Deputies go to worship and lunch; no totals yet on blessings vote

updated with fuller quotations throughout

By Jim Naughton, Lauren Stanley and Rebecca Wilson

The deputies are debating the resolution passed by the bishops that would give bishops latitude in allowing clergy to bless gay marriages, and that would also begin the collection and development of “theological and liturgical resources.

Dean Sam Candler: Whether you are a first-time observer, or a veteran, to General Convention, you know that the issue of blessing same gender commitments has been intense and controversial. For a generation, every General Convention has been considering this matter; surely we know every contrasting argument by now. We have heard all manner of voices – the progressive and the traditional, the shrill and the gentle, the painful and the pastoral.

At this 2009 convention, on the last day of our gathering, Committee 13 brings forward Resolution C056. We believe that it represents an elegant blend of theological care, ecclesiastical breadth, and pastoral generosity. Our cognate committee received eleven different initial resolutions on same-sex blessings and/or marriage, rites, we heard over two hours of open testimony, and we listened sensitively to various perspectives in our own committee.

My fellow deputies on Committee 13 are wonderful, and I give thanks for them. And let me say, too, that we especially appreciated working with the bishops in our cognate committee. This convention is wise to depend upon cognate committees to develop resolutions, resolutions which both houses, legislatively, might then find suitable; and we worked together gracefully in Committee 13. The House of Bishops received our resolution first, took some time with it, then took some more time; and they have amended our cognate version.

Now, the House of Deputies Committee 13 believes we have a fine current document. We desire decency and order in the Episcopal Church, theological decency and liturgical order; and this resolution supplies a gentle and modest way forward. We recommend that this house, without amendment, concur with the House of Bishops.

Ruth Meyers: Outlines a process that will be open and transparent, with participation around the church and the Anglican Communion. Expand the circle over the next triennium. Bring work back to next General Convention.

Charlie Holt asks whether the resolution violates the rules on marriage in the Prayer Book, thus making it unconstitutional. Sally Johnson, the chancellor to the President of the House of Deputies, says the resolution doesn’t touch the prayerbook and the canons, so it is in order.

Ian Douglas: The House of Deputies has been faithful to the Holy Spirit as we perceive her to be leading us.

Some people will try to pit our place in the Anglican Communion against what we perceive to be the world of the Holy Spirit.

I will not participate in that dividing strategy. I respectfully ask the Archbishop of Canterbury, our sister and brother laity, clergy and bishops of the Anglican Communion to move with us toward deeper relationship in mission and not allow our beloved Communion to be

divided by those who would benefit by having it so..

Dan Martins: we are covering ourselves in shame.

Lowell Grisham: People are saying that if you pass this you will split the Church. It reminds him of the time when Lyndon Johnson was working to pass the Civil Rights act. He was told, if you pass this you will split the party, be thrown out of office. Today we look back and know he made the right decision.

The arguments against say we should wait until the Anglican Communion is ready to move forward. Some say we shouldn’t pass this legislation because it is confusing to grant pastoral generosity to accomplish something that doesn’t seem to be authorized in the prayerbook. There are people who think that moving forward on same-sex blessings will cost us members. Most folks are making intellectual arguments with respect for those they disagree with, but some cross the line into personal comments.

Haskins of Albany: This is the nose under the camel’s tent. This breaks B033.

Ben Schambaugh, Maine: This enables mission—lists all of the leaders in his congregation who want this resolution. Some are same-gender couples, others are straight couples who want to raise their children in an accepting place.

The arguments in favor are familiar to you. The debate proceeds, pro, then con by rule. But most of the voices against the resolution are coming from the same dioceses.

Holt, Central Florida: This resolution … recognizes the changing circumstances in the United States on same-sex marriage and unions … but I would say this resolution is lacking faith. It should also call for a faithful response. It does not uphold the teaching from Holy Scriptures, or the teachings of the Holy Catholic Christian Church, where the definition of marriage is as between a man and a woman. If this passes, our doctrine of marriage is being revised.

Finlaw, Colorado. I have had the privilege of a 25-year partnership, as well as the privilege of lay ministry in this Church for the same time. I’ve experienced a gracious and welcoming communion. We have to move beyond this issue for mission. This is our opportunity to move

beyond this issue so that we can welcome all our GLBT brothers and sisters in the church. We vote in knowledge that the Global South is not of one voice. Jenny Te Paa told us that the other day.

Hope, Dallas. It doesn’t matter what I want or believe or what you want love or what you want or believe. The truth of the matter is that marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s like flying

unassisted; no matter what you want or believe, the truth of the matter is that when you step off the building, you will fall. The truth of matter is that marriage is between a man and a woman. If we approve this, it doesn’t change facts, it’s not right, it’s not truth, it goes against God’s will and God.

Deputy Green of Atlanta: 33 years is long enough. We’ve studied, we’ve waited. It is time to move on.

Debate ends. the vote will be by orders. The Rev. Frank Wade offers a prayer.

It may be a while before we have a vote total, but if this resolution doesn’t pass I will never make another prediction. If I am not mistaken, somewhere on the sound system in the Convention Center, I hear “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. No idea what that means. Just putting that out there

Meanwhile, Sam Candler has just led the house in singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. Sam leads all the singing in the house and does a wonderful job.

A bit of a lull. The Diocese of Wyoming has given Gregory Straub, secretary of the house, who is known for his outrageously preppy sports coats, a pair of cowboy boots. Another deputation gives President Anderson and Unbuntu necklace.

Now we move on to other business and wait.

Counting the vote takes a long time. The House is recessing for worship and lunch. Reconvenes at 2 p. m. Pacific. They aren’t doing this to make life miserable for reporters with East Coast deadlines… but they may as well be.

Past Posts