Tuesday, June 20, 2006

General Convention: No on Moratoria, Yes to Beisner

This afternoon, in a vote by Orders, the House of Deputies defeated A161, which urged the Church to refrain from consecrating bishops whose "manner of life" might be suspect by someone, somewhere else in the Anglican Communion, as well as enjoining the General Convention from authorizing rites to bless same-sex unions. While the resolution would have failed to pass even without their help, many conservative deputies oppossed the resolution as well, because it was not draconian enough for them.

Conservatives tried to propose a substitute resolution that would have explicitly prevented the Church from consecrating gay bishops and blessing gay unions, but the chair, the Very Rev. George Werner, ruled it out of order when it was challenged on constitutional grounds. Dean Werner noted that the proposal's adoption would require an amendment to the Constitution or Canons, or both. This ruling was based on canons that define eligibility for Holy Orders and give diocesan bishops the right to provide for pastoral rites not found in the Prayer Book.

By the time the substitute failed, the time for debate had expired. When a motion to extend debate failed, the question was called and defeated. Later, when a motion was made to revisit the question, it failed to gain the necessary two-thirds majority required. I am now an expert in parliamentary procedure!

Two more resolutions dealing with the Windsor Report: A159 and A166, which respond to the issues of an Anglican Covenant and Listening process, respectively, will be considered during a special session tonight. I expect deputies will try to amend them to include some revised language from A161 about bishops and blessings. The debate isn't over yet, but tomorrow is the last day of business, so resolutions must pass tonight to get to the House of Bishops for their action before we adjourn.

In other action, the Deputies consented to the election of the Rev. Canon Barry Beisner as bishop co-adjutor of the diocese of Northern California. The consent vote was somewhat contentious, as Canon Beisner is twice divorced and thrice married. In fact, liberals in the house secured a motion to consider A161 prior to considering Beisner's consent, to make clear the Pandora's box that "manner of life" language would raise in considering consents. It was helpful to frame A161 in this way, so that it wasn't just about gay and lesbian nominees for bishop, but ANY nominees who fail to satisfy the moralism of the Puritan wing of our Church.

Tonight is "California Night," so I'm off to a party to roast +Bill Swing before the special legislative session this evening.

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