6:00 am - I chose to do the radio
this morning instead of the Beep!! Beep! Beep!! that moved me to to near coronary
implications yesterday. Oh, this is too early! I am not a morning person. Especially on so
little sleep from the day before!
I am on the Ministry Committee, and
we are holding a hearing/meeting at 7:00 this morning. This hearing/meeting is scheduled
to occur at the same time that the hearing on Canon Robinson consecration. Is going on.
This is nuts. I want to hear Canon Robinson’s defenders and objectors. Bishop Salmon
will be speaking in objection to the consecration at this hearing.
As I enter the hotel where the
hearings are, The crowds are huge!
The are using the largest room available
for the Robinson hearing. Outside the door to the room the lines wanting to get in wrap
around they are so long. Outside the hotel the media’s satellite trucks are beaming
this event worldwide. I was able to get into the doorway of the room to get a few pictures
of the crowd. There must be 500 people here. Or more.
I dutifully go upstairs to the 5th
floor where my Committee will hold obligatory hearings on stuff people aren’t even
concerned about. Mercy! This is how many we had upstairs:
In the old pop song Party Lights by
Claudette Clark (1962), Claudette’s complaint was that there’s a party going on
across the street and her mama won’t let her "make the scene." That about
sizes it up for me this morning. Up here, I’m listening to a handful of people
speaking in favor of minor resolutions that are about 100% guaranteed to pass. Five floors
down, they’re sardined in, listening to debate on an issue that will shatter our
church if it happens. What am I doing here? The folks next to me started joking about the
small crowd at our hearing. Someone said – "This is the people who couldn’t
get in downstairs…"
After the hearing, we debated and
debated and debated our way, word by word and line by line, through a section of a minor
resolution. This was… tedious to say the least. Even the chairperson got tired of it.
After going over one line in about ten different varieties, the chair of our committee
said, "Can we just put in something that makes sense and move on with this
After it was all over, I went back
downstairs. It was all over down there too. Nuts! I spoke with someone I knew who was at
the hearing. He said it went well for the orthodox side, for the most part.
I got a report that said Bishop
Salmon was quite eloquent in his remarks. I understand that before Bishop Salmon spoke,
Jim Bradbury a deputy from Connecticut spoke in favor Of Canon Robinson’s
consecration. In his speech, Bradbury said that we didn’t need to consider what
Canterbury thought in this manner. He said, "Canterbury is irrelevant."
Bishop Salmon spoke to that. He
said, "I’ve never in my life believed that anyone is irrelevant." Ho!
After the meeting, I went to worship
with the Forward in Faith folks at Westminster Presbyterian. Outside the church building
– in the grass between the sidewalk and the building – was another little
rabbit! Amazing. As he hopped around, I got his picture.
I also got pictures of the inside of
this beautiful building. As you enter off the street there is a long formal hall. Off one
side is the main worship area (I didn’t go there) and down the hall is the chapel
where we worship daily. (I say "we," because I’m done with the daily
worship at the Convention, thank you very much.)
The chapel is an absolutely
beautiful stone chapel with English stain glass and elaborately carved wood everywhere.
It’s a feast for the eyes. The Altar is a full altar up against the wall, and there
is a pipe organ in the transept. I’ve never seen a Presbyterian church that looked
Robert Munday, the Dean of Nashotah
House Seminary was the celebrant and preacher this morning. On the occasion of the lesser
feast of Joseph of Aramathea, Dean Munday contasted the diciples (who fled after the
crucifixion) to Joseph, who went to Pilate and asked for the Christ’s body for
burial. Joseph, who had been a member of the ruling council., was willing to loose it all
for the sake of our Lord.
12:30 – Got a cell call from
another Munday – Dave Munday of the Charleston Post & Courier. The P&C has
paid for Dave to fly up to Minneapolis to cover this Convention. That’s not been done
in recent history, but then again, this is not like any Convention we’ve ever had in
history. Dave wants to interview me this evening before he (and I) head over to the Hyatt
for the Kendall/Candler debate. Mercy.
