Thursday Morning…

Centrists / General Convention / Religion

I’m sorry I haven’t posted something about what happened yesterday. But I was too emotional and much too tired to be able to think clearly enough to be able to write coherently.

If anyone claims that the Episcopal Church has not taken Windsor seriously, they were not on the floor of the House of Deputies yesterday. There was such pain and anguish in that place. We have taken the WR seriously and have struggled to say what we can say, and have not said what we can not say.

I was moved to tears (me! The person who was nicknamed “Mr. Spock” in seminary) as my friends and fellow Episcopalians spoke to the resolution from the House of Bishops. People were openly sharing their anguish about what we are being asked to do and the depth of our wanting to walk with our sisters and brothers in the Anglican Communion. After the vote people were embracing each other and trying to comfort those who felt dishonored or even betrayed – both on the right as well as the left. The Archbishop of York asked us to show the Communion the marks of our cross in his remarks last week. We did that yesterday.

I had no idea how exhausted I was until after resolution B033 passed and we returned for the final session of the House. I, and most of the rest of us, hit the wall yesterday afternoon. I think I remember what we did in the afternoon, but to be honest we were all just limping on to the finish line.

I want to do some more thinking about what happened and I promise to try to write up something longer about what I think this all means as soon as I’ve had a chance to pray for a bit and settle my mind.

I do have a few observations to make this morning though:

The center of the Episcopal Church found its voice on Tuesday evening. After an incredibly frustrating afternoon where people from all over the spectrum where trying to find a way to bring language from the Special Committee report back into play but were being outmaneuvered by the edges, there came a moment when the convention found a loud and almost unified voice. That voice could be heard in the strength of the “Yes” and “No” votes which began to refuse any attempt to add killer amendments to resolutions or to try to force the House of Deputies to embarrass itself. That center voice was heard yesterday when, as we began to discuss whether to consider reconsidering the Windsor Report, one deputy stood up and pleaded with others to stop using the rules of the House to keep the large majority of us from being able to do what we were being asked to do.

I have to admit that I am profoundly relieved to be finished. I am proud of what we have done? Not really. I am sad about what has happened? Yes. Would I change it? I don’t know. Were we honest? Yes – what we said and didn’t say yesterday is a pretty clear snapshot of where we are as a church at the moment. I am also very relieved that this now belongs to the Archbishop of Canterbury. If it’s not enough – okay. We tried. We wept. We bled. We hurt each other on the right and on the left trying to find a way forward together. If that pain is not honored on earth, it will be honored in heaven. And that is what I really care about.

I have an immense amount of respect for +Katharine this morning. She put her new office and her authority absolutely on the line. She came to us and spoke clearly about where she was in her thinking and about what she wanted us to consider. That honesty and clarity with each other may be the two things that will lead to the fairness that we have been missing in this part of the church for so long. I think the real root of our political problems (not the theological ones) is that we have not been treating each other fairly and with integrity. If we can just do that, we will lower the temperature of this present debate significantly.

I’m packing up and heading home. I should be back online in a day or so. Hopefully by then I’ll have had a chance to process what is happening a bit more than I have as yet this morning.


The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. Columbus: more reports and comments

    Anglican Communion Institute Initial Observations on General Convention Jim Naughton Conflicted people in a conflicted Church Telegraph Jonathan Petre Anglican Church on brink of schism Associated Press Rachel Zoll Episcopal Delegates to Adopt Resoluti…

  2. Thom Jensen says

    Thanks again for all of your wonderful work these past two weeks, Nick. I am always grateful for your perspective.

  3. Thanks for sticking to your convictions.
    +Katherine will be a pivotal grounding point
    (and lightning rod).
    Maybe the quiet and rational middle needs play harder and harsher than their comfort level to be fairly represented
    against the fringe who seem to play expert hardball to make up for their true weight.
    Stick with what your are discerning.
    We are one, and we don’t need to apologize for any of us in this way.

  4. Robert Christian says

    I read a blog that expresses some of what you said concerning B032. I wanted to share this blog with you. She’s a priest and in great pain. Maybe you can help!
    This almost made me cry.

