Live blogging the B033 open hearing

By Jim Naughton

It is only the second legislative day of the General Convention, but these first two days have been jammed with activity and I am already feeling kind of punchy. This has something to do with attending the platform breakfast that President Bonnie Anderson hosts each morning at 6:15 a. m. for her top aides, and a couple of press assistants.

The pace these first two days has been frenetic, which I take as a good sign. Bonnie seems committed to giving the House of Deputies plenty of time to talk about the delicate issues before it, and to make its decisions calmly and without the pressure of a looming deadline.

The issues of same-sex blessings and marriage equality are potentially much more far reaching than whether the Episcopal Church makes some new statement regarding Resolution B033–which, in reality, is nothing more than an urgent request rather than the moratorium it has been portrayed to be. (And Rebecca Wilson will have a story on this afternoon’s hearing of the Prayer Book Committee on just this issue later tonight or early tomorrow.) But it is the debate over B033 that has stirred the deepest passions among deputies and seems to be viewed as having the most profound significance for our relationship to the Anglican Communion.

So here we are in the Pacific Ballroom, amidst about 150 other folks, waiting for the World Mission Committee’s open hearing devoted to B033 to get underway.

And off we go:

Deputy Charley Osberger, a priest from the Diocese of Easton, says the opening prayer. Charley is one of the media briefers I helped to train on Monday. He favors keeping B033 in place, so we don’t agree on that issue, but I find him to be a person of real grace and gravity, and I spent a couple of minutes today trying to book him on a radio show. The experience of helping people who disagree with you to hone their presentation skills and then turninig them loose on the world has given me a new way of thinking about what it means to be a Church–but I don’t have the time or brainpower to unpack it tonight.

8:08; Deputy Gay Jennings, a priest from Ohio is laying out the rules of the road for tonight.

Michael Burke of Alaska talks about his parish in Anchorage which welcomes, and is even a refuge for GLBT folks, but also does copious work in Africa, especially Malawi. He says he knows there is disagreement among the Primates, but he has never encountered it among the people.

Next: Madam Chair, “My name is Gene Robinson and I serve the people of New Hampshire.” He says he couldn’t do his job without the support of his partner and soon to be husband Mark. He says any married bishop would say as much. Given that, why deny a GLBT bishop that kind of essential support.

Eddie Vance of Easton: the “yes, and” quality of our Church needs to be restored.

Bishop Chilton Knudson: dioceses need to be able to do “true discernment” in calling a bishop. “I am a purist about the issue of discernment. that bishops are chosen not only as political reality…. but really out of true prayer.” She mentions the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. She says the exercises state that a prerequisite for discernment is “freedom.” There can be “no constraint upon the right person.”

Victoria Prescott of Fort Worth: under Jack Iker she could only be a deacon and couldn’t speak her mind about full inclusion. Eventually she gave up trying to become a deacon because she couldn’t be silent.

A 17-year-old name Lucky speaks about being criticized for being an Episcopalian by a friend whose father was a fundamentalist.

Sam Gould, whom I think is 20, talks about how a camper asked hiim as a counsellor if he thought the boy’s brother was going to hell. A priest had told his gay brother that he was going to hell.

Bishop Mark Beckwith: Comforted we have moved from the idea of sexuality as a problem to the idea that sexuality is a gift. As a church we need to bless that gift. Any encumbrance forestalls God’s blessing on all creation. The church is being deprived of the gifts of GLBT candidates to the episcopacy.

Bob Runkle, Diocese of Spokane: 73-years-old, married and straight, very active in his parish. We can do both mission and inclusion.

Bishop Mark Lawrence: Mentions that he was denied consent the first time through. Says he predicted this crisis. But the crisis has caused a profound conversation. Says doing away with B033 is motivated by impatient fearfulness. “This is a time for patience and prudence.”

Bruce Garner of Atlanta and executive council: B033 created levels of membership in our church. If we are going to maintain it we need to be upfront about that. B033 didn’t appease anybody. Time to admit we were wrong, and apologize to those we offended.

Carolyn Chu: I am 18 and I am a gay Episcopalian. Important for my future in the Church. Making a statement to all of the youth who have been marginalized because of their sexuality. Gene Robinson is a role model to her and her gay friends.

