How to interpret D025

How to interpret D025. It depends who you ask.

Rachel Zoll, AP:

Drafters of the latest statement insisted that the resolution only acknowledges that the Episcopal Church ordains partnered gays and lesbians and is not a repeal of what was widely considered a moratorium on consecrating gay bishops.

"The constitution and canons of our church as currently written do not preclude gay and lesbian persons from participating," in any part of the church, said the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, on the committee that drafted the statement. "These people have responded to God's call."

However, the Episcopal gay advocacy group Integrity, said in a statement Monday night that the declaration "effectively ends" the temporary prohibition on gays in ministry. Integrity called the vote "another step in the Episcopal Church's `coming out' process."

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who leads the Episcopal Church, was among bishops who voted to approve the declaration. The statement also affirms the Episcopal Church's commitment to participate in and help fund the Anglican Communion, the third-largest grouping of churches worldwide, behind the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Christian churches.

BBC:
Bishops of the Anglican Church in the United States have voted to overturn a three-year moratorium on the election of gay bishops.

The decision seems likely to lead to the Episcopal Church's eventual exit from the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Editorial in The Times:
Dr Williams’s appeal for restraint is ultimately untenable. It cannot override a simple and direct acknowledgment that homosexual clergy, including bishops, belong in the Church.

Dr Williams should state that principle, even aware of its divisiveness. Churches that insist on the inerrant word of Scripture, notably the Pauline epistles, will not accept the consecration of open homosexuals. Yet social attitudes to homosexuality have shifted radically in the past generation. The sources of Christian inspiration are diverse. They do not derive only from a private response to Scripture.

It is possible to maintain that the Episcopal Church has been impolitic in its vote, but still maintain that it is right.

Center Aisle editorial:
Many may interpret this proposal as a unilateral lifting of the moratorium on gay bishops—a restraint repeatedly requested by the Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury said as much after the Deputies passed D025 on Sunday.

The key question is whether those Communion concerns can be assuaged by the first three resolves of D025, all of which deal with reaffirming “the abiding commitment of The Episcopal Church to … the Anglican Communion” and our Church’s desire “to live into the highest degree of communion possible.”

When it comes to formal Church declarations, that’s about as close to a love letter as you can get.

Bishop of Texas:
The resolution, despite the headlines of a number of news organizations, was descriptive and offers a vision of where the Episcopal Church is at this time. It speaks to the fact that we are not of one mind on the issues of sexuality, that there is disagreement within the church on issues of ordination, marriage/unions. I think it reflects the reality that there are differences of opinion on how to deal with our differences.

I do not believe the house intended the passage of the resolution to be prescriptive.

USA Today:
DO YOU THINK... more people will leave -- or will join --the Episcopal Church because of this?

Beliefnet:

It is hard for me to see that the conservatives/traditionalists have been anything but routed. All these General Conventions do is bounce the rubble, and all that remains to be negotiated is the terms of the trads is the terms of their surrender. TEC is not a church that has any interest in adhering to Scripture or Christian tradition on sexual morality.

Other reports:

New York Times

Guardian

The Times

CNN

Comments (9)

I find the BBC's statement that "The decision seems likely to lead to the Episcopal Church's eventual exit from the worldwide Anglican Communion" to be rather stunning. Maybe they have drunk the coolaid, as well? I really think that there are too many reasonable people across the Anglican Communion for this to really happen.

Doug Spurlin

D025 will not change canons. 2006-B033 did not change canons. All these resolutions do is express where we are with our struggles at this time. Neither opens or closes the process leading to ordination, which is only done by canon.

Personally, I think D025 is better worded. I wish this was the resolution that was passed in 2006, but I understand they were under the gun then. Three years have given us a chance to express things better. Thanks be to God.

Meanwhile, no one is making a big deal over the real change on July 13, 2009. The House of Deputies passed D061, which changes canons to open ministry to the transgendered. Why is no one talking about the real change that happened—a change I feel is strongly needed.

