So far this Convention is very different from the previous two I’ve attended. Not just because there is no real recognizable presence of very angry conservative people which while noticable is not unexpected, but because for the first time I’m serving on a legislative committee that has some serious controversy on its hands.
(I’m once again on the Communications Legislative committee. Much of our work is dealing with resolutions from the Standing Commission on Communications which were finalized in a period when there was no Director of Communications at the Church Center which means that the majority of things being acted upon are more process based. But at the request of the Executive Team at the Church Center, a new communications budget proposal was created and submitted that would have the effect of significantly changing the way and the strategy of denominational communications. That unexpected bit of business has taken about a day and a half of work in our three days of meetings.)
As a result I’m not really able to attend hearings on the REALLY controversial subjects coming before us as a body, the blessings of same-gender marriages and the repeal of a resolution from the previous General Convention (entitled B033) regarding the election of partnered gay and lesbian priests to the office of Bishop.
So when the House of Deputies enacted a special order of business to allow for a “facilitated conversation” on the floor of the house to discuss our feelings regarding B033 (passed at the last minute of the previous convention three years ago) I was a bit anxious about what the conversation would be like.
I can now report that it was actually helpful.
I had a chance to meet and talk for half an hour with a deputy from another diocese that I had not met prior to this meeting and we shared our thoughts with each other about what had happened in Columbus and what had happened in the Episcopal Church since. We talked about how people used B033 as an excuse to leave anyhow. And how it had actually gotten us to Lambeth. And of the pain that had been inflicted by the majority on the minority parts of the Episcopal Church and how that was not our finest hour.
And we talked about what to do going forward.
I was most taken personally with an option presented to the House that I’d not heard previously. That of trying to be as truthful as possible about where we are as the Episcopal Church regarding this question. We are divided. We have partnered gay and lesbian clergy serving presently in all orders of ministry and we do not have any will to remove them or deny their existence, or to spurn their gifts. And we desire mightily to remain a part of the Anglican Communion.
Who knows what is going to come out of committee to the floor? And who knows where the House of Bishops is in all this… But honesty has always worked for me. Perhaps it’s worth a chance here.
B033 wasn’t dishonest as much as it wasn’t complete. It didn’t represent on anybody’s part a willingness to turn back on the path the Episcopal Church is walking. Those who must strongly wanted to turn around voted against B033 and most of them have since left the Episcopal Church. It represented a willingness to pause for a period. Which is what I read the Windsor Report to be asking of us. But the Windsor Report does not seem to consider a process by which the pause will end. And the Epicopal Church as a whole does not seem willing to allow that pause to be interminable.
So perhaps the best thing is to be as honest as we possibly can be as a denomination. And the let’s see what happens. I want to remain Anglican. If the Episcopal Church were told to absent itself from the Communion, that would create a significant crisis for me personally. But so would any demand that we create a permanent second class of membership in the Church. That would go against everything I understand about the nature of the Kingdom of God.
So what to do? The conversation yesterday on the floor was helpful. More couldn’t hurt to my mind.
We seemed to have demonstrated the power of good communication.
And now back to the work of the Communication's Committee. Seems apropos somehow this morning.