The Episcopal Church Welcomes You. All of You.

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This entry was originally posted July 14, 2009 as part of the website “Slouching Towards Anaheim.”


“Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.” -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The big news of the day: The House of Bishops passed D025! There is a small amendment but it should pass through the House of Deputies again without incident. But more on that latter, first let’s go through the day…

I started off with a committee meeting marathon. I went first to Ministry to discuss D065, the resolution asking congregations to set aside a seat on their vestry or Bishop’s Committee for a young person, age 16-18. I had spoken to the proposer about some things I thought would have to be amended in order to get it passed, and she suggested that I present them at the Public Hearing. The committee seemed really responsive to my suggestions, and I found out later that the Official Youth Presence (OYP) representatives that were there and had originally suggested the resolution were pleased as well.

The committee on Structure was right next door, so once the Ministry hearing was over I went there. I caught the end of their discussion on the amended text for the resolution giving the OYP’s vote (right now they only have seat and voice). I then watched the hearing for D094, which asks the President of the House of Deputies to make every effort to assign people under 30 to legislative committees, regardless of experience. This resolution comes in response to Bonnie Anderson’s new policy to put almost no new deputies onto legislative committees. Apparently in conventions past, young adults have reported feeling “overwhelmed” by the amount of work and catching up that must be done in order to work on a committee in addition to a deputy’s regular duties, and Bonnie was attempting to allow them more room to learn and get accustomed to the process before the demand of committee work. This resolution is essentially a request straight from the young adults to Bonnie Anderson asking that she rethink her policy. We’d rather be overwhelmed than helpless.

Finally, after grabbing a muffin and juice for breakfast, I sat in on the end of the Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Music Committee’s discussion on their newly amended same-sex marriage rites resolution. The committee seemed to be in almost unanimous support, and wether or not it passes, what they have written is quality legislation.

The six hours of Legislative Session yielded little progress, though we were able to finally consent to the consecration of Bishop Luis Fernando Ruiz Restrepo. There had been severe controversy over his election as bishop in the Diocese of Ecuador Central, which erupted on the floor as a “he said, she said” between the Ecuadorians, the Columbians, the Consecration of Bishops Committee, and both informed and confused members of the House of Deputies. The claims were that the election was not legitimate, and that the election of a foreign member of the clergy was not supported (Restrepo is from Columbia, not Ecuador).

It became quickly clear that Ecuador Central is still trying to grow and stabilize. The entire diocese only has 18 clergy in it, and the total number of Episcopalians in Ecuador Central is smaller than the House of Deputies itself. The election process was full of tied votes and upset, disappointed people.

For me, I agreed with Bishop Restrepo’s election. Yes it was tricky, but in the end the evidence indicated that the election was canonically sound. My intelligence from the House of Bishops says he is a great man and will make a great bishop. And though it is unfortunate to send a man into a diocese that is so divided, I don’t believe holding another vote in Ecuador will result in a more certain and agreeable election. I think it is best to move forward from here with a bishop that is nearly unanimously supported by the House of Bishops and willing to take on the challenge.

I have to say, I think making decisions about the leadership of a Diocese so removed from our own made many members of the house very uncomfortable. To make matters worse, problems with the voting machines delayed the vote four times. We talk about letting the Holy Spirit guide our decisions here, and it certainly felt like that when we were all given so many opportunities to vote again, to change our minds. In the end I believe we made the right decision.

Prayers go out to the people of Ecuador Central in this time of unrest.

More specific prayers go out to the deputies from the Virgin Islands, whose table is situated in between Columbia and Ecuador. Good Luck Virgin Islands.

Finally, upon arriving at our nightly deputation meeting I heard the good (and very unexpected) news: They had passed D025. Bishop Greg said it was clear from the feeling in the room within the first ten minutes that it would pass. Most of the time was spent talking about possible amendments that could tweak it to improve it slightly. The revised resolution will be coming back to the House of Deputies to approve the amendment, and I hope we don’t waste time talking about it anymore. I’ve read the amendments and they change almost nothing, just improve a bit of language and make it more about theology and less about politics.

To read the whole resolution, go to http://www.gc2009.org/ViewLegislation/view_leg_detail.aspx?id=986&type=Current

I think the best thing I heard out of the decision was from Nedi (one of my bishops). She said that when she was sitting in the House of Bishops considering this resolution, all she could think about was Dr. Martin Luther King and his letter from Birmingham jail, and that it wasn’t written to the government or the people, but to the church. Dr. King wrote to his fellow clergymen because he knew that the movement had to start with the church. And Nedi said something to me that I wish had been said in this debate already: “The Anglican Communion will never move on unless we do it first.” And it’s true. If this is going to happen it has to start with us. It won’t come out of Africa or England, it must be The Episcopal Church. And I am so proud that it finally is.

St. Francis of Assisi tells us to preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words. For years The Episcopal Church has been living the gospel in it’s acceptance of gays and lesbians. And now, because we had to, we finally used words.

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