General Convention 2009 Actions Increase Tensions within TEC and AC
July 17, 2009

“What happens to the Episcopalians who wish to remain a part of The Episcopal Church when diocesan leadership chooses to leave it?”

Episcopal Vote Reopens a Door to Gay Bishops
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN - Publishedby NYT: July 14, 2009

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Episcopal Church voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to open the door to consecrate more bishops who are openly gay, a move that is likely to send shock waves throughout the Anglican Communion, the global network of churches to which the Episcopal Church belongs. By voting to affirm that “any ordained ministry” is open to gay men and lesbians, the Episcopal Church effectively ended what many regarded as a moratorium on ordaining gay bishops, which the church passed at its last convention three years ago.

The moratorium was adopted in what proved to be a largely unsuccessful effort to calm conservatives in the Anglican Communion, which has torn itself apart in the last six years since the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire elected the communion’s first and only openly gay bishop, Bishop V. Gene Robinson.

The battle over homosexuality in the Episcopal Church has been watched closely by other mainline Protestant churches. They are looking to the Episcopal Church as a bellwether that could foretell whether their denominations can survive the storm over homosexuality intact………………….........

The vote in the Houses of Bishops and Deputies was more than two-thirds in favor and one-third opposed or abstaining. The House of Bishops also took up a measure that would create a liturgy to bless same-sex couples. Such blessings are already being done in many dioceses, without official sanction. “It is time for our church to be liberated from the hypocrisy under which it has been laboring,” Bishop Stacy Sauls of Lexington, Ky., told his fellow bishops on Tuesday.
The Episcopal Church acted despite a personal address at the start of the convention from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who as head of the Church of England is considered “first among equals” among the communion’s archbishops. “Along with many in the communion,” the archbishop said, “I hope and pray that there won’t be decisions in the coming days that will push us further apart.”

The resolution passed Tuesday was written in a way that would allow dioceses to consider gay candidates to the episcopacy, but does not mandate that all dioceses do so. It also emphasizes that the Episcopal Church has “an abiding commitment” to the Anglican Communion.

It says that many gay men and lesbians are already ministering in the church and that “God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, and that God’s call to the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church is a mystery which the church attempts to discern for all people through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church.”......................

NYT Article - Episcopal Vote Reopens a Door to Gay Bishops

Jefferts Schori, Anderson underscore 'deep commitment' to Anglican Communion
Presiding officers' letter to Canterbury presents context for convention actions.

By Matthew Davies, July 17, 2009 [Episcopal News Service -- Anaheim, California]

The two presiding officers of General Convention have written to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams providing an explanation and clarification of Resolution D025 pertaining to human sexuality issues and the Episcopal Church's commitment to the Anglican Communion. The letter was also sent to the communion's 38 primates.

"We understand Resolution D025 to be more descriptive than prescriptive in nature -- a statement that reaffirms commitments already made by the Episcopal Church and that acknowledges certain realities of our common life. Nothing in the resolution goes beyond what has already been provided under our Constitution and Canons for many years," wrote Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson.

Resolution D025 was passed on July 14 by the 76th General Convention meeting in Anaheim, California. In addition to underscoring the Episcopal Church's support of and participation in the Anglican Communion, the resolution affirms "that God has called and may call" gay and lesbian people "to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church."

The presiding officers emphasized that D025 has "not repealed" Resolution B033 that was passed by the 75th General Convention in 2006. B033 urged restraint in consenting to the consecration of bishops whose "manner of life" might present challenges for the rest of the Anglican Communion. That challenge was widely understood to refer to gay bishops in partnered unions. The full text of the letter to Williams is available here.

Jefferts Schori wrote a separate letter to the primates of the Anglican Communion -- and included a copy of the letter to Williams -- acknowledging that "with so much misinformation circulating through the press and other sources, it is crucial to me that I provide the archbishop and all of you with accurate information." Thirteen primates were present in Anaheim, the largest number ever to attend a General Convention.

