Two clergy deputies from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh are urging the Episcopal Church’s General Convention to hold the line on issues related to human sexuality.
The convention, now underway in Anaheim, California, will take up several proposals that would advance blessings for same-sex unions. Deputies are also being asked to revisit a resolution, known as B033, adopted by the last General Convention that calls for “restraint” in the consecration of gay bishops.
The House of Deputies will meet tomorrow and Thursday (July 8 and 9) as a Committee of the Whole to discuss B033.
The Rev. Dr. James Simons, chair of the Pittsburgh deputation, says he wants to see the resolution stay in place "for the sake of the communion, for the sake of wider fellowship."
Resolution B033 came about as a response to a request from the larger Anglican Communion for a moratorium on naming gay bishops.
"I don’t think it’s perfect, but I think it has been helpful in carrying conversations and having dialogue with other provinces," Simons said, adding that affirming the resolution "will send a message that we want to continue to be a part of the Anglican Communion — that we want to try to heal whatever wounds have been incurred over the past several years — and I think it would go a long way toward showing good faith to the wider communion."
Dr. Simons also cautioned against beginning a process to adopt a church-wide liturgy for same-sex unions.
"I’m concerned that if something like that should happen at this convention that the sort of schism that occurred in Pittsburgh will occur in other dioceses as well."
Simons is a seven-time deputy and chairs the convention’s Committee for the Dispatch of Business for the House of Deputies. He is also president of Standing Committee in the Pittsburgh Diocese, which he describes as "mixed theologically."
"There are still parishes that are undecided — there are people in parishes that are still undecided about where they want to be," said Simons. "I think that of same-sex blessings would look precipitous and would cause more people to leave."
Another Pittsburgh deputy, the Rev. Dr. Bruce Robison of St. Andrew’s Church, Highland Park, is co-sponsoring legislation (Resolution D020) that would have the Episcopal Church voluntarily abide by the terms of a covenant on sexuality issues proposed for the Anglican Communion, even thought it is still in draft form..
“[My] resolution asks that as we study and discuss the covenant over the next three years, we make a voluntary commitment to live to the highest degree possible in accordance with both its spirit and its guidelines for collaborative life in the communion,” Robison wrote in an article for the Episcopal News Services.
He continued, “There is no expectation of a final decision about the covenant in 2009, of course. But there is a hope, a deep hope, that this wider family and community will see in us not a force for further division, but for healing and reconciliation.”
Based on reporting by the Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg of the Episcopal News Service. Click here to read her full report.