The hot convention season is here

EpiscopalThe Episcopal Church begins its convention in Columbus, Ohio, today. I’m not sure if there is a church body in America that gets as much ink per member as the Episcopal Church. I’m not complaining about their coverage, I just wish that other church bodies of the same size could get half as much.

The convention is going to deal with lots of gay issues so many Godbeat reporters are preparing coverage. It makes for a great local story because every region in the country is sending delegates to the convention.

Gary Stern, who is a wonderful religion reporter for Gannett News Service in New York, had an interesting write-up. Here’s how it begins:

NEW YORK — Bishop Mark Sisk, leader of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, believes the debate about homosexuality that could ostracize Episcopalians from the Anglican world is a good thing.

Productive. Meaningful. Necessary.

He says the Episcopal Church will survive whatever happens at its General Convention, which opens Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio, and closes June 21.

“People say there is going to be dissension at the convention, but that doesn’t bother me a bit,” Sisk says. “Easy agreement is sort of self-congratulatory. Debate helps you move ahead.”

Stern does a great job of getting fresh quotes and new perspectives from people. This story isn’t terribly deep and doesn’t work very hard at getting other angles in there, but it strikes me as a fairly honest portrayal of how advocates of ordaining and marrying homosexuals are trying to accomplish their goals. He even mentions that the New York diocese has hired a high-powered public relations firm to help get more press coverage.

Chris Meehan, with the Kalamazoo Gazette, took the exact opposite approach with his story — quoting Bishop Robert Gepert lamenting the fact that the homosexual debates are so well-publicized.

Denise Smith Amos, with the Cincinnati Enquirer took a look at the specific issues the convention will address:

Among the resolutions dealing with gay issues:

An expression of regret over the Episcopal bishops “breaching the bonds of affection” in the Anglican community.

A promise that church leaders will be “cautious” about nominating bishops “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church.”

A vow to halt efforts to create rites of blessing for same-sex unions for now.

There also are measures that decry discrimination and confirm that gays are entitled to equal protection under society’s laws.

There should be many stories filed throughout the week. Please let us know if you see any particularly noteworthy ones. Southern Baptists and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are also meeting this week.

Photo via Flickr.

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  • Stephen A.

    “Easy agreement is sort of self-congratulatory. Debate helps you move ahead.”

    Say what? I can’t fathom how the “in-your-face” attitude of the liberal side of that denomination has been moving anything “ahead.” It’s literally torn the denomination apart. As for self-congratuations, I have never met more self-congratulatory people than those on the leftward fringe of the Episcopal church. They believe they are LEADING the world to a Jesus-centered model of religion by accepting gay sexuality, and are very proud of it, to the point of messianic zeal in some folks I’ve interviewed.

    I’m glad this attitude often comes out in national news stories – sometimes unintentionally, I’m sure.

    Sharpen your laptops, folks. Given its agenda, this could be a convention that will pour OCEANS of salt into the Anglican world’s wounds on this issue.

  • Zara Renander

    Just a reminder: salt in a wound may be painful, but it also has cleansing and healing properties, that’s is why salt is sometimes used in wound care. Sometimes facing truth is painful, but it is what is necessary for healing to take place.
    The Anglican communion has always, perhaps until the present, been able to exist with dissension. Our identity is common worship, not necessarily agreement on all issues. That is what the Act of Uniformity was about when Elizabeth I consolidated her authority over the nascent Anglican Church. That uniformity was around worship, not doctrine: something to ponder this week. Zara R.

  • Dan Berger

    Sorry, Zara. Go back and read the Anglican Divines.

    They would and could not have approved of the essentially infinite doctrinal “variety” — not even getting into variety in morality — in the Episcopal Church today.

    Anyhow, who says we have uniformity of worship? There are rubrics. They are ignored. There are no consequences. And the proliferation of approved “alternative services” tends to give the lie to the whole idea of uniform worship.

    The Book of Common Prayer in the Episcopal Church is still an orthodox document. Would that it were actually followed…

    Color me cynical.

