Majority of South Carolina deputies leave convention in protest

The Very Rev. John B. Burwell, deputy of South Carolina, stands up in the House of Deputies on the afternoon of July 11 to tell his fellow deputies that South Carolina is still part of General Convention ENS photo/Lynette Wilson

[Episcopal News Service – Indianapolis] The majority of the Diocese of South Carolina’s deputies left the General Convention July 11 because, in the words of its remaining clergy deputy, the gathering has passed resolutions that violate the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church.

However, that deputy, the Very Rev. John B. Burwell, told Episcopal News Service in an interview after the House of Deputies’ last session of the day that “we are not leaving the Episcopal Church.”

In fact, the deputation chose to have him and Deputy Lonnie Hamilton “stay until the bitter end” to make that point.

The resolutions concerned are A049, which allows for optional and provisional use of a rite to bless same-gender relationships, and D019 and D002, which affirm the full inclusion of transgender persons in the life of the church (including the ordination process).

The blessing resolution, Burwell said, “basically flaunts the canons of the church” because Canon I.2 (b) defines marriage as a “physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman.”

“It is not the place of General Convention to be doing that. To top it off, it isn’t biblical. It isn’t biblical,” Burwell said. “Sorry but I can’t get around that, I simply can’t get around it.”

The resolution and the rite do not refer to the action allowed as a “marriage.”

“Why didn’t we throw out the canon?” Burwell asked. “Let’s be honest about this. If that is the direction that we’d like to head into, then let’s not break laws.”

Burwell said he agreed with the sentiments of another deputy during the debate on the gender-identity resolutions who said he longed for the day when people are judged for who they are and not the labels that others give them.

However, “it’s unnecessary and it’s unbiblical and it’s un-Anglican” to make the statements made in the two resolutions, he said.

Burwell said the deputies cannot agree with the resolutions. We won’t agree with them and they will do damage, not only to South Carolina but also to parts of the Anglican Communion many, many miles from here,” he said.

The deputies believe that the resolutions “make fundamental changes to the worship, doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church, which we, especially as priests, are sworn to uphold,” Burwell said.

“Because of this we simply can’t, as the diocesan deputation, act like nothing has happened,” he added. “This may not be the end of the world, but this is significant and we can’t act like business as usual.”

Burwell said the deputies decided after the voting on July 10 to leave, explaining that they thought the convention took a turn that afternoon. Things “went downhill and from our perspective it was a downhill slide. By the end of the evening many in our deputation, many but not all, were demoralized,” he said.

The deputies “decided that these resolutions that passed do not represent the Diocese of South Carolina [which] we were deputized to represent and therefore we cannot act like its business as normal and just go about a normal day today like we did yesterday.”

Convention observers began to note the absence of South Carolina deputies shortly after the house reconvened for the afternoon at 2:15 p.m. EDT. The deputies posted a short statement on the diocesan website about a half hour later announcing their decision.

Burwell insisted that “this was the deputies’ decision, not the bishop’s.”

As of 6:50 p.m. July 11, Lawrence was still at convention, he said, despite some reports that he had left.

“I know he’s here,” Burwell said. “I do not know how long he’s going to be here.”

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Comments

  1. To the SC Delegation-

    Thanks for staying. If I were in your shoes, and felt my church was doing something fundamentally unbiblical, as you do, I don’t know if I would have acted with such grace. Thanks again, we need your voice.

  2. Nick Bonnell says:

    Slavery is in the bible too but we all agree that it is wrong…

  3. N Bonnell says:

    The Bible is a living breathing tome that should guide us. Do we believe that every word is true? Did Methuselah really live to be 800 years old? The OT is so violent it would be allowed on tv only after 8pm. We divorce, we don’t stone adulterers. why we even mix fabrics and aren’t killed for it. I eat shellfish. Jesus did not say one word about homosexuality. Paul’s letters are directed to a particular community. The bible is in dialogue with itself and with us. Thank you for staying.

    • Dean Stewart says:

      Paul’s letters are indeed addressed to individuals (e.g. Timothy) or communities of individuals (e.g. Romans, Corinthians), does that mean the teachings in those letters only apply to the communities addressed? It seems that you are so implying. Clearly this is not the teaching of the church. Paul’s teachings cannot be discounted with such facility.

      That we want the teachings of the bible to morph and adapt to our ever-expanding concept of right, doesn’t mean that they do or can. It isn’t for us to adapt the teachings to meet our modern human thoughts and feelings, it is for us to do our best to live as God would have us live.

      In our human institutions (civil law) we are free to adapt to public will and change our civil laws when right and necessary. But the church isn’t a human institution, it is Christ’s church. We do ourselves (and our Lord and Savior) injustice when we stray from the teachings of Christ. And yes, I include the teachings of the apostles as being from Christ inasmuch as they were personally schooled by Him and executing His charge to them in carrying His church to all the peoples of the world.

      For those who posit that this is a simple issue revolving around love for one another, do you prayerfully believe that Paul didn’t abide Jesus’ teachings to love one another? If Paul did abide that teaching and still held to his concerns re sexual relations, how is it that we modern people are in a better position than Paul was to know what loving our neighbors means?

      I can love you and pray for you, I hope you can do the same for me. We are all sinners and fall short and our hope is centered in God’s grace and forgiveness. But we should not convolute Christ’s church to meet our modern concepts of morality, and particularly not to meet America’s bent toward “if it feels good do it.” You are loved best not by those who help you hide your sin, but by those who help you expose it, confess it, and make your peace with God regarding it.

      • M Dearborn says:

        Agree… 100% I think we’re letting social popularity and what makes us ‘happy’ is leading down a road that’s not theologically correct. The Bible has this same story over and over again in the Bible and with guidance to refrain from making these mistakes. People are abject to hearing our Lord’s guidance… Hence do any of us as children like what our Father’s have taught us? Typically not at the time but in the future we understand the lessons they were trying to teach. Our sexuality in our society today is broken because we treat it likes its no big deal… another act to make us feel good. But in the end are our acts hurting our hearts and our relationships because the acts are not part of a bigger picture… i.e. the sacrament of marriage which unites a man & woman as woman and ultimatlely conforms us into one unit that is perfect and reflects the union of man/woman and Christ… hence trinity… In my experiences before I felt I got it, I can attest that just having sex because it felt good ultimately left me unfulfilled and often hurt. Marriage is a good thing and to say it’s normal for same sexes to be in that type of sacrament is impossible, and the Bible supports that.

    • John Dempsey says:

      Oh ye of no faith. Get thee behind me satan.

  4. Bruce Marshall says:

    Since the Diocese of South Carolina has not supported the national church financially for several years, they should not have been given any voice or vote in the first place. They are simply observers of the national church business and their non-participation is anything but a surprise. What they would like to do is to nullify the actions of the General Convention, but the amended language of Resolution AO49 prohibits their bishop from taking any punitive action against lay people, deacons or priests who may support the actions of the Convention (and there are a few).

  5. Fr.Michael Neal says:

    Don’t loose heart SC brothers………..TEC is done…………………the majority of the Anglican Communion does not endorse what TEC did or does…….TEC has left the faith…..let us press on.
    To many souls at stake to let them hinder the mission Christ has given us………………..press on.

    • Albert Feix III says:

      “Love one another as I have loved you.” It’s as simple as that. It’s not complicated.

  6. Russ Manley says:

    South Carolina has always loved to be the first to walk out the door, ever since 1860. To those who want a male-only priesthood, a rigid, unbending theology, and no gays allowed, I would call their attention to the sign posted by the exit door: The Catholic Church Welcomes You. Go in peace.

  7. Julian Malakar says:

    Those who do not believe The Bible, Christianity is not for them. Who do you believe for true image of God, who is truth and spirit? Our own instinct cannot get true image of God in our heart, because we all are sinner. A blind cannot show another blind a way, same way human instinct cannot show path to God. Majority vote could cover the truth as did in case of Christ’s crucifixion where by voice vote “Crucify Him”, our Lord Jesus Christ was convicted.

    Those who believe, The Bible encourages slavery are wrong. Jews were also slave to Egypt and freed by Moses with direct command by God who separated Red Sea. It is true God blessed those masters who treated their workers as themselves. There were many kind masters, like Abraham who had many slave. Slavery was socio-economic culture in rude form. But comparing slavery and same sex issue is like comparing apple and orange.

    • Fr.Michael Neal says:

      Amen.

    • Kieran Conroy says:

      In all fairness, I feel its important to note some of the context history and past debates bring to this.

