House of Deputies considers a flurry of resolutions on its final day

By Melodie Woerman
Posted Jul 12, 2012

[Episcopal News Service – Indianapolis] The House of Deputies worked at a feverish pace July 12 on its final day before adjournment, considering more than 80 resolutions out of the almost 400 that had been filed.

It was able to conclude its work in time to say a special good-bye to House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and witness the changing of the guard to her successor, the Rev. Gay Jennings.

Deputies adopted more than 20 new resolutions that quickly headed to the House of Bishops which adopted them later in the day. They included:

  • D018, which calls on Congress to repeal federal laws, such as the Defense of Marriage Act, that discriminate against same-gender couples who are legally married in the states where that is permitted;
  • D059, which urges a halt to the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s practice of detaining people suspected of being in the country illegally without filing any charges against them;
  • A030, which establishes how clergy who want to leave the Episcopal Church for another part of the Anglican Communion can do so without renouncing their Holy Orders;
  • A033 and C049, which enact a series of revisions to Title IV, the clergy discipline canons, to fix some errors while maintaining the underlying principles of the canons that were adopted in 2009; and
  • A102, the first reading of an amendment to the constitution that would help dioceses that want to merge with another diocese or divide itself into two dioceses to do so without requiring sitting bishops in all dioceses involved.

Deputies failed to adopt Resolution A043, which would have removed the requirement that deputies to General Convention be confirmed. They referred the resolution to the Standing Commission on Ministry Development. Deputies also rejected Resolution A041, calling for all church leaders to learn about the history, structure and governance of the church, was rejected.

They also rejected B027, which would have eliminated 10 of the 12 existing Standing Commissions, preferring to leave it to up the new structure task force authorized earlier in the convention to consider the number and type of committees and other bodies the church needs.

In the afternoon deputies sped through resolutions that had been approved by the House of Bishops and needed deputies’ concurrence to take effect. They included:

  • C029, acknowledging baptism as the normative entrance into Holy Communion (after bishops had removed a clause earlier passed  by deputies dealing pastoral responses in non-normative situations);
  • B021, which amends the canons to provide a mechanism for addressing disagreements in the pastoral relationship between a diocese and its bishop;
  • D022, creating a churchwide response to bullying;
  • D025, establishing a development 0ffice for the Episcopal Church to solicit major gifts and other resources;
  • A054, which provides rites and prayers to provide pastoral responses to people caring for animals, including at the time of the death of a beloved pet;
  • B009, allowing congregations with the bishop’s permission to use the lectionary of readings printed in the Book of Common Prayer rather than the Revised Common Lectionary authorized at a previous Convention; and
  • A variety of resolutions on social justice issues, including supporting for the labor movement, calling to clergy to action on economic and racial justice, reaching out to prisoners, establishing churches as gun-free zones, recommitting to anti-racism work, condemning threats against sexual minorities, and opposing the oil extraction practice of fracking.

They also adopted on final action two changes to the church’s constitution: A156, giving the new name of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe to its congregations there; and A158; clarifying the status in the Episcopal Church of pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who had been ordained by other pastors and not by bishops. The ELCA and the Episcopal Church are in full communion and can share clergy.

At the start of the afternoon session, the Rev. Neal Michell, deputy from Dallas, read the “Indianapolis Statement” from 12 bishops who had disassociated themselves from the actions of General Convention in approving trial rites for same-sex blessings and choosing not to endorse the Anglican Covenant. He then asked deputies who supported the statement to stand silently. Anderson thanked Michell and those from a handful of dioceses who stood for their witness.

— Melodie Woerman is a member of the Episcopal News Service team at General Convention.


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Comments (17)

  1. Les Singleton says:

    Also around 4:30 pm. the House of Deputies approved D021 which authorizes the reading of the CEV Contemporary English Version and by amendment CEB the Common English Bible. Earlier in the day, A061 sent back to SCLM the consideration of the retention of the Good News Bible, and the possible adoption of The Message and the English Revised Version.