Lucas Sanders, a volunteer from Maine: wants to go beyond B033, but says we should make clear we welcome differences of opinion.

The Rev. Jen Adams of Western Michigan: D013 is her resolution. She describes her accepting church. Says it works; that it is a beacon for hurting people and she wants it to be a beacon in our Church and to the rest of the Communion.

Bishop William Love says the notion that B033 is no longer helpful is false. He contends that the primates and international visitors who are on hand wouldn’t be here without B033. Says weakening it would send the wrong message to the Anglican Communion. Says we could find ourselves outside the Anglican Communion.

John Washbush of Milwaukee: we shouldn’t have extra-canonical restraints on our non-discimination canons. And we shouldn’t let the opinion of others keep us from doing what we think we must do.

Reed Farrell: take the risk and live life to its fullest by repealing B033.

The Rev. Susan Russell: supports C007, which simply says no extra canonical requirements on who can become a bishop. There are many arguments that can be made against B033. She’s spent most of last three years making them. The body of this Church has a blockage in an artery. We must remove the impediment to the health of our body. And for those who urge patience…it’s been 33 years since equality was promised to GLBT folks. That’s as long as Jesus was alive. Shouldn’t take as long to delivery on that promise as it took Jesus to complete his mission.

Dean Ben Shambaugh of Maine: has worked and studied in much of the Communion. Says the choice between equality for GLBT and membership in the Communion is a false choice.

Katrina Hamilton of Olympia: begrudgingly supports resolution that restates primacy of our non-discrimination canons. Because how could a resolution trump the canons in the first place. Lists some of the fears people have about moving forward. Says they aren’t true. But if they are true, then we aren’t currenty part of a communion, but a hierarchy of fear.

Allie Graham of New Jersey (whom I met when she was a steward last summer at the Lambeth Conference): not all stewards believed in full inclusion, but “no one in this group of rising Christians leaders could understand’ why the Robinson consecration should cause a schism.

Muffy Marone from the Diocese of Texas: says B033 is void. Says Roberts controlled the situation and that B033 was an improper motion because it conflicted with the canons and hence out of order. Conflicted with Canon 1.17.5, canon 3.1.2 Canon 3.9.3 and .4, .6

The Rev. Joan Beilstein of the Diocese of Washington: supports C045. struck by and moved by the passionate pleas of our young people for marriage equality and full participation of LGBT people. Has grand nieces and nephews. Doesn’t want them to face the violence and rejection that she experienced if they turn out to be GLBT. Wants a church that will embrace them and their gifts of ministry fully.

Michael Delk of Southen Virginia: supports apologizing to GLBT people because confession is good for the soul. Excluding based on sexual orientation is a sin. Will we apologize or leave it for our descendants.

Sonia Shannon of Central Florida: getting rid of B033 will make it harder for the ABC and others in the Communion, so we shouldn’t do it.

Hannah Anderson, 17: has gay friends. It doesn’t affect their leadership ability. Sexual orientation is not an issue in my or many of my friends eyes.

The Rev. Charley Holt of Central Florda: notes Newark voted against B033 because went to far, Central Fla. because it didn’t go far enough. Lost the conservative edge of the diocese of Central Fla. and much of the conservative edge of the Episcopal Church. What Integrity wants, Integrity will get. Conservatives have no strategy. Ask what God wants for our church, not what does Integrity want. (have been keeping my thoughts to myself, but this seemed cheap to me. no one else took shot at their opposition.)

A man whose name I missed (Bruzinski) registers his support of B033 very briefly.

We are over an hour in and I think you get the sense of hwo things are going. I am going to take a break. Oops, just as I say this, Gay Jennings notes that we have now heard from 24 in favor of doing something about B033 and 5 opposed. Now we are going to try to alternate pro and con if possible.

An interesting development with which I will close: in her attempt to go pro-con, pro-con, Gay Jennings had to call seven names to find someone in support of retaining B033.

I will probably stick around for the entire hearing, but wont’ add to this file unless somebody says something particularly moving or insightful.

Okay, a priest named Haskell from Albany just said he wanted to save gay people from their compulsive lifestyle. And we were doing so well on the respecting one another front.

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