Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Day Nine: The Grand Finale

If the old adage "May you live in interesting times" holds any appeal for you, General Convention 2006 is right up your alley. Despite predictions that "nothing would happen" and the despite the glacial progress on legislation in the House of Deputies we have not only given the Anglican Communion its first female primate, we have come to clarity that:
  • we are committed to our interdependence as members of the Anglican Communion (passing resolutions affirming interdependence, regretting the impact of the actions of General Convention 2003 on some members of the communion and committing to participate in exploring the creation of an Anglican Covenant)
  • we are committed to the inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the life and work of the church, refusing to pass a resolution that included moratoria on consecration of gay/lesbian bishops and same sex blessings.

Here's one analysis from Kendall Harmon's titusonenine: The strategy of leaders of the Anglican church at Columbus had been to engineer the moderate middle ground to be Windsor-compliant, marginalising the radical liberals and the orthodox, for the sake of unity. This strategy failed. In the end, the key resolutions were too liberal for the conservatives or too conservative for the liberals.

I think Kendall is probably right. I also think the strategists mis-read the "moderate middle" -- both in Deputies and Bishops -- who are just not willing to turn the clock back on inclusion or to make gay and lesbian people bear the burden for our participation in the Anglican Communion.

I think two of the watchwords for this convention have been "clarity" and "honesty" -- and yesterday we got both. Anyone who has ever done relationship counseling knows that one of the core values of authentic relationship is honesty -- and so for us as the American Episcopal Church to be in authentic relationship with our Anglican family we MUST be honest about who we are.

I applaud the courage of a church not willing to "hold its nose and vote anyway" for a resolution that did not tell the truth about who we are (as urged by Special Committee member Dan Martins) and believe the action of the House of Deputies in defeating A161 yesterday set the stage for creating a response to Windsor that will give us a way forward rather insist on a way apart: either from our Anglican family or our gay and lesbian baptized.

I deeply appreciated Bishop Charles Jenkins' words in the House of Bishops yesterday: we must be honest about the fact that we are a church of two minds on some issues AND a church willing to walk together anyway. "We must give back the anxiety to those who handed it to us," he said by finding a way to express that to our Anglican Communion family so we can move on in mission and ministry.

Our last legislative day will begin with a called joint session where deputies and bishops will together receive a "mind of the house" statement being crafted as-we-speak by a committee appointed last night by the Presiding Bishop.

Interesting times, as they say. "They" also say "it's not over until the fat lady sings" and she hasn't even warmed up yet ... so stay tuned!


Chip Webb said...

"We must be honest about the fact that we are a church of two minds on some issues AND a church willing to walk together anyway."

Rev. Susan, in the House of Deputies the last few days, the tension cut like a knife. The lack of respect for opposing camps was palpable as people cut off each other in debate. We seem to be "willing to walk together" only at the bare minimum level, if that.

Peace of Christ,

Lorian said...

I'd just like to take a moment to breathe a deep sigh of relief, to thank God for the movement of the Holy Spirit, and to offer my hand of friendship to the conservative folks and say that I hope we will continue to walk together in love, despite our differences.


Jon said...

I'm with Jeff on a temporary moratorium on the consecration of partnered gay and/or lesbian bishops. I also think that a temoporary moratorium on the development of rites of blessing at the national and diocesan levels might also be possible because it couldn't trump the rubrics that let bishops authorize special services for special occasions.


Catherine said...

I will stand beside lorian and offer my hand of friendship as well because, despite of the differences, we are "family", the family of God. And my conservative brothers and sisters are that, my brothers and sisters in Christ.


Anonymous said...

The conservatives don't fail to see the differences in intrepretation. We are clear in our position. One interpretation is consistent with the teachings of the church from its inception. The other option is not consistent with the church's reading of Scripture or tradition. Rather, that option is a new prophetic call by its own proponents' labelling. So again, its not that we don't see the difference. We see it quite well. Perhaps its the difference between these two perpectives (failing to see the difference vs. seeing that there clearly is a differnce) which needs to be rehashed.

