Friday, July 17, 2009

The Finish Line

The House of Deputies closed the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church with adjournment at 5:00 p.m. this afternoon. The Bishops adjourned a bit earlier than the Deputies.

The last day included a stream of legislation which the Bishop's had sent on to the Deputies for action. It will take me several days for all that we did to be clarified in my mind -- and also because I am having my massive convention notebook and "Blue Book" shipped back to the office.

Perhaps the most notable thing the House of Deputies did today was concur in the resolution (C-056) the House of Bishops had already passed providing for a multi-year study of issues around the blessing of same-gender relationships. The Bishops had very open and constructive discussions on the proposal, a process that could be a model for the larger church in discussing divisive issues. The end result was that many of the conservative Bishops voted for the resolution.

I must admit some consternation at visiting The Clarion Ledger website today (which I do on a routine basis throughout a usual day) and seeing the headline "Episcopal Church Approves Blessing of Same Sex Unions." Sadly, that story does a disservice both to the substance of the resolution and the very faithful process the Bishops, especially, undertook here.

I have noted before the significant inadequacy of the secular media -- and even Episcopal Life -- to deal with the nuanced and complex pastoral and theological issues reflected in these resolutions. A friend text-messaged me this afternoon asking "Have you done anything controversial on sexuality?" I texted back, "We'll have to talk. Too fine and nuanced to handle in a text message."

Our culture has become used to "sound-byte" understanding, and the work of the church and its profound wrestling with significant issues cannot be faithfully and accurately reduced to simple descriptions.

For those of you who would like to see the full text of C-056, you may access it here: Please note that the title of a resolution does not change as it moves through the process, even if the substance changes significantly.

You will recall, also, that General Convention earlier this week approved resolution D-025, which sought to address the widely varied opinions and provide a comprehensive description of the differing approaches to issues of human sexuality in the Episcopal Church. The text of that resolution is available at this site:

There were many ways D-025 was interpreted, and many of those interpretations did not reflect an understanding of what was actually approved, what was its intent, and the process from which it emerged. To address that subject proactively, the Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schorri, and the President of the House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson, sent a letter today to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. The text of that letter may be found at this site: Much was made of his request to the General Convention and his initial response to the passage of D-025. With Archbishop Williams being a very thoughtful and reflective man, I suspect the letter will be very helpful to his understanding of what was done and what was not done.

One bit of refreshment Nora and I enjoyed with our free evening yesterday was to attend the Dodgers-Astros game last night with dear friend Marty Franks (brother of former parishioner Ellen Newsom in Starkville). Dodger Stadium is a great setting for baseball and the evening weather could not have been more conducive to a game. Alas, the Dodgers lost 3-0, despite having the same number of hits (7) as the Astros. We got to see Brandon native and MLB rookie Brent Leach pitch a bit of relief for the Dodgers late in the game. We also saw Manny Ramirez make his return to the majors after a suspension for use of foreign substances. The fans seemed ready to forgive.

I may report on other matters and issues in the days to come. Nora and I leave in the morning for our return to Mississippi. A blast of heat and humidity never looked so good.

Thank you for the honor and opportunity to be a deputy from my beloved Diocese of Mississippi.

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