Jefferts Schori told the primates that her "heart was filled with joy at seeing so many of you" at General Convention. "It is important to me that we continue to find ways to communicate with one another directly about our different cultural and ecclesial contexts, and thereby prevent any misunderstandings," she said. The full text of the letter to the primates is available here.

At this General Convention, several resolutions were submitted that called for further action regarding B033. In their letter to Williams, the presiding officers explained that these resolutions fell into three categories -- "those calling for the repeal of B033; those restating or seeking to strengthen our church's nondiscrimination canons; and those stating where the Episcopal Church is today. From these options, our General Convention chose the third -- along with reaffirming our commitments to the Anglican Communion -- with the hope that such authenticity would contribute to deeper conversation in these matters."

Williams attended his first General Convention July 7-9. During a convention Eucharist, he expressed his gratitude to the Episcopal Church for its "continuing willingness to engage with the wider life of our communion." But he also expressed his hopes and prayers "that there won't be decisions in the coming days that could push us further apart. But if people elsewhere in the communion are concerned about this, it's because of a profound sense of what the Episcopal Church has given and can give to our fellowship worldwide."

In their letter to Williams, the presiding officers emphasized that in adopting Resolution D025, "it is not our desire to give offense."

The letter to Williams was hand-delivered and copies were emailed to the primates and to Anglican lay and clergy leaders on July 17, according to the Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs. It was also distributed to the House of Bishops and House of Deputies.

"We remain keenly aware of the concerns and sensibilities of our brothers and sisters in other churches across the communion," Anderson and Jefferts Schori wrote. "We believe also that the honesty reflected in this resolution is essential if indeed we are to live into the deep communion that we all profess and earnestly desire."
Link to Episcopal News Article

Bishop Lawrence and 20 Other Dissenting Bishops Issue Statement
The Anaheim Statement, General Convention, 2009 – reported to have been signed by 20 dissenting TEC Bishops including Bishop Lawrence.

At this convention, the House of Bishops has heard repeated calls for honesty and clarity. As the conversation has proceeded within the HOB, repeated attempts to modify wording which would have been preferable to the minority in the vote were respectfully heard and discussed, but in the end most of these amendments were found unacceptable to the majority in the House. Many in the majority believed the amendments would make the stated position of this House less honest about where they believe we are as The Episcopal Church.

It is apparent that a substantial majority of this Convention believes that The Episcopal Church should move forward on matters of human sexuality. We recognize this reality and understand the clarity with which the majority has expressed itself. We are grateful for those who have reached out to the minority, affirming our place in the Church.

We seek to provide the same honesty and clarity. We invite all bishops who share the following commitments to join us in this statement as we seek to find a place in the Church we continue to serve.

* We reaffirm our constituent membership in the Anglican Communion, our communion with the See of Canterbury and our commitment to preserving these relationships.

* We reaffirm our commitment to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this church has received them (BCP 526, 538)

* We reaffirm our commitment to the three moratoria requested of us by the instruments of Communion.

* We reaffirm our commitment to the Anglican Communion Covenant process currently underway, with the hope of working toward its implementation across the Communion once a Covenant is completed.

* We reaffirm our commitment to "continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship" which is foundational to our baptismal covenant, and to be one with the apostles in "interpreting the Gospel" which is essential to our work as bishops of the Church of God.

Link to titus 19 blog

The conference, “What happens to the Episcopalians who wish to remain a part of The Episcopal Church when diocesan leadership chooses to leave it?”, was held on March 28 in Bluffton, SC.
To order Conference DVD send $10 to THE EPISCOPAL FORUM OF SOUTH CAROLINA, P.O. Box 1772, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29465
This disassociation from TEC has occurred in four dioceses within the Episcopal Church during the past year. All of these dioceses were members of the Anglican Communion Network of which the Diocese of SC is a founding member. A goal of this conference will be to understand better why this disassociation happened and how it can be prevented in our diocese.