Doug,

Perhaps it's rather the way it is phrased than the principle that underlies it. It assumes a monolithic character to the Communion from which the Episcopal Church CAN exit (I say this from a conservative point of view, incidentally). It might be less tendentious to say that it furthers the reconfiguration of Anglicanism into confessional and anti-confessional wings.

Whether the resolution now going before the Church of England General Synod asking for acknowledgment of its being in communion with the Anglican Church in North America passes or fails it will further cement the division. If it passes, of course, the Presiding Bishop will then need to decide whether TEC can remain in fellowship with a body in communion with ACNA, given her earlier remarks at General Convention.

Without raising my blood pressure by clicking on that Beliefnet link, "TEC is not a church that has any interest in adhering to Scripture or Christian tradition on sexual morality" is clearly a SINGLE extreme (conservative homophobic) perspective. (And does not reflect Beliefnet as a whole)

JC Fisher

If I recall, several other provinces or voices across the global fellowship of churches we now call our communion, clearly and strongly said they supported TEC and Canada in correcting the legacy flat earth views of queer folks, among other hot button issues. How this exactly might play out is difficult to specify. For now, expect our next steps to be loud accusations from leading global conservative figures which have been categorically preaching for some time that revelation truth speaks a final, closed word about queer folks, and a very nasty word indeed. That clues us into the near next steps, wherein we shall see just exactly how useful expecting queer folks to live down to traditional expectation is, as a pressure and division issue between or among the many groups which until now have regularly made up our global big tents Anglicanism. Flat earth views of queer folks may turn out to be as useful as ever in the short run. Maybe even more useful than ever, if the published IRD think tank strategy for splitting up Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians turns out to be the travel guide of the hot button moment. In the long run, though, churches will continue to have more and more difficulty getting the majority of us to keep putting false witness as a distance between us and every family member or friend or coworker or neighbor whom we know to be gay. In that case, winning the realignment battle only heightens the long-term losing of the social science and life science wars about queer folks. Fasten your seat belts, the far Anglican rights are going to try to have a very nasty field day; we shall have to repeat to changing our minds about queer folks is not what the legacy negatives will try to make of it. Meanwhile, gay family members or friends, please be welcome to the family gatherings.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09197/984238-84.stm

The moratorium "is still there. We did not repeal it," said Bishop Robert Johnson, assisting bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, which has been rebuilding since October, when the original diocese split after voting to secede from the Episcopal Church. "I don't see that there would be any threat to the moratorium unless we get presented with another partnered lesbian or gay bishop. That would be the test. But [this resolution] was a clarification, reminding us of where we are in the Episcopal Church. That is the way the bishops saw it," he said.

Kirk Smith, bishop of Arizona:

http://arizonabishop.blogspot.com/2009/07/no-pictures-but-breaking-news.html
Although BO33 was not exactly overturned (it will take an election of an openly gay person to make that happen, which frankly is not likely to happen anytime soon), this resolution was a defacto repudiation of that stance.

But Bp Smith also writes,
http://arizonabishop.blogspot.com/2009/07/dont-believe-everything-you-read.html
Before I left Arizona, I cautioned people to be very careful about what they read or see in the media, which often does not fully understand how the church works, or is spinning events to fit an agenda. A case in point was the action yesterday. As I cautioned after the vote on DO25, this does NOT overturn the earlier BO33 of the 2006 Convention. It is far more subtle than that. What it does do is to reaffirm that the ordination process (including that of bishop) is open to all people. In essence, BO33 remains in effect until the time it is tested by the election of another openly gay or lesbian bishop. It is an importanted and needed step, but it does not "repeal" any earlier legislation. About the only media source that got this correct was the New York Times, and I commend their coverage. Other papers, including the LA Times and even our own supposedly in-house Episcopal Life overstated the case with headlines such as "Church Clears Way for Gay Bishops."

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