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BREAKING NEWS: GC2009: Episcopal House of Deputies Goes Gay

GC2009: Episcopal House of Deputies Goes Gay

By Michael Heidt
Special Correspondent

At 6:.20 pm the President of the House of Deputies announced that resolution D025 had passed both orders of the House by significant majorities, ending any doubt that Deputies to the 76th General Convention were in favor of moving beyond resolution B033 towards full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the ministerial life of The Episcopal Church.

Voting took place by orders; lay votes were seventy-seven in favor, thirty one against and clerical votes came in at seventy- four in favor and thirty against. The Rev. Gay Jennings, Chair of the World Mission Committee introduced the resolution, outlining its five aspects:

Reaffirmation of commitment to participation in the Anglican Communion; encouragement to participate as to the highest extent possible in the Anglican Communion; full participation in the inter-Anglican budget; affirms same sex couples living in relationship may reflect the image of God; recognizes that gay and lesbian persons living in a relationship have responded to God's call to ministry; affirms that gay and lesbian people living in relationship may respond to God's call to ministry in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, and acknowledges that there is disagreement concerning the matters raised in the resolution.

Debate was emotional but civil, with testimonies alternating between those for and against the resolution. Those in favor spoke from a variety of standpoints around the central issue of inclusion. Testimony opened with Deputy Hamilton from the Diocese of Olympia, "its unfortunate to say to the world and the rest of the Church... (that) we're afraid that people will leave... we should be in a community of love... not an oligarchy of fear." A Deputy from the new diocese of Fort Worth argued that attempts to appease traditionalists had failed and should be superseded., Bishop Schori, "by her very essence and presence" creates strong bonds of affection.

Deputy Johnson from Minnestota also referred to Jefferts Schori. She wanted to give her a gift. "Give it (D033) to the Presiding Bishop as a gift, reflecting our messiness as a ,"Church... sometimes gifts aren't appreciated," she thought, but recommended this particular gift because it "states where we are as a Church." Again, the Deputy from Atlanta felt that D025 holds TEC's commitment to "honor" the Anglican Communion and gays in balance. "We can do both," he said.

Others talked of the importance of honoring their baptismal covenant, Bishop Browning's promise that there "would be no outcasts" in The Episcopal Church and that D025 was "delightfully holy."

Still, as the resolution itself signifies, there was disagreement. A woman priest from The Episcopal Church in Europe felt that more study had to be done before the resolution could be in accordance with Scripture and tradition. Several deputies from the diocese of Albany appealed to unity with the wider Communion, one reminding the House that twenty- two out of thirty- eight Provinces were in broken or impaired communion with The Episcopal Church and D025 would widen the rift. A speaker from the diocese of Springfield felt it wrong that TEC should "assert our canons above Scripture." In a similar vein, a deputy from central Florida believed the resolution to be "open to interpretation" and that it sends "fuzzy signals to Standing Committees and Anglican Communion partners."

The resolution now goes to the House of Bishops for final approval.


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