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ROCHESTER: Convention decries Resolution B033, Iraq war and Darfur genocide

By Mary Frances Schjonberg


[Episcopal News Service]  The Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, meeting in its 75th annual Diocesan Convention October 27-28 in Rochester, New York, opposed the requirements of General Convention Resolution B033 which urged bishops and standing committees to refuse to consent to the election of bishops whose "manner of life" offends the Anglican Communion.

The delegates said that the diocese would instead "faithfully adhere to Title III.1.2  [of the Episcopal Church's Canons] which states that, ‘No person shall be denied access to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities of age.'"

The complete text of the resolution is available here.

Also during the convention, Bishop Jack McKelvey announced his plans to retire in April 2008 and called for the election of the Eighth Bishop of Rochester.

Delegates approved a resolution affirming General Convention Resolution DO20, which called for ending the war in Iraq.

The Rochester resolution calls on Congress and the President to announce a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, transfer peacekeeping functions to an international body, fulfill "moral and legal obligations to provide resources for reconstruction through appropriate multinational and Iraqi agencies," provide for the health and well-being of returning troops, and give amnesty to conscientious objectors. The resolutions called upon congregations and individuals to advocate for an end to the war and to "pray often" for the people of Iraq as well as United States military personnel.

In another resolution focused on international events, the convention expressed its "dismay at the worsening humanitarian disaster in Darfur created by the civil war in the Sudan." The resolution tells President George W. Bush that "there is an urgent necessity for an international peacekeeping force to prevent further loss of life among refugees," adding that he should press the United Nations to endorse an international peacekeeping force.

The convention agreed to continue studying the issues surrounding stem cell research. A diocesan task force, led by the Rev. Dr. Christopher Luedde and Dr. James Boynton had studied the issue for a year. The group's included a statement of Anglican theology, information about work in the scientific community, a description of controversial questions raised by stem cell research, and resolutions for the convention to consider.

The theology statement concluded that "Anglicans share a common desire for reasoned deliberation that is grounded on this threefold experience of God in creation, redemption, and resurrection."

"Anglicans resist exclusive and dogmatic pronouncements having learned that God is always in the process of leading us to new insights about how to live in the context of creation as a gift, redemption as a way of releasing us from hubris, and resurrection as the promise of the ongoing unfolding of life including life to come," the report continued. "It is the hope of this committee that our church will continue to welcome conversation among ourselves and with those in the sciences on how stem cell research can contribute to the embrace of life that is both a gift that is being redeemed all the time and that contains the promise of even more fullness of life in the resurrection."
The convention accepted the report and agreed to continue the work of the task force for another year, during which it plans to support dialogue between the scientific community and the church, continuing study and discussion of the issue in congregations, development of study materials, and presentation of a diocesan-wide workshop within the coming year, according to a diocesan news release.

Information about all the Rochester resolutions is available here.
Speaking during his address 12 days before the mid-term elections across the United States, McKelvey said "Like many of you, I am concerned about the rhetoric of fear in our national politics."

"I am tired of all of our issues being papered over by the warnings of terrorism, and having the political discourse being primarily who will or won't raise taxes," he said. "Let's speak to and work on the issues, let's acknowledge where we have planned poorly and made mistakes, and let's reclaim the high road to world peace. We still have time to vote for hope and not despair, for positive action and not for the paralysis of fear, for justice and not for expediency. On the other side of fractious politics, nationally and locally, is a world of people who simply want to live and be free. They want no more than we do, and deserve no less than we expect."

McKelvey outlined a plan to elect his successor in February 2008 and to consecrate or install him or her on April 19, 2008.

"If all goes as planned, on April 19, 2008, I will be in my 67th year. I will be in my 42nd year of ordained ministry, my 18th year as a bishop and my 9th year as the Bishop of Rochester. That feels long enough," he said.

McKelvey said the mother of his wife, Linda, had a saying which he never thought that he would be applying it to himself. The saying was, "Come home while you are having a good time."
"I am having a good time. I love the ministry God and you are giving me to do. I am doing it to the best of my ability, and I feel rewarded for it. And yet, the time has come to begin the handing over to another," he said.

During his address, McKelvey announced the beginning of an institute called "LEADINGS: An Institute for Spiritual Formation and Leadership Development."

The full text of McKelvey's address is available here.

The Diocese of Rochester comprises about 11,300 Episcopalians worshipping in 52 congregations.