      In recent books, Brian McLaren “(A New Kind of Chrisitanity”) and the late Peter Gomes (“The Good Book”) both take a very carefullook at the debates around the Bible and slavery in the mid 1800′s and conclude that it was the abolitionists, in fact who were accused of deviating from the Bible and “undermining the foundations of Christianity.” Even many abolitionists acknowledged that they had to support their convictions from the spirit of Christ’s teachings rather than the letter of Scripture, which stood against them in many places. The issue was eventually settled not by Biblical scholarship but the test of history. But for the Christians of the time, it was VERY much seen as an essential issue about the authority of Scripture. (both books I noted above cite some great further reading on this, though I don’t have them handy)

      Gomes looks similarly at the prohibition movement, with its roots in the Methodist church (which still does not use Communion wine), and how those who pressed for it in hopes of stemming a the grave modern impact of alcoholism on families were accused of “throwing out the Bible.” That issue, of course eventually fell out of our national dialog for the most part, although it remains a live issue for some corners of our own church in Native American communities so impacted by the tragedy alcoholism (A Bishop in the 1980′s gave permission to Lakota Episcopal churches to make their own decision on this one for wine in Communion, I’m not sure what the policy is today).

      I’m not here to argue one side or the other here; I find debates of this nature are rarely helped by the impersonal medium of the Internet. But I DO strongly feel that I do not have a right to tell anyone they are or are not a Christian because they disagree with my reading of the Bible or my stance on a given social issue. Christ forsaw our grave divisions from the first Communion in John 17, but still prayed for us to be one “by loving one another” as He loves us. For me, that Christian love at minimum requires me to respect the integrity of the faith someone tells me through word and deed that they have in Christ, for that is a sacred thing. We all stand or fall on the grace of God, not the rightness of our arguments.

      I pray the Holy Spirit will be with the hearts and struggling consciences of ALL Episcopalian Christians in light of these decisions.

  8. thomas mauro says:

    Following in the steps of Jesus Christ should not be this difficult. An enriching exercise is to ask and then respond to the question: What would Jesus do? This thinking, in my view, is what is driving TEC to follow in HIS footsteps, with all the love, sincerity and gracefulness that is expected of us.

    One of my favorite parables is the parable of the talents. I think it can apply here. The greatest rewards went to the servants who enriched what was given them to oversee…and the least went to the servant who buried the treasure. The treasure in this case is the scientific knowledge that has been given us. Should we embrace that knowledge? Or bury it?

    • I’m afraid the parable of the talents doesn’t reflect well on the current liberal/left leadership of TEC. Rather than drawing people in, they are driving people away. Look at what is happening to membership in TEC (and liberal denominations in general).

      And I don’t see how “scientific knowledge” can tell us what kinds of behavior are sinful and what are not. That’s a normative question, not a scientific one.

      • Nellwyn Beamon says:

        All churches–even conservative churches–are losing membership. It has nothing to do with the message but with our changing society.

      • Kathy Tolf says:

        Declining numbers are seen by almost all Mainline churches. Much of that is simple demographics- the Baby Boom came of age at about the same time that church membership was at its peak, and the graying/decaying of the Boom coincides with the decline in membership you see. Add the lower birthrate of subsequent generations and it is clear that the population of church members is declining in good part by attrition. Consider also that more immigrants today bring their own religion with them, and aren’t interested in attending Christian churches…and you have far fewer people leaving because of “dissatisfaction” than you think.
        Jesus also consorted with the dregs of society, turned no one away, forgave sinners, embraced untouchables, scolded the establishment for its self-righteousness, and taught that Judgement was not in our purview. So, tell me again…who isn’t following the Word, and who is?

  9. How is making a statement that all should be included in the process of ordination no matter how they identify un-Episcopalian? Un-Biblical? I don’t understand. I really don’t understand how a church that takes a stance that all children of God can be ordained if they feel the call is not following the Bible, is not following God, is not following HIS words? I really don’t understand.

    As N Bonnell pointed out there are things in the Bible that we do not follow. So, is it pick and choose time? If TEC is un-Biblical then so are all churches who don’t follow all the rules. Not one church is Biblical.

    But the TEC is Biblical, because the Bible is a guide, as someone else said. It was written in a different cultural time, in a different place. I don’t understand all this fighting. It takes too much time and energy. We are all children of God, and would God really have created LGBT folks if He didn’t want them included in His kingdom?

    What do I know though, I’m not a theologian. I don’t know much. I do know that the God I believe in loves all of us and isn’t exclusive to straight, cisgendered people. The God I believe is loves us all and isn’t exclusive to anyone because He is THAT big, so BIG and loving we can’t even understand.

    *sigh* South Carolina, I love you. You are a beautiful state. Your beaches have many happy memories, as does that Chattooga River that forms part of the border with GA. I pray for peace for you all, that you can reconcile this decision with grace, and eventually find peace about it deep in your souls. I also pray you don’t leave TEC because we need diversity in our ranks.

