VOL@GC'06: ECUSA: Reconciliation or "honest divorce"?
General Convention 2006
"I believe, with the greatest of heartbreak and sadness that the day has arrived where those who have chosen the Episcopal Church because of its catholic and evangelical reliability, and those who have chosen the Episcopal Church for its revolutionary character, can no longer be held together. For which Episcopal Church will the Committee, and then this Convention, decide? The future in Communion rests only with the former of the two. It cannot be both ways into the future." - Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh and Anglican Communion Network Moderator.
Dear Brothers and Sisters
COLUMBUS, OH (6/15/2006)--It is said that Columbus is the gay capital of the Midwest, the Wiccan capital of the Midwest and the Masonic capital of the Midwest. This should answer any questions about why the Episcopal Church chose to have its 75th General Convention here - a dysfunctional church meeting in a dysfunctional city.
Seemingly apropos to this, VirtueOnline was the surprise recipient today of an "Episcopal cup," a coffee cup emblazoned with an ECUSA crest and the words "The Episcopal Church - Inclusive as Hell." More surprising, perhaps, is that VOL was "awarded" the cup by one of the church's own bishops - who shall, of course, remain nameless.
The much married Northern California Bishop-elect Barry Beisner who turned down a request by Virtue Online for an interview found that he has still not obtained consents from the committee considering his election. This has happened twice now, and may signal that a couple of bishops are seriously questioning whether he is a "wholesome example" to the flock. Bishop D. Bruce MacPherson of the Diocese of Western Louisiana, vice chairman of the committee, told Virtue Online, "The committee met in private session this morning and has not completed work yet." When asked whether the continuation of Committee on the Consecration of Bishops executive sessions had relation to Bishop-elect Beisner's divorce record, Bishop MacPherson mumbled something that included the word "part" and then said, "We're in conversation about the decision." The committee will again convene in private session on Friday morning at 7:30 on the first floor of the Hyatt Regency Conference Center. Will Beisner learn the meaning of the expression 'three strikes and you are out'?
AT this point in the convention, we're starting to hear predictions that the General Convention is headed for a "train wreck" (as one conservative leader put it) on the Windsor-related resolutions. The divide in viewpoints toward homosexuality and the Windsor expectations manifested at last night's grueling hearing and the call by some on both sides for making ECUSA's position clear - one way or another - have not helped the progress of most of the resolutions through the legislative process. The original plan was for the convention to deal with them before the next presiding bishop is chosen on Sunday, June 18.
On Thursday, the House of Bishops adopted Resolution A166 (supporting the development of an Anglican covenant) with one amendment, and the House of Deputies adopted A159 (commitment to interdependence in the Anglican Communion, as earlier amended in committee). However, at this writing, most of the Windsor-related resolutions - notably those relating to future gay bishops and same-sex blessings - were still in the Special Committee on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, which meant the convention would likely be hard-pressed to deal with them before Sunday. This all raises the possibility, as some see it that the convention may not be able to reach agreement on some of the resolutions, or could even run out of time to deal with them.
IN other news, the House of Bishops rejected Resolution C007, concerning an additional $500,000 appropriation requested from ECUSA by the Anglican Consultative Council. If the convention agrees to the extra assistance, C007 - submitted by the Diocese of Newark - wanted the church to hold that amount in escrow until ECUSA's ACC members were reinstated on the Council with full voice and vote, and assurance was received that Episcopal bishops would be invited to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference.
AMONG today's crop of convention stories you can read in today's digest include how a homosexual organization CFLAG has ingratiated itself into the church. You can also read Canon David Anderson's blast at The Episcopal Church in his call for "clarity and truth" from ECUSA's leaders. If not then divorce should be considered he said.
The Episcopal Church Convention also condemned the Bible as 'Anti-Jewish', which is just about the stupidest thing you have ever heard, as Jesus himself had some pretty harsh things to say and the Pharisees and Sadducees. Dr. Peter Toon weighed in on a new book The Oxford Guide to The Book of Common Prayer, A Worldwide Survey (edited by C. Hefling and C. Shattuck). from Oxford University Press which had a chapter on why Continuing Churches get bad rap in the new book. The chapter in question was written by Lesley A. Northup, a lesbian Episcopal priest. Could she be the same ECUSA cleric who was in the news some years ago for artificially impregnating herself with donor sperm in a turkey baster?
Anglican Communion Network moderator Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan shared his pain of rejection to the House of Bishops and said this about the Windsor Report: "As the resolutions stand, only one answer is possible: if these are placed without amendment, ECUSA will have specifically, deliberately and knowingly decided not to comply with Windsor. Only if the crucial Resolutions, especially A160 and A161, are amended in line with Windsor paragraph 134, can there be any claim of compliance....If the resolutions are not amended, then, with great sadness and with complete uncertainty about what way ahead might be found, the rest of the Communion will have to conclude that, despite every opportunity, ECUSA has declined to comply with Windsor, in other words, to 'walk apart' (Windsor 157)."
"I believe, with the greatest of heartbreak and sadness that the day has arrived where those who have chosen the Episcopal Church because of its catholic and evangelical reliability, and those who have chosen the Episcopal Church for its revolutionary character, can no longer be held together. For which Episcopal Church will the Committee, and then this Convention, decide? The future in Communion rests only with the former of the two. It cannot be both ways into the future."
Dr. Toon weighed in with an article asking what the likes of Bishop Duncan will do if the Convention does not decide to walk in the path which he declares is the only way to remain genuinely Anglican and in communion with the worldwide Body. "Will he and others separate their dioceses from the rest of the ECUSA and form a new non-revolutionary, traditional Church? Will overseas provinces and dioceses declare that they are only in communion with those bishops and dioceses which accept wholly the requirements of The Windsor Report?
Many have been worried about proposed canonical changes that would extend disciplinary canons of the church to the laity--sparking visions of increased persecution of conservative faithful by liberal bishops. But one orthodox bishop made clear that the changes could work both ways; if they are approved, he told VOL that he would immediately go after the liberal Via Media group. Fortunately for all concerned, reports are that the legislative committee dealing with these canons has been urged to remove the offending portions of the amendments.
On Thursday, one panel took up a number of disparate Middle East resolutions. One urges Israel to "end the isolation of East Jerusalem and Bethlehem from the West Bank created by the continued construction of Israeli settlements, settler roads and the (security) wall" and to remove the wall.
But another apologizes to the Jewish community for past church pronouncements that it says were "consistently unbalanced" because they portrayed Israel as an aggressor in the Middle East.
The fate of the proposals is uncertain.
On the domestic front, there are resolutions providing for a formal apology from the church for the role its forefathers played in slavery, and to explore possible reparations.
But the big issue will be compliance with the Windsor Report. This promises to be something approaching a conflagration.
David W. Virtue DD
On the Mainline
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