Standing Committee to search committee: adhere to B033

Episcopal News Service reports that the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York has told a newly formed bishop search committee that they are to adhere to the terms of 2006 General Convention Resolution B033 while at the same time seeking to overturn the resolution at the 2009 Convention.

They are expected to “honor the mind of the Episcopal Church regarding acceptable candidates for the episcopate as expressed through the General Convention.”

The Standing Committee said in a posting on the diocese’s bishop search website that the requirement referred to Resolution B033, passed by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in June 2006.

In Resolution B033, General Convention called upon standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction to “exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”

The ENS report says:

The Rev. Eric Williams, chair of the Western New York standing committee and rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown, told ENS April 2 that “we do understand that the letter of B033 does not relate to search committees at all.”

“So we are taking a step — and probably a somewhat controversial step — of interpreting that and offering our guidance to the search committee,” he said. “But it is not our intention to muzzle the search committee or prevent them from doing their discernment. In the end, they have to make these difficult discernment choices as they do their work over the next year and a half, and this is really an invitation to see their work in the context of the whole Episcopal Church.”

He said the committee’s goal is to “help the search committee to see that as our diocese elects our next bishop we do that for our own diocese, but we also do if for the whole church and so we wanted to make sure that we as a standing committee are giving what we think is appropriate guidance on that.” Williams also said that the search committee is “perfectly free to present finalists that they discern to be the best regardless of our instructions.”

Rather than have the issue of B033 “lurk through the whole process and then come up later in a difficult way” Williams said the standing committee decided to “put the issue on the table” explicitly.

“We could have done this very informally just in a conversation with the search committee. We decided to make it part of the charge and to put it on the website because of our decision to make the whole process as transparent as possible,” Williams said. “We want to make sure that all of these issues are dealt with openly and in the public eye and that there is a lot of opportunity for people to respond — to weigh in — because we don’t want it to be a hidden thing.”

At the same time as the Standing Committee has restricted the scope of search committee’s work, it is also recommending that B033 be overturned.

The Western New York Standing Committee also said in its website statement that it “strongly recommends” that the diocese’s deputation to the 76th General Convention “should work for or support efforts at the 2009 General Convention to rescind Resolution B033.” Those efforts have already begun, with a number of dioceses submitting resolutions to the convention, which will meet July 8-17 in Anaheim, California, that would either rescind or supersede B033.

Read the rest here.

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