August 7, 2003

From figueroa Fri Aug 8 01:17:43 2003
Subject: GC Report 8/7
To: philemon
Date: Fri, 8 Aug 2003 01:17:43 -0400 (EDT)

Dear faithful AAC members and friends and guests,

Report from the General Convention at Minneapolis - meltdown day 3 night Over the brink, and beyond. "This ship (the Episcopal Church) has left the dock (the universal church) and is following in the wake of the theological wasteland known as the United Church of Christ."

Those were the opening lines of my prepared "debate" that I didn't get a chance to use today. See the details about that action just a few paragraphs below.

Brothers and sisters,

At todays' Forward in Faith Eucharist, that competes directly with the General Convention Eucharist, I was bowled over when I saw Bishop Thompson kneel at the rail. I leaned over the woman next to me who was from Long Island (where Bishop Thompson came from) and pointed him out. She told me that he was at yesterday's Eucharist too. I must have missed him in the overwhelming crowd. There was a similar crowd today too. I made it a point to greet him afterwards. I guess he needed Christian company to make it through the rest of this debacle.

Yes, today was a debacle, thanks be to God.

I returned a bit late from a break at 4:20 p.m. to see many deputies lined up at most of the microphones and a line of AAC teammates at microphone #8, so I grabbed my notes and headed for the line. When I got there I asked the priest from Quincy in front of me, an old friend, "Why are we in line?" It was for the special order of debate on the "same-sex blessings lite" resolution that came out as a substitute resolution from the House of Bishops.

I did not get a chance to speak. After 15 minutes of debate, each speaker being given one minute by special order, debate was cut off and we voted by orders.

Notwithstanding the favorable spin put on this resolution by many bishops, it is/was totally unacceptable. To make a long story short, we lost. As the list of the deputations that voted against or split was being read, I found myself worrying that we might have defeated it. You see, losing this vote brings greater clarity over where we are. The vote by deputation resulted in 57% in the clergy order and 54% in the lay order voting yes.

I voted NO. In the clergy order, The Rev. Benjamin Speare-Hardy voted NO. The rest of the deputation voted YES, so the Diocese was counted as YES in both clergy and lay orders.

The vote of the bishops was by voice and not recorded how each bishop voted. However, Bishop Thompson made favorabel comments about that resolution to me earlier in the day.

August 07, 2003 FOXNews does a great job of representing what today's resolution really means:,2933,94017,00.html

Look for the minority report on Resolution C051 by The Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, which I signed. I haven't found it on-line yet, but it should be on-line by sometime tomorrow. (I've not found it on-line, but many of Kendall's comments are found in the related ENS report (below).

Because of its importance, the ENS article, which has just been posted, is pasted in in-full, at the end of this email.

Having lived through this, I can tell you that most of the AAC team is sorry to have lost, but happy to have been faithful. We gave it our best shot. Tonight I sat through about an hour of a gathering of the Truro Episcopal Church volunteers with their rector. People were getting a chance to share their experiences and decompress. It really was quite wonderful. Sadly, I had to go to do some good soldiering work for the Diocese of Southern Ohio.

But, what I want to share with you is that our people here are not angry and they are not afraid. They are looking forward to God revealing his plan for our future. God is in charge. Look for great things. Be patient. In the meantime, soldier on. The Great Commission is still in effect and enemy is still lurking. Pray that God's will be revealed and pray for each other.

Best links for news where there is much everyone needs to browse are: AAC's General Convention web site. Canadian Prayerbook Society's Classical Anglican Net News General Convention web site ENS General Convention spin site A good place to get all the news that's fit to print, and more, plus David Virtue's unique brand of humor and hyperbole.

In an email from Peyton Reed: I ran across this on Town Hall -- to be precise -- today:

Human beings are free to adopt self-destructive ideas, but we are not free to make them work. Ideas based on a faulty view of human nature can grip the imagination of the powerful for decades, wreak havoc and suffering on untold millions, but they cannot triumph in the end. What is contrary to nature, including human nature, cannot ultimately survive.

The ECUSA may well implode, but

Though vine, nor fig tree neither,
Their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the fields should wither,
Nor flocks, nor herds, be there:
Yet God the same abiding,
His praise shall tune my voice;
For while in him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.

William Cowper (1731-1800)


Andy Figueroa


August 7, 2003

Deputies approve compromise resolution on same-sex unions

By Sharon Sheridan and James Thrall

[ENS] While liturgies blessing same-sex unions are celebrated in some parts of the Episcopal Church, the church is not ready to authorize creating common liturgies for such services, General Convention has decided.

