GC2009: House of Deputies Impassioned For LGBT Inclusion
By Michael Heidt in Anaheim
At 10.15 am on the third legislative day of the General Convention, the House of Deputies moved into a "Committee of the Whole" by special order X005, in order to speak to Resolution B033. Wary of "cognitive fact" and limited to two minutes per person, Deputies spoke with emotion.
A Deputy from Lexington began the "narrative". Having visited Nazi gas chambers in Poland, the Deputy "felt the pain of our LGBT brothers and sisters." She wanted, "no part of a Church silent about our own discrimination... for too long we've denied all the sacraments to all God's children." She entreated the House, "How long will it take us to catch up with God's inclusion?"
A self-professed lesbian from Vermont felt "B033... a slam of the door" and not to be outdone, an "amateur Church historian" from Spokane resented "being morphed into Presbyterianism by other Provinces." There followed an impassioned appeal from Minnesota, who doesn't feel that the "Communion... was fragile." On the contrary, she believes that the, "MDGs and the movement for the full inclusion of all the baptized is increasing communion in Minnesota." One wonders if the Deputy understood the global ramifications of the exclusionary resolution in question, still, she was clearly against it as was a Deputy from Newark. "I urge us" he said, "to realize that what we did with B033 was to destroy the Good News... the credibility of every sign that says The Episcopal Church Welcomes You."
The witness to LGBT inclusion continued. A Deputy from Southern Virginia reminded the House that, "The ties that bind us can also choke us... don't let precious gifts (of LGBT persons) wither on the vine." From Louisiana, "Now is not the time to ignore our brethren" which has been the sad effect of the hated resolution. A priest whose church is an LGBT center in Anchorage concurred with the sentiment, "we must move on from B033" he felt, "with joy and hope." In a similar vein, another Newark Deputy referred to breaking the sound barrier, "Chuck Yeager climbed into his plane... and he, with courage and faith broke through into peace and silence." So too must TEC "set our sails to the winds of the spirit."
One of the few young people at the Convention, from Chicago, put it clearly, "It's plain and simple that we owe it to ourselves to encourage all qualified persons to lead and renew our church." Others agreed, "It is shameful to ask them to wait and hide... it is immoral to sacrifice them... we need a return to the path that Jesus set us... we can't remain a communion of exclusion... B033 sold our birthright for a bowl of pottage."
To be sure there were dissenting voices. A Deputy from Springfield warned against "imperiling our relationships in the Communion." Another from Southwest Florida likened the Church to an airplane that needs two wings to fly, "B033 keeps us flying... lets stay together for the sake of Christ." Fr. Martins from Indianapolis and proposer of D020, which supports the Anglican Covenant, urged objectivity over and against narrative-style emoting. "B033," he believed "got our bishops to Lambeth... seated at the Anglican Consultative Council... we need B033 to remain in Ubuntu relationship with the Anglican Communion," as suggested, he reminded the House, by Archbishop Rowan Williams.
The Archepiscopal refrain was taken up by a Deputy from Central Florida; "The Archbishop of Canterbury's words should give us pause... B033 did that." He felt a continued pause would be in order given "that the world's Christians haven't yet received" full LGBT inclusion. There were several more speakers in favor of retaining the controversial resolution, perhaps most notably from Camino Real whose Deputy stated that repealing B033 would be "going against Holy Scripture, living Tradition... (and the) spirit of Ubuntu."
So it would, but how can appeals objectivity succeed in a House given to a narrative that embraces emotive angst over and against "cognitive facts"? The fact in this instance being that a rejection of B033 will, in the words of Bishop Love of Albany, effectively "rip" an already broken Communion "to shreds." At 11.10 am, the president of the House of Deputies was able to announce "The ayes have it, guidance has been given." It remains to be seen how both Houses will take it.
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