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Eastern Oregon proposes Communion without Baptism resolution

Eastern Oregon proposes Communion without Baptism resolution

The Diocese of Eastern Oregon will present a resolution to the next General Convention to change the Constitution and Canons and the Prayer Book to ” invite all to Holy Communion, ‘regardless of age, denomination or baptism.’ :

The resolution reads:

The Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon is forwarding an Open Table resolution to General Convention that would change the rubrics and practice of The Book of Common Prayer to invite all to Holy Communion, “regardless of age, denomination or baptism.”

Adopted unanimously by delegates to the 2010 Diocesan Convention, the resolution recently was ratified by Diocesan Councl for submission to General Convention. It would delete from the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church Canon 1.17.7, which says “No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this church.”

However, the explanation attached to the resolution says that “We know from our strivings within ecumenism and mission that the communion Christ intended for all is perilous and difficult, and that boldness in offering radical hospitality is our calling, rather than canonically driven caution.”

Delegates from St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Ontario, OR proposed the Open Table resolution. “It would not have happened without a unanimous vote at Convention that this was the direction we wanted to go. This was the work of many people,” said The Rev. Anna R. Carmichael, rector of St. Mark’s, Hood River, OR , who prepared the document that will go to General Convention.

The Diocese of Eastern Oregon, which includes all of Oregon east of the Cascade Mountains as well as Klickitat County in Washington state, includes 22 parishes and about 2,600 Episcopalians,

”In recent decades the Episcopal Church, with prayerful consideration and deliberation, has consistently moved to being a more inclusive, open and welcoming member of Christ’s Body,” says the Explanation attached to the resolution. “Such grace is riveted on the teachings and actions of Jesus and the compassionate embrace he had for all…no matter their creed or race. We believe it essential our Liturgy reflect the unconditional hospitality our Lord employed for his mission.

“We believe such an open invitation for all to fully participate in the Eucharist is in keeping with our catechism’s teaching of grace: Grace is God’s favor toward us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.” (Catechism, p. 858)

“We believe appropriate preparation and readiness to receive the spiritual body and blood of Christ is experienced within the unfolding of the Divine Liturgy, providing whatever an individual needs for examination, repentance and forgiveness amid the call to be in love and charity with all people. (Catechism, p. 860)

“We know from our strivings within ecumenism and mission that the communion Christ intended for all is perilous and difficult, and that boldness in offering radical hospitality is our calling, rather than canonically-driven caution.”


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Jonathan Galliher

Josh, no one who is serious about the spiritual life ever finishes with formation. There’s always more to learn, more growing to do. As a result, although significant formation will ideally precede baptism, baptism can be properly

administered to anyone willing to take the vows. Further, if baptism is more easily obtained, the issue before us dissolves, since those receiving are so much less likely to be unbaptized.

Additionally, there is a big difference between someone who has refused baptism and someone isn’t baptized because no one has ever suggested that they ought to get baptized. In the former case, they probably shouldn’t receive communion and quite possibly don’t want to receive communion. In the later case, there isn’t anything wrong with them receiving in ignorance of what they’re committing themselves to (God always has mercy on babes and fools), although we shouldn’t leave them in ignorance after we find out how new they are to the faith. It’s like the situation for partnered gay clergy, as long as they can’t be married there isn’t any offense being committed by the couple not being married, but when gay marriage becomes legal they must decide whether or not to be legally bound to their commitment to their partner and it says something troubling if they refuse to be so bound.

Jonathan Galliher

Nicole Porter

Why not drop the sacrament of ordination too while we’re at it? It’s too “exclusive”, isn’t it?.. :-/

C. Wingate

Josh, I do not agree that Spong is an honorable man; I believe that he has used his title for gain, and that if he were honorable he would have renounced his orders some time before he retired. But that is really beside the point. What is not beside the point is that I don’t agree with his program!

Likewise, your “you disagree with me, therefore I’m right” style of argumentation is unconvincing. You don’t really argue from scripture, and therefore you can’t really argue from tradition (and indeed you seem to start from a position that tradition is to be assumed to be wrong, because it’s institutional), so you don’t really have anything to reason with except bald assertions. My reading of your argument is that your version of God is to be preferred because he’s nicer than anyone else’s, or that you have some personal revelation which overrules everyone else’s testimony. Well, maybe well all have our own revelations, and as for niceness, I think accuracy is the more interesting standard. If you think God isn’t nice enough, well, then either fix your standards or go and rebel; but take it somewhere else. Make your own institution and quit trying to ruin mine.

Donald Schell

C. Wingate,

The church is not unchanging. Constitution and Canons and General Conventions have been changed, have evolved, have been overturned – how ever one wants to image it. The General Convention after the Civil War refused to address the ending of slavery and the place of freed slaves in the church, making a mass exodus of African American Episcopalians from our church. We were wrong. We have come to an understanding of baptism and the wholeness of the Body that won’t allow us to bar women and LGBT people from ministry, a change of heart and (some would say) a reversal of tradition and (some said and still say) contradiction of scripture. Rebelliousness? Like what Jesus does quoting scripture only to contradict it?

Josh Magda


In the last few minutes I have been troubled in my spirit by Bishop Spong’s own Christlike response to accusatory remarks such as yours, time and again. In all of the years I have seen him, I have never seen him return vitriol for vitriol, so in that respect I have a lot of growing up to do, while I stand by the substance of my remarks.

Your hatred towards Spong and other religious liberals is unacceptable. I do not agree with everything he writes, and I am much less of a rationalist then he is. But he is an honorable man, and is in love with God, Jesus and humanity- in the religion where God is Love that should matter more than anything else.

Your “perspective” if you will on the Christian faith demonstrates clearly what Bede Griffiths said once: If Christianity cannot recover its inner tradition, it should fold up shop because it has nothing to offer. For whatever reason, the Christian mythos becomes extremely dangerous and toxic when the living heart of the faith is ignored, in a way that other religions just become ineffective and uncompelling.

In your reference to Genesis, you forget that even before Genesis 3 there are two wonderful stories about God’s love for people and Creation and our sacred task of partnering with God. This call to love, growth, creativity should frame any discussion of sin. (BTW there is a strand of midrash that says the exit from the garden was painful but necessary part of Creation, and Genesis 3 should be interpreted as children “leaving the nest” of unity with God to grow up).

My prayer for both of us is that one day we will let go of the fear that keeps us both from living into the infinite Love that is God more fully.

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