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Re: legislation as a modus operandi

---------- Forwarded message ----------
>From: Louie Crew <lcrew@andromeda.rutgers.edu>
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 1999 08:37:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: legislation as a modus operandi

XXXX, many folks on all sides of issues would like to move beyond
legislation, especially beyond legislative gridlock, whereby each side
feels compelled to bring forth resolutions to counter those of the other
side.  Often fear drives these compulsions, fear of what inhibitions or
other judgments will be enforced if one's side does not have the support
of the latest resolutions of General Convention.  Some of these fears seem
well founded in that persons on both side have treated the opposition with
presentments and other forms of official restraint.

As hard as it seems, I believe that it possible to build bonds of trust
across the many issues that divide us, and I think we should all seek to
take steps towards building that trust.

For example, we might draft legislation that could be enthusiastically
supported by all sides of the major issues dividing us, legislation that
would make it safer for us to live with our disagreements, not fearing
coercion from either side, not demanding conformity from either side.

It seems to me that if we could care enough about the major mission by
which Jesus commissioned us to go into the world, we would work hard to
find a way past the current divisions which are draining ECUSA's time,
money, energy, and commitment to mission.

I agree that a variety of forums beside GC are important to the
spiritual and material health of the Episcopal Church.  We have
long recognized that in maintaining numerous conference centers
at diocesan and regional levels, and through a variety of other
special enrichment events.  Few who have attended events at such places
as well as having attended GC as a deputy or observer would say that GC
could rival a good conference in terms of the spiritual nurture received.

However, bypassing General Convention does not seem as promising to me as
it does to some here, primarily because General Convention is the
constitutional way that ECUSA makes decisions.  Most of the legislation,
while vigorously refined, is not divisive and enables important ministry
to take place.  To re-assign the authority of General Convention to
another body would be tantamount to a coup d'etat, one that I doubt has
much chance of success, especially if the body to which the authority
would be newly assigned is a body of self-selected persons disgruntled
with our not getting our own way at GC.  Even when my 'side' is losing (as
it has more often than not during my 25 years of close attention to
General Convention), I would rather work through GC to effect changes
important to me than to declare that it has no authority to rival that of
a more sympathetic group of Episcopalians whom I might assemble.

One important feature that GC has going for it is that it brings us
together democratically in all of our manifold diversity.  It forces us to
try to find a way to live together with folks we find it much easier to
avoid in assemblies of our own choosing.  It is much easier to love our
neighbors as ourselves if we can pick and choose them:  General Convention
forces us, against our d'rathers, to answer as Jesus did the Pharisee's
question, "Who is my neighbor?"  In doing so, General Convention, for all
of its clunkiness, offers us a marvelous  opportunity to show that we are
Jesus' disciples, by how much we can love one another across our different
perspectives in looking through the 'glass darkly.'

Joy to you!

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