Below is a sampling of news and comment on the morning of General Convention’s closing day.
Huffington Post: TEC is the canary in the coal mine
[T]he Episcopal Church is seen as the canary in the coal mine by other mainline Protestant Churches. They are waiting to see if accepting gays and lesbians as full members of the church will lead to a breaking away from the international church, or whether different views will be able to co-exist happily.
I think maybe that’s what people don’t get about the House of Bishops. We have longstanding relationships. We meet several times each year, at length, and relationships build over time. We have a commitment to hang in there with one another, though we have disagreements. The ones that did not have that commitment are gone. The conversation has been a lot less shrill this year because a lot of those shrill voices are gone. It’s given people permission to listen better.
Some church-wide programs will be eliminated under the budget, encouraging more mission work to take place in dioceses and congregations. At least 30 of the 180 people employed by the Episcopal Church in its New York and regional offices could lose their jobs.
The next General Convention could be two days shorter, and interim church bodies will meet face-to-face less frequently during the triennium. The Episcopal Church’s provincial contribution to the budget of the Anglican Communion Office would decrease by a third.
After the deputies approved the budget, the Rev. Ann Fontaine (Wyoming) called for “a moment of silent prayer for all the staff that will be axed, that they might find healing and hope.”
[T]he Episcopal Church must rid itself of “institutional rigidity,” McLaren said.
“From my outsider’s perspective, your most urgent issue of institutional rigidity is related to the complex ways candidates are accepted and trained into ordained ministry. To put it bluntly: For all your system does well, it is perfectly designed to scare away from Episcopal leadership almost everyone with the spiritual gift of evangelism,” he said.
In the future, McLaren said, he hopes the Episcopal Church will not make potential postulates choose between the church and their call to evangelism.
Schism is considered such an ugly development that it is usually avoided at all costs — until tensions become intolerable. Even then, it is preceded by patched-up compromises and interventions. We may well see a process like this in the Anglican world over the next four or five years.
But is schism truly so awful? A lot depends on the outcome.
Even liberals here have said the church should not depend on the state to make decisions for it. Former New Hampshire Bishop Douglas Theuner, who retains a vote in the House of Bishops, argues that all bishops — not just those in states where same-gender partnerships are legal — should be allowed to adapt rites of blessings for gay couples.
“If we say we’ll only do what the state allows us to do, then in effect we’re saying that the state effects our theological decisions, and that shouldn’t be,” Theuner said.
Episcopalians have taken cues from the culture on marriage mores before, particularly in the 1970s when it voted to allow divorced people to remarry in the church, said Bishop Stacy Sauls of Lexington, Ky.