General Convention 2006

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Then I will go to the altar of God, and I will praise you . . . Psalm 43:3-4

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church
met in Columbus, Ohio from June 11-21, 2006.
This blog offers a view of the convention and beyond from the perspective of Lydia Evans, a two-time lay deputy from the Diocese of South Carolina.
Visit the links found below for additional resources
as well as pre- and post-convention coverage.
Thank you for remembering the convention deputies and their families in your prayers. For further resources, visit my webpages.
For all posts from the month of June, click here.
For all posts from the month of July, click here.


One of my favorites from Cartoon Church

Remember the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham? It's been a long triennium, hasn't it? Here's one of my favorite cartoons from Cartoon Church -- a humorous explanation of the last ACC meeting. Here is another cartoon with Dave's explanation of the Windsor Report.

Seriously though, General Convention will be anything but funny. One thing's for sure -- there's bound to be lots of fudge for everyone. Until then, check out Rich Anglican Fudge.

A Look Back

A Special Letter From Bishops Edward Salmon and William Skilton - Thursday, August 7, 2003

To the Clergy and People of the Diocese of South Carolina

Dear Friends,

Because of the extensive media coverage of the 74th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, I am certain that all of you are aware of the decision of the Convention to affirm the election of the bishop-elect of New Hampshire, who is gay and living in an extra-marital relationship. Yesterday the House of Bishops decided not officially to authorize the blessings of same sex relationships but explicitly to acknowledge that they are occurring and to encourage those who want to perform them to continue to do so, lending more momentum to local option than ever. Kendall Harmon, Canon Theologian, has described this resolution as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The resolution will go to the House of Deputies this afternoon.

Your entire deputation from South Carolina, including your bishops were opposed to the approval of the bishop-elect of New Hampshire as violating the Constitution of the Episcopal Church, as well as the teaching of Holy Scripture, natural law and the teaching of the Church for almost two thousand years. We are not opposed to the care and place of gay and lesbian in our churches, believing that on the cross Jesus died for the sins of the whole world – each one of us.

Before we came to Minneapolis Bishop Skilton and I attended a meeting of Anglican leaders from around the world in Virginia. At that meeting we appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and Primates around the Anglican Communion to intervene in our struggle. There was a negative reaction from the leadership of our church, believing that this was our business and did not concern the Communion. I am pleased to say that today I believe that many in our church see this issue around human sexuality to be of concern to the whole Communion. What we do affects others profoundly. I am certain that what we have done and will do will result in responses from around the Anglican Communion and will help us all as we work through this situation.

Where do we go from here? On Monday, August 18th, I have scheduled a meeting with the Standing Committee at 9:00 a.m. to bring them up to date. At 10:30, we will meet with the clergy of the diocese along with members of our deputation to General Convention.

We are also networking with several dioceses in the United States as well as Anglican leadership to keep our position strong and to continue to clarify how we go forward. We do this in a spirit of humility and in constant prayer, so that redeemed sinners we are, we will not fall into a spirit of self-righteousness. Pray with us and for us. Pray for the Church and for those with whom we disagree. Pray for the light that only the Holy Spirit can give.


Prayers and Rites of Passage

In a little more than two weeks, resolutions from The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music will be presented which propose changes to the Church Calendar and the inclusion of additional prayers and rites for use in ECUSA parishes. Their work was accomplished over the triennium through a series of subcommittees, including the Committee on Rites of Passage (authorized by 2003-A092).

Convened in the Fall of 2004, "a group of liturgists, musicians, and writers gathered at the Cathedral Center of Saint Paul in Los Angeles for the purpose of creating a collection of rites for the pastoral transitions in people's lives, [using] as a base, the culturally specific rites already existing in our church and [finding] ways to express these liturgies for broad applications."

Here is a portion of their work. While I remember well the point at which my children transitioned from crib to bed, and I recall the challenge of learning to ride a bike, I can't say that I ever missed having a specific prayer to mark this event in my child's life. But what I find most puzzling is the prayer for godly expression of one's sexuality. What does this really mean? Where is the acknowledgement of marriage as the appropriate context for this expression?

From Prayers for the Transitions of Childhood

Moving from a Crib to a Bed
The new bed may be made up with the child’s help. Members of the household, including the child, may move in procession from the crib to the bed with pillows, blankets, stuffed animals or other objects regularly part of the nighttime ritual.