As for accepting diversity of opionion, conservative accept that there is diversity of opinion. However, that diversity of opinion has included opinions which are inconsistent with the mind of the Anglican Communion at large as has been clearly articulated by WR and Lambeth 1.10.

The Anglican Communion does not oblige its members to stay within communion. It does, however, expect that all the members of the club will respect the mutually agreed upon rules. No one member can snub the others by disregarding the rules and agreements by which they have voluntarily bound themselves to the others in communion. Otherwise, all are free to do likewise and the concept that they are of like mind and have communion is a farce.

TEC may indeed believe that it is leading a prophetic move. That move, sadly, is not within the realm of communion as currently defined.

karl maria said...


Unfortunately, coming from the Diocese of Maine, where we'll be electing a bishop coadjutor next year, I'm more than a little unhappy. I was going to a very nice, inclusive, but somewhat ghetto-ized liberal alternative anglican church, but felt the need to be in a more inclusive and diverse contex, ie with folks with kids, older folks, and a larger congregation. I attended the consecration of +Gene and was moved at that event... by a palpable sense of the Holy Spirit in the room and by the shock at the way the dissenters (Bena, et al.) were allowed to poop in the punch, so to speak. I eventually started attending a lovely, progressive ECUSA church here in Maine and have become very involved, with the youth groups, the Vestry, on a Discernment Committee for a new rector, delegate to the Diocesan Convention, etc.

What brought me to the Episcopal Church in the first place was that it appeared to be a place where the talk was walked. And now, instead, we (gays and lesbians) and we (straights) have to sip the punch with the poop in it.

It's very frustrating. What about the search process for our new bishop? What if the call discerned is for a lesbian or gay man in a committed relationship? Or should we just tell them not to apply? Did we just do that? Do I belong here any more? (Of course I do... but I don't feel like it tonight)

Polity is just another fancy word for politics as usual. They kill people in Africa for being gay. That's not politics. That sounds like about as far away from the "Reign of God" as you can get.

Miffed in Maine

karl maria said...

There may be a political equivalence between not adopting a resolution that is essentially a moratorium on lgbt bishops and saying "f" you... but there is no moral equivalence.

And pardon me, but it feels wrong... and sort of like an admission that what was done in 2003 WAS wrong. In that sense, what has been done now is even more questionable.

I believe in Jesus too. And love your enemies, yes. But bow down to their wishes? Do harm to your neighbor because they want you to?

Sorry, I don't buy it. Again, this is politics, not faith, in my opinion.


karl maria said...

To put it another way... For what will it profit them if they gain the whole communion but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

karl maria said...

Sometimes there are other spirits that are at work... this resolution was brought up without lots of time to understand it and feel it. There are reports online that there were Bishops seated with the Deputies telling them that they WILL vote for the resolution... and there also appears to be some sort of dissenting opinion that has been agreed to by a number of progressive bishops.

That said, I completely agree with your statement about community. As I mentioned it's partly behind why I became Episcopal.

Sorry for venting. I'm just very, very sad about this.


karl maria said...

Yes, we got a woman primate who tells us in one instance she is fully committed to full inclusion of lgbt folks in the church (assume she meant from lay to primate)... but then quite apologetically asks us to leave the room... but we're not slamming the door on you ... no. No door slamming.

Twice she said, this is the best we can do at this time. Twice it sounded like someone who has been defeated and backed into a corner.

I get that you're trying to spin this positively. But you cannot polish a poop. Yes, some other good things happened. But this was not one of them.


Anonymous said...

First... I like Karl Maria! Go New England!

And Jeff... I think you got the lingo down, but you aren't quite sure of what it means.

It appears that this is a "non-binding" resolution, and that is important for us to remember. But it is also important for us to remember that straight women (i.e. +Schori) who exclude a segment of society so that they can exclusive feast at the banquet (i.e. Lambeth 2008) aren't our allies.

That's not what moves us forward. Compromise is needed at times... pauses are needed at times... but what we're seeing here are straight liberals showing their true colors and willingly sacrificing GLBT people for the sake of being able to attend Lambeth.

