It's a Wrap

This old creaking ship of faith actually struggled with things that matter in the world.

The Rev. Mark Harris, a priest from Delaware, is serving as a "deputy," or delegate, to the Episcopal Church's General Convention in Minneapolis, which runs from July 30-August 8. He will file regular reports from the convention for Beliefnet.

Friday, August 8, 2003, 10 a.m.

We have begun to fold the tents. The exhibit area, a kasbah filled with all sorts of hawker of goods, from seminary programs to east Asian weaving, closed down yesterday afternoon. We began making courtesy resolutions Thursday mid-afternoon. We were tidying up loose ends.

It is Friday morning and we have been told that the Archbishop of Canterbury has called for an extraordinary meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion. "Primates" is the term used to refer to the primary bishop in each of the 38 autonomous churches that make up the Anglican Communion.

That meeting will not be an easy one. Through the meeting of these leaders the loose confederation of churches that constitutes the Anglican Communion will need to find a way to live with great differences or try to impose a solution on the Episcopal Church.

But all of that is news for the future. For now it is time to draw this Convention to a close. The tents are folding, the last songs are being sung, the last legislative sessions under way.

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In an odd way the resolution on how this convention would deal with the issue of same-sex blessings became a loose end, a tidying up. After all the drama about consent to bishop-elect Gene Robinson's election, the legislation that would impact most of us in the church was dealt with in comparative silence. That, in part, was because the Deputies by Thursday afternoon were dead tired and had heard over and over again all the arguments and experienced all the twists and turns of the legislation as it passed through committee and into the House of Bishops and out again to them.

The Bishops produced a compromise resolution about the blessing of same-sex unions, one which allowed but did not authorize blessings and sent their resolution to the floor of the House of Deputies on Thursday afternoon. It was no one's idea of a perfect resolution.

The so-called orthodox hated it because it admitted that pastoral care and diocesan action could produce the needed permission for the use of alternative liturgies for life-long relationships between people of the same sex. The progressives were uneasy because it was far short of what they hoped for.

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