COLUMBUS, OH: Special Committee Meets On Interdependence Resolution
By Auburn Traycik
A key proposed resolution on commitment to and interdependence within the Anglican Communion underwent several changes during a packed Episcopal General Convention legislative committee meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Among amendments in Resolution A159 approved by the Special Committee on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion is one that expands ECUSA's "commitment to the vision of interdependent life in Christ" to include "forbearance, trust, and respect."
The amendment was partly inspired by one notable observer at the meeting, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon, who was asked by the committee to make some remarks. Kearon stressed that the Anglican Communion "is not trying to influence or shape the decisions" the convention makes. However, while admitting that interdependence is a "difficult word to explain," he said it is not independent and does not involve making "whatever decisions we want...We have the guidance of Scripture overarching all of our activity and all of our work and all of our prayer." Interdependence also includes two little-mentioned qualities, trust and respect, both of which are important to Anglican relations, he said.
In another resolve of A159, the committee removed the word "descriptive" in front of the reference to the Preamble to ECUSA's constitution, which clarifies that the Episcopal Church is "in communion with the See of Canterbury." The use of "descriptive" had raised concerns among conservatives who think the Preamble is intended to be "prescriptive." It was apparent, though, that those members of the Special Committee who also served on the Special Commission that produced the resolution had no objection to the removal of the word.
More importantly, however, the committee voted to include in the same resolve a longer quote from the Preamble that identifies ECUSA as "a constituent member of the Anglican Communion."
And, after much debate and several amendments, the final resolve of A159 was changed to read:
Resolved, that, as an expression of interdependence, the Executive Council, in consultation with the Standing Commission on World Mission and this church's members of the Anglican Consultative Council, be requested to make provision for inviting persons from other provinces of the Anglican Communion to serve with voice but not vote on the Standing Commissions of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.
The Special Committee, chaired by Upper South Carolina Bishop Dorsey Henderson, decided to await a copy of the complete text of its revisions before finalizing and reporting Resolution A159 out to the whole convention.
The decisions were preceded by comments about A159 from various deputies, alternates and other Episcopalians attending the convention. The present and former presidents of the Episcopal gay group, Integrity, the Rev. Susan Russell and the Rev. Michael Hopkins, for example, both seemed to suggest the need for A159 to go farther in embracing both autonomy and interdependence.
Some of the witnesses, however, addressed related resolutions that were also before the committee. These included those sent by Episcopal dioceses to the convention which were notable for their disparities.
One speaker commended the text of Diocese of Florida's resolution, C025. It fully commits to the Windsor Report, with its strongest resolve stating that the diocese "commits itself to a life worthy of the communion we share, avoiding decisions of our own which might break our relations with others, submitting to common counsel within the Anglican Community in matters which impact the larger body, nourishing the marks of our common identity, respecting the instruments that maintain our unity..."
In contrast was a Diocese of Rochester resolution, C004, commended by two or three witnesses. It would have the General Convention state (among several other things) that, while it does not desire to impose a uniformity of position regarding homosexuality "in our own church or the Communion," it "cannot...as a church, receive" as "definitive Anglican teaching" the statement of 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 that deems homosexual practice as "incompatible with Scripture." Of those supporting the resolution, one, Jorge Gutierrez, said the Rochester diocese felt "with all humility" that the Windsor Report represented an "inappropriate intervention within our church." The diocese felt that it needed to be "faithful to where the Spirit had led us," he said.
The Special Committee took no action on either of those resolutions Tuesday afternoon. At a 7 p.m. meeting that night, it considered proposed Resolutions A165 ("Commitment to Windsor and Listening Processes"), A166 (Anglican Covenant Development Process) and C007 (Anglican Consultative Council Appropriation), which addresses a requested increase in ECUSA's contribution to the Communion's budget. If the convention approves the significant additional appropriation, C007, proposed by the Diocese of Newark, would have it hold the money in escrow until such time as ECUSA's representatives are reinstated as full members of the ACC and assurance is given that all Episcopal bishops with jurisdiction will be invited to attend as full and equal participants at the 2008 Lambeth Conference. See a separate VOL report on that session.
The crowd attending the Special Committee meetings was expected to swell considerably at a Wednesday evening (June 14) session to be held in the Hyatt Hotel ballroom. At that meeting, the committee is to consider three other of the key resolutions that will form ECUSA's response to the wider Communion: A161 (Election of Bishops), A162 (Public Rites of Blessing for Same-Sex Unions) and A163 (Pastoral Care and Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight).
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