As Mark Harris stated recently on his blog "Preludium":

"This is what might be known as preemptive apology. It works very well for those in power in our society and is closely related to the moral stance that suggests that justice must be delayed because the society is just not ready. Such suggestions are almost always accompanied by statements such as, “I know segregation makes for suffering, but if you can just suffer a little longer…” It is important to note that it is seldom the sufferer who holds up such arguments.

It echoes as well that other famous preemption in our days, the preemptive strike doctrine. Preemption requires the ability to take action against potential aggression by stepping in first and dealing a blow. It is often accompanied by saying, “sorry about all the dead bodies.”

Jeff... I know you have stated that you believe what you say and that it's not spin, but it sure smells like spin to me. And, unlike Karl Maria, I don't even think your poop is polished ;-)

Anonymous said...

OK Jeff. Let's say that happens.

We then plant an Episcopal Church in England. There are hundreds of gay clergy there to pull away. Even some gay bishops (Yes, I personally know one gay bishop in the C of E, and know of others).

Then we watch an open minded church - not tied to the establishment - grow in England. It wouldn't have to grow very far before we had more English Episcopalians than the C of E has active.

And no, I don't think it is a pipe dream. Though an American I was confirmed in the UK. I'm over there regularly enough and sit in on the Sunday AM services with 10 communicants. Church buildings are rapidly being converted to bars and restaurants in the UK. Because the C of E is failing the radical right churches are stepping in to fill a need for churches that aren't dead.

The best thing we could do for England is to let the ABC and his friends in Nigeria go away, plant a real alternative to the C of E, and see how long it is before that is seen as the real Church for Anglicans in England.

If we did our job well (and funded it for a while since they are used to government dollars and don't pledge) we could have an active and thriving Episcopal Church in England. We could minister to the poor and imigrants in the UK in ways that the C of E can't seem to do. And we could then ignore the Archbishop of Cant. as irrelevant.

We would be free to show that an open and inclusive church could thrive where a closed Establishment church has (honestly) failed.

Jeffrey Shy said...

As someone else watching these debates and events, I can certainly express a shared disappointment. The "eating poop" is an apt metaphor for what we have had to endure so many times before and are enduring again.
I believe, however, that the actions of the outgoing presiding bishops and those that pushed through this 11th hour compromise are more to be pitied than hated. Although I may be in a minority about this, I do believe that the current paradigm of Christianity as we know it is entering its final days. The upsurge of fundamentalist activity is no more than the actions of persons who are trying to keep the security of the old ways. It is rather like fiddling while Rome burns. The conservative/reactionary persons are clinging "for their lives" to the old ways, but the collapse of the old synthesis is inevitable. I think that we all realize that, whether the Episcopal establishment admits it of not, the genie is already out of the bottle. No amount of apeasement of the fading conservative minority will serve to put it back in again.
As for how the world will view what has happened, I believe that they will see it for what it is...simply a pitiable action by fearful people...rather like a confession obtained under torture. It is rather to be pitied than hated.

Jeffrey Shy, Mesa, Arizona

Jeffrey Shy said...

Jeff M.

Thanks for your reply. I hope, for their sakes, that they are ready to go on the journey. The search for a new Christian identity, whether Episcopalian or not, is not a task for "sissies" if you please. I spent several years of my own time mourning the death of the theist God. It is comforting to think that, between a birth that we did not control and a death that can come any time and unawares, there is some "certainty" on which we can depend. Unfortunately, I no longer believe this to be true. The reign of God will be our own making, not a "Deus ex machina" event that comes on the clouds from heaven.
I am and have been willing to be patient. My greatest pain is not for myself, but for those that will not live to see a more just day for gay and lesbian persons. Although I still live my church (does anyone remember the priest from the "Shoes of the Fisherman" film---"I hate the church, but still I cannot leave her. I love the church, but I still cannot live in her in peace.), I have had to come to view religion and the gospel as existing both inside and outside the church and not necessarily bound by it. Should the truth and my perception of it lead me away from the church, I cannot but follow it. "Here I stand... I can do no other." I only hope that the conservatives can open the closed nature of their world and religious views to consider that things could be different than they had always believed.

Jeffrey Shy said...

I am a rather early to bed individual, but I agree in major substance with your feelings. It _could_ have been much worse than it was. and it does leave room open for comment. I hope that we can continue to have a REAL dialogue, although I have to admit that in honesty, I cannot see myself going back to "The Bible (read God) said it, I believe it, case closed" in any setting short of a major deterioration of my cortical circuitry.
As for the "getting to heaven," I am afraid that I have no real belief in an afterlife sort of heaven. I believe that, as humanity grows, "God" grows and evolves with us. The "heaven" or "reign" of "God" is what we make it, here and now in ourselves. "God" was more brutal and harsh in former days because WE were more brutal and harsh. For all our failings and fralities, the progress of evolution is clear, and, how knows what we will become if we continue to "grow in the Spirit?"
I do agree with the compromisers in one really important sense, we need to heal our divisions to make real progress in our spiritual development as humans. As long as we are about hating and harming, we will never make any significant gains in achieving a real "Reign of God." We can ALL be better than we are today, and I hope that we all have the opportunity to see better in our own lives.

For tonight, I thank the community for allowing me to express my views. I bid you a "peaceful night and a perfect end."

Jeffrey Shy
Mesa, Arizona

Jeffrey Shy said...

As a PS, please forgive my typos in the above posts. i am afraid that my mind often goes faster than my fingers can follow.

Mesa, Arizona

Anonymous said...

This is the state of Christianity? Reduced to nasty squabbles via chat boards. No wonder we get such a bad rap.

I am heartbroken by the decision of the Convention today. The resolution adopted compromises the understanding of faith held by most Episcopalians, if not most Anglicans. Would Jesus have urged the disciples not to baptise the poor or infirm because it made the rabbis uncomfortable? No. Why would we urge our brethren not to FULLY INCLUDE their gay and lesbian members and clergy AS THE SPIRIT GUIDES THEM?

I feel abandoned and churchless.

Dave said...

Well, I don't feel churchless: I have an incredible, supportive parish, with an out lesbian on the vestry even. But a small part of me wonders if this door will ever be slammed on me too. I don't think it will, but I also think maybe I should form contingency plans, you know?

karl maria said...

I can certainly agree with anonymous regarding the churchless comment.

Of course, this is just the reaction I'm feeling now. I'm being honest about that. Praying for reconciliation has helped. But I do feel hurt by this action.

You see, the honest, truly honest and spirit-inspired action was what happened Tuesday evening. When it was recognised that the A161 was palatable neither to progressives nor to the traditionalists. That was the Rosa Parks moment. A moment of clarity and precision, and honesty.

Then the politics began... and when it was announced that the PB and a select group was working on some new language... well, that's when it was clear to me that Rosa was going to the back of the bus again.

It was a crucifixion, as my bishop (and ++Katharine as well) would say. The resurrection will be the hard part, and it may not come in the form of a stable Anglican Communion as some here hope.

Before we can go about doing the great work of the building of paradise, by loving God and our neighbors as ourselves, we must have integrity. Not unity at all cost. But integrity. Not in a prideful show of American Episcopal re-colonization, but in the sense that we know who we are. Instead, both traditionalists and progressives are in a Babylonian captivity of sorts. Our faith will sustain us, but our integrity was what was crucified today in Columbus.

Now, show me the resurrection.

Lisa Fox said...

I've been reading this blog all thru GC, and appreciating Susan's+ reports ... but tonight -- angry as all get-out at our Deputies! - I also need to ask: Who actually owns this blog? -- Susan Russell or Jeff Martinhauk? As far as I can tell, it's this Jeff guy. HELLOOOooooo. Is there a Deputy in the House??

Anonymous said...

Hehehehehe Lisa,

I think Jeff has taken over this blog, plus he's taken over as Rector of All Saints Pasadena, and he's gotten a psychologist to provide a stamp of approval on his opinions.

But if you really want some fun do check out his pro-segregation comments in the replies to the latest "Sports" post on his own blog!