Good and loving God, your watchful care never slumbers, and you give gifts to your children even as they sleep. Thank you for bringing us all to this day into which N. has grown in your protection. Give her blessed rest wherever she lays her head. Keep her well and fill her dreams with hope. Awaken her every morning to the sureness of your love with joy and courage for the day at hand; through Jesus, our Savior and Friend. Amen.

Learning to Ride a Bike
You move through our lives, O God, like the wind, pushing and pulling us into the adventures of growing up. Our young sister, N., has learned to ride a bicycle, conquering fear, enlarging her world, and tasting new freedom and speed. May the learning of this skill teach her to risk and to trust, to hold on and to let go, as life demands from day to day, and may she be kept safe always. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

From Prayers and Rites for the Transitions of Youth and Young Adulthood

Graduating from High School
In every beginning is an ending, O Lord, and in every end something new begins. Our brother, N., has graduated from high school, and is ready now for new learning and experiences. Grant that childhood’s innocence and hope may remain alive in him bringing joy as he matures. Grant that he may hear your still small voice in his heart saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Help his preserve old friendships while creating new ones. Grant that we who love his may help him to find his own voice, his own words and his own work in Christ’s true way who knows the person he was created to be; we pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

For Godly Expression of One’s Sexuality
O God, you have made us in your image and called us to the joys of human love. That love, the sign and seal of your own love for each of us, is shown through companionship and caring, and, powerfully and mysteriously, through the mystery of godly sexual expression shared with each other. This young person, N., is opening his heart to learn the wideness of love. As he strives to discover who he is, whose he is, and the person he is given to love, may he be guided, protected, and encouraged by you, O Love Incarnate. Give him wisdom in choosing, courage in loving, and patience in waiting for the marvelous truth of his life to unfold in your grace, most holy and undivided Trinity, alive through all the ages. Amen.

See it all in the report of The Standing Commission of Liturgy and Music from the Blue Book.

The Tip of the Iceberg

"One important way to think about what's happened recently in the Episcopal Church is the analogy of an iceberg. I think what's occurred is a trap for people in the sense that what gets noticed is the part above the water, which is sex. It gets all the headlines, it sells all the paper, and it's what people think the controversy is all about. But just as in an iceberg, when it's the little tip that you can see above the water, it's the part below the water that's attached to the tip that's the thing that actually sinks the ship. And this situation is exactly like that."
The Rev. Dr. Kendall S. Harmon

To find out what's lurking below the surface, and to watch the entire video, go to The Iceberg, part of the Choose This Day video series.


"General Convention: Part Legislature, Part Family Reunion"

The Episcopal Church, in preparation for the upcoming General Convention, has made available these informative bulletin inserts for use in your parish. See the June 11th insert here. See all seven inserts here.

Designed to give your parishioners a clearer understanding of Episcopal Church governance, they seek to shed light on the role of convention deputies, outlining a few of the prickly issues bound to crop up at GC2006, and enabling us all to better live in the tension between mutual interdependence and provincial autonomy.

The General Convention -- part legislature, part family reunion. See you in Columbus!


Petition your Priest

"Will you be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them? And will you, in accordance with the canons of this Church, obey your bishop and other ministers who may have authority over you and your work?"

Does this sound familiar? These are the words spoken by the bishop in the Ordinal from the Book of Common Prayer, p. 526. And now your priest has an opportunity to reaffirm their answer to this question.

The Rev. Canon David Roseberry of Christ Church in Plano, Texas, has authored a remarkable website, BCP526, named for the page in the Book of Common Prayer on which most clergy take their vow. BCP526 offers an opportunity for your priest to reaffirm this vow and become witnesses for all Episcopal clergy.

Spread the word about BCP526. Take your priest to lunch (I've never known a priest to turn down an invitation!), or use the form found on BCP526 to send an e-mail. Do it now!


Worth Repeating

"Every denomination has its theological articles and books of theology, its liturgies and confessional statements. Nonetheless, the contents of these documents do not necessarily control what we might call 'the working theology' of a church. To find the 'working theology" of a church, one must review the resolutions passed at official gatherings and listen to what our clergy say Sunday by Sunday from the pulpit as well as editorials in official publications."

Dr. Philip Turner, interim dean at ETSS and past dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, in a First Things excerpt found at TitusOneNine.

Resources for General Convention

Kendall Harmon at TitusOneNine is compiling a terrific list of resources for General Convention -- relevant sites, resolutions, and responses may be found here.


GC Could Lose Right to Consent to Bishops-elect

From the May 3, 2006 issue of The Living Church: "The House of Deputies would lose the right to give consent to episcopal elections that occur within 120 days of General Convention under one of several proposed changes to Canon III, the canons on ministry, which also describe the ordination process and the election of bishops." The full article may be found here.

