Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Convention

Well, we did it. Here's the language of the new Article II of our diocesan constitution if it passes next year on a second reading:

The Diocese of San Joaquin is constituted by the Faith, Order, and Practice of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as received by the Anglican Communion. The Diocese shall be a constituent member of the Anglican Communion and in full communion with the See of Canterbury.

I proposed an amendment that would have added the following material after "The Diocese of San Joaquin": ", in organic continuity with the ecclesial life of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America,". My intent was to enable us to lay claim to our heritage as Episcopalians, to not surrender that identity to the Church-of-General-Convention. I did not make my case persuasively enough. It was perceived, I think, as an attempt to weaken the main motion, a back door into being under the thumb once again of "the national church." Such is the level of ire and disgust against the enormities of General Convention, Executive Council, and '815,' that even acknowledging where we've come from was a non-starter. To my disappointment, my amendment was roundly defeated.

When it came time to debate the main motion, here is what I said:

"Right Reverend sir, I rise to speak in support of the motion that is presently before the convention, but I do so reluctantly, and with a heavy heart. I believe we are doing the right thing at the wrong time. The Episcopal Church is a sinking ship. The senior officers have run it into an iceberg. They are in denial about the extent of the damage, but there are plenty of junior crew members who realize that she has taken on water to a point that most probably cannot be reversed. Yet, big ships sink slowly. The engines have quit, but the power is still on, and many of the passengers are dancing the night away in the ballroom, or are peacefully asleep in their cabins. If the crew members, who are awake and alert and know the danger, abandon ship now, what will become of those innocent passengers? They will perish. Now, we can blame the officers on the bridge, who elected not to sound an alarm. Or we could assess the situation with clear eyes and realize that we have some time before the fateful moment when the bow rises into the air and the entire hulk sinks into the depths. And we could use that time to allow the passengers to see what danger they’re in, despite what they hear from the bridge. These are the very passengers that I believe our Lord Jesus looks on with compassion, because he sees them as harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. It is this Christ-like vision that I wish we had been able to see our way to embracing.

Nonetheless, even though it’s the wrong time, it is the right thing. The ship is going to sink. Rescue operations do need to be underway. I am open to discovering that God is calling the Diocese of San Joaquin to be in the forefront of that rescue effort. There are some very concrete signs I will need to see before I would vote next year to pull the trigger on all this. No one should interpret support now as a guarantee of support later. But we’ll have plenty of time to talk about that in due course. Thank-you."

I was not surprised that the amendment passed, but I was surprised by the margin. It carried by well more than three-quarters in the clergy order, and by
88% among the laity.

Also...for what it's worth...I was elected to the Standing Committee.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like your analogy of TEC to a big sinking ship. However, it seems that the analogy depends on some sort of lack of knowledge of the problem from the passengers. In your analogy there are significant numbers asleep. However, I seriously doubt that there are a handful of Episcopalians in this country who don't already know about the current crisis. And even if they don't know, what more can be done by the Diocese of San Joaquin to tell them?
I think the most important thing that San Joaquin can do is to jump ship and yell like hell while it does, so that at least some of the sleeping passengers know that they have that option. They don't have to perish...they can leave.