What's going on in America?

There is quite a lot going on in the Anglican world this week. The Church of England Synod was meeting, but did not make much headline news, with the exception that they decided not to shift power from committees and boards to bishops. (ie from laity, clergy and episcopacy to episcopacy).

More interesting is what is going on in the States, where the General Convention of the Episcopal Church is taking place. It only happens every three years and is their great decision making body.

The General Convention has passed a resolution which is getting a lot of press at the moment, Resolution D025. It is worth reading what it actually says and not simply relying on other people’s interpretation. (Including mine!)

The American church seems to have decided that honesty is the best policy. They say simply where they are at with events which have become so toxic within Anglicana. They say that they remain fully committed to the Anglican Communion and also that their methods of selecting bishops remain those of their constitution and canons. This means that those who must consent to Episcopal elections must apply their own conscience when giving consents. The Anglican world cannot simply assume that the American church will reject a bishop who happens to be gay, just because Rowan Williams (or anyone else) asks them to.

That does not mean that there will be a sudden rush of gay bishops. Nor should it. It simply means that the American church is being true to who it is. Just as in Scotland, there is plenty of scope within the canonical process to reject someone who happens at any time to be unsuitable to be a bishop. The Americans will use their own polity to determine who can be a bishop and not have some additional extra-canonical process imposed on them.

They are quite right to do so. What holds for them should hold for us.

The Americans have not walked away from the Anglican Communion. They have walked away a little from the idea that the conflict over LGBT issues would disappear if everyone did what Rowan Williams said and adopted the proposals of the Windsor Report. They were right to do so.

The Windsor process has little currency now. The notion that world Anglicanism could be held together by asking churches to discriminate against gay people is shot to pieces.

We need to return to the rather more basic notion that it is devotion to Jesus which holds the potential to unite Christians, not devotion to prejudice. And we must thank God that the Americans have shown us how to make that real.


  1. Glad for your posting an explanation of it all. Such resolutions can be a tad labyrinthine. It must be all in the wording. And divines are trained to expound the arcane…

  2. Priscilla Ballou says

    Well said. One quibble: the Windsor report did more than to tell TEC to discriminate against GLBTs. It also said that provinces should stop crossing provincial borders. That is usually forgotten and that misdirection is welcomed by those who cross borders and would mandate discrimination.

  3. Thank you for the post. Really well said about what this means in the Episcopal Church. We here want to walk with the Anglican Communion, but must do so with open honesty, and without artificial restraints on our canons that already provide structure in the seeking of discerning God’s call. Blessings!

  4. ruidh says

    I was in the observer gallery when this resolution was being discussed by the bishops. Several bishops rose to say that they felt that thise does not repeal 2006-B033 which was the response to the request for moratorium. The overwheming vote for this resolution both in the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops shows how deeply these words are meant. Please read them in the original and do rely on second-hand precis.

    When we are next presented with a hoice to consent to the election of a bishop who would cause challenge to the rest of the Communion, we will see if the moratorium holds.

  5. Thanks for a great summary of the resolution. (Which is actually quite straightforward and not particularly labyrinthine.) I hope others will bother to read the actual text!

  6. Greetings from Anaheim!

    You are spot on – the Bishops and Deputies agree they want to be part of the Anglican Communion and that our church should do what every other one in the AC does: follow our own canons. We just told the truth about who we are. Thanks for seeing things so clearly.

  7. Fr Mark says

    Quite right: well put!

  8. The “confusion” comes from not knowing which ends of the process each resolution acts.

    Resolution 2006-B033 refers to the consents given by bishops and standing committees after the election of a bishop by a diocese.

    Resolution 2009-D033 talks about many things, but says that access to the discernment process for any ministry (lay, ordained) is open to all. That is what the canon says, using the word “all.” That very same canon points out there is no right to ordination or licensing.

    Even if 2006-B033 were to be repealed (and it wasn’t), the canons of the Episcopal Church would still allow a bishop or a diocesan standing committee to withhold consent to the consecrating of a bishop whose lifestyle caused heartburn (there was a paraphrase from B033 in there). While the final results are not in yet, we are seeing the withholding of consents in the episcopal (bishop) election in Northern Michigan–and it isn’t sexuality that is causing the heartburn. We’ll probably know before August if Northern Michigan did receive enough consents to proceed.

    All of the brouhaha has caused one thing to happen in the Episcopal Church. Bishops have openly discussing withholding consents (Northern Michigan), something that gentlemen just didn’t do before. Whether or not you agree with the case in Northern Michigan, it looks like those spines have grown back.

    (Old joke: What is the operation of the Spirit in the consecration of a bishop? Removal of the spine.)

  9. FYI: Your post was cited in a question at the GC closing media conference (see it @ http://gchub.episcopalchurch.org/) and one reporter went on a bit about who you are. We, of course, think you are wonderful, perceptive and brilliant!

  10. David |Dah • veed| says

    It is called the Final Media Briefing in the videos on demand, however TCJackson’s link has an error, it should be;

  11. Thank you for your thoughtful post. I have deeply appreciated the prayers of friends in Glasgow & Galloway during the General Convention. As a deputy, it has been sad to see our work so misunderstood in so many places. It might be helpful for folks to read the report on the committee of the whole if they are seeking to understand how we approached the issue: http://ntshtumbler.googlepages.com/COMMITTEEOFTHEWHOLE.doc

    Thanks for your continued prayers and fellowship.

  12. Ormonde Plater says

    From an American, let me say thank you. And I remind everybody that the ancient tradition requires only three bishops to ordain another bishop. All these canonical barriers that require massive consents by many bishops and synods are a modern innovation.

  13. What a breath of fresh air. Thank you for a most sensible post.

  14. Lawrence L. Graham says

    Bless you sir, you have hit the nail squarely on the head; and done so elegantly.

  15. brad evans says

    I’ve decided to be completely honest and bring my “manner of living” into line with what I confess. Since I don’t live in an area with minorities, I’ve decided to stop saying that “diversity” is a good thing. It’s just more honest, more consistent, to bring what I say into line with what I do.
    It’s about time that the 95% white Episcopal church follows my lead. You’ve been preaching “diversity” for years but have remained overwhelmingly white, middle to upper middle class. One or the other has to go-and quickly-for you to remain honest.

  16. brimcmike says

    Provision from the Right Reverend +M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts,
    “Diocesan clergy now allowed to marry all eligible couples”

    One person’s blog response to this provision: http://www.streetprophets.com/story/2009/11/30/95355/987


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