Seems Jeff wants all voices heard and listened to, as long as he gets the most air time ;)

Anonymous said...

"Would Jesus have urged the disciples not to baptise the poor or infirm because it made the rabbis uncomfortable? No. Why would we urge our brethren not to FULLY INCLUDE their gay and lesbian members and clergy AS THE SPIRIT GUIDES THEM?" Uh, adult baptism is about repentance and belief. And, to state the obvious, our church is in a disagreement about what behavior or behaviors need to be foresworn and repented of. (To state my view, I agree with the traditionalist camp and am unconvinced that sexual activity outside of marriage is the call of God. I say this not as a fundamentalist or conservative--tho' I am sure this blog will call me that--but as a chastened and reformed liberal.) I don't see how this will ever go away--this divide that is. And there is ill health on both sides, and in large measure.

karl maria said...

Jeff and others,

Does anyone know where we can get a breakdown of how the various deputations voted on B033? Thanks.

karl maria

Catherine said...

karl maria, if you go to the Integrity website I am sure the information is there, but if not, here it is:

The vote by orders on B033 that had 75 affirmative votes in the clergy order and 73 in the lay order. There were 24 no votes and 10 divided votes in the clergy order, and 21 no votes in the lay order and 11 divided.

Anonymous said...


I'm not misrepresenting what you said on your blog. You are, however, re-inventing American history.

After the Civil War African Americans were given rights. Not nearly enough rights, but they were given some. It was decades later that those rights began to be taken away. A process that was approved by the Supreme Court in 1896. The Supreme Court's ruling made it possible for further rights to be taken away... a process that continued into the 1910's.

By asserting that African-Americans had no rights to begin with, that racial segregation was, as you put in in your blog, "'Separate but equal' was not in and of itself bad during its time. It was a step forward.", you are putting yourself in the pro-segregation camp. And "during its time" isn't some long ago age... it's my lifetime! I remember watching movies in segregated theatres, I remember water fountains everywhere that had "Colored" and "White" signs above them, and there's a reason why the Rest Plazas on the Florida Turnpike have 4 restrooms at each plaza... they were built in my lifetime so that there were "white" and "colored" restrooms for both men and women.

Just because you style yourself liberal and attend All Saints Pasadena doesn't mean you can re-create American history. I do encourage others to visit your blog so that they can see the context of your comments. Your knowledge of history, however, is really out-of-whack, and is having an adverse impact on comments you make via blogs.

I will give you this... I get the impression from your comments that you are trying to describe a feeling that what happened yesterday at GC was a setback. What you are writing, however, is that it was a step backwards but ok nonetheless. There's a big difference between those two and I don't think you're grasping that. But I think you're trying!

Catherine said...

I migth add to my post to karl maria, that the House of Deputies had only 30 mintues to debate and discuss before voting.

Some say that if the vote had been taken after lunch, the outcome would have been very different.

My theory is that this particular issue was held until the very last moment, when the HD was the most exhausted, most worn down and then it was literally rammed through by the HB or at least part of them. Next time this issue better be at the forefront and that we brook no delays in its determination.

As for ++Katharine. Please do not judge her too harshly with this one situation. There is a strategy in hand and tho we may not be very keen on it, we do need to get to Lambeth and have her presence made known, acknowledged, accepted and carried through so she may gain the necessary leverage back here to "overthrow" the radical right who would see our American church reduced to nothing so they can have their way.

So I urge you who are discouraged, we have gained a very powerful ally in ++Katharine. Let the Holy Spirit continue to work, tho we may not understand it now, it will become clear later.


karl maria said...

I want to know how the individual deputations voted, by diocese. I am sure it had to be recorded somewhere, otherwise there'd be no idea of whether an order/deputation was divided or not.

Many thanks to +Catherine for her thoughts, and to Jeff too. I agree in a large part with what you say, only without the apologia. And I'm still not "over it" (my words... quotes for emphasis)... ++Katharine talked alot about relationships and building trust. This action did not win a lot of trust in my heart. When I see how she walks in Christ as PB, I'll get a better sense. But my guard is up now. And it will stay up for a while.

