Wednesday, July 08, 2009

On the Watch List: A Tale of Two Houses

Kendall Harmon says to watch the distance between the two houses, the House of Deputies (made up of clerical/lay deputations from all the TEC dioceses - all the same size no matter what the size of the actual diocese) and the House of Bishops (made up of all the voting bishops, though non-voting retired bishops will show up for the fellowship). Here's Kendall's view:
I think the most interesting dynamic heading in to this General Convention is the distance between the two Houses. In the House of Deputies, there is little question of the majority’s desire to overturn B033 (the restraint resolution) and pass a resolution placing the blessing of same sex unions in the Book of Occasional Services. I say this based on the tragic departures of numerous reasserters as well as the shifts in deputations like those from the TEC remnant dioceses of Fort Worth and San Joaquin. I also base it on my overall feel of the deputations.

The Bishops is another matter altogether. Many of them got an earful at Lambeth 2008 about the damage they have caused around the communion. Even more important in my view, the bishops are presiding over many dioceses in which there is much conflict, financial struggle, membership loss, morale depletion, and on and on. The Bishops as a whole do not want to provide a further explicit means for even more controversy. I think they want to bypass B033 and pass a resolution with some kind of circuitous wording trying to state where TEC is now. They also seem to wish to pass a resolution on the same sex blessing matter which allows the current situation of the increasing embrace of the practice to continue, without explicitly adding more fuel to the divisive fires.

That’s a pretty big gap between the two Houses. We’ll see how and if it can be bridged. Right now, based on where things are, I think the institutional reappraisers among the bishops have the upper hand in the very short term. Therefore a more probable outcome is for the overall desire of the bishops to prevail.
Read it all here. The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall Harmon is Canon Theologian and Anglican Communion Development Coordinator for the Diocese of South Carolina. He has also served as a Deputy to General Convention.

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