Through a mission lens
By Rick Cluett
It was a privilege to represent the Diocese of Bethlehem as a deputy to the 76th General Convention. I have missed only two conventions (1997 & 2006) since 1982. In previous conventions I have served on committees that drafted policies for Small Churches, Evangelism, Stewardship, and Ministry.
In this convention I initially requested to serve on the World Mission Committee to further our church’s response to the needs of the people and church in Sudan and to expand awareness in the Episcopal Church (TEC) of our relationships with and responsibilities for the mission of the church beyond our diocesan and national borders.
I was appointed to the World Mission Committee, but asked not to work on world mission matters, but rather to serve on the sub-committee that would deal with legislation related to issues of sexuality, ministry and the role of TEC in the Anglican Communion.
The two primary groups of resolutions dealt with the repeal of Resolution B033 from the prior convention that put a moratorium on the confirmation and ordination of gay and lesbian persons in a relationship, and resolutions to adopt the proposed Anglican Covenant.
Both the full committee and the sub-committee were representative of the make-up of TEC, which is to say that the full theological spectrum of our church was present and accounted for. In my experience in prior conventions, this convergence of diversity and subject matter would have been a recipe for confrontation almost to the point of paralysis.
But thanks be to God and to the open hearts and minds of the members of the committee and to a mutual respect among people who together were seeking the mind and heart of God for our church, this time was very different. Not easy, mind you, but very different.
Many resolutions came out of the committee to be addressed first in the House of Deputies and then in the House of Bishops, including support for the church and people in Sudan. Two resolutions in particular tackled the questions of ordination access and the Anglican covenant, D025 and D020 respectively. They can be read in their entirety at http://gc2009.org/ViewLegislation/.
D025 was adopted overwhelmingly by both houses. It affirms the commitment of TEC to its membership in the Anglican Communion, pledging to participate fully, including financially, in the AC. It also recognized that the constitution and canons of our church accurately reflect the mind of the church, and constitute the authority of this church, as related to the access to ordination (of all orders) being open to all persons.
D020 commended the work of the Anglican Communion Covenant draft group so far and recommended its study and engagement in every diocese of the church in preparation for receiving it at the 77th General Convention. In other words, it is not yet complete and it is too soon to decide to abide by it. It was adopted in both houses.
What I mean to convey in this little reflection is that the tenor of the convention was one of reconciliation not disputation, open listening to the voices of the church, and waiting upon God’s Holy Spirit. Only then was the vote called and the decision made.
It was a privilege to represent the Diocese of Bethlehem as a deputy to the 76th General Convention. It was a joy to be with the other members of the diocese who had their own work to do there. The spirit of the convention was echoed in the life we shared together. Thanks be to God.
[The Venerable Richard I Cluett, email@example.com, archdeacon for the Diocese of Bethlehem from 1984 to 2004, serves as the Presiding Bishop’s deputy for reorganizing dioceses and as a senior consultant and conference leader for the Credo Institute. This is his eighth time as a deputy to General Convention. He also served twice as an alternate.]