Monday, September 24, 2007

HoB: Draft Message Presented & Discussed

Bishops line up at microphones to comment on the draft message. Photo © 2007 by Integrity.

Late Monday morning, the House of Bishops (HoB) meeting was opened to the press. Bishop Wright of Delaware introduced a draft message from the HoB. The writing committee took turns reading it aloud to the house. A copy of the document was not provided to the press.

The draft expressed concern for conditions in New Orleans two years after the Hurricane Katrina, but largely dealt with the "requests" in the primates' communiqué.

The draft expressed regret that some bishops choose to leave after the sessions with the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) and did not participate in subsequent dialogs. The ABC and other international visitors made it clear to the House of Bishops that The Episcopal Church (TEC) needs the Anglican Communion (AC) and vice versa. It acknowledged that the bishops clearly heard from the visitors that some in the AC are very concerned about TEC's recent actions.

The draft then listed some very specific responses...

  1. It expressed support for the Presiding Bishop's plan to provide episcopal visitors to parishes who disagree with their bishop's theological position. However, it does not support such episcopal visitors from outside our province.

  2. It expressed a willingness to continue dialog on an alternative primatial oversight plan that meets the pastoral needs of conservative dioceses without violating TEC's constitution. It supported an immediate end to "incursions" by other primates who have ordained bishops in the United States.

  3. It encouraged all provinces to engage in the "listening process."

  4. It acknowledged that the HoB is divided on B033. It asked the AC to be patient with TEC as it continues its dialog on this issue.

  5. It clarified that TEC has not authorized rites for same-sex blessings. It acknowledged that some bishops allow same-sex blessing as a pastoral response to the needs of LGBT people in their dioceses.

  6. It asked the ABC to invite a group of bishops (appointed by the Presiding Bishop) to help the ABC facilitate Gene Robinsons' presence at Lambeth.

  7. It reaffirmed the full equality of LGBT people within the Episcopal Church.
The bishops discussed the draft in table groups for 15 minutes, and then made public comments to the entire house for and against parts of the draft. The writing group will consider these comments as it prepares a second draft-which will be presented to the house on Tuesday.

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