So What Happened at General Convention

Posted: July 18, 2012 by boydmonster in Anglican Communion, Uncategorized

After reading the bishop’s letter, many people may be asking exactly what happened at General Convention.  Of course, the passing of ‘provisional rites for same sex blessings’ is getting the most press, but it is not the only significant action at this summer’s General Convention.  I would like to highlight a few of these and what I think they signal for our church.

First, I would mention the convention’s decision to sell the national headquarters at 815 2nd Avenue New York City.  On the one hand it shows that the reality of shrinking numbers is beginning to have a major impact on the church.  There has been a significant effort to keep our heads in the sand over this.  If you pay attention to the press, folks representing the Episcopal Church frequently speak of the ‘nearly 2 million member denomination.’  While this is true, despite major losses, the membership is now down to just less than two million people.  Anecdotally, when a family member of mine tried to leave her Episcopal Church in North Carolina, they refused to transfer her membership!  Who knows what the real membership numbers are, but the Average Sunday Attendance (a much more accurate gauge for assessing a church than membership) in TEC is now less than 700,000.  The vote is significant because the church can no longer ignore the crisis that it faces.  Nevertheless, although they decided to sell the building, they set no timeline for when.  This shows me that the reality hasn’t fully settled in.  Only time will tell if they will follow through.

Another significant action taken at General Convention was the passing of resolutions D002 and D019.  These resolutions amended the discrimination canons to include not only sexual preference, but ‘gender identity and gender expression’ as well.  This resolution has the power to not only further alienate orthodox and conservative (they aren’t the same!) clergy and parishioners, but it will inevitably lead to even more departures from TEC.  What I find most significant about this action, actually, is its insignificance. Given the climate of our denomination, anyone who would have voted for the canon would have acted like it existed already and anyone who wouldn’t have voted for the canon won’t follow it.  What it shows is a dogged ideological commitment.  Despite the harm the resolutions would cause and despite its being absolutely needless, it was passed anyway.

I also would like to mention the passing of resolution D090.  This resolution calls for the recognition of Washington D.C. as a state.  “But Iain, that sounds totally inane, off topic, and irrelevant to any of the issues the church is facing.  Why do you think it matters?”  Exactly my point.  This resolution with a whole pile of others calls on the church to take morally absolutistic stands on issues that Scripture neither speaks to nor does the broadest body of Christians hold any consensus on.  You can peruse the resolutions passed by convention here to find exactly where the General Convention decided to take a stand.  I bring this up to show not only the irrelevance of our church but to show just how far afield from the Gospel we have wandered.

Then there’s the discussion around the introduction of the English Standard Version of the Bible for liturgical use in the church.  John Burwell describes the conversation around its rejection here.  It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.  The clear message here is that if the Bible doesn’t agree with us, it must be wrong.

Of course, this isn’t a scholarly analysis of General Convention, and many people may disagree with me.  I simply offer these actions as anecdotal snapshots of the state of our church.  Lord have mercy!

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Comments
  1. Bruce says:

    The versions of the Bibles they passed as ok also use the word homosexual. My guess is that many don’t read or know the Bible so they didn’t really know what they were voting on. Sounds like Obmacare.

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