  10. Dr. Gene Bourquin says:

    Sixty-six books, 1,100 chapters, more than 30,000 verses . . . a tiny 7 that might reference same gender issues and clearly not the contemporary lives of gay men and women. I cannot understand how the overriding message of the Jesus Christ is not evident and that we have moved beyond slavery, burnt sacrifice, and homophobia. It seems so very evident.

    If you pick tiny sections of the scripture to support your own bias or misunderstanding, you are probably the ones who have left the faith.

    • Rev. Dr. David Cox says:

      Amen, Dr. Bourquin. There are so many complicated discussions on these and other issues; but it really is as simple as you suggest. The central themes of love of God and love of neighbor along with the hospitality of God that makes it all possible are clear within scripture from beginning to end.

    • Leroy Casterline says:

      Having not been raised in any religious tradition, when it came time for me to embrace Christ I was free to choose any denomination that felt ‘right’.

      It is this kind of thinking that first drew me to the Episcopal Church and later to become a confirmed Episcopalian.

    • You are using the sort of talking points that atheists use to attack the bible:

      1.) Slavery: the Bible recognizes slavery as an existing social institution, but never says that people *should* have slaves.
      2.) Burnt sacrifice: something God clearly wanted for the people of ancient Israel, but clearly not preached nor practiced in the New Testament.
      3. “Homophobia:” a form of nasty name-calling that liberals use to attack people who disagree with them about homosexuality. Extremely un-Christian.

      Your position seems to be that unless a *lot* of Bible verses were devoted to condemning homosexual relationships, we can ignore the clear import of those that do. But if here *were* a lot, you would dismiss those too.

  11. Jeremy Bates says:

    Anglicanism was founded on a divorce.

    So for any Anglican to accuse another of being unbiblical is . . . well, let’s just say that it lacks historical perspective.

    • Jerry Shea says:

      Twenty little words….yet the message they convey is VOLUMINOUS!!!!!!

    • The Rev. Hanns Engelhardt says:

      Anglicanism was NOT founded on a divorce. What Henry VIII sought was a declaration that his first marriage was invalid (and later his fourth one likewise), and that was what he eventually obtained. That is still a difference.

      • Jeremy Bates says:

        Rev. Engelhardt, the annulments were fig leaves, both for Henry and (apparently) for some of us.

  12. Marylin Day says:

    I love our inclusive church! Thanks be to God!

  13. martha knight says:

    This saddens me but does not surprise me that South Carolina is balking at the passing of same sex gender blessings. We need your voice as well, but please examine prayerfully those that are estranged from the church as marginal less than human beings.

  14. Mark James says:

    Good riddance. I’m sure ACNA, CANA and AMiA will welcome you with open arms.

    • Fr.Michael Neal says:

      We will … and so will the other 80% of the Anglican Communion.

    • Alda Morgan says:

      I’m not at convention, but have followed this discussion closely. I was saddened to read that the deputation from South Carolina had left Convention, but impressed by subsequent statements from Bp. Lawrence and others. This is action based on conviction and integrity. if you will, it is a form of civil resistance, something most liberals (of which group I am a member) believe in….but only for ourselves?? Moreover, I truly believe that none of us, as followers of Jesus Christ, can….is allowed…to say of brothers and sisters, “Good riddance!”. I don’t agree with the deputies and Bishop of South Carolina on these issues, but I think they are honest in their convictions and have shown careful thought and dignity in their protest. Mr. James, I hope you change your mind about their being good riddance.

  15. Ticia Eaves says:

    This makes me so sad. How can you believe that you are a part of the church when you pick and choose what you want to do within the church? The church is supposed to be a place were all are welcome. This does not show this. I would like to ask these people if they chose who they love? I bet they did not pick who they love. I would also like to ask these people if no one ask you about your sex life then why are you so concerned about what others do in their bedrooms. You need to not only open your hearts but your minds as well. Stop the judgment of others. Be the loving and caring people you claim to be.