Yesterday I felt like the robbed man down and out on the road to Jericho, when he is passed by, first by the priest and then the Levite. I'm still waiting for the good samaritan to show up. Wait a second... turns out that's supposed to be me. ;-) And this brought to mind a powerful workshop I participated in with an expert in psychodramatic therapy. Each of us, at varying times in our lives plays the role of the victim, the robber, the Priest, the Levite and the Good Samaritan...

And a little peace came into my heart again. Enough to offer this prayer:

God of reconciliation,
Your love for the whole world is boundless.
The cracks we make in everything let your light in.
May right-thinking flower again,
As right-doing returns.
So I pray, in Christ's perfect Name.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 5:54... why take a tone of hostility and sarcasm with the "Uh.." It just brings needless ill will and darkness where we should be trying to share the sunlight of the Spirit. It is not difficult to see why we are in such a state of disrepair, if this blog can be seen as a microcosm of the Church. There is so little love and so much opinion.

An d yet, even still, I find my self adding to the debate. Oh, the humanity! I don't think you can legitmately refer to yourself as one of the "liberals" of the church if you think sex is only for marriage and marriage is only for heterosexuals. Call me crazy, but I think that seats you at least with the conservatives, if not the fundamentalists.

I think this really all comes down to whether you believe God's ultimate authority is expressed in your own heart and in the hearts of the collective congregation, or whether it is expressed -- ultmately -- in the Bible. I believe the former, and I would guess you believe the latter. (Based on the sex-is-only-for-marriage/marriage-is-only-for-heterosexuals doctrine). Isn't that is what makes me a "liberal" and you a "conservative"?

Catherine said...

To karl maria. I am trying to track down,if possible, how each diocesan deputation voted. Will let you know when I find out but if someone else finds out before me, please post it or the link so we can see who did what, o k?



Catherine said...

On Elizabeth Kaeton+'s blog, she described ++Katharine as "slowly turning away from the podium, looking very sad." Elizabeth+ was there so it is her firsthand account. I don't think ++Katharine likes it any more than we do. If only we could get a bishop or two to spill the beans on what really happened in the HB.


Catherine said...

John Gibson, a Bill Clinton ++Katharine isn't. I laugh at the comparison, but not at you.

We don't know the complete set of circumstances of what happened in the Bishops' meeting, but Elizabeth Kaeton+ was on the floor during the joint session and she described ++Katharine as extremely sad and weighed down by the turn of events. We need to NOT judge her so quickly based on what happened on the 21st. We don't have all the facts of what transpired, we only have the result and how that came about is not crystal clear.

++Katharine began her ministry in Oregon and her reputation for fairness and healing precedes her to Convention. I will stick to what I know, and that is the priest who began her ministry in Oregon and will finish it as our next Presiding Bishop. One statement does not a failed PB make.

As for Lambeth, she'll get invited or incurr the wrath of many a woman and many a woman priest, as well as outrage from many other quarters. And as for the plebes in the Global South, I have every confidence she can and will handle the puny minds in the ilk of Akinola and his cronies.

Remember that the Holy Spirit chose her to lead us...I would not think of insulting that Spirit by judging the work of that Holy Spirit too harshly and so soon.


Anonymous said...

I think we should be cognizant that Katharine is new to the PB thing, but that's not a good reason to let her performance on that infamous day get a pass.

Part of being a good bishop is being a good servant, and Katharine can't be a good servant if we aren't able to tell her what we really need.

It's ok for us to be disappointed in her right now. It's ok to tell her clearly what we need. Expending our energy making excuses for her won't serve any good. Being honest with her will serve all of us well. And I believe we can do so in a productive way.

karl maria said...


You can see a grainy video of (+)+Katharine's speech to the HoD yourself at:

It seems to corroborate Elizabeth+ in her assessment. I still am interested in knowing who dissented (both the bishops and the HoD deputations that voted no or were divided)...

I've decided that one of the things I'm going to do as a result of this action is reduce my pledge to my local church (yes this will hurt us), and channel that reduced amount directly to Integrity.


Karl Maria