The operational theme for General Convention 2009 seems to be reconciliation – reconciliation between humanity and creation, global and ecumenical reconciliation, and reconciliation within our own communities that face the strains of, not only the economic crisis, but a deeper crisis of identity.
On Thursday, the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music Committee held hearings on a slew of resolutions dealing with blessings of same sex civil unions/holy unions/marriage. This hearing was an opportunity for the committee to hear from clergy trying to provide compassionate pastoral care for their parishioners, young people urging the church to model openness and diversity for their communities, and GLBT advocates who called for the church to recognize the grace and blessing of all monogamous, loving relationships. While the majority of voices at the hearings articulated support for the development of rites for blessing, it was acknowledged that in the church as a whole, there is a lack of broad consensus around the thorny theological issues at the heart of this debate. The House of Deputies will meet in plenary to have a conversation about the same issues on Friday morning.
Friday afternoon, another important piece of legislation related to global reconciliation in response to the Windsor report will be examined through hearings in the World Mission committee. Resolution D020 calls for the provisional commitment to abide by the Cambridge-Ridley draft of an Anglican Covenant and the commendation of the covenant to dioceses for study and comment. While it is unlikely that this resolution will pass as written, it would be surprising if it were not commended to the dioceses for study and comment over the next three years. In effect, dioceses and congregations would be called into a study process which gets at the heart of our identity as a catholic (with a little “c”) denomination. The Covenant recognizes our interdependence as a global communion and sets up some specific mechanisms for conflict resolution, but will it really serve as “an instrument of unity” or will it simply define more clearly who is in and who is out? It is naïve to think that such a document can mitigate the need for continued work at reconciliation and relationship across the communion, but will it provide a helpful springboard into the next phase of this process?
What do you think about the Anglican Covenant? Share your comments at episcopalcommons.org/yaf and track these resolutions throughout General Convention online at episcopalchurch.org/gchub.
Eileen O’Brien is from the Diocese of Texas.