Live blogging the Bishops C056 debate: it passes

Updated it wins 104-30.

Live blog beneath the fold:


After both Houses of the Convention heard the presentation of the Church’s proposed budget, we all hiked up stairs to spend about half an hour waiting in the hallways outside of the House of Bishops to listen to the debate on Resolution C056. I have good news to report: there is electrical power in the press section of the House of Bishops today, so I won’t have to take any notes on my blackberry and email them to myself. I have posted the current text of the resolution elsewhere, but I understand it was substantially rewritten last night, so I don’t know what will emerge.

Bishop Scarfe of Iowa has withdrawn the amendment he made that got things a bit tangled yesterday. Now Bishop Tom Ely of Vermont says he and Pierre Whalen of the Convocation in Eurpoe hosted a gathering of 26 bishops in Indaba style conversation. He says they were characterized by respect and a deepening understanding of each others theology, and mission context.

He introduces a substitute amendment drafted by five of those involved in the conversations. The fact that he is making these remarks and that Bishop David Jones, suffragan of Virginia is about to introduce the substitute indicates a left (Ely) to center-right (Jones) consensus, although Ely says no one has officially “signed off” on the amendment because the indaba group was not a committee.

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, that the 76th General Convention acknowledge the changing circumstances in the United States and in other nations, as legislation authorizing or forbidding marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian persons is passed in various civil jurisdictions that call for a renewed pastoral response from this Church and for an open procession for the consideration of theological resources and liturgies for the blessing of same gender relationships; and be it further

Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological resources and design liturgies, and report to the 77th General Convention for further action; and be it further

Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, devise an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals whoa re engaged in such theological work, and inviting theological reflection from throughout the Anglican Communion; and be it further

Resolved that bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church, and be it further

Resolved that this convention continue to honor the theological diversity of this Church in regard to matters of human sexuality and be it further

Resolved that member of this church be encourage to engage in this effort.

Oh dear. 20 minutes of table conversation. But that gives time for a little scuttlebut. The bishops had at least two forces working on them today: 1) the desire to give bishops from conservative dioceses a less potentially divisive document to take home that the original C056. (I don’t immediately see how this text answers that, but I have mostly been typing, not thinking.) And 2) the Prayerbook Committee of the Deputies may well have recalled this legislation if the Bishops didn’t move today, and moved their original version to the floor of the House of Deputies.

I hope to have a few good words of analysis from Rebecca Wilson of the Chicago Consultation on the new legislation in a bit.

Back at it: Jim Jelinek of Minnesota has a one word amendment changing the word “action’ in the first resolve to “Consideration” Then comes an amendment to the amendment by Bishop Paul Lambert of Dallas that would end this sentence: “Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological resources and design liturgies, and report to the 77th General Convention for further action; and be it further” after the phrase “General Convention.

John Howe of Central Florida proposes an amendment to the “theological diversity” section an explicit conscience clause. It fails.

Mark Hollingsworth of Ohio: strike the words “and design liturgies” and just use the phrase “liturgical resources.” He says taking out the phrase “design liturgies” gives greater comfort to his conservative table mates.

Bud Cedarholm of Massachusetts opposes. As long as you say “design” you aren’t saying pass and put into practice and that should be enough.

Gene Robinson: if the last 24 hours are what Indaba at Lambeth was like than he is even sorrier not to have been included. he says the word “design” was chosen instead of “develop” because the latter makes it look like more of a done deal.

Taylor of Western North Carolina likes the amendment. Allow all of us to stand together in the broad center of the church.

Amendment to the amendment: Todd Ousley wants to delete the phrase “develop” from the “collect and develop” section. Everyone is trying to find a way to make it clear we aren’t taking a big step toward same-sex blessings, but a small one.

This is all minute wordsmithing. I will spare you from the debate until something actually happens. I think there is a problem with this kind of debate. When you start pitting what “design” means against what “develop” means, and whether “collect resources” implies “develop” as well, you are talking almost exclusively about an idiosyncratic interpretation of those words and phrases that is shared by the people in the room but have no currency outside it.

The amendments of all kinds seem to be failing. At the moment, the original text still holds. However,they will now vote on the Hollingsworth amendment:

Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological and liturgical resources, and report to the 77th General Convention

It passes.

Here is Rebecca on the differences between the legislation:

At first glance, here are the basic differences between the original C056 and the substitute resolution just presented:

The new resolution begins with a preface saying that cultural changes in this country and elsewhere in the world call for a renewed pastoral response to same-gender marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships. It seems like this preface is meant to justify the

church taking action now, but not to suggest that the church’s decisions should be subject to the action, or lack thereof, of civil legislation on marriage equality or civil unions. We’ve heard, earlier in the week, some understandable resistance to the idea that the church’s care of GLBT people should be determined by civil legislation, or that the standard of pastoral care across the church should be different based simply on what state couples live in.

In another resolved clause, the new resolution says that theological resources and liturgies will be brought to the next General Convention for “further action.” The original resolution said that the next Convention would make “formal consideration” of blessing liturgy. So the new resolution is slightly weaker on this point and potentially provides more opportunity for further delay.This resolution also invites reflection from throughout the Anglican Communion, but doesn’t specify exactly how that will be done. A previous version of the resolution had sought to include the Anglican Consultative Council in the conversation.

The previous version of the resolution honored the diversity of the church and specified that no bishop or clergy would be compelled to officiate at a same-gender union. The new resolution also honors theological diversity, but removes any discussion of clergy being compelled to officiate.

Finally, the new resolution encourages members of the church to engage in theological reflection and discussion about blessing liturgies.

I lost some text, due to internet problems. Lots of small amendments, based on idiosyncratic interpretations of words and phrses.

Then a bit of a blockbuster, Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania, (the youngest bishop in the House) supported by Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona want the resolution discharged (killed.) Rowe says legislation doesn’t work. What he offers sure plays to me as a sweeping attack on the House of Deputies authority. Smith says the bishops should do a pastoral letter. (Maybe it is just the fact that I am helping hte House of Deputies with media, but this seems disrespectful of the Deputies…. Another attempt to disenfranchise them for the governance of their church.) Most of the debate seems to be going against it.

The Bishop of Hawaii, Fitzpatrick, speaks in favor of discharge, as does Doyle of Texas.

it is very hard for me to see this as anything other than an attempt to assert the authority of the bishops and the bishops only on this matter.

Rowe asks for a roll call on the discharge vote. This feels like an effort to run out the clock. What possible reason can there be for getting this vote on the record. It is of no lasting significance.

Halfway through, the move to discharge is losing 42-19. The vote isn’t over, but 55 no votes are already in, so I’d say the move to discharge fails. Final now 42-94-1, the motion fails

But it has crept past 6 pm as the roll is called. so what will happen when this pointless process is over? Will the house dismiss for the day?

The bishops vote to extend another 10 minutes. This is going to pass unless the conservatives can find a new way to run clock.

Bishop Alexander makes a small amendment that passes. It makes a change for consistency that I will describe later, but it just squares the language in one amended section with an unamended section. We are about to vote by roll call.

21-9 early lead; 39-14; 57-18; approach 80 yes votes. This is a done deal. I will be back with the final totals later.

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