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  • Michael

    I think Episcopalians get a lot of ink because: (a) there are a lot of Episcopalians in the newsrooms, (b) they tend to be urbanites and well-educated (c) the opposing camps are incredibly well-funded with huge PR machines, and (d) Americans tend to have Anglo-envy. :)

  • Discman

    The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) also meets soon (June 20-23), but as usual, our “smaller” issues get ignored by the press, which chases after every gay- and gender-related story it can find. Granted, the other denominations number in the millions of members, while we lowly PCA-ers have fewer than 400,000 adherants, but we like to think our convention debates are worth having.

    I’m tempted to think Mollie is part of this vast conspiracy, referencing the PCUSA convention and not the PCA’s, but technically, the PCA convention is NEXT week, not this week. So I guess she’s off the hook.

  • Dave Vander Laan

    One other denomination with meetings this week is the Reformed Church in America – a.k.a. the RCA – the oldest Protestant denomination in the US (today is the last day of yearly meetings, called ‘General Synod’).

    At it’s meeting last year, the denomination disciplined a professor of theology for officiating at the same-sex wedding of his daughter (he had been president of one of the denomination’s seminaries when the wedding took place).

    At this year’s meeting the denomination made decisions regarding accountability in the discipline process and addressed his pastoral care.

  • Fr. Augustine O.P.

    Also this week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will be meeting in Los Angeles from June 15-17. The agenda will include discussion and vote on adaptations of the Order of Mass and liturgical translations by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy. This is, at least among those concerned about the defective English translations used at Mass, a major vote. The British and Australian bishops have already approved the new translations of the Mass order and collects, which include restoring “And with your spirit.” in place of the current “And also with you.” These new more literal translations are bitterly opposed by some bishops.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    I just finished reading USA Today’s guide to the debate on Gay Issues in the Episcopal Church. Talk about stereotypical biased liberal coverage that would warm Rush Limbaugh’s heart for providing fish in the media barrel for him to shoot. The guide to the “debate” included 4 positive profiles of “Church-goers.” They all were gay activists of one level or another. Not one profile from the group of Anglican Christian Davids taking on the homosexualist Episcopal Establishment.

  • tmatt

    Deacon John:

    When did that story run? Hast you a URL?

  • Rathje

    Media bias on homosexuality and religion? Nothing new on that. A Nightline story on homosexuality and the LDS Church repeatedly stated or implied that the LDS Church believes gays are “going to hell.”

    Never mind that LDS doctrine on “hell” makes it pretty tough for anyone to get there (Cain is the only cited example). Also never mind that LDS authorities have repeatedly emphasized that it is only homosexual sex that disqualifies for full membership, not merely having homosexual tendencies.

    Apparently the nuances are a little much for the reporters, and they tend to fall back to the default position that Mormons hate gays and want to see all homosexuals burn in hell.

    Because, as we all know, a mainstream religion that endorses actual standards of conduct and actual moral principles could never be understanding or accepting of “we poor liberals.”

  • ELC

    Debate helps you move ahead? Whether that’s good or bad depends entirely on what direction you’re going, no?

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    tmatt–It was on the USA Today site–the date was June 12 and I got there from Amy Welborn’s Open Book site where she wrote of coverage of the various church conferences.

  • http://n/a Basil

    The Episcopal church forgot long ago that the model for The Church (the Body of Christ) is the Holy Trinity. The three Persons of the Trinity giving themselves to and for one another in love (St. Paul’s definition) and in complete dedication to the other Persons. It is not One of the Persons focusing on Himself. This means that a decision that splits the denomination almost in half was not the product the members giving themselves to and for the others and to God. It was a product of self-centeredness overcoming one’s love for those with other positions — self-centeredness overcoming selflessnss. As long as the clergy and laity of the Episcopal church do not each see themselves as part of a trinity between themselves, those with other opinions, and God the Episcopalians will continue to fracture, much to the delight of the evil one. Perhaps the best possible outcome would be for individual Episcopalians to come to understand the dichotomy between what they were and what they have become, of what they are now and what they could, and should, be.