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NEW YORK: Diocese reaffirms support for full inclusion, stops short of rejecting B033

By Mary Frances Schjonberg


[Episcopal News Service]  The Episcopal Diocese of New York, meeting November 11 in its 230th annual convention, reaffirmed its support of the inclusion and ordination of gays and lesbians but narrowly rejected a call for the church to ignore the advice in General Convention Resolution B033.

Convention devoted the most discussion time to a resolution titled "Disassociating the Diocese of New York from Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention."

Speakers pro and con lined up at the microphones and the debate continued for nearly an hour.

The resolution as originally submitted was split into two. The delegates passed the first, which reaffirmed the diocese's position on the inclusion and ordination of gays and lesbians.

The convention narrowly defeated (114 yes, 138 no) the second resolution urging the bishops to ignore the General Convention's advice that bishops and standing committees refrain from consenting to the election of bishops "whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on the communion."

Bishop Mark Sisk told the convention that "when the Church gathered in Convention [in June] the desire to reach a common understanding, though prevalent, was by no means universal."

Due to the "breadth, size and complexity" of the way General Convention conducts its business, Sisk said: "It requires only a dedicated handful of knowledgeable people to really gum up the works. And those folks were there, and clearly well prepared."

"There were determined efforts to use cleverly worded resolutions to draw lines between people and to drive them into warring camps. There were attempts to obscure the issues or assert that there were issues where none existed," he said. "Perhaps the most dramatic example of this distortion was the frequently repeated claim that the Windsor Report called on the Episcopal Church to renounce the consecration of Gene Robinson. The simple and irrefutable fact is the Windsor Report simply never made such a request, nor was it made by the Primates nor was it made by the Anglican Consultative Council."

"Despite the facts the assertion that such a request had been made was repeated with such determination and singleness of voice that one media outlet after the other assumed that it was true," he said. "The primary strategy however, appears to have been to slow the cumbersome Convention process to the point of paralysis, and then claim to international forums that the Episcopal Church was uninterested in listening to our brothers and sisters around the world. I am pleased to say that at the end of the day this strategy failed. A difficult but not uncontroversial accommodation was reached."

Saying he has seen the fruits of dialogue elsewhere, Sisk said he has not given up on the potential for dialogue with those who disagree in the Episcopal Church. "I have seen far too much evidence of what can be achieved when people of good will engage in open respectful conversation to ever dismiss unimagined possibilities as being impossible," he said. 
The full text of Sisk's address is available here.

Convention also approved resolutions which:

  • recognized the 231st birthday of the US Marine Corps;
  • called for the commemoration of John Jay, first chief justice of the United States;
  • endorsed a census campaign to support Millennium Development Goals projects;
  • asked congregations to respond to prisoners being released;
  • changed the name of the Congregational Life And Mission Commission to Congregational Life for Mission; and
  • called on Turkey to cease curtailing religious liberties of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The resolutions are available here.

The Diocese of New York comprises about 63,700 Episcopalians worshipping in 197 congregations.