STARDATE LEGISLATIVE DAY SIX:
TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO ONE HAS GONE BEFORE?
It’s Monday, July 13, 2009, Day Whatever on the legislative calendar, and I feel like Captain Kirk, on the starship “Enterprise,” recording another stardate in his log. I do not know cerebrally what legislative day this is (it is actually Day Six), but I do know emotionally that we have turned. As of yesterday, the House of Deputies began to feel like a body operating efficiently and dramatically, operating with direction and focus. After a few days of ‘warm-up” votes and floor debates, we were galloping on the back stretch yesterday.
The primary drama of Sunday, of course, was our vote on D025, having to do with our commitments to both the wider Anglican Communion and to the full participation of gays and lesbians in our own Episcopal Church. I was not surprised by the floor debate, but the margin in which the motion prevailed was noteworthy; it passed by roughly a seven to three margin. For me, this translates to something just over a two-thirds vote. Should similar issues, especially around parliamentary procedure, which often require two-thirds vote, arise again, then the House of Deputies may have a two-thirds vote block on those issues.
This morning, I have heard concern and disappointment from some quarters –along with great joy from places like Canada. Voices from the far right and the far left proclaim a similar headline: the House of Deputies has “overturned” 2006-B033 and its moratorium on the election of gay bishops – or words similar. But I have a major problem with that headline: B033 (the 2006 resolution) never said that; and I, for one, never interpreted it as a moratorium. I believe that much of our anxiety occurred by buying into that interpretation. If that resolution had meant moratorium, it would have said “moratorium.” I do not think the House of Deputies voted to overturn anything.
Now, of course, more drama awaits. If D025 is to prevail for the entire convention, then the House of Bishops will have to pass it in the same form in which the House of Deputies did yesterday. Much of the immediate feedback, especially from places outside The Episcopal Church, is obviously designed to pressure the bishops.
Then, there’s another issue: the matter of same gender blessings and commitment rites – or whatever title one prefers. My own committee, Committee 13, continues to discuss that matter. Whatever we report out will go first to the House of Bishops for initial action, and secondly to the House of Deputies (the reverse order of D025).
In great science fiction, such as Star Trek, the physical setting is futuristic, but the actual subject matter is the age-old mystery of human life and human relationships, and even divine relationships. Today, at General Convention, Stardate Legislative Day Six, some might proclaim that we are “boldly going where no one has gone before.” But this is simply a new setting for our common task and age-old mission: to witness to the grace and salvation of Jesus Christ.