July 17, 2009
To the Clergy and People of the Diocese of Alabama
The 76th General Convention is soon to conclude in Anaheim, California. Your bishops and deputies have been working and praying daily since last Tuesday to care for the life of this beloved church and further the mission of God entrusted to us.
Conventions are usually trying experiences, as faithful people debate difficult issues and respond to the challenges of our time. This one has been no different, but in the midst of it all there has been often a spirit of charity and forbearance that has been most welcome.
Our theme of ubuntu has reminded us that in Christ we are members one of another and need each other deeply.
Several important legislative decisions have been made, which you will have heard about in the media. The secular press does not always reflect the full detail and subtleties of the church’s decisions; so I wish to frame some of these briefly.
We adopted resolution D025 that affirms both our abiding commitment to the Anglican Communion and our belief that God can call any person to the church’s ordained ministries, including gay or lesbian persons, and that such call is tested in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. It is a nuanced resolve, which I do not view as rescinding the resolution of the last convention (B033) about exercising restraint in the consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider communion. Instead it describes where the American Church is in this ongoing discernment process, affirms our national canons, and emphasizes that we respect the differences among us.
Ok ok ok .. Can't help myself here ....
Well, that's a stretch because the Constitution and Canons call for affirmation of the following by all ordained persons:
I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church. Declaration." (Article III)Earlier, the Constitution declares that the Episcopal Church is committed to "upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer. " (Preamble of the Constitution of The Episcopal Church).
Resolution D025 (as does C056) do not conform with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church which recognize the authority and teaching on scripture which is quite clear about what is considered holy living. The Faith and Order set forth in the Book of Common Prayer only recognizes matrimony between a man and woman as being holy living.
The Windsor Report recognized that and those facts on the ground have not changed. That The Episcopal Church is now not only admitting that this type of behavior has been welcomed, it has promoted it as a tool for bringing new members into the church (with disastrous results). The Spirit is doing a new thing, they say - either that is true or it is not. The Episcopal Church is rejoicing that it is true and they are no longer to pretend otherwise. (Thanks to Babyblue for this breakdown)
Ok now back to Bishop Parsley ....
I did not vote for the adoption (but my suffragan did .... ooops I did it again) of the above resolution, because of my belief that we have considerable more theological work to do in discerning the mind of Christ in these matters and in faithfulness to the continuing Windsor process. I did support the next resolution, C056 that recognizes there are a growing number of states where same gender unions or marriages are now legal and where the church needs to respond to the pastoral needs of our members. The resolution calls for an open and careful theological and liturgical study about such potential blessings, and calls for theological reflection from throughout the Anglican Communion. The resolve commits us to “collect and develop theological and liturgical resources” and report to the next convention. No authorization was given for liturgies for same gender blessings, as some of the press has reported. Especially in states where same gender marriage has been made legal the resolve affirms bishops offering generous pastoral care.
(ok - I can buy that you did not make the new liturgies .... but which ones were your former suffragan - using in California??? what did he use when he ordained a transgendered individual to the Dianconite?) ... sorry didn't mean to interrupt.What did he use when he performed same gendered marriages in California??? Bet he will forward these right on up the chain - don't ya think?
Many of you know that I believe that serious theological work has been needed for a long time, which C056 provides for. I trust that this will help the church in our corporate discernment on these important and challenging matters. The resolution also affirms that we honor the theological diversity of this Church in regard to matters of human sexuality.
The convention heard a challenging address from the Archbishop of Canterbury about the global economic crisis and our response as Christian people.
(He also asked you all not pass resolutions that would continue to stress the communion - why did you tell the good folks this?) We adopted a canonically mandated national medical program that promises to help us reduce the cost of health care for our clergy and lay employees, while providing excellent coverage. We have passed a substantially reduced budget for the Foreign and Domestic Missionary Society in the coming triennium, reflecting the economic situation of the moment. It diminishes some of our national structure and program, but largely preserves a focus on mission. We have adopted a lay pension program that will be canonically mandated for lay employees who work 20 hours or more a week. We have adopted a number of important resolutions on the issues of the environment. (How come you couldn't pass the resolution affirming the uniqueness of Christ? but could pass a resolution that the Bible is anti jewish)
Bishop Sloan and I have served on the Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Music Committee, which has met endlessly and considered a host of additions to our calendar of commemorations and many other liturgical resources to enrich our prayer and worship.
Each day your bishops and deputies have joined in prayer and in celebrations of the Holy Eucharist, which have sustained us and deepened our sense of communion with Christ and one another. We have seen wonderful friends and experienced many aspects of the life and ministry of the Episcopal Church that are very life-giving and hopeful.
We will have more occasions to report on the convention in the fall. Meanwhile you can find full information about the convention’s work on the Episcopal Church website, www.episcopalchurch.org/index.htm.
We are grateful for your prayers for all of us during these days, and we send our love and blessings.
Your faithful servant in Christ,
Henry N. Parsley Jr.