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GC2009: Resolution D025 Raises Hackles among Episcopal Bishops

GC2009: Resolution D025 Raises Hackles among Episcopal Bishops
Lexington Bishop Blames Bloggers for Misinformation to ABC Williams

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue in Anaheim

The hedging and parsing of resolution D025 passed yesterday by the Episcopal House of Deputies has begun. The HOD adopted a resolution declaring the ordination process open to "all individuals" specifically and including LesbiGayBisexualTransgendered members of the church.

It was a defining moment, with The Episcopal Church indicating by its 2 to 1 vote that it will continue down the slippery road of pansexual inclusion causing a weekly loss of 1,000 church members. A new orthodox Anglican Province was launched just a few weeks ago on North American soil.

At a press conference today, Bishop Michael Smith of North Dakota said that this is a sensitive time in the life of the church. The passing of D025 is being perceived as a negative response to the Windsor Moratorium. We are, he said, aware of the gravity of the situation. One hopes.

Meeting at the triennial gathering of the General Synod of the CofE being held in York, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams said he regretted the decision by the US Episcopal Church to ignore a ban on ordaining gay bishops and lobbying for their inclusion.

Of course, only the House of Deputies has spoken not the House of Bishops, so the resolution could yet be deep sixed.

Challenged by VOL on whether the actions by the HOD would lead to an irrevocable break between TEC and the wider Anglican Communion, straining the bonds of affection beyond hope of reclamation, Stacy Sauls, Bishop of Lexington said, "I think the Archbishop has been reading inflammatory headlines about this. There is no poll. We don't know where the communion stands. Frankly they don't know anything about this. They are largely concerned with other issues, such as food water, daily life. My diocese has 14 of the poorest counties in the US. That is my primary concern. All THAT needs to be said."

Williams has repeatedly told Episcopal Church leaders that their intransigence could lead to a broader schism in the communion. This past week, he again echoed those words to the 76th General Convention urging The Episcopal Church to show restraint over homosexual clergy. In a sermon last Thursday, he told delegates to the general convention that he was tinged with "hopes and anxieties".

"Along with many in the communion, I hope and pray that there won't be decisions in the coming days that will push us further apart. If we, if, I had felt that we could do perfectly well without you, there wouldn't be a problem."

This did not prevent Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori from firing off a salvo of her own warning the Church of England that it should not recognize the new Anglican Church in North America, arguing "schism is not a Christian act." The recognition of ACNA is likely to encourage more departures, she opined.

At one level, it could be argued that the passage of this resolution does not affect or rescind B033 and is, therefore, no big deal. That is to say, it indicates no fundamental change in direction for the church. It leaves diocesan bishops to act as they see fit on the matter of whom they ordain to the diaconate or priesthood.

D025 is a matter of interpretation. Diocesan bishops can and will interpret it as they see fit, a variation on local option. This means that liberal bishops like Stacy Sauls can ordain whomever and orthodox bishops like Mark Lawrence (SC) and Albany Bishop Bill Love can do the same. Nothing of substance has really changed, just perception.

The resolution will have more teeth if the House of Bishops passes it, but that is by no means certain. Bishop Gene Robinson said if the HOB does not pass D025, he will take it personally, but then Robinson takes anything about sodomy personally, so that is not news. He will deliver a speech on "full inclusion". The largely theologically brain dead HOB will probably go along with it, but with one eye on Canterbury and a patched eye on the Global South. Some of the bishops might actually think that TEC's place in the Anglican Communion is worth salvaging and vote "no". But if the 2 to 1 vote by the HOD is anything to go by, then the HOB's affirmation of D025 will probably be narrower.

It should be noted that D025 is not coercive. It is not the same as Women's Ordination that was first brokered in and later made mandatory, forcing dioceses like Ft. Worth and Quincy to adopt strategies to prevent the intrusion of women into their dioceses. In time, they became two of four dioceses to quit TEC.

In looking at anything related to TEC, one has to observe trajectory. Louie Crew has fought for full sexual inclusion for more than 40 years. He and Integrity won't give up now.

As Susan Russell of Integrity wrote in her blog, "However you put it, D025 is a resolution that moves us beyond B033 and forward in mission."

Bishop Smith said there are no guarantees where all this will end. He said he hoped a Covenant would help the church "navigate through swirling waters. It will take a while till we will sort this all out. The Anglican Communion Covenant process comes out the other side. There is a large latitude how (resolution D025) could be interpreted."

Sauls observed, "nothing changed." Perhaps, but as one bishop noted at GC2006, "We all know where this is going." Indeed, we do.

However, when one views the extent of damage D025 has or will do to the wider Anglican Communion, rest assured that in this setting no one is singing "All hail the power of Jesus' name." Few here believes that.


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