Last Thursday evening, Bishop Gibbs and many of your deputation to General Convention met with a group of interested members of our Household to review the highlights and
actions of General Convention. Each deputy had the chance to share a bit of their
experience as well as answer any questions that our guests raised. Thank you to all who attended!
One of our clergy deputies, the Rev’d Phil Dinwiddie, served on the Special Legislative Committee on Marriage, the committee which presented resolutions addressing marriage equality. For this week’s blog, I asked Phil to share what he told us last Thursday because I know this topic is an important one for many in our Household and nation right now:
This General Convention’s so-called “Special” Legislative Committee on Marriage was special because it was created especially for the 78th General Convention. The committee was tasked with receiving the report of the “Task Force on the Study of Marriage” created by the 77th General Convention as well as any and all proposed legislation related to marriage.
Depending on how you count it, the committee received 8 proposed resolutions. Several of these called on the General Convention to allow same sex marriage ASAP. One proposed changes be made to the marriage canon (I.18). One proposed continuing the work of the Task Force. One proposed new rites suitable for same sex blessings.
The fasted road to establishing same sex marriage across the entire Episcopal Church would have been to send out of committee a resolution that said it was the belief of the General Convention that separate-sex-references in the Book of Common Prayer’s sections on marriage and catechism also referred equally to same sex couples. It was noted that a similar thing was done by General Convention regarding gender in the the ordination service when the ordination of women was first allowed.
Though perhaps most expedient, reinterpreting gender references in the BCP included many drawbacks. Some said it felt like “sleight of hand” to do such a thing and that it would not be accepted across the church. Others said that it would circumvent the requirement that edits to the Book of Common Prayer go through two successive General Conventions before becoming official. Others suggested it would be too far too fast and would push people out of the Episcopal Church.
In the end the special committee sent three resolutions to the body, all of which were approved by both houses, and therefore became acts of this General Convention. To find out which resolutions those were, to read a synopsis of each, and to see for yourself the text of the resolutions or look here: http://tinyurl.com/pkhbhqd .
A tip for reading through the current wording of these resolutions – any words that have lines striking them out will be eliminated in the final writing and the portions in italics will replace the strike-through. The final wording will be available after the Secretary of General Convention verifies each resolution and will be released in the Journal of the 78th General Convention in 2016.
Thank you, Phil, for sharing your experience and engaging in this important work. As we consider any of the acts of Convention, it is crucial that we remember that not all of our Church shares our opinions on any issue yet all deserve our respect. And, specifically as we consider these resolutions, not all members of our Household live and worship in the United States; many of our brothers and sisters live in countries in which marriage equality continues to be illegal. May we continue in prayer for unity for those outside our nation. The work continues.
Our closing prayer today comes from The Rev’d Gary Hall, Dean of the National Cathedral, when he spoke on the steps of the Supreme Court on June 26 at the Unite for Marriage Rally.
Let us pray…
O God: you speak to and through us in our various traditions: we give you thanks for your spirit and love which animate and empower the universe. We are deeply grateful for your love and the ways in which it expresses itself in the love of human beings for you, for your creation, and for each other. And we are mindful that you have brought us together for the purpose of extending your love and blessing to all who call upon your name. Amen.
~ Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution review Committee, Diocesan Council