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Convention's process can help prevent division in Church
House of Deputies vice president says special committee will craft response to Communion

By Jerry Hames
[Episcopal News Service]  General Convention's legislative process need not polarize the church and leave Episcopalians with the feeling that they are either winners or losers, Bonnie Anderson, vice-president of the House of Deputies, told a workshop February 24 at the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes' annual conference.

"Our legislative process can work for us, depending upon how we use it," she maintained.

Anderson said that process will be put to work in the form of a special legislative committee that will work at General Convention in June to consider responses from Episcopalians and others in the Anglican Communion who have challenged the consecration of an openly gay bishop in 2003 and the blessing of same-gender unions in some dioceses.

The 75th General Convention, meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 13-21, has been asked to respond to recommendations from the leaders of the Anglican Communion and to those in the Windsor Report, written by a committee appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

"The opportunity is for that committee to receive a report from a group now at work, hold special hearings at convention to gather information and then recast legislation for presentation to the convention," she said. "That's the best we can do."

In response to a question, she said rumors that convention's business will be disrupted by protesters do not concern her. "That's all they are now, just rumors," she said. "We have a high level of decorum in the House of Deputies. We will stick to it."

As the convention draws near, Anderson said she is not preoccupied with sexuality matters. "I'm really focusing on the Millennium Development Goals," she said.

The eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) -- which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education by the target date of 2015 -- form a blueprint agreed to by all the world's countries and leading development institutions.

Rich countries have pledged to support them, through aid, debt relief, and fairer trade. Churches and governments have been challenged to contribute 0.7 percent of their income to help reach those goals.

"A lot of dioceses have now pledged that 0.7 percent giving," said Anderson. "We have an incredible opportunity to get behind the business of eradicating poverty in the world."