The news from Columbus included great joy – the election of Katherine Jefferts Schori as our next Presiding Bishop, and great disappointment – the passage of a response to the Windsor Report that feels like a step back into the closet for many.
Here is the full text of the non-binding resolution (“B033”) amendment in question, followed by a dissenting response by a number of bishops. Our own bishop helped to draft the dissent statement and stood in support when it was read.
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, that the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report’s invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconcilation; and be it further
Resolved, that this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.
The dissenting statement was read in closed session in the House of Bishops, and afterwards bishops stood to indicate support. Our own Bishop Pursell helped to draft the statement, and stood in support.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
A Statement of Conscience
We, the undersigned Bishops of this 75th General Convention, in the confidence of the Gospel and out of love for this great Church, must prayerfully dissent from the action of this Convention in Resolution B033 (on Election of Bishops). We do so for the following reasons:
# The process used to arrive at Resolution B033 raises serious concerns about the integrity of our decision-making process as a Church. In particular we note that we discussed a resolution, A162 , on Tuesday, but were never given an opportunity to act upon it. Instead, we were presented with a different resolution this morning, and were given only 30 minutes for debate and discussion. This resolution bears great consequences both for the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church and unfortunately was not adequately discussed.
# Our conversation has been framed in a flawed paradigm, forcing us to choose between two goods—the full inclusion in the life of the Church of our brother and sister Christians who happen to be gay or lesbian and our full inclusion in the life of our beloved Communion.
# The process that brought about the reconsideration of this matter failed to honor the integrity of the House of Deputies by bringing undue pressure to bear on that body.
# Our witness to justice has been prophetic in this nation and in the wider Anglican Communion on the issues of the full inclusion of people of color and persons who are differently-abled. For more than 30 years women been permitted to be included in the councils of this Church as lay deputies to this Convention and as deacons, priests and bishops. This witness to full inclusion has borne the fruits of the Spirit and is incarnate in the faces and lives around these tables and throughout the Church. The language of this resolution too much echoes past attempts by the Church to limit participation of those perceived to be inadequate for full inclusion in the ordained ministry.
# Any language that could be perceived as effecting a moratorium that singles out one part of the Body by category is discriminatory. We are absolutely committed to the future of this Communion and the process of healing the strain that we readily admit and regret exists, and has been exacerbated in our own house by events today. We must participate in this process with our own integrity intact and thus we are obliged to make this dissent. We intend to challenge the rest of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion to honor the promise to include the voices of gay and lesbian in the conversations about the future of the Communion. We pray for the Church, for our Communion, and for our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters.