Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 74th
General Convention affirms the following:
- That our life together as a community of faith is
grounded in the saving work of Jesus Christ and expressed in the
principles of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral: Holy Scripture, the
historic Creeds of the Church, the two dominical sacraments, and the
- That we reaffirm Resolution A069 of the 65th
General Convention (1976) that "homosexual persons are children of God who
have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love,
acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church".
- That, in our understanding of homosexual persons,
differences exist among us about how best to care pastorally for those who
intend to live in monogamous, non-celibate unions; and what is, or should
be, required, permitted, or prohibited by the doctrine, discipline, and
worship of The Episcopal Church concerning the blessing of the same.
- That we reaffirm Resolution D039 of the 73rd
General Convention (2000), that "We expect such relationships will be
characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect,
careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in
such relationships to see in each other the image of God", and that such relationships
exist throughout the church.
- That, we recognize that local faith communities are
operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and
experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions.
- That we commit ourselves, and call our church, in the
spirit of Resolution A104 of the 70th General Convention
(1991), to continued prayer, study, and discernment on the pastoral care
for gay and lesbian persons, to include the compilation and development by
a special commission organized and appointed by the Presiding Bishop of
resources to facilitate as wide a conversation of discernment as possible
throughout the church.
- That our baptism into Jesus Christ is inseparable
from our communion with one another, and we commit ourselves to that
communion despite our diversity of opinion and, among dioceses, a
diversity of pastoral practice with the gay men and lesbians among us.
- That it is a matter of faith that our Lord longs for
our unity as his disciples, and for us this entails living within the
boundaries of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. We believe this discipline expresses
faithfulness to our polity and that it will facilitate the conversation we
seek not only in The Episcopal Church, but also in the wider Anglican
Communion and beyond.
Minority Report separately distributed in the House of Bishops
regarding the Substitute Resolution Adopted by the House of Bishops
We, the undersigned, believe that
the Substitute Resolution offered by the Prayer Book and Liturgy Committee
should not be passed for the following five reasons:
- On point number three, the resolution conflates two
very different issues. While we acknowledge that differences do exist in
how to faithfully and effectively provide pastoral care for people who
believe themselves to be homosexual persons, we also affirm that those
pastoral concerns, skills, and techniques are very different from
developing rites for same sex unions.
We are also
concerned that in this paragraph the phrase "...and what is, or should be,
required, permitted, or prohibited by the doctrine, discipline and worship..."
[of this church] is deeply troubling. We question why is this phrase "or should
be" is included. Why can we not simply say, as our ordination vows require us
to say, "what is required, permitted or prohibited..."
- On point number four, we happily acknowledge that
relationships characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and
respect, careful and honest communication, and holy love which enables
those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God. They
are called "holy marriage" and they have been part of the life of the
church for 2,000 years. But this resolution is not about marriage
relationships between a man and a woman, it is about creating something
new in the life of the church.
- On point five, we wish to state in the strongest
possible terms that, far from being consonant with the Primate's Pastoral
Letter, this is a denial of it. We quote from that letter, "The Archbishop
of Canterbury spoke for us all when he said that it is through liturgy
that we express what we believe, and that there is no theological consensus about same sex unions.
Therefore, we as a body cannot support the authorization of such rites."
Primate's letter, in the strongest language and with a clear intent, implored
this church not to develop such rites. This resolution is a complete and
arrogant repudiation of the clear intention of the leaders of our church.
- On point five, we ask the question, "What does it
mean `to experience' such liturgies?" A simple reading of this language
flies in the face of the intention of the Primate's letter as it raises
the question of how one can "experience" a liturgy without actually
performing such a liturgy. Thus, this resolution has the effect of
authorizing the performing of (quoting the resolution) "celebrating and
blessing same sex-unions".
- On point six, we note the seemingly conciliatory and
congenial dilution of the language of the previous resolutions. But this
resolution has the same effect in the life of the church as those more
We note the language specifying "possible
inclusion" and the change from the Book
of Occasional Services to Enriching
Our Worship. We note, however, that the reality that (a) once these rites
are published by the Church Publishing
Company they carry the implicit imprimatur of The Church. Thus (b) people
both in and outside of the church can reasonably conclude that these rites of
blessing are themselves blessed by the church itself. That is because (c) the subtleties which mark
the distinctions between the Book of
Common Prayer, the Book of Occasional
Services, and Enriching Our Worship are
lost on the vast majority of men and women in and outside the church. The reality is that no one outside a close
coterie of canon lawyers and liturgical scholars will make a distinction
between included these rites in Enriching
Our Worship and the Book of Common
We note that the stated purpose of Enriching Our Worship (Preface p. 13) is
that it "contains texts intended to be explorations for the development of
liturgical materials...[and] looking forward to the[ir] dissemination throughout
the Church..." Publication by The Church for propagation by The Church for use in
The Church of rites of same sex blessings is the true intent of this
We note that the Preface of Enriching Our Worship goes on to say (p. 17) "Whatever we imagine
the future of the Book of Common Prayer
to be, the task of the months and years to come is to compose, use, evaluate
and distribute a wide variety of emerging resources." The intention of this
resolution becomes clear if we substitute in that sentence the phrase from the
substitute resolution "celebrating and blessing same-sex unions." Thus, we
could reasonably read the Preface of the Enriching
Our Worship to read as follows: "Whatever we imagine the future of the Book of Common Prayer to be, the task
of the months and years to come is to compose, use, evaluate and distribute
liturgies for the celebration and blessing of same-sex unions."
Thus, while the proposed change from the Book of
Occasional Services to Enriching Our Worship seems conciliatory and congenial,
the actual difference is insignificant and the end result is the same as the
The Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon