We began our day together with Eucharist at 10:00. The Presiding Bishop celebrated and preached. The two previous presiding bishops concelebrated and it really was good to see all three of them at the altar together. They were applauded out at the end of the service. This was the UTO Ingathering service so all the UTO representatives from each diocese presented the offerings. The offering at the service - the only service with an offering collected - also goes to UTO. Given that there were probably five to eight thousand people there, it should be a substantial gift to fund work around the globe.
The afternoon session of the House of Deputies was taken up largely by a single resolution. D025 is titled "Commitment and Witness to the Anglican Communion." It begins by reaffirming our commitment to and participation in the Anglican Communion; encourages congregations, individuals and dioceses to participate in the many networks within the Communion and makes it clear that we are willing to commit ourselves financially to the Communion as well. I'm going to quote the text of the rest of the resolution rather than paraphrase it. I remind you that all of this resolution still has to be concurred by the House of Bishops or it dies.
"Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm the value of "listening to the experience of homosexual persons," as called for by the Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988, and 1998, and acknowledge that through our own listening the General Convention has come to recognize that the baptized membership of The Episcopal Church includes same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships "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" (2000-D039); and be it further
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention recognize that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst; and be it further
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church, which call is tested through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church; and be it further
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge that members of The Episcopal Church, as of the Anglican Communion, based on careful study of the Holy Scriptures, and in light of tradition and reason, are not of one mind , and Christians of good conscience disagree about some of these matters."
We voted by orders (each diocese has one lay vote and one clerical vote based upon a canvass of the four deputies in each order) and the resolution passed overwhelmingly. Now it will go to the House of Bishops and we shall see what they think.
Much of our deputation had dinner together tonight at the Cheesecake Factory. Ann Markle and I decided that we had better walk back even if we did have salads (the menu listed some of them as lo-cal because they had less than 590 calories!) because we also had cheesecake. I mean, what's the point of going to a restaurant that features cheesecake if you aren't going to eat any?! I even walked up three flights of stairs once I got inside the hotel. Eight elevators aren't enough for all of the Episcopalians who seem to all want to go up or down at the same time.
Tomorrow begins with a committee meeting at 7:30 once again. We will try to hammer out a resolution on same-gender blessings. Having looked at this issue from two or three angles, we really cannot use the language of marriage even though several states have. It would require canonical change and also BCP change. I hope we will have this out by Tuesday but it may well be Wednesday.
Good night, all. Or good morning.