GLBT INCLUSION: Our Indaba Group met today for another couple of hours and did some serious negotiating over language. The end result was substantively similar to the original proposal but we adjusted the language to make it less challenging for those who were most uncomfortable with the resoltion. The substance is two fairly moderate points:
1. All the recent civil law changes in various jurisdictions create a new pastoral situation. The church is already committed to providing pastoral response to gay and lesbian people. So how do we respond to this new situation? Answer: Bishops are authorized to make “a generous pastoral response.” What that means depends on the situation and the judgment of the Bishop.
2. We asked the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to compile and develop theological and liturgical resources for same sex unions to be presented to the next Convention.
The Indaba Group went to some effort to rephrase this language to clarify that same sex blessings are not a conclusion we have reached, just a possibility we may consider in the future. If we do consider that action, we will have an example to look at. As one advocate for blessing same sex unions observed, there are a lot of liturgies out there, but there is no quality control and they lack an agreed upon theological basis. So it needs work before we can even think intelligently about the question. We tried to say that. But when the substitute resolution got to the floor of HOB, there were further refinements meant to emphasize that this is not a done deal. We are studying and developing possible rituals that may be considered in the future. When the dust settled, we passed the substitute Resolution by a vote of 104 to 30 to 2 – even more decisively than we had passed the resolution on ordination.
Bishop Gene Robinson emphasized: The caveat here is not to make more or less of the resolution than it really says. You recall I prophesied that some would misread D 025 (the ordination resolution). Well the very next day the headline of Episcopal Life’s daily newspaper covering the Convention was an inflammatory misreading of the resolution – sounding as if we had repealed B 033, the restraint resolution. Bishop Katharine apologized on behalf of the Communications Office responsible for that unfortunate spin.
We have acted in good faith, with forbearance, restraint, moderation, and generosity. But there will be reactivity in some quarters and there will be spin. In order to keep our feet on the ground and our hearts true to the faith, I hope we can share throughout the church the spirit of mutual caring we experienced in the Indaba process. Even those who voted against the Resolution said the process had been holy and they were committed to our continuing relationship.
BUDGET: The budget will be passed tomorrow. We just saw it today. The cuts are deep. A lot of folks have lost their jobs. However, Domestic Missionary Partnership, which funds some of our grants was cut by only 20%. I had feared it might be zeroed out. Some ethnic ministries, including Latino ministries, got increases that may actually help us. At present, my brain is mush so I cannot sort this out just yet. A few points of interest: The asking formula will be reduced to help small dioceses. Currently the first $100,000 of the budget is not subject to assessment. That will go up to $120,000. The assessment rate will be reduced by 1% in 2011, and another 1% in 2012. Convention will be shortened by 2 days. They will not publish the blue book (journal of resolutions and reports) in hard copy, just on line. Most committee meeting will be done on line instead of face to face in order to save money.
NEW LITURGIES: We gave final approval to all 4 of the existing volumes of Enriching Our Worship. The most interesting thing for us is the EOW liturgy for installing a new rector. The EOW version clearly grounds the rector’s ministry in the Ministry of All Baptized (MOAB) so it may help to correct the general misunderstanding of their ministry that we struggle with in Nevada. We also approved the trial use of EOW 5 which is for child death and related pastoral situations. And we authorized beginning the study process for a new Episcopal Hymnal.
LAY EVANGELISTS: We created a canon for licensing trained lay evangelists. This will help our Ministry Development Commission and Commission On Ministry to introduce this lay ministry in our parishes. I hope every parish will have a licensed lay evangelist as soon as possible. We can begin commissioning lay evangelists right away. Then we will develop the training and licensing process guided by the new canon.
HIV/AIDS CURRICULIUM: We adopted training and education materials for HIV/AIDS prevention.
THURGOOD MARSHALL: We added to the liturgical calendar a commemoration date for Thurgood Marshall, a devout Episcopalian, the NAACP attorney in Brown v. Board of Education, Attorney General of the United States, and the first African American Justice on the United States Supreme Court.
In the midst of all this legislative work, we had another fantastic Eucharist today. Bishop Steven Charleston preached a passionate call to an environmental gospel. There was a great jazz musical setting for the liturgy. Linda is singing in the Convention choir. My friend and classmate Bishop Mary Gray Reeves, celebrated, alternating English and Spanish. Tonight we went to L A Nights, an emergent church artsy worship service with evangelist Brian McClaren, author of many good books including A Generous Orthodoxy. And now to all a good night.