The Special Committee on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion held its first open hearings June 13, during which resolutions relating to the Windsor Report, the Anglican Communion's Listening Process, and the Anglican Consultative Council appropriation were discussed.
An afternoon hearing addressed resolution A0159: "Commitment to Interdependence in the Anglican Communion" and nine related C resolutions (004, 009, 014, 025, 027, 037, 038, 039 and 042).
The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, addressed the committee at the request of one of its members, the Rev. Dr. Ian T. Douglas.
"I am very much in admiration of the respectful way you have approached this issue and it would be good if other Churches in the Anglican Communion would have this level of discussion," he said, upholding the importance of "trust and respect" in how Anglican provinces relate to one another.
The Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity and one of the six presenters to the June 2005 meeting of Anglican Consultative Council, spoke on behalf of "countless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Episcopalians." Integrity advocates for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the Episcopal Church.
"We are deeply committed to this church and communion -- the sharing of mutual ministry, bearing one another's burdens ... [and] to interdependence" she said. "Mutuality and respect for one another are hallmarks of us as Anglicans."
Russell urged the committee to explore ways in which autonomy and interdependence can be "embraced as critical components of our identity as Anglicans.... The Windsor Report is a means for deepening understanding and reconciliation," she said.
Kearon told the committee that he is attending General Convention as an observer. "The Anglican Communion is not trying to influence or shape the decisions you are trying to make," he said.
The guidance of Scripture overarches all of the Church's work, he explained, "but we also share in the recognition of the historic episcopate.
"Generally, we have synodical forms of government, but we need to recognize that in the body of Christ we are all one, but with different functions and different roles."
House of Deputies vice president Bonnie Anderson expressed concern that there has been no discussion with other provinces about whether or not they would want to sit on the standing commissions of the Episcopal Church as proposed in A159. The committee discussed ways to refine the language in that part of the resolution.
"It is startling for this convention to contemplate bringing people with seat and voice but I would suggest that that incarnates the kind of communion that we seek and it shows our commitment to the listening process," said the Rev. Titus Presler, sub-dean of General Theological Seminary, noting that the Episcopal Church already commits substantial financial resources to enable visitors to attend many of its meetings.
The evening hearing focused on "Commitment to Windsor and Listening Processes" (A165), "Anglican Covenant Development Process" (A166) and "Anglican Consultative Council Appropriation" (C007).
Speaking in favor of A165, the Rev. Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia, acknowledged the importance of listening, which "must be mutual," he said. "Listening is always done in context rather than isolation."
Referring to Lambeth Resolution 1.10, Minns said that "a clear statement has been made about how homosexual practice fits into our understanding of biblical theology."
He also acknowledged that the end result of listening may be disagreement "which we need to face into," he said. "What happens after we finally disagree -- can we find a way to live together?"
The Rev. Nigel Taber-Hamilton, an alternate from the Diocese of Olympia, expressed concern about Resolution A166 which would direct Church leaders to monitor any process of developing an Anglican Covenant.
"Our experience and our theology teach us that we are not a covenantal church," he said. "We already have an Anglican identity in the form of worship -- we pray because we believe and we don't need anyone to tell us otherwise. In this form, I believe [this resolution] is a fruitless exercise that will distract us from the central issues."
Josephine Hicks, an alternate from North Carolina and a member of the Anglican Consultative Council spoke against C007 -- submitted by the Diocese of Newark -- which implies that the three Episcopal Church representatives "were kicked out" of the ACC meetings "or did not show up at the table," she said.
The resolution requests that certain money be held in escrow until "the ACC members ... are reinstated as full members with seat, voice and vote."
"It is important for this Convention to remember that the Episcopal Church voluntarily withdrew from the ACC ... with no strings attached," Hicks said.
One of the budget priorities for the Episcopal Church is its relationship with the Anglican Communion, said Hicks, "and a tangible way for us to live into that priority is to meet the ACC budget and not withhold anything.
"This resolution sends the wrong signal [and] this Convention needs to model good behavior to the rest of the church," she added. "We want to avoid any perception of arrogance and withholding our money would contribute to that perception."
The committee will continue to discuss and reflect on the June 13 hearings and refine the resolutions during its meetings June 14.
A public hearing set for 7:30 p.m. on June 14 in the Regency Ballroom in the Hyatt Regency will focus on resolutions A160, A161, A162 and A163, which deal with the expression of regret, election of bishops, public rites of blessing same-gender unions, pastoral care and Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO). Priority seating will be offered until 7:15 p.m. for the designated deputies and bishops from all dioceses.
On June 16, hearings will be held at 7:30 a.m. in the Hayes room of the Hyatt Regency on Resolutions A168: "Human of Ministry" and D017: "Marriage Rite in Book of Common Prayer for Same-Sex Couples."