Center Aisle endorses Resolution D025 with some reservations

Along about 3:30 Pacific time, the House of Deputies will take up Resolution D025, the Episcopal Church’s long-awaited reconsideration of Resolution B033 from the 2006 General Convention. Much of today’s coverage will focus on this issue.

The Diocese of Virginia occupies a special place at General Convention, not simply because it is the largest American diocese in the Episcopal Church, or because its retiring Bishop Peter Lee has been such an influential figure in the Church for so long, but because through its 4-page news daily, Center Aisle it manages to capture–in very few words–the mood of the Convention. As a member of the steering committee of the Chicago Consultation then, I was grateful to wake up this morning and read this editorial in the Aisle.

Editorial – Room for Optimism

You’ve heard them before – words like recognize, affirm, encourage. They are the parlance of unity amid diversity. They are the language World Mission is using in its earnest quest for consensus on issues relating to human sexuality.

Prepare to see the results of that effort in a discussion that could occur today or tomorrow on the floor of the House of Deputies. The fate of Resolution D025 could go a long way toward determining whether our Church will continue its pilgrimage with the rest of the Communion.

The work on this resolution is not done. Bishops on World Mission voted 3-2 against the proposal, while deputies on the panel approved it 24-2. Though D025 doesn’t explicitly repeal B033, the compromise resolution from 2006, it does raise legitimate concerns by affirming that “God has called and may call” gay and lesbian persons “to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church.” That language could be interpreted as a unilateral lifting of the moratorium on gay bishops

Still, it’s encouraging to see how effectively World Mission has drawn on language of reconciliation from past Conventions and how deftly it has integrated our Church’s “abiding commitment” to the Anglican Communion with a reaffirmation of our inclusiveness as a community of faith.

It’s a reminder of how precise wording can be far more than lawyerly nitpicking; it can be a catalyst to building bonds of trust. Recall past statements by Anglican bodies for “gracious restraint” and “bonds of affection.”

So prepare for the latest quest for consensus—today or tomorrow in Deputies and, later this week, in Bishops. There is room for optimism that a compromise may emerge.

Resolution D025 does achieve key goals: It reaffirms our relationship with and strong commitment to the Anglican Communion; it recommits our Church to being an inclusive community of faith; and it acknowledges the divisions in our Church on issues relating to human sexuality, specifically the consecration of gay bishops. The task now is to ensure that, while achieving these goals, Convention does not resort to unilateral actions that could fracture the Communion.

I appreciate this editorial deeply, but I would take issue with the notion that Resolution B033 is a moratorium, and hence with the interpretation that D025 lifts a moratorium, unilaterally or otherwise. B033 was an urging. Please don’t do this. In the time since B033 was passed, we did not do this. But now a new General Convention is in session, our Church is in a different place, and it is time to speak again.

I would also caution against reading too much into the opposition of the bishops on the panel who voted 3-2 against it. The sample size is small, and the vote close. One of the bishops who voted in favor of D025 was Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island, who is very much a centrist.

The Center Aisle also carries an interview with the principal sponsors of D025, the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, co-convenor of the Chicago Consultation, and Deputy Rebecca Snow, a lawyer from Alaska. I recommend it in its entirety.

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