Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A161 Fails

The substitute resolution proposed by Fort Worth, which included all the Windsor language; moratorium, etc., was ruled by the Chairs Of Constitution and Canons and the President of the House of Deputies to be out of order.

We need to get the history of this clear, as you will hear it spun other ways in different places.

The moratorium on the elction of bishops was ruled out of order because it mandated critieria for nominees that went beyond the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

The moratorium on same sex blessings was ruled out of order because it was contrary to the Constitution and Canons regarding bishops authorizing special services and the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer; neither of which address this specific situation. Such a resolution would have to be worded in such a way as to amend the Constitution and Canons and the Book of Common Prayer. Such amendments would take two General Conventions before becoming effective.

So, when you talk with others, be clear; we did not initiate moratoriums because the motion was ruled out of order by the President of the House of Deputies in consultation with the Chairs of Constitution and Canons and the Parliamentarian.

This returned us to original resolution presented to us by the legislative committee, which I posted last night. A Deputy rose to ask if this resolution would also be out of order, as it also mandates just about the same thing regarding the election of bishops. The Chair of the legislative committee addressed this by pointing out that the wording had been carefully chosen so that it did not mandate anything; it simply strongly recommended (actually, "urged"), leaving dioceses the freedom to do as they felt was best.

Then a curious thing happened. The President stated that if this resolution failed, we would return to consideration of it in its original form as published in the blue book. That would be the draft prepared by the Special Commission including the language of "caution" rather than "refrain." The dissent on the floor from among the Deputies was quite evident. After one Deputy rose to state that in her five Conventions, she had never heard of a resolution voted down in its "perfected" form ever being automatically revisted in it's pre-amended form. The Chair reversed the decision. This would be the only vote on A161.

The vote was cast by orders, by diocese, meaning that a split lay or clercal vote within a diocese would be counted as a no. The resolution was defeated. As it was less than two-thirds, the tally for all no votes was read aloud. Interestingly, both poles voted against it. California and Fort Worth both voted no, for instance. Obviously for different reasons. Fort Worth felt the language was not "Windsor compliant." California felt the resolution continued the victimization of our glbt brothers and sisters.

So, the bottom line is that regarding the election of bishops and same sex blessings, the Episcopal Church stood firm and did not back down from our earlier decisions. The Communion will not be pleased. So it goes. We have expressed our desire to continue the relationship, but have also clearly said that we will not do so at the expense of some of our members. Now the Communion will do whatever it feels it must do.

We have kept our integrity intact, and have not denied the movement of God's Spirit. And, beyond that, we have elected a new Presiding Bishop who is poised to move us beyond this stagnant debate and lead us forward on paths that will refresh our souls and renew our spirits.

Thanks be to God!


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