The co-chairs and three members of the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion provided a preliminary overview of work to date -- begun at the request of the Windsor Report, Primates Meeting, and the Anglican Consultative Council -- in a March 18 morning briefing to the House of Bishops.
Co-chairs Mark Sisk, bishop of the Diocese of New York, and Ian Douglas, priest and General Convention deputy from the Diocese of Massachusetts, emphasized the ongoing process of the committee's work -- the results of which will not be finalized until late March and published on or about April 10, 60 days prior to the opening of General Convention's 75th triennial meeting.
"It is important to note that the House of Bishops did not consider any draft document, and no legislative process was engaged," Sisk said after addressing the bishops, who are meeting here through March 22 at the Kanuga Conference Center.
"The Commission representatives are highly mindful that this is the work of both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops," Sisk said. "We utilized this forum to hear what the bishops have to say," even though the Special Commission's final report is not yet in hand.
"We have worked to respond directly and clearly to the invitations received from the Windsor Report, the Primates and the members of the ACC," Sisk said of the Commission's activity -- which will culminate in a report likely to include an executive summary, main sections of content, and draft resolutions.
The Special Commission's official charge is -- by reviewing resource texts and proposing Convention resolutions -- "to assist the deliberations the 75th General Convention" in "considering how to maintain the highest degree of communion within the Anglican Communion given the different perspectives held with regard to the place of homosexual persons in the life of the church."
"As co-chair from the House of Deputies, I felt it was very important to share the work of the Special Commission so the bishops can begin to know about its direction," Douglas said. "At the same time, the Episcopal Church has a bicameral polity, so the final report of the Special Commission will be released to both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies at the
"There seemed to me to be a good spirit," Sisk said of the bishops' response to the briefing, "and people are taking it very seriously. I hope this will lead to some thoughtful conversation, and that the work will lead us into new and deeper ways of relating to the Communion at large."
Douglas added that the Special Commission's work seeks "to foster constructive conversation about how the Episcopal Church can live into the fullest level of Communion possible."
The co-chairs said the Special Commission's final report would be published in English, French, and Spanish, and with a brief outline in Mandarin.
Also sharing in the presentation to the bishops were bishops Dorsey F. Henderson of Upper South Carolina, Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada, and Henry Louttit of Georgia.
Special Commission members are:
The Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk (Co-Chair) New York, II; The Rev. Dr. Ian T. Douglas, (Co-Chair) Massachusetts, I; Ms. Sarah Dylan Breuer, Maryland, III; The Rev. Dr. A. Katherine Grieb, Virginia, III; The Rev. Dr. Mark Harris, Delaware, III; The Rt. Rev. Dorsey F. Henderson Jr., Upper South Carolina, IV; The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Nevada, VIII; The Rt. Rev. Henry Louttit, Georgia, IV; The Rev. Charles E. Osberger, Easton, III; The Rev. Canon Rosemari G. Sullivan, Virginia, III; Mrs. Katherine Tyler Scott, Indianapolis, V; The Rev. Francis H. Wade, Washington, III; Mr. Christopher Wells, Northern Indiana, V; The Rev. Sandra A., Wilson, Newark, II.
Appointed in 2005 by Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and House of Deputies President George Werner, the Special Commission met November 7, December 20, February 13-15 and March 6-7. Its final meeting is set for March 27, 2006.
The Special Commission's Interim Report to the "Blue Book" report to General Convention reads in part as follows.
"The Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion (SCECAC) was constituted late in 2005 by the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, and the President of the House of Deputies, the Very Rev. George L. Werner. The charge of the SCECAC is to help the 75th General Convention to consider recent developments in the Anglican Communion with a goal to maintaining the highest degree of communion possible. To this end, the SCECAC will seek to clarify for the 75th General Convention the recommendations, requests, and resolutions of key inter-Anglican texts made since the last General Convention. Of these, the primary documents are: The Windsor Report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion, the Communiqué of the Primates Meeting in Dromantine, February 2005, and the Resolutions of the 13th Meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham, June 2005.
"SCECAC is committed to assisting the 75th General Convention to consider constructively all that has transpired in the Anglican Communion since the 74th General Convention. SCECAC thus will help the 75th General Convention to respond to the Windsor Report, the Primates Meeting Communiqué, and the ACC Resolutions by reflecting upon the terms of the discussion, and offering some suggestions for ways forward together. SCECAC also will consider, as appropriate, other texts and voices from the Communion, including pastoral statements and resolutions from the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, The Executive Council of the General Convention, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and other pertinent theological texts and reports. SCECAC seeks, through this work, to contribute to a response by the Episcopal Church through the General Convention that will affirm our commitment to, and indeed strengthen, the fullest level of communion with and among our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the Anglican Communion.
"Since the SCECAC was constituted in the later part of this triennium, this brief report represents an initial interim report. The Commission will continue to meet in the first three months of 2006 and will offer a full report to the 75th General Convention approximately 60 days prior to Convention."