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EAU CLAIRE: Diocese claims place in 'the central, moderate spectrum of historic Anglicanism'



[Episcopal News Service]  The Episcopal Diocese of Eau Claire, meeting November 10 and 11 in its annual convention, gave its support to the Millennium Development Goals.

A number of controversial resolutions were presented from the vestry of St. Paul's Church, Hudson, Wisconsin, according to a diocesan news release.

The five resolutions were attempts to align the diocese with the stance of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (NACDP). Included in the sponsors' packet was information from the NACDP, a pastoral letter from that organization's moderator and material from the primates of the "global south."

A motion to table those resolutions, plus an additional sixth resolution, and refer them to Executive Council was defeated, according to the news release. Four of the five resolutions were defeated by written ballot.

The news release said that a "spirited, well-mannered discussion and debate" on the resolutions reflected the "unwillingness of the diocese to adopt policy statements of a theological nature in contradiction to standard Anglican teaching with respect to scripture, tradition, and reason as well as on items perceived to be redundant, out of local competence, and forestalling prematurely the tensioned debate currently underway amongst Anglicans worldwide."

A resolution on the Lordship of Jesus was approved.

A sixth resolution was presented by the vestry and deputation from Grace Church, Rice Lake, as a conciliatory response and was passed. It is now "the official directive of diocesan convention's desire to position the diocese in the central, moderate spectrum of historic Anglicanism," the release said.

The resolution said that the diocese, "as a Christian family," affirms that:

  • "God has not abandoned his Church. The Holy Spirit continues to guide and be present in abundance with the Episcopal Church."
  • "A time of crisis can become a moment of grace-filled opportunity and we desire to work towards that end with God's help."
  • "The heat of the moment must be tempered with a larger historical perspective over ongoing moral and ethical debates. We urge patience and unity during the protracted discussion and caution against hasty actions by any which would further split the Body of Christ."
  • "We desire to affirm the classical 'middle way' of Anglicanism in order to avoid extreme positions or actions of any kind which would limit or foreclose rational debate and deliberation, always respecting the dignity of every human being."
  • "We pledge our allegiance to the ongoing process of determining what is God's will for his Church and affirm that we shall do so together in faith and good will."
  • "We adopt the words of St. Augustine of Hippo as the traditional guiding beacon to avoid less than holy behavior and consequences: 'In fundamentals of faith there must be unity. In disputable matters there must be freedom for debate. But in everything else there must be love.'"

The MDGs resolution passed by convention calls for:

  • a goal, beginning in 2008, to give 0.7% of the annual diocesan budget to fund international development programs, challenges all congregations in the diocese to do the same and challenges all members of the diocese to make similar commitments of their personal resources;
  • Bishop Keith Whitmore to charge the diocesan Executive Council requesting recommendations about the disbursement of the money, communicating these recommendations to congregations, and support efforts to coordinate this ministry with the work of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation and with the work of the ONE Episcopalian campaign; and
  • all Episcopalians in the diocese to contact their elected representatives urging them to support the United States government's fulfillment of its commitment to fund international development aid at 0.7% of US-GNP.

The Convention also welcomed a "son" of the diocese, Alaska Bishop Mark MacDonald, whose visit was cut short by a snow storm in the far West. He is the former rector of St. Mary's Church, Tomah, Wisconsin.

The Diocese of Eau Claire comprises about 2,230 Episcopalians worshipping in 23 congregations in the north and eastern parts of the state of Wisconsin.