  5. Robert Christian says

    I read a blog that expresses some of what you said concerning B032. I wanted to share this blog with you. She’s a priest and in great pain. Maybe you can help!
    This almost made me cry.

  6. Hi Robert. I know Elizabeth’s blog well. I’ve been reading her writings for some time now.
    I wish I had something I could say to her – but I don’t other than to say that I see the pain she is in. I’m so sorry for what she is going through.
    A couple of days she wrote a post on “The Hermeneutic of Suspicion”. At the time I thought such a thing was not terribly helpful. Now I see that she uses such a device because of her community’s repeated experience of betrayal. And I understand her now.

  7. Nick,
    I, too, am one of those who feels absolutely betrayed by B033. I was present for the whole Convention (I was not a Deputy) and I must say in all honesty that I am fully ashamed of our Church and the way the House of Bishops tried to bully the Deputies to arrive at a resolution that does not reflect the reality of our church.
    I continue to believe that the fully inclusive church IS the moderate center of our church and not some left-wing fringe. Those of us who believe this worked to defeat the resolution only because we believe that our baptismal covenant demands that there be no hostages. B033 takes hostages and that is in no way acceptable. It violates my baptismal covenant and my ordination vows. From what I witnessed from the Deputies, I believe they thought that, too. Trouble is, the legislative process didn’t give a different option. It had to be one way or the other (or, heaven help us, someone across the pond might not like us anymore).
    Given the collection of bishops who issued a statement of dissent after the fact, I can’t help but wonder if the Deputies would have voted the same way had they known beforehand that even some of the bishops believed they were being unfairly and unconstitutionally bullied.
    I thought the PB-elect’s pastoral words were wonderful (I heard them when she first gave them to the House of Bishops). My problem is that they should never have been given to the Deputies. I fully confess that I thought a split decision would be the most accurate reflection of our church: the two houses not agreeing on how to proceed given that the Windsor Report was asking for a consensus on something for which we have no common mind and have no need of one at this time. The ambiguity has served us well as we continue to discern together.
    I don’t mean to sound as if I’m beating up on you or questioning your integrity. I’m not. You did the work you were given to do and I respect it. I just profoundly disagree with the outcome given what I witnessed.

  8. “I don’t mean to sound as if I’m beating up on you or questioning your integrity. I’m not. You did the work you were given to do and I respect it. I just profoundly disagree with the outcome given what I witnessed.”
    Thanks – and thanks for the spirit in which you write. I have nothing that I can say to make the real pain you are feeling better. I’m sorry for that and for the pain our actions as Convention have caused.
    I can promise you that I want to try very hard to make sure that the pain is worth it though.

  9. At the risk of beating this horse, I want to ask you… no, I need to ask you as a colleague and as a deputy… because I’ve already been asked this question by my own parishioners and I don’t have an answer:
    The Anglican Communion is not comprised of people who sit in our pews, come to our table, meet with our kids and eat at our parish picnics. How is it that the Deputies (broad strokes here but maybe you can answer for yourself) could vote in favor of unseen Communion and against some of our own folk?
    I fully understand that you didn’t think in these terms when the vote was cast, but this is how it’s being experienced by some of us. Why is the Communion (which I experiecne to be more mythological than real on any given day since I have no functional relationship with it, have need of none, and don’t really want one) becomes a higher priority than our own people.
    Maybe that’s the difference. The resolution may give us a place at a table that I don’t find valuable. I like the Communion the way it is (which is non-intrusive) so I don’t want it changed. Right now it feels like a foreign invasion and our bishops are buying it. Several of us noted that their actions the last day of Convention looked far more like their European counterparts than the limited-power equal voice that the US church envisioned.
    You have no obligation to respond to this. It’s just more of my soul aching. You can also respond off-blog. The blogiverse is pretty heated right now and I don’t want to encourage that heat coming your way simply because you’ve been generous enough to engage me.
    I pray you find some rest before the rest of life beckons you back into the fray.