The keynote speaker is Walt Cabe, who has been a lay member in the Diocese of Ft Worth. This diocese experienced the withdrawal of its bishop along with many clergy and laity following a vote in its diocesan convention to disassociate from The Episcopal Church and associate with the Anglican Communion Province of the Southern Cone. Walt Cabe became co-chair of “The Steering Committee of North Texas Episcopalians”. That group provided coordination and leadership among those in the diocese who have remained within The Diocese of Ft. Worth of The Episcopal Church. He now serves on the vestry of St Alban’s Church where he has served three terms as Vestry member and Warden. St. Alban’s is known for its diversity of membership and inclusion of a broad range of theological perspectives.

The Episcopal Forum of SC sponsors forums and conferences on a regular basis around the diocese to sustain conversation among Episcopalians, holding diversity in a holy tension that leads to reconciliation, spiritual growth and unity. Previous conferences have included a wide range of speakers such as Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies, and Kendall Harmon, Cannon Theologian of our diocese.

A Fall 2009 is being planned to focus on events following GC 2009.

The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, Inc (EFSC) was formed five years ago by a group of concerned Episcopalians following the Diocesan Convention in October of 2003 at which certain resolutions were passed which could have led to separating our diocese from The Episcopal Church. EFSC is committed to preserving unity with diversity within the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of South Carolina, and the greater Anglican Communion. Today EFSC has over 400 members state wide.

SC Diocesan Delegates Frustrated at GC
During the General Convention several of the delegates from SC posted daily blogs which can be read from links by name on the Diocese of SC Website below. Bishop Lawrence is to report on the GC at a clerge meeting on 8/13/09.

The following excerpts from "Final Thoughts" found on Elizebeth Pennewill Blog - Friday, July 17, 2009 express the frustration and concern felt by SC delegates and other conservative/orthodox delegates:

……………………… "You might wonder (if you're reading this blog it means you're either my mother or a GC geek from SC, and if you're a GC geek you're wondering) was it worth it?

The Diocese of SC was, after all, a small but complete minority, practically impotent. On paper at least, we accomplished very little. We didn't influence any legislation that I'm aware of, or inspire any significant change. Many have likened it to watching a slow motion train wreck -- you are horrified, but you can't take your eyes off of it.

For me, the answer is, yes, it was worth what our Diocese spent to send us all, the marginalization we experienced, the time away from families, the hours of frustration and the ongoing feelings of grief (especially for those of us who grew up in the Episcopal Church).

We may not have made a visible mark on the 76th General Convention, but we and our orthodox friends were faithful, we were visible, we weren't afraid to speak up and we forced some things to go on the record for the benefit of the Anglican Communion.

The problem is, that's not the mission of the church. TEC cannot focus on the church's mission AND every worthy cause that affects the members of the body. When any entity loses touch with its mission it drifts and if it strays too far for too long it will be lost forever.

During these two weeks many people have spoken passionately about transgender issues, lesbian and gay issues, women's issues, children's issues, race issues, third world issues, animal rights issues, every variety of justice issues, environmental issues -- I'm not exaggerating -- pick your cause and you have a voice in TEC.

This seems to be what The Episcopal Church has become, a cause-driven action-oriented political organization.
(And the arrogance of our pieces of legislation is just priceless. It's like they think that the White House is just sitting around waiting for the outcome of our votes so Obama will know what which way to move. Phew!)…………………………..

I don't know what's going to happen with our Diocese and its relationship to TEC. But after seeing first-hand TEC's decline in every measurement of church health, I'm glad we're not on the side of political advocacy. I trust our leadership. And I take comfort in our focus on the Great Commission -- something we heard precious little about here in Anaheim………….

Good night and God bless you.
Posted by Elizabeth Pennewill at 1:10 AM
Link to Elizabeth Pennewill Blog

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