The Bishop Speaks #2 (July 5, 2006)

September 7, 2006

On the Respose of General Convention to the

Windsor Report

Beloved, there has been much conversation and consternation, expressed publicly and privately, about the response of The Episcopal Church to the recommendations of the Windsor Report. There are, to be sure, those who feel that ECUSA went too far and did too much, and there are those who feel that ECUSA failed to go far enough—and did too little. I thought it would be helpful for us to see, side-by-side, the specific requests made by the Windsor Commission in its report, and the specific responses from the Convention. The comparison brings some clarity to me; my hope is that it will be helpful to you in that same regard.

Before reading the following comparison, I recommend that you read the provisions of Resolution A159, subject: “Commitment to Interdependence in the Anglican Communion”. It expresses the mind of the General Convention, and I believe of The Episcopal Church, about its place within the larger Communion.

Study the comparisons; pray about them; discuss them with Episcopalians of like-mind and of different opinions.


* FINAL VERSION – Concurred

Resolution A159

Title: Commitment to Interdependence in the Anglican Communion
Topic: Anglican Communion
Committee: 26. Special Legislative Committee
House of Initial Action: Deputies
Proposer: Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church reaffirm the abiding commitment of The Episcopal Church to the fellowship of churches that constitute the Anglican Communion and seek to live into the highest degree of communion possible; and be it further Resolved, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm that The Episcopal Church is in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer; and be it further

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention join with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the primates, and the Anglican Consultative Council in making a commitment to the vision of interdependent life in Christ, characterized by forbearance, trust, and respect, and commend the Windsor Report and process as a means of deepening our understanding of that commitment; and be it further

Resolved, That as an expression of interdependence, the Presiding offices of both Houses work in partnership with the churches of the Anglican Communion to explore ways by which there might be inter-Anglican consultation and participation on Standing Commissions of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

EXPLANATION

The Windsor Report is part of a process for maintaining the highest degree of communion possible. The first two resolve clauses of this resolution state this General Convention’s desire for full life in the Anglican Communion and to maintain the distinctively Anglican bonds of communion. At their 2005 meeting, the primates requested “all Provinces to consider whether they are willing to be committed to the interdependent life of the Anglican Communion understood in the terms set out in” sections A and B of the Windsor Report (Dromantine Communiqué, paragraph 8 ). The third resolve addresses this question. The final resolve clause invites members of other Anglican churches into the deliberations of our standing commissions as an expression of our mutual responsibility and interdependence with sister and brother Christians from around the world.

* Resolution is final but status and text are still under review before publication.

What Windsor Recommends:

What GC ’06 Resolved:

1. “The adoption…of a common Anglican Covenant which would make explicit and forceful the loyalty and bonds of affection which govern the relationships between the churches of the Communion” (WR 118). 1. “That…The Episcopal Church…support the process of the development of an Anglican Covenant that underscores our unity in faith, order, and common life in the service of God’s mission…” (A166).
2. “The Episcopal Church…express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire, and for the consequences which followed, and that such an expression of regret would represent the desire of (ECUSA) to remain within the Communion” (WR 134). 2. “That…The Episcopal Church, mindful of “the repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ’ (WR 134) express its regret for straining the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003 and the consequences which followed; offer its sincerest apology to those within our Anglican Communion who are offended by our failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion; and ask forgiveness as we seek to live into deeper levels of communion one with another” (A 160).
3. “The (ECUSA) be invited to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges” (WR 134). 3. “That the 75 th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report’s invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation…and therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion” (B 033).
4. “(W)e call upon all bishops of the Anglican Communion to honour the Primates’ Pastoral Letter of May 2003, by not proceeding to authorize public Rites of Blessing for same sex unions” (WR 143). 4. The resolution submitted by the Special Legislative Commission at one point was attached to the resolution regarding election and consecration of bishops. When it appeared that the resolution would not progress with both highly controversial subjects combined, the portion having to do with rites of blessing was removed. However, this did not reflect a decision of the GC to ignore the request. Under the category of “actions speak louder than words”: (1) the Special Legislative Committee recommended “discharge” or “reject” for Resolution D057, which would have called for the authorization and preparation of such rites, and the proposal died without action at the conclusion of General Convention; (2) the House of Bishops rejected, upon the recommendation of the Special Committee, Resolution D017, entitled “Marriage Rite in Book of Common Prayer for Same-Sex Couples”; (3) C004, which would have affirmed “support (of) the blessing of (same-sex) unions and the ordination or consecration of persons in those unions”; was, upon recommendation of the Special Committee, discharged by the House of Deputies. Another reason for not responding to WR with an additional resolution and/or action: The Episcopal Church has not authorized public rites, despite a misunderstanding to the contrary, so found it unnecessary to promise not to do something which the Church has never done.
5. “(W)e recommend that the Instruments of Unity…find practical ways in which the ‘listening’ process commended by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 may be taken forward, so that greater common understanding might be obtained on the underlying issue of same gender relationships” (WR 143). 5. “That…The Episcopal Church commend the Windsor Report’s offering a way forward for the mutual life of our Communion’ (Primates Communiqué) and as an essential and substantive contribution to the process of living into deeper levels of communion and interdependence across the Anglican Communion; and…commit(s) to the ongoing ‘Windsor Process,’ a process of discernment as to the nature and unity of the Church…and urge all members of this church to commit themselves to the call of greater communion and interdependent life; and…commend the ‘listening process’ as recommended in the Windsor Report…and…commit this church to participating fully and openly in this ‘listening process’…” (A 165).
6. “(W)e commend a conditional and temporary provision of delegated pastoral oversight for (dissenting groups…seeking to be faithful members of the Anglican family)” and “commend the proposals for delegated Episcopal oversight set out by the House of Bishops of (ECUSA) in 2004” (WR 151 & 152). Noting that “we do not favour the establishment of parallel jurisdictions”, the Commission called upon bishops intervening in provinces, dioceses and parishes other than their own “to effect a moratorium on any further interventions” (WR 155). 6. “That…The Episcopal Church affirm the centrality of effective and appropriate pastoral care for all members of this church and all who come seeking the aid of this church; and…commit The Episcopal Church to the ongoing engagement of and sensitive response to the request and need of all the people of God – in particular, but not exclusively, those who agree and those who disagree with the actions of this body, those who feel isolated thereby, and gay and lesbian persons within and without this Church; and…recognize the agonizing
position of those who do not feel able to receive appropriate pastoral care from their own bishops, and urges the
members of the House of Bishops to seek the highest degree of communion and reconciliation within their own dioceses, using when requested in good faith the Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight…process detailed in the March 2004 statement of the House of Bishops; and…urge continued maintenance of historic diocesan boundaries, the authority of the diocesan bishop, and respect for the historical relationships of the separate and autonomous Provinces of the Anglican Communion” (A 163).
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