With only a handful of visitors in the gallery, the House of Bishops Sunday completed a light day of legislation as most of the attention centered in the House of Deputies, as they voted to confirm the election of the Rev. Canon Gene Robinson as bishop coadjutor of New Hampshire.
The bishops concurred with the deputies to continue anti-racism training and dialogue, as outlined in resolution A010. The measure also requires all people seeking election or appointment to several standing commissions and other Executive Council committees to have had anti-racism training – or pledge to undergo training within a year of their appointment.
Resolution D009 also passed in the House of Bishops – despite some concerns. The resolution calls on the convention to enthusiastically support and affirm an Anglican congress of lay people, priests, deacons and bishops from every diocese in the Communion.
“The vision is glorious,” said Bishop Edward Little of Northern Indiana. However, “I have a bit of concern about the unfunded mandate in the resolution.”
Smaller dioceses such as Northern Indiana have a difficult time finding the money to send the bishop and spouse to the Lambeth Conference, he said. Increasing the deputation to five or more people could cause an undue financial burden, Bishop Little said.
The bishops approved plans to create a nine-year Task Force of Executive Council on Lifelong Christian Education and Formation. The hope is that the task force will develop a vision and strategy to strengthen and equip people of all ages to share the good news of the Gospel.
The house recessed after debate – but before a vote – on resolution A014, which would support research on human stem cells.
Bishop John Lipscomb of Southwest Florida spoke against the resolution, despite acknowledging that stem cell research could benefit him personally. He was diagnosed as having Parkinson’s disease a year ago. However, he said, “I am also an adopted child. I know the preciousness of life. [If abortion had been legal in the 1940s], it’s very possible that I would not be standing here this afternoon and someone else would be the bishop of Southwest Florida.”
Bishop William Persell of Chicago countered that the resolution “has nothing to do with abortion. This is talking about embryos that are saved for fertilization purposes. They are no longer needed. The question is, ‘Are they going to be destroyed, or are they going to be saved forever, or are they going to be used to save people’s lives?”
The house is expected to resume discussion on the issue Monday morning.