Live blogging: House of Deputies discusses way forward on B033

By Jim Naughton

The House of Deputies goes back into a Committee of the Whole this morning at 10 a. m. Pacific time to hear comments from as many as 30 deputies on the question of how the Church should respond to Resolution B033 from General Convention 2006, which urged those who must consent to the election of a bishop not to do so if his or her “manner of life” might increase division in the Communion.

The legislative committee that will actually write whatever resolutions come to the floor on this issue held an open hearing last night, which I blogged about here. This morning, the entire house will listen to a number of speakers (selected by lot and allocated two minutes a piece) whom I think we can assume will have strong opinions on whether to reaffirm B033, or move beyond it.


(I lost some text on the first two speakers due to internet cutting out.) Cole of Western Carolina spoke of having voted for B033 with a heavy heart out of respect for Bishops Griswold and Jefferts Schori. “I have changed my mind and my heart. A young woman from Lexington spoke about the Church’s unwillingness to face its dark side.

Speakers from Fort Worth and El Camino Real support B033,. The man from El Camino Real says we haven’t made the theological case for same-sex marriage. Says it is ironic to speak of unbuntu when we may tear the community apart.

Speaker from Vermont talks of her painful experiences as a lesbian, and how the passage of B033 feels as though a door has been slammed in her face.

A woman whose name I missed from Spokane says other provinces of the Communion are turning the communion into a confessional church, something it has never been. And that B033 gives in to this effort. She favors “both and” thinking. “If we jump through the hoops required today, what other hoops…”

Le Anne Watkins of Minnesota asks if relatinships in the Anglican Communion are really fragile. That isn’t her experience. Relationships with other provinces are deeper than ever, and the MDGs are a part of that. These are the bounds of affection and they will endure when we move beyond B033.

Dan Martins of Northern Indiana: this may be an occasion to be a little dispassionate. B033 got our PB to the Primates Meeting, our bishops to Lambeth and our delegation to the Anglican Consultative Council He thinks relations are still fragile and we need B033 to remain in relationships in the Anglican Communion.

Louie Crew: been fighting for equality as an out gay male for more than 30 years. what we did with B033 was “to destory the good news” in the mission fields. Move beyond B033 but love and honor the rest of the Communion. Love your LGBT neighbors as you love yourselves. It is not a gift to us, it is a gift to yourselves.

Charley Holt of Central Florida, who was the only speaker last night to speak scornfully of his opponents on this issue: says the rest of the world’s Christians aren’t accepting what we’ve done in moving ahead on LGBT issues.

Clerical deputy from San Diego: talks about a guy who spent some times at his church but then left because he was afraid the deputy would realize he was homosexual. Says he regrets having voted for B033. It put out the un-welcome mat.

Clerical Deputy (Brown) from Vermont: says he got back from last GC and the 80+ year-old woman who led his altar guild was in tears about it. Because she was going to visit mission friends ni South African and Rwanda without the good news our sisters and brothers in those places needed.

Clerical Deputy from Georgia: very sotto voce. We have the ability to move beyond B033, but we must always recognize that the rates of change vary from one culture to another. And even in our own church we are not of one mind.

Bruce Garner of Atlanta: tells story in Acts of Peter eating with Gentiles: but God has shown me I should not call anyone profane or unclean. B033 does that. The status limits imposed by B033 make it difficult to invite gay people into the church.

The Rev. Sharon Lewis of Southwest Florida says what she said last night about a plane needing two weeks to fly. B033 keeps us flying, and God holds us in this pattern. It is sacrifical to stay in this place. Staying with B033 isn’t to reject one another but to acknowledge the difficult place we are in.

Lay deputy from Nebraska: our canons give us a way to determine which people should be bishops. We don’t need B033. Whatever B033 was meant to do, it’s time has passed.

Lay deputy from Diocese of Texas: has a gay daughter, he wishes she wasn’t, but he loves and supports her and cares for her in every way. This isn’t the time to ignore our brethern in the Anglican Communion. Christianity is at war with radical Islam. We need to be mindful of that. It would be irresponsible that would impair that situation and reflect that we are not with them. the time is coming to move forward, but the time isn’t now.

Lay deputy from Colorado; two types of change. one is adaptive change. it requies patience. I believe that B033 is the crucible for adaptive change, and that if we jump out of it too quickly, we are going to end up in a bigger mess than we are in right now.

