A Report
from the Diocesan Deputation at General Convention

Minneapolis • Aug. 6, 2003


 
 

The Bishop and Deputies from Fort Worth did not return to the Convention on Wednesday, choosing instead to pray and take counsel together and with others similarly affected by the decision to consent to Gene Robinson's election. The President of the House of Deputies agreed to absent the deputation for the day. Though about 50 deputies representing other dioceses also took the day off or resigned their credentials altogether, the deputation from Fort Worth was the only one to show its unity and disappointment by deciding as a body not to participate in other business of the two Houses.

     
  After the morning Eucharist and lunchtime meetings, the deputation met with Bishop Iker, and their discussion focused on concern for the clergy and laity of the diocese. Bishop Iker began drafting a pastoral letter, to be read in every church this Sunday, Aug. 10. The text of the letter will be posted on this site Sunday afternoon.      

Read some of the responses
from leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

 

All day, messages of support poured in from around the world. This communication was very encouraging to the concerned bishops and deputations in Minneapolis. They had stepped forward Tuesday with a plea for help, uncertain how the rest of the Anglican Communion would respond.

On the floor of the House of Deputies, the bishops' consent to Gene Robinson's election was officially announced and read into the record. In response, Deputy Kendall Harmon from South Carolina rose to read a statment of protest. (See below.)

During Evening Prayer, Fr. Scott Wooten, who came to observe the Convention for two days on behalf of his congregations, reported that one of his three churches, Holy Spirit in Graham, had been vandalized overnight. He said the police investigation was ongoing, but the attack appeared to be related to events at General Convention. For Fr. Wooten's account of the damage, click here.

     
   

Late in the day, the House of Bishops took up a compromise resolution combining four previous resolutions concerning the development and use of a rite of same-sex blessing. By the rules of the legislative process, if the bishops had not acted, the resolution would have died. Instead, their House passed an amended version and sent it to the House of Deputies for consideration the next day.

In consultation during the evening, and after receiving many requests from other deputations to return and be present for the vote on the resolution on samem-sex rites, the deputation decided to return one clergy and one lay member to the floor of the House of Deputies the next day.
     
 
   


Statement read in the House of Deputies
by the Rev. Kendall Harmon, Deputy of South Carolina


In the Name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I rise on behalf of many members of this House in response to the action to consent to the election a person sexually active outside of Holy Matrimony.

Though many of you are celebrating, many of us are mourning. Let me tell you what some of us experienced last night.

A 24-year old woman, married just 5 weeks ago in the Episcopal Church, sobbed uncontrollably over what she felt was a betrayal by her Church.

A 56-year old layman said, "I've been faithful to God's sexual standards all my life and now my bishop and my church tell me it doesn't matter."

An anguished GenX youth minister feels his church now offers no support to his teenagers struggling to maintain sexual purity.

A rector has already received numerous emails telling him that faithful parishioners have now left his parish and your church.

Let me now make clear why so many people feel so strongly about this decision.

By contravening the "historic faith and order" [Preamble to the Constitution], this Convention sets itself against its own Constitution. And in thus acting unconstitutionally, this Convention now separates itself from the orthodox faith and breaks the ties that bind us to the rest of the Anglican Communion.

We reject this action and disassociate ourselves from it.

Because it is an action of General Convention, this consent changes both the doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church. There is no question that it will be perceived as such by our people, the universal Church and society at large.

On a deeper level, we believe that this is a profound error, contrary to the Word of God and the traditions of the Church Catholic. It will mean that many clergy will no longer be able honestly to keep their ordination vows to uphold the doctrine and discipline of this Church.

To set aside the authority of God's Word, to defy Holy Scripture's teaching on marriage and to ignore its consistent condemnation of homosexual behavior, violates Article XX of the Articles of Religion, which states, "It is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God's Word written." We believe this consent is contrary to the plain meaning of Scripture.

In overturning the unambiguous moral teaching of the Church universal, this Church has erred and must be corrected by the Anglican Communion. A statement just read in the House of Bishops "call[s] upon the Primates of the Anglican Communion, under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, in accordance with Lambeth Resolution III.6(b) to intervene in the pastoral emergency that has overtaken us." We join in calling for that intervention.

This unilateral action on our part is catastrophic. We weep for the Episcopal Church and its members. We have made a terrible mistake.

But understand this clearly: we are not leaving the Church. It is rather this Church which has left the historic faith and has fractured the Anglican Communion, for whose restoration we pledge our faithful and loving efforts.

We have already been informed that, because of conscience, some will be leaving the Convention and returning home. Others will stay off the floor for a period of fasting and prayer. Others will return because they feel duty-bound to vote on other important issues where the orthodox faith of the Church is at stake. But please understand that whether a deputy is in this House or not, we are of one mind because of this action.

Deputies who wish to sign the above statement may do so at the South Carolina deputation or at the office of the American Anglican Council across the street at Central Lutheran Church.

Finally, I would like to recall for this House an image from a luncheon meeting held yesterday, where a bishop of this Church was thinking and praying over what this Convention was about to do. He stood, and he was so overcome by emotion that he trembled. His eyes welled with tears. He tried twice to speak, but he was unable to verbalize his feelings because of the depth of his grief.

This Church will never be the same again.

Thank you, Mr. President.

     
           
           
           
           

Click on a link to see previous 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 Tuesday, Aug. 5