Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dissent from B033

The following resolution will be considered on December 1/2 at the 111th Convention of the Diocese of Los Angeles:

Dissent from B033

Resolved, that the One Hundred and Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Convention of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles dissent from Resolution B033 of the Seventy-Fifth General Convention of the Episcopal Church as inconsistent with both Title III, Canon 1, Section 2 of the Constitution and Canons for the Government of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America and our baptismal covenant to love and respect the dignity of every human being; and be it further

Resolved, that the One Hundred and Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Convention of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles repent of the continuing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people that B033 encourages and authorizes and reaffirms the full inclusion of all sisters and brothers in Christ, regardless of sexual orientation, into all areas of the life of the Church; and be it further

Resolved, that the One Hundred and Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Convention of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles call upon the Bishops and Standing Committee of this Diocese to uphold canon law in both letter and spirit when considering consents to the consecrations of new bishops.


Title III, Canon 1, Section 2 of the Constitution and Canons for the Government of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America requires that “[n]o person shall be denied access to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age, except as otherwise provided by these Canons…” (Emphasis added). The Canons for Government do not prohibit lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered persons from being consecrated for and serving in the episcopate.

Resolution B033, which the Seventy-Fifth General Convention of the Episcopal Church enacted as a recommendation, but not as one of the Canons for Government, provides as follows:

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, that the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report’s invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation; and be it further resolved, that this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.

The effect, if not purpose, of B033 is to subvert Title III, Canon 1, Section 2 of the Canons by encouraging and authorizing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the selection and consecration of new bishops. As a consequence, it also diminishes the 2003 consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire and undercuts years of forward progress that the Episcopal Church and this Diocese have made in securing the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons into the life of the Church.

Submitted by:

Bob Long, All Saints, Pasadena
The Rev. Altagracia Perez, Holy Faith, Inglewood


Jon said...

On what grounds can the decision of GC or the Standing Committees to confirm or decline to confirm a bishop be overturned, and what authority would do the overturning?


Tony Seel said...

This is good. The clearer the differences the more that the realignment is shown to be necessary. We wouldn't want anyone to doubt that there are two religions under the ecusa tent.


"One Lord, one faith, one baptism" Tony ... I know it helps the schismatic spin to talk "two religions" but for most Episcopalians it's just one -- the same old comprehensively Anglican one that has left room for diversity for -- oh -- the last few centuries or so.

Hiram said...

Rev Susan,

How much diversity is possible in "one faith"? Can Jesus Christ be both "the only way to the Father" and one of many ways? If so, how? Can Jesus Christ be both "the only-begotten Son of God, very God of very God," and also a human being like us who was especially filled with and aware of the Divine Presence -- which we also could become, if we seek to open ourselves as Jesus did (This latter is, if I recall correctly, what Matthew Fox teaches, and is part of Bp Spong's Twelve Theses.)

When something becomes so diverse as to lose all distinctions, it ceases to be anything.


Hiram, more important to me than the question "how much diversity" is "who gets to drawn the line?"

If we'd applied your criteria in the 16th century would it have been "too much diversity" to have had Anglicans side by side at the communion rail disagreeing about transubstantiaton vs. "real presence" ... catholic vs. protestant?

And never mind Fox and Spong ... I'm sticking with Augustine and the Archbishop of Wales on this one:

‘In certis, unitas. In dubiis, libertas. Et in omnibus caritas.’

Hiram said...

OK, what are the essentials -- and how do you know?


hiram, It's a really busy day here but how about Matthew 22:37-40

Hiram said...

Rev Susan,

Thanks for an answer on a busy day. I have been pondering your reply for a day or so (not so quiet on this end, either) and I note a number of things:

There are a variety of things that can be called “essential.” There are essential teachings of the Lord Jesus, such as the verses you cited, known in the BCP as the Lord’s summary of the Law. There are also some other essential teachings of Jesus, such as his teaching in Mark 8:31 & 32 that he must be betrayed, crucified, and rise again, or in Mk 8:34-38, the call for a disciple of Jesus to take up her or his cross and follow Jesus, or Matt. 28:18-20, the Great Commission. In addition to essential teachings, there are essential practices or activities, such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper, or the gathered community, worshiping the Lord and serving one another and those outside the Church. (The five action-oriented promises of the Baptismal Covenant are a very good list of essential activities of the Church.)

There is a third area of essentials, beyond the essential teachings of Jesus and the essential activities of the Church, and that is essential teachings ABOUT Jesus. I suspect that it was essential teachings about Jesus that Augustine was referring to when he said, “in certis, unitas.” A great deal of Church History is the story of how the early Church came to grips with who Jesus Christ was and the meaning of what he had done. When Paul speaks of “the Gospel” in 1 Cor 15:3-5, he tells the Corinthian Christians, “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” That was an irreducible minimum for Paul, and for Augustine as well.

If we do not know who Jesus is, or the significance of his death and resurrection, then we do not know why we should believe anything about him, nor why we should attend to his teachings. The Lord Jesus asks us to do some hard things. We have seen the Amish of Lancaster County doing astonishing things these last two weeks as the deal with an attack by a deranged soul – and their responses to that dreadful act come because they are utterly convinced of who Jesus is and what he has done.

As for the passage you cited, the Summary of the Law, it is a central verse for living as a Christian, but it is far too open-ended to stand alone as an essential teaching of the Church. For one thing, it is a summary of the Law. We need to know that the Jews of Jesus’ day were seeking to understand the most essential of the 640 laws found in the Torah. They wanted to be able to say which of the laws were central to the understanding and observance of all the rest. So, when Jesus gave this teaching, he summarized the Law – he did not replace those 640 commands with something briefer. (Of course, some of those laws were ceremonial, and they no longer apply – we need not sacrifice lambs because the Lamb of God has been sacrificed. The ceremonial laws have been set aside, because many pointed to Christ, and are not needed anymore, since he has come, or because he fulfilled them in himself.)

Saying that the Summary of the Law is the one essential leaves one with many questions: who is this God I am to love? What do I do to love him? Who is my neighbor? What does love of neighbor look like? It is an essential teaching of the Lord Jesus, but I do not think it serves well as an essential belief of the Church.

And, with regard to varying beliefs about the elements of the Eucharist – since there were diverse opinions during the Reformation, some of them mutually contradictory, the Elizbethan settlement provided the Thirty-Nine Articles as the boundaries of belief. Articles XXV, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, and XXXI deal with the Lord’s Supper and give the framework within which at least the ordained were to remain in their beliefs. It is a matter of record and law that ordinands of the Church of England were required to sign a statement of agreement to the Thirty-Nine Articles well into this century, and may still be required to do so (although a great many are, I fear, foresworn).