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.


Here's a Report from SC Clergy Deputy +Mark Goodman

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Greetings from the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church! It is now the end of the second day of convention, and so far it has been very full, indeed.

Dawn and I arrived in Columbus on Sunday evening, checked into our hotel and immediately made the two block walk to the Convention Center to register. I am registered as the third clergy deputy from South Carolina, and Dawn registered as a visitor, so that she could sit on the floor of convention, getting a taste of what the ten days are all about, as well as have access to the exhibitors’ hall.

After we registered, we wandered around the exhibit hall for awhile and saw some folks we knew. Louise Salmon was busy setting up the display for The Anglican Digest. Dawn was excited to stop by the booth for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (which she has visited a number of times since), chatting with the ladies there about the courses that have been offered at Trinity and materials available. I chatted with a couple of seminary classmates I haven’t seen since we graduated. My former colleague in Southern Ohio, Wendell Gibbs, now Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan, stopped to say hello. Several of the Sisters of the Transfiguration, whose Mother House is in Glendale, Ohio (a township of Cincinnati), are here, and Sister Priscilla and I had a chance to catch up a bit. As we were leaving the exhibit hall, we ran into Bob Bell, who arrived this afternoon, and Bobby Kilgo and Wade Logan, also deputies from South Carolina. Walking out of the Convention Center, Dawn said to me, “Is this what the whole time is like?” She meant was it as charged, as filled with meetings and conversations, as that short space of time had indicated. It is.

Back at the hotel, we received a phone call from Kendall Harmon, who arrived late afternoon. Dawn, Kendall, and I went to dinner at a terrific restaurant in the German village and were able to have some preliminary conversation about the convention.

Monday began bright and early with committee meetings at 8:00 a.m.. I have been assigned to the Committee on National and International Concerns, a fairly large committee that is responsible for vetting legislation having to do with issues with international ramifications. The subcommittee I joined has resolutions that deal with, among other things, the Israel/Palestine conflict, the peace process in that conflict, diplomatic relations with Cuba, the Iraq war, the nuclear crisis in Iran, and the crisis of the Christian Church in Turkey.

The process of getting legislation through a committee is a complicated one, at least it seems so to a relative newcomer such as myself. Each resolution is considered by the subcommittee; its language is considered as well as its relation to other resolutions. If there are a number of resolutions dealing with the same issue, they may be amalgamated into one, with the result that the extraneous resolutions are discharged and the one, amended, resolution is sent to hearings. Open hearings are held on each piece of legislation, and interested parties come to speak to the merits, or lack thereof, of the resolutions. Following hearings, the subcommittee finalizes its work on the piece, which then goes to the committee of the whole to see if it is ready to be referred to a particular house of convention. In our case, I think, all our resolutions originate in the House of Bishops. If they are defeated there, that is the end of the road for that resolution. If it passes, then it comes to the House of Deputies for consideration. A resolution must be passed by both houses, in the same form, before it becomes an official act of Convention. (That’s the end of the lesson on church polity.)

Monday was also the day in which all deputies (bishops, clergy, and lay) for an address by the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Frank Griswold. He intended to set the tone for convention, speaking of the task of reconciliation many times. He framed his remarks in the context of Christ’s reconciling work in the world and noted that we, as Christians, must also be sharers in that ministry of reconciling love. It is clear that he is hoping that the convention finds a way through what many perceive to be an impasse. I pray that his hope is fulfilled, though I think his emphasis on reconciliation might be at the expense of truth. The Very Rev. George Werner, President of the House of Deputies, also spoke to all gathered, giving more of a sermon (which is his wont) than an introductory address. Following the remarks of these two leaders, all assembled gathered round tables for a “conversation.” Disliking such activities with a fair amount of warmth (and having had since I was a schoolboy), I made a quick exit. I was not alone in my flight, for there were many deputies in the corridors, and informal conversations, one-on-one, took place there.

A fairly quick dinner at a great little Italian restaurant right across from the Convention Center, and then it was back to work for another two hours with committee work. By 9:00, our work was done, and I made the trek down the hill to the hotel.

Tuesday morning began even earlier than Monday. Committee meetings for the rest of convention begin at 7:30, and so they did on this day. This was our first open hearing, on four pieces of legislation having to do with the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. Are you not familiar with these, at least in the political halls of General Convention, universally recognized goals of the world community for the alleviation of extreme poverty and its root causes? They were promulgated at a meeting of the United Nations in 2000, and may in the Christian community, on the right and left, have seen in them great hope for a Christ-like reaching out into the world. I was amazed at the number of young adults who attended this hearing. In fact, there was a group from the International Youth Deputation who were present; they were from the Seychelles, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Canada, Israel, and Japan.

