Monday, July 13, 2009

Is the end of Institutional Discrimination in sight?

July 13, 2009

Yesterday afternoon, our General Convention begun to act on the first of two issues to come before it regarding the continuing discussion and debate about the proper place of gay and lesbian people in The Episcopal Church. Three years ago Convention passed resolution B033 which urged dioceses not to consecrate any bishop whose ‘manner of life’ might give offense to others in the communion. Proponents say that nothing was really decided by the resolution which was a ‘ticket to the Lambeth Conference’, while others see the intent as being to assure the communion that TEC would hold at bay the consecration of any more GLBT bishops. (Episcopal CafĂ© has shared a seven minute video from members of the Chicago Consultation giving some context for this discussion here.)

This year, after a number of dioceses including Atlanta asked that B033 be repealed, the committee on World Mission has proposed D025 as a way of dealing with that (Track the state of the text here.) It attempts to be a positive statement of where we are as a church on matters of sexuality and it received overwhelming support from the House of Deputies who passed it on to the Bishops yesterday. There are early signs that the Bishops are much more skittish about anything that might lead to their being excluded from the Lambeth Conference, or encourage other Anglican provinces to ‘recognize’ the schismatic group who are attempting to become the ‘brand name’ in the united States and Canada over against TEC on the back of prejudice against GLBT people. My hope is that our bishops will recognize that placating conservatives on this issue has not worked and that our understanding of the gospel is what is being compromised when we discriminate against GLBT people.

The various conversations about blessing same sex unions and marriages will probably go to the House of Bishops before the House of Deputies. I pray that our leaders will find that they have backbone enough to be clear and honest about why they decide whatever they decide.

I take some little encouragement from reports that our PB has warned the Church of England not to foment further schism over here and that a member of the Lambeth Commission, Dr. Jenny Te Paa has addressed the convention regretting that the commission did not really understand the role and place of the PB in Episcopal Polity and so may have contributed to claims that the US church was acting in typically imperialistic ways with regard to the rest of the Communion.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has apparently today expressed ‘regret’ that a large portion of the Episcopal Church wishes to drop what he understands to be a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops (an understanding based on B033) and implies that he is looking to our Bishops to kill this initiative. He is, remember, trying to keep some kind of institutional chaos at bay, or at least put it off, and probably ‘regrets’ that this is on the backs of gay and lesbian people who are not going away.

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