This change would require the consent of two consecutive General Conventions in order to take effect. While it has been acknowledged that this was proposed prior to the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop Co-adjutor of New Hampshire in 2003, it must also be noted that bishops-elect to be confirmed at General Convention garner more attention in the media than those approved by Standing Committees and Diocesan Bishops throughout the triennium.

As a deputy to GC in 2003, I voted against the confirmation of Gene Robinson. In addition, I have served on a Standing Committee which withheld consent from time to time in various elections. As we were generally convened for more pressing diocesan matters, the question of consent often came at the end of a lengthy agenda. One might be tempted to give a quick nod in these elections.

But there is also great difference of opinion on the grounds for withholding consent. As far as I am concerned, there is more at stake than the question of whether or not the election was conducted according to the canons. A bishop is consecrated for the whole Church (and as has been made abundantly clear since 2003, for the whole Communion). It is incumbent, therefore, upon Standing Committees (and Bishops) to "exercise extreme caution" when giving consent to an election. If this change in procedure comes to pass, it will require their due diligence to ensure that the approval of Bishops-elect is more than a rubber stamp.


Bishop Consents at General Convention

In July of 2003, there were ten newly minted bishops seeking consent for their election from General Convention. Ordinarily a Bishop-elect would be confirmed by a majority of diocesan Standing Committees and Bishops, but the Canons of the Episcopal Church require a different approach when the election falls right before the next General Convention. Canon III.16.3(a) provides that,
"When a diocese desires the ordination of a Bishop-elect, if the date of the election occurs within three months before a meeting of the General Convention, the Standing Committee of the diocese shall . . . forward to the House of Deputies evidence of the election of the Bishop-elect by the Convention of the Diocese, together with evidence that the Bishop-elect has been duly ordered Deacon and Priest, evidence of acceptance of election, and a testimonial signed by a constitutional majority of the Convention, and a summary of biographical information relating to the Bishop-elect . . ."
In addition, attestations to physical and psychological fitness are forwarded to the Secretary of the House of Deputies. The election is then confirmed by the House of Deputies, followed by concurrence in the House of Bishops.

At the March 2005 meeting of the House of Bishops, in considering the request of the Windsor Report to “effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges,” it was decided that a moratorium on all consecrations was the way forward until the next meeting of the General Convention. Consequently, a number of dioceses have delayed Episcopal elections (including South Carolina), and the result is a smaller-than-usual number of Bishops-elect to confirm at next month's convention.

As there may be no elections within thirty days of General Convention, last Saturday's election of Mark Andrus in California may be it. This, of course, includes the non-election of a bishop for the Diocese of Tennessee, having attempted to elect a successor to Bertram Herlong in no less than 36 ballots.

The House of Deputies will be asked, this year, to confirm the following Bishops-elect:

The Rt. Rev. Mark Andrus as Bishop of California
The Rev. Canon Barry L. Beisner as Bishop of Northern California
The Rev. Todd Ousley as Bishop of Eastern Michigan
The Rev. William Love as Bishop Coadjutor of Albany
The Rev. David Mitchell Reed as Bishop Suffragan of West Texas
The Ven. Dena Harrison as Bishop Suffragan of Texas


Province IV Synod

The bishops and deputies of Province IV gathered for synod April 26th to 28th at Kanuga Conference Center. On our final day of business, five resolutions were presented, three of which dealt with our response to the Windsor Report. The text of these resolutions, which the synod then voted to combine, may be found here. Unfortunately, a substitute resolution was offered and accepted which is directed at the work of the SCECAC, rather than specifically addressing the issues at hand. Here is the text, from Titus 1:9:

Substitute Resolution / PASSED

RESOLVED, that the Deputies and bishops gathered at Province IV Synod acknowledge with gratitude the work of the Special Commission on The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, titled “One Baptism, One Hope in God’s Call,” and recognize the care and diligence with which they worked, and

RESOLVED, that the Deputies and bishops of Province IV commit ourselves to the prayerful and careful consideration of “One Baptism, One Hope in God’s Call” and to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we prepare to consider the Report and its resolutions at the 75th General Convention, meeting in Columbus, Ohio.

One thing on which we all could agree was a resolution passed unanimously on Thursday evening relieving the dioceses of Mississippi and Louisiana of their 2006 provincial assessments. Their contributions to the budget of the province will be borne by the remaining 18 dioceses.