The annual convention of the Diocese of Tennessee just adjourned. On the whole it was a convention characterized by a desire to exhibit good will to one another and to get through only the most pressing business before the consecration of Bishop-elect Bauerschmidt tomorrow. No official word about who the chief-consecrator will be, though it’s certain that it’s not going to be KJS. This was my first annual convention as a clergy delegate, and there were definitely some interesting parts. Probably the best moments for me came with the reception of Church of the Good Samaritan as a mission congregation in the Diocese of Tennessee, the report on our relationship with our Companion Diocese of The Litoral in Equador and with the Diocesan Youth Commission’s report to convention about youth ministry in the Diocese. It was also a good time of fellowship with friends in an atmosphere that was, on the whole, very different than the electing conventions of last year. If pushed I would characterize the mood of the convention as expectant.
While not much was done, St. George’s church did introduce a resolution which basically re-affirmed what the Diocese has already said at previous conventions. Here’s the text of the resolution, with (friendly) amendments, below:
BE IT RESOLVED:
The Diocese of Tennessee recognizes that all people are included in Christ’s redeeming love and welcomed into the fellowship of the Church, where each of us is offered the foregiveness of sins, called to a new life of grace, and invited to share in the Lord’s ongoing work in the world;
We acknowledge the existence of serious division in our worldwide Anglican Communion and within the Episcopal Church USA over decisions of the 74th General Convention 2003 of the Episcopal Church relating to issues of human sexuality. We lament and regret that at times these issues, and the reactions to them, have created tension, conflict and division within the Diocese of Tennessee, the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Communion;
We urge all Episcopalians and members of the Anglican Communion to pray for understanding, compassion, guidance, forgiveness, repentance and healing in the midst of these controversies;
We acknowledge that differences of opinion exist within our Diocese concerning these issues, as well as differences of opinion about how to respond to our current controversies in the larger Church;
We strongly believe and confirm that differences of opinion on these issues do not define or prohibit any person’s membership or presence in our parishes and mission communities and we pledge our efforts to ensure that mutual respect, compassion and forbearance will shape our common life in relation to these issues into the future;
Without regard to any individual personal views on the issues surrounding the Church’s current controversies, we believe the findings and recommendations of the Windsor Report represent the best way forward for the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Communion, and we accept and support those findings and recommendations;
We express our concerns We acknowledge that the House of Bishops and the duly elected deputies to the 75th General Convention 2006 in Columbus, Ohio did not take sufficient action to comply with the recommendations of the Windsor Report, including an expression of regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection with other parts of the Anglican Communion were breached by ECUSA’s actions;
We also affirm and support the recommendations of the Windsor Report that bishops who believe it is their conscientious duty to intervene in other provinces, dioceses, and parishes other than their own should prayerfully reconsider and take action to comply with the Windsor Report concerning the support of dissenting groups within the Church; and
We are committed to:
- remaining a full and active part of the Anglican Communion, in unity with the See of Canterbury, and the Episcopal Church USA;
- forgoing our own local desires for the sake of the greater Anglican Communion; and
- a conciliar approach to decision-making in the life of the Church and the Anglican Communion by working with and heeding the collective wishes of the Communion before making unilateral decisions.
We respectfully request that the Episcopal Church USA take all necessary steps to ensure that Episcopal parishes, missions and dioceses wishing to do so can remain in communion with the Anglican Communion.
Submitted by the Rector and Vestry of St. George’s Episcopal Church, Nashville.
This resolution was passed with no discussion or further amendments. I believe that, while it doesn’t say anything very surprising, it is important in the sense that it says the Diocesan Convention supports what Bishop Herlong has said in signing the minority Bishop’s letter after GC 2006, as well as the Camp Allen statement. Additionally, some of the language in the resolution strongly echoes language used by Bishop-elect Bauerschmidt to describe the the state of the Communion in his written answers before the election, i.e. that international unity is of the utmost importance.
It looks like the Episcopal line-up for tomorrow will be
The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III, Bishop of East Carolina
The Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, Bishop of Atlanta
The Rt. Rev. James B. Brown, Bishop of Louisiana, retired
The Rt. Rev. Bertram N. Herlong, Tenth Bishop of Tennessee
The Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley, Bishop of Alabama