Deputy Thigpen of Atlanta: B033 was a kick in the gut. Hard not to take it personally. It was personal. It was my manner of life. It was the manner of life of many of my brothers and sisters. We had sold our birthright for a bowl of pottage. The choice between mission and justice is a false choice. A Sophie’s Choice, which child lives, which dies.

The Rev. Delk of Southern Virginia: the only reason we wouldn’t go forward is fear but the ties that bind can become the ties that choke. If you want us to wait, please specify the period of time we must wait and offer assurance that provinces that aid police in imprisoning GLBT will change soon. Gifts are rotting on the vine.

Clergy Deputy from Rio Grande: in marriage counselling, he was asked would you rather be right, or together. B033 in his diocese has been the catalyst for a cease fire. While people worry about food on the table, we fight about this. We are only being asked to wait.

Michael Russell of San Diego: that which is good will grow. We see the fruits of the spirit in the lives and ministries of gay Christians. It is “shameful to ask them to wait or to hide. We can choose sacrifice, but it is immoral for us to pick out a group and ask them to sacrifice for our comfort zone.’

The Rev. Liz Zivanov of Hawaii: We are being asked to die to the law and live into the cloak of Christ.

Vann of Springfield: it is no more appropriate to blame crimes of government in anti-gay countries on those churches than to blame us for crimes of our government. B033 shows modestry and restraint. (Speakers on both sides are invoking ubuntu.)

The Rev. Michael (I think) Burke from Alaska. He spoke last night. His parish in Anchorage has seven sister parishes in Malawi, and people from Nigeria and Cameroon in his parish, but they are also very active on behalf of LGBT people in their parish. Move beyond B033.

Deputy Clark of newark: an airplane metaphor of her own. Planes shake when approaching sound barrier, but stop shaking when you break through. Sloan Coffin: first you step out, then you grow wings.

Deputy Halas of Chicago (19 years old): was in Columbus. B033 hurt. We are putting lmits on some of the most gifted individuals in our church. Few may be qualifed to be bishop. Why narrow the field even more. The effects of a moratorium trickle down. Reads non discrimination canon.

Time is now up. Bonnie Anderson says guidance has been given. The house prepares to move on to other business.

All in all remarkably civil.

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13 Comments
  1. If anyone can post the Deputy from El Camino Real’s name I would be grateful. It went whizzing by and I missed it.

  2. kendallharmon

    The Rev. Andrew Green was the speaker from San Diego

  3. pam

    Thank you for blogging this. I truly appreciate it.

    Pam Alger

  4. Thanks, Jim. I’m glad you are in Anaheim!!!

  5. Once again it’s the Southern states that argue for discrimination.

    And many of their dioceses have large, wealthy parishes. Read Louie Crew’s lists of the 300 largest by communicants and average Sunday attendance.

    This argument is sectional as much as anything else. Come, Holy Spirit, come.

  6. Clint Davis

    Um, Josh Thomas, for instance the Diocese of Arkansas is very progressive on gay issues, and there are a number of parishes (St. Paul’s Fayetteville, AR) and bishops and dioceses throughout the South that are some of the only places where us gay folk can find spiritual refuge. Look closer.

  7. Please don’t paint all of us in the South with the brush of discrimination. The Diocese of Atlanta overwhelmingly passed a resolution asking that BO33 be repealed. In a culture where Episcopalians are decided minorities we have not hesitated to speak out on this issue. Josh is the one showing discrimination and prejudice in this case. May the Holy Spirit open your eyes, too.

    Tricia Templeton

  8. garydasein

    Northern Indiana is not southern and is not progressive.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

  9. Of course there are exceptions; every diocese is different in its history and leadership. Northern Indiana cherishes its Anglo-Catholic heritage, especially compared to the broad churchmanship of Indianapolis. Northern Indiana tends to support B033, while Indy can’t wait to get rid of it.

    Local contexts matter. All the bishops and deputies wonder in the back of their minds, “What will people back home say?” That’s a lot different in New York or Chicago than it is in Fort Worth, South Bend, Albany or Quincy.

    The good news is that going to church still matters in some places. The bad news is our complete failure to evangelize. I’m not sure evangelism works anywhere as long as we’ve got one foot in and one foot out of homophobia.

