A word from the conventions, Part II: UCC, Episcopal, ELCA
An earlier post reported on the closing of the Mennonite USA convention and the opening of the United Church of Christ (UCC) General Synod. Since then, the UCC has concluded its business; meanwhile, the triennial General Convention of the Episcopal Church will convene in Anaheim on July 8.
The main order of business for the UCC was the pro forma election of The Rev. Geoffrey Black to succeed the Rev. John Thomas as General Minister and President. Thomas was ineligible for an additional term. That Black was selected without opposition symbolized the unity and lack of divisive issues at the 27th General Synod. The UCC is one of the mainline Protestant denominations that welcomes gay clergy, and they appear to be at peace with the issue.
The Episcopal Church is also a denomination that ordains gay clergy, but the issue continues to roil. At the 76th General Convention since 1785, LGBT issues will dominate:
The Episcopal Church’s 45-year debate over human sexuality and the appropriate response to the desire of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people to participate fully in the church’s life will occupy General Convention’s attention once again as it meets July 8-17 in Anaheim, California.
Deputies and bishops are being asked to reconsider the 2006 convention’s stand that the church “exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”
The Episocopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican communion, and the 2006 resolution sought to mollify international concern with the episcopacy of gay Bishop Eugene Robinson of New Hampshire, in a classic “don’t rock the boat” expression of church polity over principle. As the 2009 General Convention approaches, the Episcopalian blogosphere is electric with anticipation.
Elizabeth Kaeton, a self-described “joyful Christian who claims the fullness of the Anglican tradition of being evangelical, Anglo-Catholic, charismatic, orthodox and radical”, serves as Pastor of an Episocopalian parish in New Jersey. In her “Telling Secrets” blog, she has a telling video that addresses the perception that all African Anglicans have a negative attitude toward gay inclusion.
From the opposite coast, Pastor Susan Russell of California offers regular updates and a photo montage of the Integrity Team in preparation for the General Convention at her “Inch at A Time” blog. Pastor Russell also serves as President of Integrity USA, “a faithful witness of God’s inclusive love to the Episcopal Church and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. We are working for the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments,” and the Integrity blog also has frequent updates.
Meanwhile, ELCA members and churches continue their 50 day prayer vigil that points toward their 2009 Churchwide Assembly in Mpls that begins August 17 and which will consider the ELCA versions of LGBT resolutions. I plan to be present in MPLS to liveblog the daily events.