Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The Sixth Legislative Day

The morning meeting of Committee 11 devoted most of its time to hearings on resolutions concerning things that have already been considered in resolutions we've already acted on, and which will probably be placed in the special legislative limbo called "Discharge--already acted on." Yet, the rules require that a hearing be held for every resolution. So we listened to yet more witnesses advocating for making licit the practice of offering Holy Communion to the unbaptized, and for making sure that any revision of the Book of Common Prayer studiously avoid using pronouns for God, or actually use feminine pronouns as well as the traditional masculine ones. (See here for some of my thoughts on that issue.)

Over the last twenty minutes or so of our time, we finally got to a resolution that I'd been waiting to offer an amendment on. It was proposed by the SCLM, and amends the article of the constitution that makes provision for the authorization of liturgical materials, certainly including the Prayer Book, but other materials as well. Certain items such as Enriching Our Worship ("inclusive" language versions of the Eucharist and other services) are actually, by some lines of reasoning, extra-constitutional, even though widely used. The proposed constitutional amendment creates a more clearly licit silo into which materials that parallel services that are in the Prayer Book can be placed, without either having to be formally "trial use" (and therefore configured toward some future Prayer Book revision) or re-authorized every triennium. My amendment to the amendment just makes this even clearer, and, more to the point, clearly places it all under the direction, and subject to the permission, of the diocesan bishop. My amendment carried, and so did the original motion. A small victory.

In place of the usual 11:15-1:00 legislative session, there was a joint session held in the chamber of the House of Deputies for a "conversation" around the Five Marks of Mission. We watched a series of short videos--one on each "mark"--and were then bidden to hold table discussions on questions that were supplied. Mercifully, they let us do this by deputation, without having to "mix and match" the way we did with the conversation on structure. I, at least, enjoyed talking with out eight Deputies about how we are engaging mission in the Diocese of Springfield. Just one further word, and a link, on mission: By the lights of church tradition, mission is primarily--yea, nearly exclusively--evangelistic--i.e. pertaining to the first two of the five "marks." The others are ancillary, serving the purpose of evangelization. Our job is not to bring in the Kingdom of God, build a "just society," or fulfill God's "dream." See here for more of my thinking.

We were scheduled for a five hour afternoon legislative session (yes, you read that right). But, the way the system works, once we've worked through whatever the committees and the House of Deputies have sent us, there's nothing more to do. So we were finished by 5:00, which was a welcome development, though it probably means that we will be all the more jammed tomorrow or Thursday or Friday. In any case, we began our afternoon session, once again, in executive session. The rules allow me to be only very vague about what we discussed. Suffice it to say that it had nothing to do with the actual business before the convention--i.e. any resolutions. It concerned matters that are peculiar to our life together as bishops.

When we did open the doors and get down to business, we finally got the "greener churches" resolution sorted out and put to bed, though it took some time. We discussed, and, in the end, I believe, concurred without amendment to two resolutions concerning church planting and congregational revitalization, as well as one concerning the ongoing struggle with societal racism. For the most part, any discussion was financially motivated. I voted No, not because I have any issue with any of the resolutions in their substance, but merely as a matter of policy when there is an impact on the budget. My diocese is a very minimal giver to the programs of the DFMS (a complicated matter), so it would be hypocritical to vote to expend funds to which Springfield does not materially contribute. But, beyond that, I am wary of any initiative sponsored at a churchwide level. This is the sort of thing that ought to be done by the dioceses.

The other big matter concerned, yet again, communion without baptism. It's one that came out of Committee 11 already truncated, in that it only called for a task force to study the issue. But debate was lively, and, in the end, it failed by a narrow margin: 72 to 77. Mine was among the Nay votes. The House of Bishops dealt with this pretty overwhelmingly only three years ago, and there can't be that much that has changed since then.


Unknown said...

So does that kill off the "communion without baptism" issue for this GenCon? I seem to recall (correct me if I am mistaken) that at the 2012 GenCon that resolution came out of the evangelism committee. This year it was handled by Committee 11 -- worship and liturgy -- not evangelism.

Any idea where our new PB Michael Curry stands on the "communion without baptism" issue? Dick Mitchell

Richard+ said...

Dan --In the eastern Orthodox Churches, Apostolic Succession doe not merely consist on the laying on of hands by someone who can traced their linage back to the Apostles, but also to their faithfulness in teaching the doctrine of the Apostles. If a bishop ceases to teach that, or deviates from that proclamation, they cease to be a bishop. Period. By that standard, we would have very few bishops in the church. I think, my friend, that you would be one of them, an apostolic traditionalist.

Bishop Daniel Martins said...

Dick Mitchell: es, the authorization of CWOB is now dead for this GC. No doubt, like the Terminator, it will be back. I believe Bishop Curry voted in the minority (of a very close vote) yesterday on the (failed) resolution that would have established a task force to study the issue.