GC2009: Episcopal House of Bishops Say Yes to Gays
Resolution D025 adopted two to one by liberal clerics
By Michael Heidt
At 5.55 p.m. the vote was called on amended resolution D025 in the House of Bishops. The results were conclusive: ninety-nine bishops in favor of the resolution, 45 opposed, with two abstentions.
During initial discussion on D025, it become clear that the mind of the House of Bishops was against its watered down variant as amended by Bishop Dorsey Henderson to remove permissive language from the sixth Resolve of the resolution.
The well-known Blues drummer, Bishop Chane of Washington D.C. spoke passionately against the Dorsey Amendment, "B033... has caused great pain, it really has... inhibiting the Church from the breath of the Spirit. It's been discriminatory." After testifying that "Gene Robinson (is) a breath of fresh air, a breath of the Spirit," he went on to say, "There is no winner, there is no loser here. There is only the breath of the Holy Spirit." Such pathos may have moved an amendment to the amendment.
The House changed Bishop Henderson's original wording, putting back the words "affirm that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church" and adding "God's call" is "a mystery" from the text of Dorsey's original amendment.
This was popular, prompting the Bishop of Iowa to state that, "You bring us to transparency and remove any attempt at evasion, this is who we are." Bishop Lamb of the pro-TEC diocese of Quincy concurred. For him, the amendment to the amendment made it "very clear that this process (discernment for ministry) is open." The honesty refrain was taken up by several other prelates, Bishop Steven Charleston of California felt that "we got into a lot of this mess because we said one thing and did another."
However, some bishops appeared confused. The Bishop of Eastern Michigan, Edwin Leidel testified, "I have no idea what will happen... I don't have any clue." With that, the question was called on the amendment to the amendment, which was carried by the House. The bishops then discussed the newly amended resolution.
The Bishop of Arkansas The Rt. Rev. Larry R. Benfield reminded his fellow bishops of the mystery of God's love in the Trinity and argued that we shouldn't limit that love according to "human chromosonic make up." He believed that anything other than supporting the resolution would be "unfaithful to our ordination vows." After several more testimonies, a further amendment was made and the words "as a constituent member" (of the Anglican Communion) was added to the first Resolve.
Then Bishop David B. Reed, retired of Kentucky, asked the chair if it would be possible to divide the resolution. Jefferts Schori told him that he could offer a motion that the House could vote on the resolution by Resolves. Bishop Reed did not appear to understand this and was told to return to his seat, "I'm gonna ask you to sit down" said the Presiding Bishop to Reed, allowing discussion to continue. The monk bishop of Massachusetts, Thomas Shaw, described his calling of celibacy and then said, "now is the time" to pass the resolution, "the scales are falling from our eyes." More testimony followed, most of it for the resolution with some against.
The bishop of West Virginia objected, "We need to face the fact that this is a repudiation of B033... now we're shooting the gap..." and will, he felt, do the very things that the Communion has asked The Episcopal Church not to do. Peter Beckwith, Bishop of Springfield, agreed, "I do not believe it is right... sex outside marriage is inappropriate" and more importantly, he thought that what was at stake was "a perceived justice issue" over and against the "integrity of the Communion." The Bishop of Albany Bill Love spoke in the same vein, stating that "If this resolution passes, The Episcopal Church will cease to be what its always been." For him, passing amended D025 would "totally shred" the Communion... a loss to us and the wider Church."
Others, notably Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina and Bishop John W. Howe of Central Florida spoke powerfully against the resolution. But the tide of the House was against them and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had warned against such legislation earlier that day at General Synod.
The amended resolution now returns to the House of Deputies for final ratification and with it a clear signal to the Anglican Communion, that The Episcopal Church has no legislative regard for Lambeth 1:10 or the moratorium on gay consecrations suggested by the Windsor Report.
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