1 Peter 3:15 came to mind. Lord, let
me speak the truth, and let me speak it in love and with compassion.
Convention opened for the day at
2:30 p.m. On the way over, a huge dark cloud hung over the Convention Center. Hmmmm.
After the housekeeping we began in earnest on many resolutions.
Resolution A019 urged continued
focus on the AIDS crisis worldwide. The resolution, in part, spoke of the "quiet
voices" of AIDS in our church, in our nation and in the world. The last three words
(in the world) were added by the committee. Kendall got up and thanked the committee for
adding the words, In the world. He reminded the House that "Our God is a global
God.." It was just a little reminder for those who look no farther than our Episcopal
Church when it comes to some issues like Canon Robinson.
A014 was offered for our
consideration. This is a resolution that would tell Congress (the other United States
political body) that we approve of stem cell research using embryos remaining after
invitro fertilization. Six straight speakers got up and spoke eloquently for the
amendment. Even the youth presence got up and spoke "firmly in favor of this
resolution." The teen’s argument was that they are going to be disposed of
anyway, so what’s the big deal? Let ‘em be put to good use.
Our Jennie Olbrych spoke to this.
– Jennie spoke in opposition. Jennie said one of the central principles of
Judeo-Christian ethics is that the ends can never justify the means. She said, "I can
not vote in favor of this motion because it urges our government to press for research
using embryonic stem cells created for life to be used for a different end. It would place
the good of research above the good of life. It creates the temptation of seeing a child
as something which we humans create or purchase, rather than as the gift of the author of
Jennie said a lot more and all of it
was beautifully crafted and delivered. In the end, we lost. Wasn’t even close, but it
was worth the effort anyway.
We paused for a special order at
5:15 – to honor the life of John Cannon, a long time director of the Church Pension
Interesting development on C029, a
rather innocuous resolution directing all official documents be published in both English
and Spanish. A delegate from Haiti Someone spoke on behalf of the French-speaking Haitians
in reference to communications being translated into Spanish. The Representative from
Haiti got up and spoke in French, to show that there are people who speak other languages
than Spanish, and demanded that the words "and French" be added to the mix. .
I wonder – and I’m not
being factious here – I wonder if we shouldn’t add Asian languages, as well? If
the point is to be inclusive (and that is always the point) why stop at French?
We spent a good 30 minutes trying to
figure out how to do this. Finally it passed. We will have Spanish and French in all
official publications. And English, if anyone needs it.
After the afternoon legislative
session, I met with Dave Munday. He was gracious, pleasant, and a joy to be with. And yes,
I’ll still say that, even if I don’t like what he writes about me in the
morning! I told him that as Christians, we weren’t about winning and losing. I told
him I love everyone and welcome anyone. I told him that to approve Canon Robinson as a
bishop would shatter this church. I told him I had no idea what the future held. In short,
I told him the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I pray that I proclaimed
my Lord’s love in the process.
Mark Goodman arrived! Mark is our
Clergy first alternate. I plan to let him sit in for me from time to time, and others will
probably use him as well to take a break. I tell you, we all need a break! This is an
exhausting schedule! Especially when one has mononucleosis. (Yes, I have it – at age
51! – and I’ve been trying to ignore it. Pray for me.)
The whole day has been leading up to
tonight. Tonight we have the hearing on D005, C022, and C051. These three resolutions all
pretty much say the same thing – that the Church should authorize the Liturgy
Committee to come up with rites to bless faithful committed relationships outside of
marriage. And place that liturgy in our Book of Occasional Services. This is the other
biggie, Gene Robinson being the biggest.
Tonight, Sam Candler will debate
Kendall harmon in front of what promises to be an SRO crowd with worldwide participation
Lydia and Jennie saved me a seat in
the hotel room where we’re meetting, It filled up quickly. This is a picture of the
room at 7:05.
Below is the same basic area ten
minutes later. The place was packed.
The press were here in full force.
Lydia and Jennie got us the best seats in the house. Right on the same row as the
microphones placed for the public to speak.
I ran into Olin Camp
and the SC Youth Presence!
