COLUMBUS, OH: No Sabbath of rest at General Convention
By Hans Zeiger
COLUMBUS, OHIO (6/17/06)-As divisions at the 75th Episcopal General Convention threaten to rend the church, both among its clergy and laymen and with the global Anglican Communion, Episcopalians have come to Sunday of the 2006 General Convention. On the seventh day the Lord rested, but not General Convention.
In addition to the election of a Presiding Bishop on Sunday, Special Committee Number 26 on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion will meet to discuss the tensions between homosexuality and the global Anglican Communion.
"I don't know what to say," Bishop Edward Little of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, a member of the Special Committee, told VirtueOnline. He explained that there will be a Eucharist service in the morning. "An element of the Sabbath Day is worship. But anything we do is tainted."
Little explained that in past years Episcopalians have attempted to have Sabbath days at General Convention. This year, however, a day was removed from the business schedule. "What that's done is to crush us in terms of the legislative schedule."
Bishop Dorsey Henderson of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, a member of the Special Committee, said, "The word worship itself means the work of the people, and the work itself is a liturgical work."
Yet in the Christian tradition, Sunday is a day to pause from the regular cares of the week in conformity to the Fourth Commandment of the Decalogue, and to seek God's will.
In fact, the Episcopal Catechism in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer asks, "Where in the Old Testament is God's will for us shown most clearly?" The answer: "God's will for us is shown most clearly in the Ten Commandments."
Reminded of this as the Special Committee seeks the will of God, Bishop Henderson told VirtueOnline, "We also know the will of God through the Holy Spirit working in the church. This falls in the same category as having annual parish meetings on Sundays."
And this Sunday is no time for rest, according to the Rev. Frank Wade, chairman of the Special Committee on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Asked by VirtueOnline whether he felt it right to conduct business on a Sunday, he replied; "Yes, I do, because the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath."
Added Bishop Henderson; "It surely is as appropriate as any of the labor that this convention does tomorrow."
Wade explained that Jesus taught the necessity of rescuing the ox who falls into a ditch, so the urgent business of the convention calls for the highest Christian concern.
As one observer said following Wade's remarks to VirtueOnline, "Basically they've gotten themselves into a hole, and they are going to continue trying to dig themselves out on the Sabbath."
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