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.


My Day, so far

The day begins and I look to these words from St. Thomas More (1477-1535).

Give us, Lord, a humble, quiet, peaceable, patient, tender, and charitable mind, and in all our thoughts, words and deeds a taste of the Holy Spirit.

Give us, Lord, a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, a love of you.

Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation, dullness in prayer.

Give us fervour and delight in thinking of you and your grace, your tender compassion towards us.

The things we pray for, good Lord, give us grace to labour for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We had a very routine opening session which included a lengthy demonstration of the handheld voting devices – see +John Burwell’s site for an in-depth report on the morning activities. One of the House of Deputies chaplains, the Ven. Dena Harrison, Suffragan Bishop-elect from the Diocese of Texas, led a wonderful service of Noonday Prayer -- straight out of the BCP!

Harriett Neer, National President of the Episcopal Church Women, greeted us in the name of the ladies gathered for the Triennial Meeting. Her remarks centered on the desire of the ECW to be a unifying presence at the General Convention. Harriett has done a good job for these past three years, and her successor will be elected at the end of this week to take office following the Triennial Meeting. The three candidates for National President include my good friend Kay Meyer, currently serving as the Province IV representative to the National Board. Kay would be an excellent president, and I really hope she will be elected. Keep this in your prayers.

I’m looking forward to hearing about the Triennial Meeting later today from our new Province IV President, Margie Williams. Margie has been such an encourager to me over the years – she’s a faithful member of St. Jude’s in Walterboro.

At the end of the morning session, the arrangements for the large Open Hearing of the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion were announced. This afternoon, the committee was to hear testimony on A159 and all of the C resolutions. On Tuesday evening, testimony will be heard on A165, A166, and C007.

On Wednesday evening beginning at 7:30 pm, an Open Hearing will be held for the purpose of hearing testimony on the following resolutions:

A160 – Expression of Regret
(“That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church join the HOB’s March 2005”Covenant Statement” in expressing “our own deep regret for the pain that others have experienced with respect to our actions at the General Convention of 2003 and we offer our sincerest apology and repentance for having breached the bonds of affection in the Anglican Communion by any failure to consult adequately with our Anglican partners before taking these actions.”)

Note that this is regret for pain experienced by others and repentance for failure to consult, and this is not regret, nor is it repentance, for the actions which we took at GC2003.

A161 – Election of Bishops
(“That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church regrets the extent to which we have, … , contributed to strains on communion and caused deep offense…as we consented to the consecration of a bishop living openly in a same-gender union. Accordingly, we urge nominating committees, electing conventions, Standing Committees, and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise 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.”)

Again, note that this is regret for deep offense, and not for action taken, and that this resolution does not address the moratorium which has been requested.

The difference between moratorium and considerable caution is evident in the remarks of the Rt. Rev. Mark Sisk when he said recently, "Does that mean that a body could vote in favor of someone in a committed, same-sex relationship? Yes. It seems to me they could hear that and say: ‘I am using caution. I have paid attention. And I still want to do this.’ ”

A162 – Public Rites for Same-Sex Unions
(“That the Episcopal Church affirm the need to maintain a breadth of private responses to … pastoral care for gay and lesbian Christians … [while} not proceeding to authorize public Rites of Blessing for same-sex unions, until some broader consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges .. [and advising] those bishops who have authorized public diocesan rites … ‘to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorization’[Windsor Report 144].”)

Note that there is at least one resolution requesting the wording in the BCP rite be changed from "a man and a woman" to "two persons."

Testimony is also expected on Resolution A163 dealing with Pastoral Care and Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight, along with any relevant sections of "C" resolutions which have been referred to the Special Committee.

The hearing will be held in the 1,500-seat ballroom at the Hyatt Regency, and seats should be available for all bishops and deputies wishing to attend. To insure some priority seating, however, each diocesan deputation will be receiving 5 tickets – 4 for deputies and alternates, and 1 ticket for a bishop. Ticketholders will be seated near the front. Those wishing to testify at this hearing are to sign-up outside the hearing room immediately following tomorrow afternoon’s session (which will be dismissed at 6 pm). Potential speakers will be asked to identify themselves in advance as wishing to “affirm,” “oppose or modify,” or as “having comments or observations.”

We were greeted during the afternoon session by the Bishop of Southern Ohio, our host diocese, and the Chair of his local committee. Later in the day, we were given additional information on the Election of the Presiding Bishop. The Nominating Committee will present their work on Saturday afternoon (++Neil Alexander, ++Edwin Gulick, ++Katherine Schori, ++Henry Parsley), and at that time, three additional persons will be nominated from the floor (++Charles Jenkins, ++Stacy Sauls, and ++Francisco J. Duque-Gomez).

The House of Bishops will be sequestered at Trinity Church in Columbus on Sunday morning, June 18th, when they gather to vote. They have indicated that they plan to have no more than 3 ballots in the morning. The first ballot will be taken at 10:45 am, and the second ballot will be taken at 11:30 am. If there is an election before the third ballot, the HOD will receive a message to remain in session so that we might vote to concur with the HOB. The HOD will be served box lunches during this time. If there is no vote following the third ballot, the HOD will adjourn for lunch. The HOB will continue voting after lunch until there has been an election.

Around 5 pm, we were asked for a special order of business to receive the Archbishop of York. The Most Rev. John Sentamu, a native of Uganda, was introduced, and we stood and applauded as he rose to the platform and began his remarks. The HOD has asked that the complete text of his remarks be made available. (We'll pass it along.) Archbishop Sentamu communicated a number of things, including delivering a message on behalf of the ABC.

But, to my mind, the most telling remark he made was this -- “When you see a big oak tree standing firm, just remember that it is a tiny little knot that has stood it’s ground.”

He encouraged us to live our lives, day by day, firmly rooted in Christ, and acknowledged that there were difficult decisions to be made by this house in the coming days.

As to how one from a small village in Uganda could one day become the Archbishop of York, he explain, “the Saviour I serve and I love makes it possible.”

He then delivered a message from the Archbishop of Canterbury, asking in part that "God grant you discernment as you meet and listen to each other in patience and love.” For the full text of the ABC's statement, visit TitusOneNine.

I'll try to post a little more later -- off to another meeting at 9 tonight. Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. May the Lord be with you this night.


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