“No quotes, no votes, no nothing”

The press is really having a difficult time here at the Convention. As one reporter, who called me to check in on the status of our Thurgood Marshall resolution said, “I’ve got no quotes, no votes, no nothing.”

[The Marshall resolution seems certain to be referred to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. That is what the legislative committee that considered the resolution recommended, and their recommendation has passed the House of Deputies. In presenting the resolution to the deputies, Dean Sam Candler of Atlanta said his committee had been impressed with our diocese presentation, especially the statement of Darren McCutchen, the 18-year-old alternate deputy from St. Timothy’s who spoke in support of the resolution. (Darren’s statement is hiding under the keep reading button at the bottom of this post.)]

The most significant of the Windsor resolutions, those addressing the report’s request for moratoria on the consecration of non-celibate gay bishops and on the authorized of public rites for blessing same-sex relationships, have not yet emerged from the special legislative committee that is handling them. The Convention leadership had dearly hoped to deal with these issues before the election of the next presiding bishop. But, as I right, there is only about one hour left in the legislative session today (Saturday) and the bishops adjourn to nearby Trinity Cathedral for the election at about 10:30 a. m. tomorrow, so having Windsor off the table is no longer a realistic possibility.

I have no interesting PB scuttlebutt. The field is large and there is no clear front runner, so there is no talk of voting blocs, kingmakers, etc. If the candidates are doing any electioneering, they are doing it behind closed doors.

While our response to the Windsor Report is still a work in progress, there have been several votes that I found suggestive. The House of Bishops yesterday passed by 76-67 a resolution opposing state and federal constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriages. They also amended one of the Windsor response resolutions that had been passed by the House of Deputies by inserting languages that stressed the independence of the Churches that make up the Communion. This amendment, which is generally perceived as making the resolution more “liberal” had been attempted in the House of Deputies, but failed. The bishops’ action, which must now be approved by the deputies, seems to contradict the “conventional wisdom” (pun not so much intended as recognized at not removed) that the deputies are the more liberal house.

The bishops continue to discuss in smaller groups whether there is some way to move toward the language of the Windsor Report without discriminating against gay Christians. They don’t seem to be making much progress, but to give you a sense of the range of ideas under discussion, some have seriously proposed postponing the consecration of any bishops until after the Lambeth Conference in 2008. There was even conversation about forestalling the selection of the next presiding bishop, and agreeing on a short-term caretaker instead. The name of Claude Payne, the retired bishop of Texas, was mentioned in this context.

Neither of these ideas makes a lick of sense to me. As a temporary measure, I thought the total moratorium on consecrations that the bishops adopted last year made sense. But two years is a long time for dioceses to be without elected leadership. And pegging consecrations to the Lambeth Conference invests whatever statement Lambeth might make on the issue with more significance than it should have. Putting off the election of a PB would not only create a leadership vacuum, but it would, I think, demonstrate that our existing leadership lacks the conviction and the will even to attempt a solution to our current problems.

(Don’t forget to click and read Darren’s speech.)

Good Morning. I am Darren McCutchen from the Diocese of Washington.

The work of Thurgood Marshall has affected our world for over 50 years in ways so profound, it seems like a miracle. His life’s work was about “striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being” as our baptismal vows proclaim. I do believe that this is an appropriate time for our church to recognize and honor the man who was Thurgood Marshall, by including him in Lesser Feasts and Fasts.

As you can see in the biography accompanying the proposed resolution, Marshall was an active Episcopal Layman. He attended parishes in New York, and in Washington DC; he was a vestryman, served on the Standing Committee in New York, and was deputy to the 1964 General Convention. In granting him a feast day, our church would provide more diversity to Lesser Feasts and Fasts. The diversity I mean is not in the sense of race, but rather in the sense that Thurgood Marshall was a layman; there are not many listed in Lesser Feasts and Fasts. Thurgood Marshall provides an example of what it means to live as a disciple of Christ in a lay role in the world.

The proposed date of May 17th was carefully chosen. It does not signify the date of his death, but rather the date of the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. That date and that decision, which in all truthfulness changed the course of not only national but world history, provide the perspective for seeing his life and his work. He was the lead litigator in that case in which he demonstrated that separate was not equal, that a poor education is, among other things, a waste of God-given talents. For most people, arguing and persuading and winning such a culture-reforming case, would have been the culmination of a career, of a faithful life well-lived. That he continued on for another 40 years does not change that. His work and his courage in doing it changed our world. That was more than 50 years ago. It was more than two of my life times ago. I consider myself a witness to the work of Thurgood Marshall. While it is obvious that Dr. Martin Luther King was the spiritual and energizing force of the civil rights struggle in this country, it is equally obvious to me that if Thurgood Marshall was not successful in eliminating the veil of legality used to rationalize the completely irrational and morally bankrupt social order that this movement overcame, the chances that I would be standing in this place, at this time of this day, delivering any message to this committee would be nil to none.

Last, I would like to point out that many Episcopalians already celebrate the life and work of Thurgood Marshall. St. Augustine’s in Washington, DC regularly honors him. The Diocese of Washington has put this resolution forward in his honor and the Diocese of Maryland also passes a resolution in their convention supporting him. Also, a beautiful depiction of Thurgood Marshall can be found at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco of the Episcopal Diocese of California.

For all of these reasons, I urge you to support this resolution by reporting it with a positive recommendation. Thank You.

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