ECUSA General Convention: Crowded hearing spotlights Windsor Report response

A public hearing on the response to the Windsor Report welcomed more than 70 speakers the evening of June 14 to address the Standing Committee on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion on four resolutions (A160-163) that deal with the expression of regret, election of bishops, public rites for blessing same-gender unions, pastoral care and Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO).

More than 1,000 people packed the Hyatt Regency Ballroom for the two-and-a-half hour hearing, which began at 7:30 p.m. An audio feed was provided for an overflow audience outside the room.

In his opening comments, the Rev. Francis H. Wade of Washington, committee co-chair, said the most important thing is listening. “All of us need to hear,” he said. “The people doing the real work are those who will listen and open their hearts to hear.”

Resolution A160 echoes the House of Bishops’ March 2005 Covenant Statement in expressing regret with respect to actions of the 74th General Convention. It offers an “apology and repentance for having breached the bonds of affection in the Anglican Communion…”

The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, said toward the end of the hearing that the Windsor Report was acting like a doctor, saying a relationship needs to be healed.

“Anglicanism has always responded to the challenge … by scripture, reason and tradition,” he said. “Maybe the committee should ask: do these resolutions help us ourselves … to show the marks of our own crucifixion?”

Speaking against A160, the Rev. Michael Hopkins, an alternate from the Diocese of Rochester, acknowledged that if there is an expression of regret, “it needs to be much fuller and expressed by all.”

Resolution A161 urges “very considerable caution in the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”

The Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, a deputy from the Diocese of South Carolina, raised concerns about what he called the clarity and honesty in A161.

“The Windsor Report uses clear language. This resolution doesn’t take the specific language of Windsor seriously enough,” he said. “We have been asked to place a moratorium; the timeframe is clear … yet the language we get is to exercise considerable caution — a fudge. Let’s be honest, let’s be clear.”

Resolution A162 suggests that public rites for blessing same-gender unions not be authorized “until some broader consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges.”

Resolution A163 commits to pastoral care of those who disagree with past actions of Convention; gay and lesbian persons; and commends using, when necessary, the Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) process.

Several speakers, including Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, cited a June 14 statement from Bishop N.T. Wright of Durham that suggests if the resolutions are passed without amendment, the Episcopal Church will have decided not to comply with the Windsor Report.

Decisions made by the Episcopal Church have global consequences, said Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe, “because we are a global church — the only global church in the Anglican Communion — and our decisions can’t be American first. This General Convention has to convince the Archbishop of Canterbury that the Episcopal Church wants to be part of the process that he set up.”

Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion, said that the light of Christ in gay and lesbian people of the church is being recognized and that the Church’s job is to discern the will of God “as humbly as we can.”

“Our homosexual agenda is Jesus Christ … Are we not in this debate because we have seen the fruits of the Spirit evidenced in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ who happen to be gay?” he said. “This debate is not, principally, about saving the Anglican Communion — we cannot make decisions about what the Communion will or will not do.”

The committee will reflect on the hearings and discuss the legislative path of the resolutions through the houses during its June 15 morning meeting.

In earlier action, Resolutions A159: “Commitment to Interdependence in the Anglican Communion,” A166: “Anglican Covenant Development Process,” and C007: “Anglican Consultative Council Appropriation,” were voted out of committee.

On June 16, public hearings will be held at 7:30 a.m. in the Hyatt Regency on Resolutions A168: “Human Rights for Homosexual Persons,” A169: Amend Canon III.1: Quadrilateral and Exercise of Ministry,” and D017: Marriage Rite in Book of Common Prayer for Same-Sex Couples.

Article from ENS by Matthew Davies international correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

Editors Note.

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