In a vote by orders, with 58 lay deputations and 62 clergy deputations of 108 voting “yes,” the deputies concurred with bishops in adopting an amended resolution recognizing “that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions.”

The resolution also commits the church to “continued prayer, study and discernment on the pastoral care for gay and lesbian persons.” As part of the process, a commission appointed by the presiding bishop will compile and develop resources “to facilitate as wide a conversation of discernment as possible.”

The resolution allowed the church to speak clearly in describing “a fact that is longstanding and within the bounds of the church,” said the Rev. Francis Wade of Washington, co-chair of the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music Committee. “As an individual, I feel very good about the way it passed,” he said.

The committee felt they were offering an unambiguous statement of where the church is at the moment. His diocese is one whose bishop permits blessings for same-sex unions, he said. “That’s part of our life. This affirms ... we are within the embrace of the church.” Given that the Episcopal Church “experiences its theology through liturgy,” however, he said it was important to notice that the resolution does not call for the development of rites. “That would be a significant step for us, and we did not take it,” he said.

The Rev. Kendall Harmon of South Carolina, a member of the committee, said that while he agreed that the church spoke with clarity, he disagreed with what it said. “The cavalier treatment of the Scriptures at this convention was astonishing,” he said. “A great deal of momentum has been added to local option” for creating rites for blessing same-sex unions, he said.

During the deputies’ debate, he presented a minority report, calling the resolution “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Particularly dangerous, he said, is the clause about “recognizing” that local faith communities “explore and experience” such liturgies.

“If we are experiencing such liturgies, and they are within the bounds of our common life, then the Episcopal Church has already sanctioned and blessed homosexual behavior,” he said. While some people will stress that the church is “recognizing” rather than “authorizing” these blessing, he said, “let’s be honest, this is authorization.”

Harmon said he thought it is “highly likely that a clear authorization of same-sex rites passes next time” – partly because many people opposing such a move will not participate in the next convention, he said. “We’ve been in two churches for a long time,” he said. “The lid is blown off. There’s a sense of relief in that.” The question now is how to move ahead in a time of unprecedented, “dramatic realignment,” he said.

But Wade said it is better to think of the church as continuing to live in “tension” over an area of its life in which there is disagreement. “We are choosing not to resolve that tension, but to live with it,” he said.

While the resolution will not make a big difference in her diocese of Los Angeles, where blessings already occur, convention’s action will be welcomed by bishops who were seeking national authorization to respond to pastoral needs of gays and lesbians, said the Rev. Susan Russell, executive director of Claiming the Blessing, an organization that supports gay and lesbian concerns.

“We came looking for a bigger step. I was hoping for authorization for common language for rites,” she said. “I think this is a compromise that takes us a step forward. ... I think it makes us stronger and better able to move forward with the good news of the gospel.”

During the deputies’ debate, the Rev. Lee Crawford of Vermont said that after the ceremony in which she and her partner had their long-term relationship blessed, “several heterosexual couples tearfully told us that hearing our vows made them reconsider their own and strengthen their understanding of them.” An 86-year-old woman said she was taking the service bulletin home to show their vows to her husband because “he never promised these things to me.”

J. Patrick Waddell of El Camino Real said he would be returning home to celebrate his 25-year anniversary with his life partner. “Gay and lesbian couples are a fact of life in this church,” he said. “We need the church to give us the same sort of support” that heterosexuals enjoy.

And Tessa Craib-Cox of Chicago, who described herself as a “cradle Anglican, now Episcopalian, and straight woman,” whose “life has been blessed and enriched by many gay and lesbian friends,” likewise said the church should be ready to assist “gay and lesbian people who long for their relationships to be blessed.”

She and other deputies pointed out that the bishops had given “overwhelming” support to the compromise.

The Rev. Sharon Lewis of Southwest Florida, however, said, “Please hear my heart. To be against this resolution is to be against further separation in this church, to be against widening the deep wounds in our body.”

The Rev. Daniel Martins of San Joaquin also called the resolution a “Trojan horse.” On the face of it, he said, “it seems like an irenic, peaceful compromise” which gives supporters of same-sex unions “much less than they originally aimed for.” But, he warned, the resolution will be taken as yet another precedent for arguing that “no core doctrine” forbids such unions.

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