Here's one of Olin
and Dave Wright, our Diocesan Youth Coordinator:
I sat next to a beautiful woman,
Mrs. Laura Allen, who was practicing what she was going to say tonight. She told me she
was going to talk about her son, who died from AIDS. She let me read her speech. I cried.
I literally wept. She allowed me to copy her speech into my handheld while we waited. Her
speech can be found about a page or so below, in the context in which it was delivered.
Frank Wade, head of the Liturgy Committee, chaired the meeting. Frank asked that
us to make sure that what you say is an improvement on silence. Listen to one another. No
demonstrations, no applause.
Sam Candler speaks in favor of the
blessings of relationships outside of marriage.
Kendall Harmon speaks against. (Isn’t it interesting how orthodoxy is cast on the
negative side – the Against side?)
They will each speak for 15 minutes.
Then it gets opened up for this large crowd to speak.
Sam Candler spoke. Candler gave a
very well-crafted talk. Slick. It was full of Scripture, and he even quoted Jesus saying,
"Fear not. Don’t be afraid." I sort of got the sense that as he was
preparing this talk he wanted to prove that his side could quote scripture too. He did.
Someday - I believe on the last day - he’s going have to answer for the way he used
the Bible tonight. Candler’s main point was that he’d changed his mind. He used
to think of the argument in terms of nature. (As in, its not natural) Now he thinks in
terms of commitment, and the church should be all about commitment.
In the gospel according to Candler,
God is interested in life-long relationships. The Church blesses faithfulness, and draws
us to a new creation in it. In that new creation, grace overcomes what we think we know by
He also said there were only 4 texts
in the Bible that spoke to the issue of homosexuality, and none of them spoke to the kind
of relationship he was recommending here.
Again, I need to say that he made a
very good presentation of a well-crafted highly honed speech. I do have to give him that.
He’d done the work ahead of time.
Kendall Harmon began with humor, and
then went right to it. He said this isn’t a debate about who is included. Christ
includes all, he said, this isn’t a debate about pastoral care. The church welcomes
Kendall drew a distinction between
orientation and action. The Bible’s positive teaching is the gift of monogamy between
a man and a woman. Complementary.
Kendall said a major area of
disagreement with Sam Candler was over Scripture. Kendall said, "This is not just
about four verses in the Bible." There is an enormous amount of testimony. It’s
not just four verses, it’s the whole of Scripture. Kendall said, but even if it were
just four verses, that still wouldn’t excuse us. Just because not much is said about
something is never a valid argument – after all, not much is said in the Bible about
incest. But we all know what the Bible thinks on the subject.
Kendall said there’s no set
answer from the "pro side" as to why we’re attempting to do this blessing.
Some say that marriage needs to be shifted – others say there need to be a new
category like marriage but not marriage. And a whole different third says, Let’s just
bless it and see what God does. Kendall reminded everyone that not everyone who wants
fidelity wants exclusivity. We aren’t talking about monogamy here. He said,
"I’m in a church that’s about to bless relationships and we don’t know
what they are!"
He gave a great analogy of a married
couple. The husband is carrying on an emotional relationship with another woman, and the
wife has letters, cards, etc. to prove it. The woman says to her husband, "If you
consummate this affair you will shatter our marriage." In reply the husband could
say, "If you choose to leave over my action then it will have been you who shatter
it." The husband could say, "Let’s just stay here and keep having meals
together and eventually you may change your mind." But either way, the husband is the
one at fault. That’s a great analogy for the Episcopal Church.
Kendall ended his talk with a plea
about the final day, when we stand (with Sam Candler) before the Lord and give an account
of how we handled what he had given us to be stewards of. Kendall asked, "Do you
really want to say, "Lord, I voted to clearly reject your recorded word. Lord, I
voted to shatter your church."
It was Kendall, at his finest. Thank
After this, the chair opened up the
process to allow two-minute speeches from the floor. I tried to take pictures, but there
were so many speeches I soon realized I couldn’t. Here’s just a few:
The Con side – (that’s what we
were called) spoke first.