  16. I was in one the hearings that preceded the vote in the house of deputies. I am fully supportive of A049, but I was also blessed to see the face of Jesus in my sisters and brothers who are struggling with its passing. I heard real hurt, and true fear, and my heart was full for them. However, I believe the passing of A049 is in fact overwhelmingly biblical insofar as it is the radically inclusive love of Jesus. Somehow we have to find a way to each other. Walking out, or walking away, is not that way. Someone recently preached on the Gospel story when Jesus was asleep in the boat and a great storm had taken over the vessel, the disciples were afraid, but Jesus was right there. This is the Church, It’s a hard place to be, but where else can we be so loved by God that we would be able to struggle together? That is Anglican! This is who we are. I agree with the fellow above who posted that this violates a Canon, therfrore the work of the Church is to change that Canon. No Canon law can ever stand in violation of The heart of Christ. My experience at General Convention totally overwhlemed my heart with a new love for my Church, I don’t want anyone to leave, I want us to struggle in that stormy boat together, Jesus is with us.

    • Kieran Conroy says:

      That sermon image gives me great encouragement, thank you for sharing it. Christ with his Disciples on that “Little Bark on a stormy sea” being an image for the Church is a very ancient reading held by some of Church Fathers. And so needed in our own “stormy times” on the “Ship of Faith.”

  17. Lin Goldstone says:

    I am saddened that this has happened to the church. I believe that anyone who does not believe in the church should leave. My problem is, they believe they can take the property that episcopalians have paid for and supported for over a hundred years.
    The good thing in America is we all have free will. Those who feel they want to take their ball and go home should just leave.
    God has made us all. All of us! Would Jesus turn his back on anyone? The answer is NO!
    God loves all of us.
    I am positive that there are Gay or Lasbian people in the South Carolina delegation. I am also sure that they have someone in their family that is Gay or a Lasbian. Shame on them.

  18. The Rev Gilbert H. Watkins says:

    It is no wonder that we are a declining denomination, with such medieval actions!

    A reminder is needed that we are in 2012 not AD12, our Lord radically brought us up to date and left us to do the same.

  19. Christopher Myers says:

    Sounds like they’re aiming for the wrong side of history again…

  20. James Herndon says:

    I am not a clergy nor am I redical fanatic. I try to look at things simply, with God’s guidance. The basic question for me is do I believe homosexuality is a sin or prescribed by God and correspondingly, is union and/or marriage of two persons of the same gender intended by God. My belief is to both points – I do not believe these are actions that are intended by God and therefore, these should not be sanctioned by the church. It does not mean I don’t love homosexuals nor persons of the same sex who live together, but my love for them does not mean I must or should condone there actions. Just as the church and we as Christians, should love and forgive someone who is a murderer, we should not condone the act of murder by not doing so, that does not make us a failure as Christian. As Christ loved and forgave the woman at the well, who was engaged in sexual activity outside of marriage, he instructed her to go and “sin no more” as he did with others throughout the Bible. Loving thy neighbor as thy self does not mean that we must condone actions and/or life styles that are not God’s intended way. Where do we draw the line on what society says we should accept and what our core spiritual teachings and the word of God tells us is acceptable?

    • Jeremy Bates says:

      So . . . in your view, should the church permit a person who is divorced to re-marry in church?
      (Just wondering how far this line drawing takes you.)

      • Milton Orgeron says:

        See 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 for remarriage after divorce:

        12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

        15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

        As for the Bible supporting and encouraging slavery, 1st century slavery was often voluntary by the slave as a means of surviving poverty. It far more resembled indentured servitude than American blood slavery. Freedom was preferable to slavery but one could serve the Lord as either slave or free and in eternal life there would be no slaves. In this life, in the Lord’s eyes, the slave and free man were equal:

        1 Corinthians 7:21-24 21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. 24 Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

  21. Bill Hale says:

    James Herdon … You just hit the nail on the head!

  22. Devon Chambers says:

    To the SC Delegation: Thank you for remaining. The church needs to hear your voice along with all the other voices. It is the bread, the cup we share that brings us together and I hope you will continue to share in the table and wine, as we are one in Christ Jesus.

    I am transgendered. I do not seek a place in the clergy, a lay position or to marry. I am probably that stranger who most will look askance at. Many ignore my presence at best, or actively try to shoo me away or worse. I am usually not welcome and sadly, I’ve learned to pick up on that quickly. I leave as quickly and as quietly as I came in.

    Yet there was a congregation that gave me an opportunity, an embodiment of these words: “wherever you are in your walk of faith, you are welcome here” . I realize there are some even in my own congregation that ignore my presence, or act as I don’t exist.

    But there have been many who have welcomed me, not because I’m transgendered, but simply as a fellow traveler in this journey we call life who happens to be transgendered…

    An Episcopal Congregation welcomed me…not as transgendered, but as a fellow traveler on this walk we call life…and in the walk of faith. I give thanks for being able to join my fellow travelers as one of them…and to share in that bread and wine which unites all who partake.

