Monday, June 19, 2006

Slow progress and disarray over A161

We worked our way through one and part of the Windsor Resolutions this afternoon. We amended and passed A160 having to do with expressing regret for not consulting the rest of the Communion in advance of the 74th General Convention and our nomination, election, confirmation and ordination of Bishop Robinson. The big change made from the floor was the substitution of the phrase 'breaching the proper constraints of...' communion with the word "straining." We basically subbed one Windsor phrase for another.

It passed by over 65%.

Next came A161 and this is the "moratorium" resolution. It deals with two things: nominating, electing and consecrating any future GLBT candidates for Bishop and suspending the development and approval of same gender blessings. Here is where things got interesting.

We passed special rules of order to handle the questions: limit total time of debate to thirty minutes, two minutes per speaker. The first portion of the debate was to be without amendments or floor actions, followed by a time when those would be available. We extended debate a little bit. But there were at least two dozen people waiting to speak. To make matters worse the electronic system that tracks speakers backlogged and stopped being useful to the change, so trying to track speakers became very difficult. The microphone near us (#8) seemed to fall off the earth. So even though we were blocked out to work late into the evening, ended up breaking sometime between 7 and 7:30 with debate to start up tommorrow.

This write up on the Daily Episcopalian summarizes where we are pretty well.

The feeling in the House is not good. It does not surprise me at all that it is on this resolution that we have lost our way procedurally. We are trying to do something that fits what we think, maybe, possibly other people in the Communion might like. And so we offer an apology for something most of think is right, at the cost of people we value, for an indefinite period of time. The relatively clear original resolution has become something that cannot work. It falls under its own weight. Even the badly worded second-hand leaked version I commented on yesterday was clearer. It at least had the idea of some accountability that the listening process would actually include some listening.

If we are going to succeed, we will need to find a way to make the restraint are asked to undertake apply to everyone, not just potential gay episcopal nominees. We are in this together, and so far we are not acting like it. If we want to stay in Communion with the wider Communion, and I do, we have to find a way of going through this together and not transfer the burden back to some of us. The way A161 is currently written we are not focused on principle #1: it's about communion. And not just with other provinces, either.

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