Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Episcopal General Convention: Bishops Follow Through

I've never been happier to be wrong. The Bishops of the Episcopal Church, by a 2 to 1 margin, declared D205 (last post) to be an accurate picture of where the church is.

They passed one amendment to the resolution, so it must go back to the Deputies. I wish to honor the process and wait to talk about what I think this means for the future of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion, but I want to explore what I think the resolution does.

Here is the resolution as a whole with the changes.

There is no mention of B033 in this resolution: it is a moving beyond, and it clearly states that the Episcopal Church:

includes same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships "characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God"

that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst

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

The third paragraph is the moving beyond B033. It says that the discernment process set forth by the EC's Constitution and Canons suffices for all people in the church, and that no extra-canonical promises or restrictions apply to the process.

B033 is, in essence, an "extra-canonical promise or restriction." It will not be really tested until an openly GLBT partnered person is elected bishop somewhere. B033, after all, did not officially stop these elections, only called for restraint in giving consent (consent being part of the process). So, in some ways, B033 was never really tested to begin with, for there never was a situation to apply, since no partnered GLBT person was elected. However, it effectively kept qualified candidates from getting an unbiased look, and gave a clear message that the Episcopal Church was pausing in the area of justice for GLBT persons.

Thankfully, it appears that the artificial ban is about to be lifted, and clearly the justice process has been restarted.

Bishop Gene Robinson summed this up, saying "In effect, this resolution ends the informal ban on such bishops-elect. Its power is that it returns us to the canons of the Church, which have always served us well and which allow the Holy Spirit to call those whom the Spirit calls."

More to come...


rrchapman said...

Do you know of a case where an otherwise-qualified person was not considered for episcopal office because of sexual orientation (and having a partner) because of 2006-B033?

Kurt said...

I don't claim any special knowledge in knowing what goes beyond closed doors, but the specter of B033 would loom over any election. What diocese can afford to elect someone where consent likely won't be given (ask Northern Michigan where they now are...), and anyone elected under B033 would be reduced to "testing B033" instead of "discerning the Spirit as to whom is called to be Bishop." It was too much to ask of any candidate and Diocese, and EVEN SO the Diocese of Chicago at least went there with The Rev. Tracey Lind as a finalist. B033 effectively created a standstill in peoples' minds and actions... D025 claims that no artificial barrier outside the Constitution & Canons can do this.

Kurt said...

I'll also add that I touched on this in an earlier June post "The Role of Bishop."

"I've always been fundamentally against withholding consent of any Diocesan election where the canons of the church are followed. If a Diocese chooses to elect someone Bishop, and the procedure is transparent and follows the rules, then I see little ground for withholding consent."

B033 asked Bishops & Standing Committees to use their consent power in this way.

Fred said...

What an amazing turn of events! As a life-long Episcopalian, I can testify that my Church does not often take such bold actions. The Spirit spoke, and the bishops had the courage to respond. We are one small step closer to the Kingdom of justice and equality.

This was a very difficult decision, and it will have consequences. Let us pray the Episcopal Church shows the same sense of resolve to face the undoubtedly strong reaction of the other members of the Anglican Communion.

Fred Oberg

Margaret Evans Porter said...

Do you know of a case where an otherwise-qualified person was not considered for episcopal office because of sexual orientation (and having a partner) because of 2006-B033?

Yes. I met him in Ahaheim and we talked at length. And in fact, his 27th anniversary with his partner was acknowledge in our intercessions during prayer before that day's legislative session. He was in the Newark process which was ongoing before, during and after B033 was passed.