Bishop Whalon reflects on General Convention
Anglicans Online has a thoughtful reflection from Bishop Pierre Whalon (Bishop-in-Charge of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe). Bishop Whalon writes about how easy it is to misunderstand what happened at General Convention, especially with the attention-getting resolutions on same-sex blessings (C056) and the ordination of bishops in same-sex partnerships (D025). We are reminded that no moratoria have been overturned, at least if you read the words of the resolutions themselves.
The bishop then writes about all the other important things that happened, such as pension and healthcare enhancement, ecumenical movements, and more. Near the end of his reflection, he says this:
So why didn’t we see headlines like “Episcopalians Give Employees Pensions, Better Health Care”; “Church Dramatically Cuts Budget, Except Missionaries”: “Episcopal Church Breaks New Ground In Reconciling Christians”, “Episcopalians Reaffirm Jesus As Lord”?
Doesn’t sell, that’s why. People want bad news. Disasters and scandals sell. “Those crazy Episcopalians” sells. Good news does not, especially when it contradicts conventional media images.
One headline that would have sold newspapers and Google ads on blogs did not appear, however: “General Convention Ignores Report on Declining Numbers.” This is found in the House of Deputies Committee Report on the State of the Church, part of the 2009 Blue Book.
Indeed, we spent almost no time on this most important topic. As the good bishop notes, we’ll have no choice but to take this up at General Convention 2012 in Indianapolis. By then, things could be much worse. Just before this General Convention, I wrote about this very thing, suggesting that as a church we need to face the reality of what’s happening and ask hard questions. Thanks for pointing to the elephant in the room, Bishop!
I do have one nit and one correction. The article says there were nine legislative days, when there were actually ten. More important than that little issue, Bishop Whalon writes, “after a protracted struggle in the House of Deputies over the moratorium on ordination of partnered gay bishops, a compromise resolution, numbered D025 and entitled ‘Commitment and Witness to the Anglican Communion,’ passed both Houses.” Obviously, the bishops weren’t hanging out in the House of Deputies to see this take place, but that’s not exactly right. We spent a fair amount of time in the House of Deputies on D025, especially in two sessions of “Comittee of the Whole.” These were conversations through, not struggles. The actual debate was courteous and not very long, as I recall. I think it would be more accurate to say the “House of Deputies carefully deliberated for some time…” I mention this because the absence of anxiety and struggle over these things is a marked contrast from previous General Conventions.
Those were small things though. I’m glad to have this reflection, as I think it captures both what happened, what didn’t really happened, and what should have happened.