B033

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This entry was originally posted June 18, 2009 as part of the website “Slouching Towards Anaheim.”

“Let the pulpit resound with the doctrine and sentiments of religious liberty. Let us hear of the dignity of man’s nature, and the noble rank he holds among the works of God. Let it be known that British liberties are not the grants of princes and parliaments.” -John AdamsThere’s a handful of issues expected to come up in Anaheim this year, one of which is BO33, a resolution passed at the end of the 2006 General Convention.First, a little history is in order. At the 2003 GC, the Episcopal Church approved the consecration of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, hailed as the first openly gay Bishop. This act caused strain within the Anglican Communion (an international association of national churches who share a common historical tie to the Church of England, and share the same essential doctrines). As a result, members of the Anglican Communion presented The Windsor Report (http://www.anglicancommunion.org/windsor2004/) to GC 2006.

BO33 was the resolution made in response to the Windsor Report, and reads as follows:

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report’s invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation; and be it further

Resolved, That this Convention therefore call 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.

BO33 essentially put a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops. While the resolution passed in both houses, it was not a happy decision for many, and for me personally I worried about the non-specific wording of the resolution. Yes, the subject at hand was homosexuality, but I know a lot of wonderful Christians whose “manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church,” and to me the resolution has always sounded like a loophole for other Anglican churches to continue to berate the Episcopal Church.

It’s possible that nothing specific will happen with BO33 this year, with no resolutions for or against it. I’ve heard many voices hoping that we can “move past” BO33. It was also brought to my attention that the duration of any given resolution is uncertain, some Episcopalians believing that resolutions are permanent and others believing that they are meant to last for the three years until the next General Convention (these often being spirit of the law vs. letter of the law arguments). With that in mind, one could argue that there’s no need to address BO33, as it will no longer apply after Anaheim. Others say that whether or not it is still officially in effect, it’s better not to bring it up, choosing to move forward rather than looking back on past actions.

A group called Integrity was been sending out emails and letters to deputies recently, with two videos they have made surrounding the issue:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae4qZW0q0lw&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXbiMdyrTyQ

It is possible that BO33 will slip under the radar, disregarded as a piece of our peacemaking past. I do worry that it represents a greater problem: the disparity between how different churches in the Anglican Communion are governed. The Episcopal Church does not have one high voice that reigns overall (at least, not a human one). For us to make decisions about how we will operate we must be in large agreement, something we only have the chance to do every three years. More than anything, what I love most about the Episcopal church is that we are seldom in large agreement anyway.

No, the canons do not allow for same-sex marriage, but that hasn’t stopped plenty of Episcopal priests and bishops from blessing them anyway. And the Episcopal church allows it because I believe at its core it is a church based in choice. Remember that the Episcopal Church formed just after the American Revolution in a country that prides itself for its independence. The Episcopal Church is no longer strictly American, but that does not change its roots. We are a church that values the independent journeys of its members, and no moratorium can change that.

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