    Contemp Eng Version will be my first choice when readings from the Gospel of John have “the Jews” which can sound so anti-Jewish. CEV has “the Jewish leaders” or “the leaders” or “the people” Also, I will give out CEV with apocrypha and deuterocanonicals to children I baptize. The art work is middle eastern (NOT blue-eyed northern European that I grew up on) and the 4th grade reading level means kids will be able to read it at an earlier age. God is Good all the time.

  2. Father Steven A. Scarcia says:

    I wish to make one rather small observation from Ms. Woerman’s report on the House of Deputies flurry of resolutions. With talk about TEC making grand gestures about passing resolutions for minorities or this group or that, she never mentioned whether or not the size of the group made or makes a difference. In this article, however, I think that her “slip was showing” when she mentioned in Fr. Neal Mitchell’s presentation of the Minneapolis Statement to the Convention that Dr. Anderson thanked “the HANDFUL of Dioceses” who expressed their opinion to the House. I thought that we were supposed to be an “all inclusive Church.” Her statement, in my opinion emphasized that this statement was made by a mere, trivial group of disgruntled dissidents. She could have said that Dr. Anderson thanked those dioceses who presented the resolution, but instead intimated that it was an insignificant minority of conservatives who were having their unpopular say. Did we hear about the handful of dioceses who presented a resolution about preparing funeral services for pets or a handful of dioceses who asked for permission to use the BCP Lectionary instead of the Revised Common Lectionary? As a young priest, I was blessed to have learned early on, to respect the person(s) in our diocese who were different, liberal, conservative, low church, high church, broad church, charismatic or ultra Anglo-Catholic – we’re all in the same boat – Holy Mother Church. At our diocesan conventions people with differing opinions were greeted with respect, despite their positions on matters. It seems to me that Ms. Woerman did a little editorializing, instead of simply reporting the news. I guess the fictional police officer “Joe Friday” was right when he said, “Just the facts, mam, just the facts!” Perhaps this didn’t bother anyone else, but with all the grand gestures or inclusiveness made by members of the General Convention about this group or that, it didn’t matter whether the group making the presentation to the members of the convention were great, small, large, popular or otherwise anything but people sharing their faith, feelings, hopes & joys about where TEC is going or should be going. Perhaps I’m creating a tempest in a teapot, but in the end, I hope that it’s good tea!

    1. Hello: I am one of those conservatives in the church who has been trying to understand why this church has become a mouth piece for the Democratic Party. I have done lots of praying over the ordination of gays, (now transgenders too), but it seems to me that the Episcopal Church has gone so far over to the Left that it simply does not care what we conservatives think or believe. It’s sort of “our way or the highway” with them.

      I have spent many a night trying to focus on what’s really important – not politics, but it seems to me that the TEC is more interested in being the party for liberals, lesbians and loons.

      My wife and I struggle in our faith, believing that it’s really about the mission not the politics but it’s stuff like these resolutions that make us cringe.

      When will it stop?

      Thanks for listening. Paul Frazee, St. John’s Roseville, CA.

      1. Marlene Talbott-Green PhD says:

        Maybe it seems that the church has become a mouth piece for the Democratic Party because the Democratic Party is becoming more of a mouthpiece for New Testament social justice and caring for the poor (SS and Medicaid), the sick (“Obamacare”) the stranger (immigrants) the imprisoned (prison ministry, death penalty) the widows and orphans (welfare/safety net and women’s equalaity) ) and others issues for which we are called to care, if we think that the budget is a moral, ethical document. Even the Nuns on a Bus and other Evangelicals embrace these goals that we call New Testament commandment, not just Episcopalians. It is just more obvious, I think, that the Liberal or Progressive elements in the Democratic Party are the same Liberals and Progressives within the Episcopal Church. We are all moving in the direction of greater inclusivity and wider compassion for our church and our world. I don’t understand why we can’t think these are also found among some Conservatives, that is, maybe, Compassionate Conservatives?

  3. SHAME on the Convention for rejecting the Open Table Resolution and instead reaffirming the canonical status quo. To quote Rt. Rev. Diane Jardine Bruce when she was at Messiah Santa Ana: “Wherever you are in your journey of faith, we welcome you to Holy Communion.” Given the putrid resolution that was passed, let’s encourage Open Baptism. Any baptized person can baptize another person. I am one lay minister who will baptize anyone who requests it. If the bishop of my Diocese doesn’t like that, I will happily debate the issue with him publicly. I view it as just doing what Jesus commanded me to to do.