Also on Tuesday morning, we had the opening Eucharist of the Convention. Dean Werner was the celebrant, and Bishop Griswold was the preacher. All in all, it was a rather disappointing liturgy. As I generally note with Eucharists at Convention, they try to be all things to all people, and end up being nothing particularly special to anyone. I was most distressed at the change of language apparent throughout, especially the lack of any language that pointed to the Lordship of Christ. Also noticeable by its absence was any acclamation of God in classic Trinitarian language. No, “Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” here. The one bright spot in the liturgy was the music, provided by the organist and choir of Trinity Church, Columbus. They did a remarkable job of providing a range of music that reflected the diversity of congregations here in the Diocese of Southern Ohio; shape-note singing, Appalachian instrumentalists (particularly the very fine fiddle playing), African-American gospel music, and more traditional hymnody and anthems.

In addition, the first two legislative sessions were held on Tuesday. These were basically times of housekeeping and preparation, setting rules for elections and the like. Interestingly, the deputation from South Carolina is seated directly in front of that from New Hampshire. Hmmmmmm…..

Wednesday was another full day, concluding with the first special hearing on a resolution dealing directly with the Windsor Report. More about that later….

Now it’s off to another full day. Thanks for your prayers, and keep them coming!

In checking e-mail, this just in from the Episcopal News Service, about last evening’s hearing. My comments later.

Episcopal News Service
Wednesday, June 14, 2006

>From Columbus: Crowded hearing spotlights Windsor Report response

By Matthew Davies

[ENS] A public hearing on the response to the Windsor Report welcomed more than 70 speakers the evening of June 14 to address the Standing Committee on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion on four resolutions (A160-163) that deal with the expression of regret, election of bishops, public rites for blessing same-gender unions, pastoral care and Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO).

More than 1,000 people packed the Hyatt Regency Ballroom for the two-and-a-half hour hearing, which began at 7:30 p.m. An audio feed was provided for an overflow audience outside the room.

In his opening comments, the Rev. Francis H. Wade of Washington, committee co-chair, said the most important thing is listening. "All of us need to hear," he said. "The people doing the real work are those who will listen and open their hearts to hear."

Resolution A160 echoes the House of Bishops' March 2005 Covenant Statement in expressing regret with respect to actions of the 74th General Convention. It offers an "apology and repentance for having breached the bonds of affection in the Anglican Communion..."

The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, said toward the end of the hearing that the Windsor Report was acting like a doctor, saying a relationship needs to be healed.

"Anglicanism has always responded to the challenge ... by scripture, reason and tradition," he said. "Maybe the committee should ask: do these resolutions help us ourselves ... to show the marks of our own crucifixion?"

Speaking against A160, the Rev. Michael Hopkins, an alternate from the Diocese of Rochester, acknowledged that if there is an expression of regret, "it needs to be much fuller and expressed by all."

Resolution A161 urges "very considerable caution in the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."

The Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, a deputy from the Diocese of South Carolina, raised concerns about what he called the clarity and honesty in A161.

"The Windsor Report uses clear language. This resolution doesn't take the specific language of Windsor seriously enough," he said. "We have been asked to place a moratorium; the timeframe is clear ... yet the language we get is to exercise considerable caution -- a fudge. Let's be honest, let's be clear."

Resolution A162 suggests that public rites for blessing same-gender unions not be authorized "until some broader consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges."

Resolution A163 commits to pastoral care of those who disagree with past actions of Convention; gay and lesbian persons; and commends using, when necessary, the Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) process.

Several speakers, including Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, cited a June 14 statement from Bishop N.T. Wright of Durham that suggests if the resolutions are passed without amendment, the Episcopal Church will have decided not to comply with the Windsor Report.

Decisions made by the Episcopal Church have global consequences, said Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe, "because we are a global church -- the only global church in the Anglican Communion -- and our decisions can't be American first. This General Convention has to convince the Archbishop of Canterbury that the Episcopal Church wants to be part of the process that he set up."

Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion, said that the light of Christ in gay and lesbian people of the church is being recognized and that the Church's job is to discern the will of God "as humbly as we can."

"Our homosexual agenda is Jesus Christ ... Are we not in this debate because we have seen the fruits of the Spirit evidenced in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ who happen to be gay?" he said. "This debate is not, principally, about saving the Anglican Communion -- we cannot make decisions about what the Communion will or will not do."

The committee will reflect on the hearings and discuss the legislative path of the resolutions through the houses during its June 15 morning meeting.


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