The House of Bishops, meeting in Texas this past week, have issued a set of “Mind of the House” resolutions. Reading them, I was greatly encourage by the clarity with which the Bishops spoke their mind. Often, resolutions coming from the House of Bishops are couched in language aimed at being acceptable to all. One often comes away not quite sure what the mind of the house is. This time, they were just as clear as can be.
In particular, in responding to the Primates Pastoral Scheme proposed in Dar es Salaam, the Bishops are clear in their rejection of it. The Scheme, which was already pretty much in place before PB Katharine Jefferts Schori even arrived in Dar es Salaam, called for the creation of a committee, of which she and her appointees would have been a minority, whose job would be to appoint a Primatial Vicar for those dioceses in TEC who have difficulty with Katharine being Primate.
The Bishops rightly decline to participate in this scheme, pointing out that for the first time in our history since we separated from the Papacy in the 16th century, this scheme would replace the local governance of a church by its own bishops, priests, deacons and laity, with governance by a distant and unaccountable group of prelates. Here, I believe they have put their finger on precisely what is at issue in this whole brouhaha since 2003: Are we Anglican or not? Are we governed locally or not? That was the issue in 1525 (not Henry’s divorce).
They also point out that the ultimatum issued by the Primates that TEC be banned from Anglican gatherings if we don’t get our house in order by September 30, 2007, only perpetuates one of the worst sins of Western culture: the willingness to break relationships when they get difficult. This sin, they point out, is what threatens marriage and all other relationships.
They also say just as clearly as can be said that gay and lesbian persons are full participants in the life of the Church. I guess we finally mean it: The Episcopal Church welcomes you. I’ haven’t often been prouder to be an Episcopalian than when reading these resolutions. Now we just have to be equally clear when September 30 rolls around.