    1. Charles Nutter says:

      If Jesus was baptized, why shouldn’t we be? If you don’t have enough belief to be baptized, why would you want communion?

    2. Marlene Talbott-Green PhD says:

      I agree with David Lynch. I think it is a shame to reject the Open Table Resolution. And it’s a cryin’ shame the way some of us want to circumscribe the meaning of the Eucharist and attempt to diminish the mysterious symbolism of the “Communion.” Put it in a box, nail it down, and put a fence around it. It feels like a throw-back to the middle ages. Please.

      1. Charles Nutter says:

        I didn’t suggest there is only one specific meaning to baptism or communion. For Anglicans both are open to multiple meanings. But the Prayer Book says baptism is the entrance rite into the church and communion is the central rite of the church as a community. Therefore, whatever meaning you give to them, surely you should believe it enough to want to act with some commitment if you are going to participate at all. Otherwise, why bother? Besides, you can get communion anywhere in the church without being questioned about your baptism. Honoring the baptism requirement is a matter of your personal spiritual integrity and respect for the community, not a matter of external judicial enforcement.

  4. Amen, amen, amen!

  5. martin newkom says:

    I am now going on 77 yrs of age. I was brought to the Episcopal church when I was 5 yrs old.

    There was things are progressing in the Church and the hierarchy, if it wasn’t for the friends I have and have made there I’d be gone but I don’t think I have that much time left.

  6. Fr. Steven A. Scarcia says:

    As a priest, I understand that Jesus’ ministry was one of “inclusive welcome.” So I really do understand very well where people come from in wanting everyone to be able to come forward to the Altar for Holy Communion. In a sense, it’s like inviting someone to your home for a birthday party but having them sit in the corner. Then when the candles are blown out on the birthday cake and it’s cut, everyone gets a slice but you. At least that is how I understand people’s argument for wanting to invite everyone to Holy Communion, regardless of anything, especially with something as “trivial” as Baptism. I then hear people say that the Church isn’t a club where the only way you get the benefits (i.e. Holy Communion) is to be Baptized. After all, Baptism is only the ritual act, that is, going through some prescribed, antiquated and irrelevant ritual in this enlighten 21st Century. It’s an unnecessary step all so that you can be allowed to take a tasteless wafer and a sip of wine. It’s not like you’re going to hurt anyone!

    Holy Communion is often called the “Christian Family Meal.” Why? Because to receive it, is to acknowledge that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and that as part of public commitment, one goes through the ritual act of being Baptized. It also involves that you approach the Altar with a loving & penitent heart to therefore receive Christ’s Body & Blood. But if you put these restrictions on someone or a guest visiting your Church, it will exclude them, discriminate against them and otherwise make them feel unwelcome! It’s downright un-American! I think that we should perhaps consider a class-action lawsuit…

    The last thing that we as Christians want to do is to exclude. I’ve always welcomed & encouraged our guests, but I have also invited them to find out more about what we do, teach, practice, understand & believe. I hope and pray that people who wish to become members of the Church are doing so because of a deep inner desire to know God more closely, to understand why Jesus made his great sacrifice, why God’s Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church and in doing so enable it to best serve others in Jesus’ Name. But first we look for a commitment – that’s more than a desire – it’s signing on the dotted line. It’s also taking God’s Word in the Holy Scriptures to heart. Jesus said in Matthew 28:19…Go & Baptize and while you’re at it – make disciples! Why? To be part of his family, the Church. Even I Peter 3:21 talks of “Baptism…which now saves you.” Yet Baptism is more than a ritual – it also demands continued repentance of sin. To paraphrase Romans 6:4 “As we’re lowered into the water of Baptism it’s akin to being buried with Jesus. So when we come up out of the water, it’s like our Resurrection! Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by God and in doing so, we’re part of our earthly family the Church and also our Heavenly family with God. Then and only then do we have a right to receive the bread & wine, the Sacred Body & Blood of Jesus, who died for us. But then don’t get too smug, just because you’re Baptized. You just don’t wander up to the Altar with the rest of the herd to receive Holy Communion, just because you don’t want to be left out. You approach the Altar after hearing God’s Holy Word, meditating on it, making a decision to change anything in our lives which keep us from God’s Love (we call that Sin), lay it in God’s Loving Lap and expect his loving and caring forgiveness. Then and only then should we approach Holy Communion. Don’t take my word for it! For a “warning” on how we are to receive Holy Communion, read 1st Corinthians 11:27-29 and then take inventory! So Baptism & Holy Communion go hand and hand – you can’t have one without the other. Holy Communion then is an invitation to something more important and meaningful than whether or not one can or can’t go up and just take it. Don’t be offended not being invited to come join us in the Christian Family Meal if you’re not Baptized. Rather, we encourage you to learn more about why we’re doing what we do, believe what we do and why it’s so important that we follow Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior. Then you can understand why “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You!”