A bishop spoke first – said
overseas the bishops there are speaking of American unilateralism. It’s not a good
thing for us to be doing.
The "pro" side went next.
A bishop on the pro side said,
"Jesus said, do not be afraid." We need not fear. I spoke with an overseas
bishop and he said if America did this we would disagree, but it would not destroy
On the Con side, Doug Taylor-Weis
spoke people who have a hard time with the commandment honor thy father and thy mother. He
said, even if I could overlook the commandment, I amd a man under authority and I do not
have the authority over look it. I do not have the authority to bless what you propose.
Pro – A man named Little, from
Vermont spoke on how he led the fight in the Vermont legislature for the same sex bill
they passes up there. He said it was shaky at first, but they all got over it.
Con – Bishop Skilton got up and
made an impassioned plea for what this would do to hurt the Church and destroy mission
opportunities. Great Job, Bishop!
Pro – A priest from Idaho
– said the greatest way to make the Episcopal church grow in Idaho would be to offer
same sex blessings. Lydia Evans (sitting next to me) said in an aside, "So,
we’re to do this to the whole church just to make his church bigger?"
On and on it went. Lydia Evans spoke
for the "con" side. She spoke of her daughter, and her concern that some day
down the road her daughter may settle for less than God’s best and decide to enter
into one of these "less than marriage" committed relationships with her
boyfriend. She reminded the people that there would be nothing binding if they is this and
thus her daughter would have no legal protection if the boyfriend decided to split. Is
this what we want? Great Job, Lydia!
Pro side – a man from New York
– been living together for years. Said he had a yearning. A yearning to share what
others already have in marriage.
Con – Dorsey Henderson, Upper
South Carolina bishop – Bishop Henderson said wasn’t completely against the
idea, it’s just that we haven’t done all our homework. (thanks a lot for
Pro side Someone asked, "what
about our youth? What message are we sending them- are we saying we don’t want them
unless they want to get married? The speaker then said, "If the church had held up
models of gays living in life long-relationships, my son would still be alive today."
Which leads us to
when Mrs. Allen spoke for our beliefs.
Here’s exactly what she said:
My name is Laura Allen, and I am the
mother of a dead homosexual son. Bradford was the youngest of my six children. He was
handsome, funny, gifted and a magna Cum laude university graduate. He was loved by his
family and he chose to live his live as a homosexual man, Did he have a life partner? Yes,
he had many of them, and each one was always the "one true love" – at that
time, of course.
In a recent (6/14/2003) Dallas
Morning News interview, the Rev. Troy Perry, moderator of the Metropolitan Community
Church, the congregation of which most are homosexual, was asked, "Why doesn’t
your denomination impose monogamy for committed couples like other Christian
denominations? His answer was, Monogamy is not a word the gay community uses. We talk
fidelity. That means you live in a loving, caring, honest relationship with your
partner… Some would say that committed couples could have multiple sex partners as
long as there is no deception."
In the course of Bradford’s
life and lifestyle he became HIV positive, after a few years the opportunistic disease of
AIDS became manifest, and I asked him to move into my home so that I might care for him.
During the last two and a half years of his life he had to have three painful surgical
procedures as a result of the physical aspects of the practice of male homosexuality.
About three ‘o clock one
morning Bradford called me to come to his room for a reality check, for he was reading his
Bible. As we prayed and read, he asked me to call a priest for his confession for he
grieved that he might have infected some others with HIV, and I did. From then on he
repudiated his previous life of homosexuality, received communion regularly, the last
rites for the dying, and he died peacefully in my arms, "ransomed, healed, restored,
Dozens more spoke, but Mrs. Allen
said all that need to be said. Amen.
We ended at 10:00. Got back to my
room at 10:30, and picked some supper that Mrs. Skilton had gotten for her husband and me.
I took it back to my room, and kept working on this post.
Tomorrow, the heat gets turned up a
notch, and Sunday – Oh Sunday! Pray for us!!
It’s now 3:38. I can’t
even see straight right now. I’m crashing. Good night from Minneapolis. See you