  10. Harry Coverston says

    “We wept. We bled. We hurt each other on the right and on the left trying to find a way forward together.”
    Actually, Nick, you didn’t bleed yourselves, you bled us, the LBGT clergy and laity of the church, once again. You sacrificed us for the affirmation of an Anglican Communion that long ago indicated that it did not truly value our presence even as it continues to take our money.
    So long as people of apparent good conscience and intellect like you continue to see the human beings and their concerns in this conflict in these over-generalized and reductionist left v. right constructions, this will hardly be the last time LBGT Episcopalians will be deemed dispensable. The parties you posit as polar opposite competitors with comparable concerns and standing are not commensurate commodities at all. Had B033 not passed, conservatives would have seen their ideas rejected. They would lost their bid to control the polity of the church and impose their theology upon it. WHile such losses may have been grievous to them, they would not have lost their place at the table. Their clergy could still have been elected bishops and presiding bishop. Indeed, they enjoy all the rights and privilege the church offers even when their vision is not embraced by the wider church.
    But the same is not true in reverse. B033 actively selects a segment of the church for discrmination in fact, not based upon what they believe but rather upon who they are. Not having the church buy into one’s politics and theology is simply not the same thing as being actively denied equal treatment under the polity of the church. This simply isn’t a matter of left v. right, it’s a matter of a group with full citizenship whose views simply have not been found compelling v. a group denied full citizenship in our church, a denial in which the larger church – including yourself – is complicit.
    Believing is not the same level of consideration as belonging, Nick. And if you don’t believe that, simply ask yourself if you would be willing to be in the position of any of the LBGT candidates for bishop in California in the wake of B033. Perhaps you don’t ever see a purple shirt in your future (I know I could hardly imagine a worse fate, personally) but still, if you did, it might not be likely but it would not be impossible up front. But for the three who did not win in DIOCAL, your vote made that impossible. You bled them, Nick, not yourself.

  11. Robert Christian says

    Thank You for checking your postee’s:)
    I’m sending Katherine+ a little something from our outreach program here in Western PA (Dof Pittsburgh). I’m sure there are a lot of Elizabeth’s out there. It is my hope we just don’t lose good people over this.
    I’ve been teaching for 17 yrs. Over those years, I’ve worked in all grades but esp middle school. I’ve watched children enter adulthood and all the pains that go with it.
    Children can be most cruel and the word “gay” directed at by one student at another can be the most humilating thing that can happen to that student. Some of those victims make victims of others in order to deflect suspicion. As a teacher I can only do so much and at times we (teachers) hurt as much as our students.
    I hope this b032 is worth a few more years of this hurt. It’s one of the most difficult things in teaching (the harm children inflict on one another) and I want my church to say enough is enough.
    Pax Vobiscum
    God’s peace,Bob

  12. I’m sure you all did a fine and conscientious job. I think you did the right thing, too; I don’t care in the slightest about the issue of “gay Bishops,” since it literally affects about 100 people total in the world. (And yes, I’m gay myself.) I can’t see why anyone would, given the many more important things we have to worry about – like the very desperate situation of ordinary gay people in various parts of the world, and poverty, and the oppression of women, and etc.
    Now maybe we can get to these things at last, with the response to the Windsor Report put behind us.
    I have no doubt you did your best. Thanks.

  13. Steve says

    Nick, I disagree strongly with one part of your post: your symmetrical language describing the two sides as “right” and “left.” No one was offering a resolution to declare members of the “right” unfit to be full Christians because of a personal characteristic over which they have no choice. The debate was squarely about the status of gays and lesbians. However strongly someone on the “right” may hold his opinion, it remained a philosophical opinion about the status of other human beings. For gays and lesbians, the debate was a personal vivisection–a highly invasive and personal argument about their very existence. To portray those as symmetrical sides in a policy disagreement improperly de-personalizes gays and lesbians. The two “sides” were not symmetrical. Equating the two is a common way of presenting these things, but it distorts reality with a false sense of symmetry.

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