  7. John Redmond says:

    Now, at the risk of being burned at the stake for heresy, I have to wonder why so many still cling to the obsolete and inappropriate title of “Father” for male clergy. “Obsolete”, because after more than 35 years since the General Convention voted to approve the ordination of women, if you ask many Episcopalians:
    What is the title for a priest? – [Father]
    What if the priest is a woman? – [Blank stare]

    At one time in our mission parish, we had two ordained clergy, The Rev. David Powell and The Rev. Wendy Manley. They were known to members as “Father Dave” and “Wendy”. So, if a male priest, gets to have an honorific title, but a woman does not, it must follow that a male’s ordination is more exalted that a woman’s. I wonder if we could ask our Presiding Bishop if that is the case. As to “inappropriate”, as I read Matthew 23:9, I don’t understand how the practice ever came into use in the first place. The term “Father”, besides seeming to contradict the words of Christ, implies a position of paternal authority. That simply is not the role of clergy in our lives. My current priest favors “Pastor” as a form of address. Titles such as Deacon, Bishop, Canon and the like are not affected by the nature of one’s bodily plumbing; why isn’t something like “Pastor” used more widely? Is there some reason why our General Convention is so terrified of this topic?

    1. John L Myers says:

      “Reverend” or “Doctor,” of which there are a few since my parish is in a University town. In our case, the active clergy are simply referred to by their first name. “Reverend” or “Doctor” when listing them in the back of the bulletin. en fin.

    2. Marlene Talbott-Green PhD says:

      Well, in some churches Episcopalians have become comfortable with calling our
      female priests, “Mother.” It’s that equality thing.

  8. Elizabeth Olson says:

    The resolutions passed by the House of Deputies and House of Bishops reads like a wish list for the Democratic National Committee and their PAC’s. I see little here that relates to parish life. Where are the resolutions regarding prayer, Bible Study, and Christian education? And our leaders saw fit to reject a resolution calling for all church leaders to learn about the history, structure, and governance of our church? Hmmm. Where is the Good News?

  9. The Rev. Dr. Steven A. Scarcia says:

    In the “conservative” Diocese of Albany, woman priests are called “Mother,” and male priests “Father, but some are called “Pastor,” Joe, Sally, Martha, Bill, Deacon, Bishop, Canon etc. Even St. Paul calls himself a Father to his congregations. Does it make a difference? I guess it depends on attitudes, churchmanship (churchpersonship), part of the country, part of the Anglican Communion etc. What’s important is whether or not you proclaim that Jesus is Lord, no matter what you’re called!

  10. Talbot N. Vivian says:

    While we argue over pet blessings or are we Democrats or Republicans we are missing the one “mission” we all have and that is bring people to Christ. We as a church are dying. We lose 50,000 more members a year more than we bring in. We are down to 1.9 Million. At this rate in 20 years we will be under 1 million and cease to exist for all practical purposes. For all the reasons given, I suspect the real reason we are moving our HQ from NYC is money. We don’t have enough to pay for the building. Our leadership needs to focus on our future as a church not on political activism. How do we bring people to Christ and grow the Episcopal Church?

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