This morning after the eucharist, the House of Deputies and House of Bishops convened in joint session. The Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold, spoke to us about reconciliation and it's costs, and about the need for the two houses to demonstrate our willingness to continue in dialogue with our Anglican partners around the world. Towards this end, he introduced to both houses a new resolution B033 which was a much more streamlined and focused version of the original A161 put together by the Special Commission on Communion. The House of initial action was the House of Bishops.
Later on, we got word that the House of Bishops passed the resolution without amendment. As we worked it through, it survived several attempts to amend it. Many spoke for it, but with tears. It's language urging Bishops and Standing Committees to excercise restraint when dealing with episcopal nominees whose manner of life would be problematic (my words--I don't have the text in front of me) to others in the communion was both clear and painful. There was a sense that it was a step backwards for some, and many conservatives felt it was not strong enough. Still it survived all amendment and was passed, in orders, by a 3 to one margin in both lay and clerical orders.
What pushed it over the top was the appearance of the presiding bishop elect, the Bishop of Nevada, Katheryn Jefferts Shorie. She reaffirmed her committment to the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in the life of the church and said that this fight must go on. The struggle would not be helped if we could not be at the table. This was not something she wanted but she knew it was neccessary and so was the best these houses could do right now.
As I spoke with other deputies, it was clear that many liberals and moderates came togther on this. Our own clergy deputation split down the middle. I voted for it for these reasons: it stripped the oppressive language concerning blessings; it took out the contradictory language of dual apologies; and, most of all, Bishop Schorie put her entire prestige on the line less than 72 hours after her election and months before her institution. If we had said "no" she would have been seriously hampered in her work both within the Church and among the primates. Her decision to ask to come before us was a bold, courageous and very risky move. It showed me that she is willing to risk it all to both keep us at the table and articulate the blessings gay and lesbian folks bring to the Church and how we are hearing God's call for the full inclusion of all God's people.
Another deputy from another deputation said that this was a vote that had to be made but that she found no joy in it. I agree, but it was needed.