Saturday, June 17, 2006

Day Four: Integrity Daily Briefing and Other News

The Global South; Too much Hearsay, too much Assumption

Speaking in the House of Bishops debate on A159, the resolution on interdependence with the Anglican Communion, The Archbishop of York, Sentamu expressed his appreciation of the hospitality offered to him by the Episcopal Church, and commented that his participation in this Convention has changed his perspective. He supported the motion to explore involving our Communion partners in Standing Commissions. This would help other Provinces to better understand the Episcopal Church. ‘The trouble with the Global South, Sentamu said, ‘is that there’s too much hearsay, too much assumption.’

Another visitor from England, Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office, addressed the House of Bishops this morning. He told the Bishops that a lot of his time is spent on the ‘Windsor Process’ as his office coordinates four distinct strands of the process. The Panel of Reference is up and running, and progress is being made, he said, even though their work is of necessity painstaking and careful. Canon Paul Groves has been appointed as the full-time officer of the Listening Process, whose remit is not to create a global process but to monitor what is happening locally. The Anglican Covenant proposed in the Windsor Report did not win much support so a new group has been appointed to start a drafting and consultation process which could take six to nine years.

The fourth strand is the group appointed in March to ‘assess the response of this Convention’ to the Windsor Report. This group will report to a joint meeting of the Primates and the ACC Standing Committee to be held next year. That’s what our sisters and brothers in the Anglican Communion Network are waiting for, according to South Carolina’s Canon Theologian, Kendall Harmon. Will they give the Episcopal Church their stamp of approval or not? If they do, the Network will deem the Church’s response adequate and so (perhaps) they’ll stay.

Suddenly they are very concerned about the name of the Church. In honor of our non-USA dioceses, the Episcopal Church has for some time been self-identifying as the Episcopal Church (TEC). Some people want to see conspiracy in every corner, and the conservative rumor mill has been working overtime about ‘the name change’. In a ‘press conference’ today brilliantly fielded by Dean Tracey Lind, the other contributor (from the AAC) spat ECUSA out almost like an accusation.

Meanwhile, the Special Committee is feeling the heat and trying to expedite its process. So far, after five days of meetings, the committee has discharged (killed) four resolutions, recommended one to be thrown out and sent just three on to the Houses. Of these three, A159 about interdependence in the Anglican Communion has been amended in both Houses so now needs to reach agreement on its final wording. A165 on the Anglican Covenant has been amended in the House of Bishops but is expected to hit problems in the House of Deputies, while A166 on the Listening Process has been passed by the Bishops but has not yet reached the Deputies for their concurrence.

Yet Bishop Henderson, one of the co-chairs, told the House of Bishops today that the Committee hoped to conclude their business within 24 hours and have at least two more resolutions to the Houses tomorrow. We are glad that at least Bishop Henderson still believes in miracles!

The Integrity Eucharist this evening was a wonderful celebration and affirmation of the rightful place of LGBT people in this church. Integrity President Susan Russell celebrated, the Trinity Church choir sang, the organ boomed and Bishop Gene Robinson preached a moving sermon to a packed church. Building on the theme of ‘Jesus is the homosexual agenda’, Robinson shared his personal experience of God’s movement in his life and the sacrificial call of Christ to love even the most unlovable, anyway.

Audio of Bishop Robinson's sermon can be heard here.

Other News . . .

A major commitment to church planting and evangelism that passed the House of Deputies was amended in the House of Bishops, essentially gutting the financial support it needed. Once again, one wonders when our Church is going to put its money where its mouth is. The amended bill will come back to the Deputies for concurrence. Let's hope the funding can be restored.

A number of important rites of passage recommended by the Prayer Book and Liturgy Committee have begun to come to the floor of both Houses. So far they are being passed easily.

The House of Deputies has elected Ms. Bonnie Anderson (Michigan) as its next President, and the Rev. Brian Prior (Spokane) as its next Vice-President. There terms begin at the end of this Convention. On Sunday, the bishops will meet in conclave to elect the next Presiding Bishop and Primate. Rumors are flying, but Jefferts-Schori, Alexander, Sauls, and Parsley are the names I keep hearing.

All of the bishops-elect have received consent in both Houses, except the Rev. Cn. Barry Beisner, bishop-elect of Northern California. The Committee on the Consecration of Bishops has recommended for consent, but is issuing a dissenting minority report as well. Conservatives are making an issue of the fact that Fr. Beisner has been divorced twice and is remarried for a third time. Are the conservatives setting the framework for debate on other sexuality-related resolutions, using Beisner to see how strong their support is?

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