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
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.
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
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.
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,
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
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
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
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
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.