    I simply hope the church will continue to “welcome the stranger” and to see them as fellow travelers in this walk we call life.

  23. Marney L. Pena says:

    I was recently baptised in the Episcopal Church at the age of 36. I was drawn to the EC for a a number of reasons, but mainly, as a very liberal Democrat, I knew that I could be a part of the Anglican community, grow in my faith and never, ever feel as though I weren’t being true to myself or my lifelong convictions. For me, and for a lot of other Episcopalians, it comes down to this: Christianity is a religion of/about a person: Jesus Christ. We follow Him, because we believe Him to be God’s Living Word. Not a book, not a man in Italy. Jesus opened his arms to everyone and turned his back on nobody. Period. We should do the same. If we don’t, then how can we possibly call ourselves Christians? For me, it really is that simple. If we are to proclaim that we are all indeed God’s children, then we cannot leave anybody behind. They are our brothers and sisters. Sure, it’s not always easy to accept with open arms those that are different or strange to us. If it were easy, then everyone would do it! But we aren’t “everyone”. We are Episcopalians. We stand for what is right and what is just, even if it makes some people in South Carolina squirm a little. Because, historically speaking, if South Carolinians are squirming, then we must be doing something right.

  24. The Rev. Al Minor says:

    I don’t accept the Bible as an absolute, locked-in code. There are many progressive changes in theology within the Hebrew Scriptures, and certainly a progressive series of changes in understanding who Jesus was and is. All of the changes were based on experience and revelation.
    I think our experiences with our GLBT brothers and sisters, and our experience of the love of God in Christ bring us to the realization that the Risen Lord embraces them in his love and we are to honor that. If God loves us and “them” equally, we have to honor that.
    Our Church in its General Convention acts from the generous love of God and in this acts also very theologically in witness to that love. It is a very great mystery, but the General Convention has acted rightly, justly, and in inclusive openness to all the children of God … at last. The task of the people of the Church is to follow and honor the mystery of the decisions. Even though they may not be “popular” with many, and they may be frought with difficulties and emotional challenges, they do, in the long run bear witness to the love of God. We are always challenged to change toward the right, the good, the merciful, the forgiving, and the loving, no matter what our personal preferences are. I deeply respect the General Convention. It is a mystery, though.

  25. Ian Chamberlin says:

    It is so sad that extending the family of God is so repulsive to the deputation and bishop of South Carolina that they chose to take this action. There was neither honor, nor love in their actions, only pride driven by clinging to the delusion of having the power to decide who is entitled to God’s love. They should understand that their actions left a stain of sin and dishonor on an otherwise powerful Convention. While I understand that they feel grief and sorrow at being the minority in a Church that is moving in a different direction they are, there is a definite difference between loyal opposition and flagrant disrespect. The actions of the members of this deputation that left, and their Bishop are of the latter category. The reason I infer this is that the Diocese of South Carolina has not paid its assessments / annual contribution to the Episcopal Church for several years running, and that they are absolutely convinced that their way is the only right way forward. Although they may have left politely, there definitely seems to be a taste of a vulgar action that has been committed.

  26. Doug Desper says:

    The figures are coming in. Liberal Christianity is imploding for its own obvious reasons. Our beloved Church will have to nearly die before a return to sanity. With regard to SSBs, one need only ask: “When did Jesus seek out same gender couples to bless into a union?” He sought outcasts, harlots, the isolated, those with stigmatizing diseases, the forsaken, the prisoners, criminals on crosses, and even the hated political figures in Roman armor. So, there you see in action the example of love and inclusion so often spoken of by liberal Christianity except that the example defines what love really is: offer God’s greater identity for us and forgiveness, not accommodation to the lesser identities and values of the world. Never did He seek to redefine marriage, even though He had opportunity in a wider culture that surely had open homosexuality being practiced. The Scripture, the words of Jesus, spoke simply to that: ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ (Matthew 19). So, how can this Church begin to bless in our era what the Church catholic has never seen by reading these words of Jesus Christ? Arrogance.

  27. carl blesch says:

    Friends, when I served as a physician assistant in the care of cancer patients, I encountered a number of same sex couples who cared for one another with great love and dignity through the most difficult of circumstances. I was both impressed and humbled by the depth of their love for one another.

    I am at best a theological neophyte who lacks the sophistication to argue this issue in terms of church polity or practice. All I can share is that it seems as though our Lord had already blessed these couples in ways that go far beyond anything we might offer as a church.

    God bless us all, without exception.

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