The Report of the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion

The Report of the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion is out, with the title, “ONE BAPTISM, ONE HOPE IN GOD’S CALL. In the hour since it was posted there have been a number of internet sighs, groans, snarls and growls, and statements of relief. All and more should be expected. Hopefully it will be of considerable use in the work to be done at General Convention. It is accompanied by a letter from the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies which places the report in context. The cover letter is very helpful and echoes in succinct ways the mutters of my last posting on this blog.

Now that it is out for the church to use, I want to finally acknowledge my real joy in having the chance to work as a member of the Special Committee. The Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies said in their letter, “We note here that the members of the Commission, who represented a breadth of opinions and convictions, worked in a sprit of incredible generosity and koinonia.” I can attest to the reality of that spirit and also to it being a costly reality. We had to move beyond hearing one another to actually caring about the each others ideas, beliefs, faith statements and lives. That meant moving beyond mere listening to listening to the core, from the core. I once defined koinonia as a “community of mutuality.” (The Challenge of Change: The Anglican Communion in the Post-Modern Era) That was very much the case in our life together as a Commission.

As we draw nearer to General Convention it will be important to remember that this is all grist for the mill. In the context of hearings, committee meetings and finally in the debate on the floor the final form of resolutions will be worked out. This report is meant to provide additional tools for beginning the General Convention work of conversation and action. I hope it does.


  1. The Integrity press release is helpful.


    This is not too bad, given the possibilities. The two biggest problems are the distinction between public and private blessings, which is shoddy liturgical theology. We don't do private baptisms anymore, except in extremis. The Body of Christ must be publically assembled to support the couple in their union.

    The other problem is with the phrase "very considerable caution." One would hope that this is exercised in any episcopal election. It certainly was with the see of New Hampshire. If anything, the Church was too cautious. On the other hand, as the footnote reveals, its a better phrase than one of the proposed alternatives.

    Now, we must engage the process of discerning God's will for the Church, without anxiety and without fear. Let the amendments begin!

  2. Thanks Mark!

    Just a quick glance at the resolutions tells me this is a work of moderation and an attempt to hold us together.

    I appreciate it but wish there was something on the crossing of diocesan boundaries and the "anglican covenant" still does not excite me.

  3. What Bill C. said.

    Just a few weeks ago, I was delighted to download The Celebration and Blessing of the Covenant of Louise Emerson Brooks
    and Susan Lynn Russell
    (our own Rev. Susan Russell, of Integrity and EVN).

    Would that posted service be too "public" a blessing, for the Special Committee (and perhaps, the GC)?

  4. Hello Rev'd. Mark:

    I was glad to discover your blog by way of Susan Russell's.

    In my house we agreed with Bill Carroll, in that by citing the need to "exercise considerable caution" in an episcopal election as if that were a new thing, we are implying that past elections (and we all know which one they're talking about) were done with a round of rock, paper, scissors.

    I agree with Bishop Sauls in that a candidate's sexual orientation is quite possibly "the least interesting thing about them" and with Dean Alan Jones, who cautions that -- by allowing it to become the primary issue in the vetting process -- one runs the risk of ignoring all the other qualifications needed for the job.

  5. If this report with its recommendations falls as short of the conservative realignment marks as we might suspect, then what use is it?

    I think it could help open up forums and listening processes for all the mixed middles all around the world as the Windsor Process (toward Anglican Covenant?) and the LGBTQ Listening Process (towards?) get time to really get going.

    It already looks as if we are living in two different, slowly gathering narratives, at minimum. Neither chronos nor kairos is the same to occupants of the other narrative or community.

    Still, many people are not yet polarized completely into nothing but two mutually exclusive narratives. This report rests in the middles, obviously; but even more important, it can serve as a set of recommendations still open at both ends. Maybe.

    Just don't expect the realignment conservative believers to like it. They no longer wish to actually converse with the modern world, except to judge it and then threaten to conquer it, by force if need be.

    That seems like an initiative, more of traditional Empire, than of traditional Anglicanisms.

  6. Oasis Claifornia's comments on ECUSA Special Commission Report No Bar To Electing Best Candidate As California Bishop are found in their news blog @ ttp://integrityusa.org/press/2006-04-07.pdf

  7. Shortly before the report from the crypt slithered onto the scene, we were at a conference titled, "Justice IS Orthodoxy." One of the speakers,observed that when the report issued, "we will be offended. We were.

    So, I guess, I should not be surprised that this East Coast response to that event is in the same place, that is: offensive. Offensive because it actually suggests that the lunacy of an "Anglican covenant" be advanced. Offensive because it contains a rather blatant effort to dictate to the electors on the other coast. And finally, offensive because it seems to elevate unity over all other virtues, including, not to pun too much, integrity.

    But(!) IF David Virtue's readers are any indication, it offends the conservatives too. D.V. merely posted the message, executive summary and link. His comentator/clients have gone even farther over the edge.

    So, I think it shares something with its progeniter -- it is DOA. I certainly hope so. Sacrificing real people's trust and faith is too high a price for unity with the heretic of Nigeria.


  8. Actually, what was said about the Covenant proposal in the body of the report was rather interesting, and it is only sensible to get ourselves involved in writing a covenant we may have to sign off on before anyone has a chance to stick anything nasty into it. It will definitely be interesting to see where it goes in the future.

    As for the rest, I've said it before and I'll say it again, it would be a bad idea to dismiss the urgings of the rest of the Communion. Doing so will probably alienate even the moderates who would like to support gay and lesbian people, leaving y'all on more or less on your own. This report looks to me like a nice moderate response to the rest of the Communion, which could put TEC in a good position to advance the cause of ssb's and the ordination of partnered gay and lesbian people throughout the AC.



OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, 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.