A Report
from the Diocesan Deputation to General Convention

Minneapolis • Aug. 5, 2003


 

The morning paper

 

 

Greetings from Minneapolis

Bishop Iker and the members of the Diocesan Deputation have issued a statement concerning the approval granted Tuesday by the House of Bishops to the election of Gene Robinson as the next Bishop of New Hampshire.


     

 

 

 

Read the report
of the investigating committee.

 

Though other business was conducted Tuesday by the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops and their committees, all interest focused on the outcome of the investigation of charges against Gene Robinson. Just before the bishops adjourned for lunch Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold told them that the investigating committee would make its report when they reconvened at 2:30 p.m. and that they should expect to resume to the consent process concerning Robinson's election.

The doors of the House of Bishops were opened to visitors and members of the press at 3:50 p.m. "We have exercised prayer and the ministry of reconciliation in the form of anointing," Bishop Griswold told the gallery. He then explained that the report of the investigating committee had been accepted by the bishops. For the benefit of the gallery the report was re-read, after which the bishops began their public deliberations on the election of Canon Robinson, which was before them in the form of Resolution C045.

The process conducted by Bishop Griswold lasted for two hours, with extensive time for prayer and hushed private discussion at the bishops' tables.

One hour was given over to debate, with both the first and last statements coming from bishops opposed to the resolution. Bishop Fairfield of North Dakota opened by noting that the phrase "He has spoken through the prophets" was omtited from the Nicene Creed during the Sunday corporate Eucharist. "That is one of our core issues [in this discussion] today. Do we honestly believe that the prophets are those who spoke God's word or not?"

Many of the arguments were familiar to those who had followed the committee hearings and House of Deputies debate on the resolution.

Speaking in favor of the election, Bishop Croneberger of Newark asked rhetorically, "Would [Gene Robinson] be a wholesome example? He would be and is."

Bishop Little of Northern Indiana also thought back to the Sunday Eucharist. "In line on Sunday, I thought, this may well be the last time that we will process together. ... If we give consent to this election, the unity of this House will be shattered forever. Portions of our Communion will disown us forever." The Episcopal Church, he said, is "desperately polarized."

Bishop John Howe of Central Florida read from a message he received from a layman, which said, "If you break [with Church teaching] we will not follow you."

Attempting to pour balm on the wound, Bishop Jelinek of Minnesota, the Convention's host bishop, said, "We are in agreement about who God is. ... Where we are not in unity is our understanding of what it is to be human."

Speaking to a distinction drawn in recent months by the Archbishop of Canterbury between a relationship of communion or federation, Bishop Bruno of Los Angeles said the Diocese of New Hampshire is "part of a federation of dioceses called the Episcopal Church. ... I would not want to interfere with the autonomy of a diocese after the process of election." Going even further Bishop Barbara Harris, the first woman to be consecrated, called the worldwide Anglican Communion "a loose federation of autonomous provinces" and said, "The Church should come apart only on matters of faith and order."

Then Bishop Eastland referred to the notes he had taken during table discussion, saying the list "against" was much longer than the list "for." But, he said, "it occured to me that every reason against the resolution was tinged with fear" and that the positive reasons were "tinged with hope and promise."

Bishop Beckwith of Springfield warned of "an impending train wreck" and explained that he had two fundamental problems with the electiono f Canon Robinson. "First, I have been taught that sex outside of marriage falls short of the mark. ... [And second,] if he were a priest in the Diocese of Springfield, he would be referred for trial [for his behavior]." It was no longer a question of the bishops being "on the same page, or even in the same book," he added. "The question is, are we in the same library?"

The last word in the debate went to Bishop Ackerman of Quincy, who said that the resolution was not simply concerned with an episcopal election. "We are in fact dealing with a matter of faith and order, a theological matter," that would have wide implications.

     
   

Just before 6 p.m. the bishops received consent forms (ballots) and began voting on the resolution. (Under the rules of the consent process, only bishops presently overseeing dioceses were allowed to vote. ) They then returned to other business while the results were being tallied.

At 6:59 p.m., Bishop Griswold announced he would read the results of the balloting and asked that there be no show "either of approval or disapproval" from the bishops or the gallery. He then said that 62 of the diocesan bishops had voted yes, and that the resolution had passed.
     
   
Before he adjourned the House for the day, Bishop Griswold invited Bishop Duncan and a group of bishops with him to come forward to read a prepared statement. The 19 bishops who stood together included Bishop Iker, Bishop Stanton of Dallas, Bishop Ackerman of Quincy, Bishop Schofield of San Joaquin, Bishop Beckwith of Springfield, and Bishop Herzog of Albany. The text of Bishop Duncan's statement follows.
     
           





 

Statement from Bishop Robert Duncan, Diocese of Pittsburg, on the Confirmation of Canon Gene Robinson

You cannot imagine my grief, or the grief of many, many people. Thousands are elated just now, but millions at home and abroad share our vast sorrow.

My entire life has been lived within the Episcopal Church. Within it, I have been baptized, discipled, confirmed, married, ordained and consecrated. I have spent my life for Christ through the Episcopal Church. Many in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and in the wider Episcopal Church, are like me, being cradle Episcopalians. Others have chosen this Church because of what it was and what it stood for; as truly catholic and truly evangelical.

Those who rejoice at this moment will, I pray, at least understand what has been stolen from us: unity with the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church ecumenically; unity with our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion across the globe; unity with the Faith once delivered to the Saints.


The action taken today is unconstitutional as to the three foundational principles of the first sentence of our Church's Constitution. As such, I will stand against the actions of this Convention with everything I have and everything I am. I have joined with many other bishops in an appeal to the primates of the Anglican Communion to intervene in the pastoral emergency that has now befallen us. I have not left, and will not leave, the Episcopal Church or my apostolic role as Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh. It is this 74th General Convention that has left us, betrayed us, undone us.

May our merciful Lord Jesus have pity on us, His broken bride.

 

     

Archbishop Fearon, left,
and Bishop Duncan sing.

  The dissenting bishops, members of their deputations, and others then met for worship in the fellowship hall of the Lutheran church nearby. After the Great Litany was said, several of the bishops spoke to those assembled. Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon of Nigeria, who is a guest of the Presiding Bishop at the Convention, told those assembled, "I have come to stand with you. Standing with you is very, very important, because we feel the warmth of one another." He said he hoped the Archbishop of Canterbury would "call a quick meeting of the primates [of the Church] to deal with" the matter, adding that "any province that blesses the practice of homosexual relations has denied itself union with the Anglican Communion. In Kenya, we believe in the Bible and what it is saying. ... You have assured the whole world that you want to go on praising God."      

Bishop Schofield, left,
and Bishop Iker, front.

 

Bishop Stanton thanked Bishop Duncan for his leadership and asked for those assembled to keep young people especially in their prayers.

Bishop Schofield said, "Those [bishops and deputies] who wanted to stand on the word of God were accused of being afraid. Are we afraid? Are we fear-mongers? No, we are not! What has happened today has revealed the cancer in the Body of Christ.

"My friends," he concluded, "we are free!"

As those gathered sang "Shine, Jesus, Shine," the bishops raised their hands together.

     
         
           
           
           

Click on a link to see other daily reports

Report for Wednesday, July 30

Report for Thursday, July 31

Report for Friday, Aug. 1

Report for Saturday, Aug. 2

Report for Sunday, Aug. 3

Report for Monday, Aug. 4

Report for Wednesday, Aug. 6

Report for Thursday and Friday, Aug. 7 & 8