative body such as the House of Deputies, to discuss a topic in an orderly manner, without debate or taking a final action on a resolution on the matter. It is used primarily when a deliberative assembly wishes to have a discussion on a particular topic.

How it will happen:
The Legislative Committee on Dispatch of Business will present a special order of business to the HOD in the same manner all special orders are presented. The HOD will review the procedure presented by Dispatch and the House will vote whether or not to use or to amend the Committee of the Whole procedure as proposed.

When it will happen:
During the legislative session on Wednesday, July 8, Dispatch will present the special order for consideration by the HOD.

If the special order is adopted, on Thursday afternoon, July 9, the HOD will meet for one hour in the first session of the Committee of the Whole during the regularly scheduled legislative time; and on Friday morning, July 10, the second session of the Committee of the Whole will meet for one hour during the regularly scheduled legislative session.

It is my belief that the House of Deputies will benefit by having an opportunity to discuss B033 apart from the context of legislative procedure. Many deputies have indicated their longing to discuss B033 together as a House. The HOD Legislative Committee on World Mission (#8) has indicated their work will be aided by this conversation in the HOD prior to the committee’s open hearing on the topic.

I look forward to our work, prayer and deepening relationship.

Please join me in daily thanksgiving for our ministry together, as it is and as it is yet to become. Please join me daily in asking the Holy Spirit to be present with us in all our deliberations, celebrations and conversations.


Peace,

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

I believe that this is a creative and very useful way for the House of Deputies to enter the discussion on the issues surrounding B033 and the concerns to continue, amend, recend or move beyond the "call" upon Bishops and Standing Committees.

I hope those who have wished that the concerns would be dealt with immediately on the first day and those who wished that it would be reaffirmed in a general affirmation of the Anglican Covenant will find this a reasonable way to engage the whole house in a conversation.

In the engagement in the Committee of the Whole my hope is that we will not get bogged down in a blame production analyzing the events that led to the passage of B033. Rather, I hope we will look forward, trying to find the way to express where we are now and where we hope to go as a Church.

There are several persons whose mantra is constantly that TEC scrap B033, thereby proving that we are indeed different from everyone else in the Communion and indifferent to their concerns. These are the people who hope for our honesty so that it leads to wreckage. But what if we instead hold the whole Communion to a vetting of bishop candidates that is as open to critical examination as is our own? Our canons provide for a wide range of critical examination of candidates, a range that can at times become harshly applied. But we stick by the proposition that somehow a sort of jury of peers - bishops, clergy and lay - can with some wisdom and grace augment the election by a diocese by giving or withholding consent.

We have all we need to do this in the existing canons. The concern that we make such judgments in the light of how that will play in the rest of the Communion is certainly there. At the same time it is abundantly clear that some portion of the rest of the Communion no longer trusts our judgement about elections within our own Church.

My hope is that we will indeed have that open discussion as a Committee of the Whole and that that will feed in to the deliberations of the Legislative Committee on World Mission, and result in resolutions that set the decisions to be made in terms that are forward looking and mission oriented.

Thanks to President Anderson for this creative move.

8 comments:

  1. Fr. Mark,
    I'm afraid I have to part company with you on B033 here. I see it as a big "up yours!' to the church's LGBTs that got strong armed through the last convention at the last minute in a quixotic attempt to placate some implacable foreign bishops. I see this proposal as a way to "manage" the still very strong feelings about BO33 without resolving them.

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  2. ohhhh, Mark I like the idea of vetting bishops of other parts of the communion the way that +Gene was vetted by the ABC. If bishops are for the whole of the communion, then +Abuja needs another look!

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  3. The discussion that Bonnie Anderson is suggesting would provide an opportunity for the House of Deputies to discuss the situation in which we find ourselves and to ask what we would actually like to accomplish. It is helpful to engage in this sort of strategic thinking before we get bogged down in quibbling about particular resolutions. In that sort of discussion, it is easy to lose track of strategic objectives.

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  4. There's a great explanation of how a "committee of the whole" works on Thomas. I had to refresh my memory.

    Obviously, B033 never placated the conservatives, but it gave the moderates/fence-sitters some time to think. Maybe it's decision-making time?

    (The verification word is"stings." Fits right in with what Counterlight said!)

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  5. Lynn - I'm not sure whether your intent was to equate moderates with fence-sitters. Perhaps moderates aren't fence-sitting as much as they have a different vision, a different way of going forward, a different way of working through solutions that those who tend to be more ideological won't consider or can't see.

    We shall see what the mind of the House will be.

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  6. I have to say I am with Counterlight here. The neat thing about the committee for the providers of crucified places is that nothing is actually done. So, B033 with all its sinful willingness to sacrifice others neatly remains as the ticket punch for them.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  7. I don't think this is an attempt to manage feelings. At least not excluslively. It is also an attempt to give guidance to the Committee on World Mission, that, with a week to go, has 16 B033-related resolutions before it. If, in the process, people get to express some strongly-held convictions about the legislation and the way it was passed, so much the better.

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  8. BobG - you make a good point, not all moderates should be tagged as fence-sitters. Moderate covers a wide range.

    I do understand there is a process of thinking through this. Once upon a time, I was a fence-sitter, and I admit that! I was raised Episcopalian in an affluent county, of the old school that likes to avoid religious conflicts; it took some work to separate my secular outlook on civil rights while exploring the sacred. I have had to do that with many issues, there are a lot of conflicting messages in the Bible, and I was never one to cherry-pick verses.

    Yes :-) I freely admit some impatience with those who reject Biblical literalism on some controversial topics, but not others. Perhaps I'm even arrogant in my overall outlook, I think Episcopalians are required to research, research, research...then pray about what they have learned.

    All of you who are still thinking through what is God's will on this - you are in my prayers. Keep thinking, read everything from both camps and keep praying. Over the years, I have found that my views on "civil" rights are grounded in my Christian beliefs. When I meet my Maker, he will know me, and why I have taken the path of love. Sometimes, that's the best we can ever do.

    God bless all who are going to convention. Thank you for all you do.

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