The Sabbath is Happy and Gay

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This entry was originally posted July 13, 2009 as part of the website “Slouching Towards Anaheim.”


“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” -Dale Carnegie

Considering it’s the Sabbath, today was jam-packed.

At 10AM we had the United Thank Offering (UTO) Ingathering and Eucharist. It had everything you could want from a service short of incense: dancers, costumes, a gospel choir plus the regular choir, international representatives, drums, gongs, wine, funny hats, a few of my favorite songs, and the longest line of bishops you’ll ever care to see. There was also an adorable set of children behind me, but that was just luck.

The Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori gave a sermon on the concept of traveling light, based on the gospel in which Jesus sends 70 disciples out before him, telling them take take no purse and no sandals (the list goes on) and seek out the homes of strangers, giving peace. Jesus told them that they would be given peace in return. Katharine said that this had to do with going away from home with trust, anticipating hospitality. She said, “Traveling light has everything to do with expecting the presence of God.” It reminded me of one of my favorite sections of the Bible: The Lilies of the Field. (Matthew 6: 25-34).

Straight out of the service I went to the TENS (Training + Encouraging + Nurturing + Supporting) Luncheon. Our own St. Augustine’s in the Woods in Freeland, Washington was receiving a Best Practices Honor for it’s recent stewardship campaign. A table had been purchased for our dioceses and I was lucky enough to snag one of the (free) seats. The food was great, and the speakers highly entertaining. Stewardship Award winner Rev. Canon J. Hughs Magers said that when he was asked if he believed in the Biblical doctrine of prosperity he said, “I do not believe in the Biblical doctrine of prosperity…but it has been my experience.”

The afternoon brought a three hour Legislative Session where we spent almost the entire time on one resolution…with good reason. The Resolution was D025, and it’s what the Committee on World Mission was able to produce after much debate and discussion on the subject of B033 (see blog entries on June 18 and July 10). The resolution itself is too long to type out in full right here (there are 48 lines total, in seven “resolves”), but here are the key points of the resolves:

  1. Give thanks to the 2008 Lambeth Conference and reaffirm commitment to seeking fellowship with the Anglican Communion.
  2. Encourage all Episcopalians to Participate in the Communion
  3. Reaffirm financial commitment to the Communion
  4. Reaffirm the value called for by the ’78, ’88, and ’98 Lambeth Conferences of “listening to the experience of homosexual persons”; recognize that the Episcopal Church membership includes “same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God”
  5. People in such relationships have responded to a call to various ministries
  6. We cannot discriminate anyone called to any ordained ministry, because it is so dictated by our canons
  7. We acknowledge that others “based on careful study of the Holy Scriptures, and in light of tradition” may disagree with some of the approve

To sum up, it says that we want to be a part of the Anglican Communion, but we cannot ignore gay and lesbian people in our own church, nor can we discriminate against them, and that we accept and acknowledge that not everyone in the communion or even in our own church agrees with this. It’s a powerful statement for the church to make, and would supersede B033.

We had to make a special order for it, special rules for the discussion, and I had a special request from the president of the Chicago Consultation to speak on the issue.

I don’t like to speak first, both because I like to have the discussion warmed up a bit first and because I think I make better arguments when I have specifics from opposing arguments to go off of. So I tried to stall my walk up to the mic just long enough to ensure that I would get a chance to speak but not near the beginning. Well, as it happens just the right people ended up leaving or switching lines and suddenly Madam President is calling on microphone seven and I have to check my number again to make sure it’s me. I guess I’m going first then.

My speech was, for the most part, a version of what I said at the public hearing (see Words of Witness). However, since at least half of the HoD would have had their own committee meetings to be at at the time, my speech was new for most of the audience. Walking back to my seat I received many smiles, and my own Diocese of Olympia was quite proud. They said I seemed very put together and confident, and that my argument was solid. Once again, everyone was impressed with my word usage. In everyday life, it’s just so hard to work oligarchy in a sentence.

marriage equality, gay bishops, Anglican Communion

A vote by orders was requested. Each Dioceses is represented by two equal parts: a lay order and a clergy order. In a vote by orders, each diocese gets two votes total: one for the lay and one for the clergy. If it is three or for in favor, the vote is “yes.” If it is two or more opposed it counts as a no. Then there is a minimum number of each order needed to pass. For or example you might have plenty of lay people voting yes, but if you only have half of the clergy it won’t be enough. It is because of these reasons that passing a resolution with a vote by orders is much more difficult than a simple majority or even a two-thirds majority vote.

When the numbers were read I was amazed. The resolution needed 50 Lay and 49 Clergy votes to pass. It was 77 and 74 in favor. It was overwhelming. I honestly believe that this shows a clear desire in the House of Deputies to move forward, accept all of our brothers and sisters into the full life of the church, and most importantly say to the Anglican Communion that we love them, but we will not be less than we are simply to please them. We govern ourselves.

Unfortunately, it’s not time to get out the rainbow banners just yet. General Convention is bicameral, which means D025 has to pass in the House of Bishops as well. Few believe it can or will. On that we will just have to wait and see.

Regardless, I am very proud of my church today. Even if D025 is defeated in the HoB and we have to wait another three years, I will go home proud to say that we are getting close. We are almost there.

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