Convention reaffirms open ordination process, commitment to communion

July 13, 2009

The House of Deputies July 14 concurred with the House of Bishops in their action on Resolution D025 and passed it as amended.

The resolution affirms that ordination is available to anyone in the church through the discernment process outlined in the Constitution and Canons of the church. It also said that God's call to ordination is a mystery and reaffirmed the Episcopal Church's participation in the Anglican Communion, while noting that the communion is not of one mind on this matter.

The resolution passed in a vote by orders called for early in the debate. The final vote in the lay order was 78 yes, 21 no and 9 divided. In the clergy order the vote was 77 yes, 19 no and 11 divided. A simple majority -- 55 votes among laity and 56 among clergy – was required for the resolution to pass.

This vote followed previous action on D025 July 12 that was passed by deputies with a 2-1 majority. Because the resolution passed with an amendment by the bishops July 13, deputies had to vote on the amended version in order for the resolution to be adopted.

In the debate leading up to this vote, the Very Rev. Philip Lindner (Upper South Carolina) said the time for this action had arrived. "I saw our passage of D025 as our acknowledgement of what is -- a way forward that is not perfect but is nonetheless a way for us to state boldly that we as Anglicans, as Episcopalians, are now recommitting to our faith and love in Jesus Christ now with a desire to fully focus on mission and ministry in his name."

Grace Aheron, a member of the Official Youth Presence from the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, noted that the house already had spoken and needed to reaffirm that vote, "It is time to move past this resolution," she said. "This house has already decisively spoken. I ask you to quickly pass this resolution again. There are many other issues requiring our attention, and we have delayed this long enough. The debate is over, and it's time to vote. As we say in Virginia, let's get 'er done."

Two other members of the Official Youth Presence urged the resolution be defeated. Michael Sahdev of Southeast Florida said, "I am extremely worried about the future of this church and what will happen to it. We already have lost so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Please, I beg and plead of you, don't leave me and my generation with half a church or no church at all."

Zach Brown of Upper South Carolina said, "I fear more conservative members will leave our church. My fear is that parishes and dioceses will leave our church. Without the communion's unity the Episcopal Church will gradually diminish."

Others urged that the resolution not be amended, a process that would require it to go back to the House of Bishops for further action or concurrence. With General Convention ending on July 17, some deputies were concerned that there might not be enough time for the matter to make its way through the administrative structure to be considered once again.

One proposed amendment that would have removed reference to the Episcopal Church's "financial" commitment to the communion was soundly defeated.