    Red state/blue state isn’t the only way to look at this; regions within states differ from each other. Generally speaking, many Southern Episcopalians will have a very hard time explaining GLBT inclusion to their neighbors, and if the decision goes the other way, many Northern Episcopalians will be in despair.

    Thus I pray that the Spirit will fill the Convention with one mind, not a thousand.

  10. I second Tricia’s comment. I never saw a bit of discrimination in the Diocese of Atlanta, nor in the city proper (even though some suburbs can be more conservative). Besides, there is a considerable amount of Southern dioceses that cannot be really seen as conservative. Other than Atlanta, North Carolina and South Virginia come to my mind.

    Sometimes, even in conservatives environments (cities, dioceses, etc) I’ve seen some parishes being, curiously, a very progressive and inclusive presence in a hostile environment.

    Generalizations can be as exclusive as some policies that were taken in the past.

  11. SCG

    Thank you for blogging on this! As a native Yankee now living and worshipping in Florida, it’s just way too easy to say, “All prejudice comes from the South.” The guy from Northern Indiana is an indication that fear of gays knows no geographic boundaries. That said, there is room for improvement in the welcome LGBT people receive in my diocese. Individual churches are ahead of the diocese. Perhaps the discussions at GC 2009 might change hearts… and move more of the Church on the road toward the inclusive love of God.

    –Susan Gage

  12. CharlieHolt

    Dear Jim,

    I notice that as you are blogging, my comments are the only ones upon which you comment. First to be called a “cheep shot” and second to be called “scornful”. Of course it is your blog, so fair enough.

    I assure you that I am deeply respectful of those on the other side of the issue or else I would have disengaged and left long ago. I love OUR church. My intent was not to disparage but to be honest about the dynamic that I observe.

    My point in the comment that you describe as cheep and scornful is simply to say that there is no longer a conservative opposition of any significance,and that the party spirit on the right of this issue is gone. But it is not he case on the left. Therefore, if there is to be any type of restraint on the part of the Episcopal Church with respect to the three moratoria it will be because Integrity has chosen to show restraint.

    To use another deputy’s metaphor: “We are flying with one wing now.” That is my point and observation. You may disagree with the substance of that contention…but please we are all working hard to be faithful to our call here in Anaheim.

    I hope this is a helpful clarification.

    Charlie Holt

  13. indybrendan

    I attended todays session, and have strong sympathies with those opposing B033, but I also deeply value the bonds with the rest of the Anglican Communion. Many spoke today of the sacrifices that GLBT communicants have been required to make to remain in communion with the wider church, and I agree that’s true (I’m a gay man myself).

    Nonetheless, the Rev. Delk’s comments really got me thinking. The “how long must we wait for others in the communion?” question could be read as out-and-out support for getting rid of B033. Or it could be a call for productive sacrifice on the part of GLBT persons in ECUSA.

    Here’s what I mean. The Windsor Report may have chastised ECUSA, but Lambeth 1998 1.10 also called all churches in the AC to “listen to the experience of homosexual persons and … assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptized, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the body of Christ [and] calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fears of homosexuals.”

    It is my opinion that with B033 and ECUSA’s heretofore reluctance to affirm same-gender unions that we have done our best to keep faith with Windsor and Lambeth 98 given the pastoral needs of the congregations in this branch of the church. But have Akinola et al lived up to their end of the bargain? Thus far I have seen little to indicate that they have. And let me be clear, I’m not classifying evidence of listening as Akinola saying homosexuality is A-OK. But a posture more like my grandmother’s, where she profoundly disapproves but loves me anyway, would say something.

    I’m willing to hold off on action on B033 if we stop cringing in fear of the rest of the communion. Let us be humble but bold. So many of us in ECUSA believe that welcoming GLBT people is the will of God. But what is sacrificing consecration to the episcopacy in comparison to the difference we might make challenging the other members of the communion to live up to their end of Lambeth 1998 1.10? Let’s issue an ultimatum of our own and give it another three years. If the other churches reject the challenge, fail to listen to and sensitively minister to their gay and lesbian congregants, then let’s jettison B033, schism be damned. But I’d rather go out in a reclamation of some moral authority, reminding our brothers and sisters throughout the communion that the ministry of all the baptized is to minister to all God’s people. The AC gave lip service to this in 1998. Let’s try to make it happen, and if our partners aren’t acting in good faith, then fine, we’ll take another road in Indianapolis 2012.

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