Thursday, 6 July 2000
Special Committee 25 takes initial action on heterosexism
In its first action of General Convention, the special committee appointed to deal with sexuality resolutions hastrimmed its workload by combining a resolution on heterosexism with another resolution calling for continued dialogue on sexuality.
The resolution (B008) calling for a pastoral teaching and study guide ``on the sin of heterosexism'' in its amended form, is now part of the resolution that would commit the church to continue the dialogue and study concerning human sexuality (C008). Special Committee25 so far has held two hearings on these and five other resolutions dealing with safe places for gays and lesbians, the Boy Scouts of America policy on gays and lesbians, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music's report and rites for blessing samesex unions. The resolution now requests the House of Bishops to prepare a pastoral study guide on heterosexism in ``preparation for a pastoral teaching.''
General Convention shows early signs of cordiality
Four representatives from each house, designated as ``press briefing officers,'' have been asked to offer daily observations on the progress of the convention's business, while also laying out the expected schedule of each day's events. Briefing officers from the House of Deputies are Herb Gunn of Michigan, the Rev. Gayle E. Harris of Rochester, Prof. Ian Douglas of Massachusetts and Marge Christie of Newark. Briefing officers from the House of Bishops are Catherine S. Roskam of New York, Clifton Daniel III of East Carolina, Chester Talton of Los Angeles and Charles F. Duvall of Central Gulf Coast.
Deputies reject sanctions in opening of Convention business
On its first morning of business, the House of Deputies voted to reject a resolution (C001) that would have imposed sanctions on dioceses for failure to pay their ``fair share'' of askings to the national church. Life, death, sexuality mark deputies' first day
A call for a moratorium on capital punishment, initiatives for affordable AIDS-related medications in poor nations and the promotion of dialogues on sexuality and fidelity marked the afternoon ssession of the House of Deputies on July 5. While resolutions opposing capital punishment have passed General Convention before, Resolution A082a added a call for an immediate moratorium on executions. The amended resolution, which was approved, strikes language that singled out capital offenders under age 18 as objects of special attention for deathpenalty opponents. Several deputies urged unsuccesfully to reinstate that language to acknowledge disparities in sentencing practices.
Proposals for dialogue on sexuality with youth (A046a) and on fidelity in relationships (A080a) both passed. Attempts to add abstinence and safer-sex education to the sexuality dialogue failed. A motion to restore a specific reference to sexual relationships from the resolution on fidelity failed. Both now go to the House of Bishops.
Deputies amended resolution D030, which prohibits ``external communication devices'' on the floor while deputies are in session, to allow electronic voting devices and computers when used as ``record-keeping devices,'' but finally referred the resolution back to committee to prevent the addition of a Laundry list of additional exempted devices.
In other action, deputies approved resolutions:
Adopting an amended version of a resolution recognizing the problem of trafficking in women, girls and boys
-recommending congregations embrace ``A Pledge of Nonviolence''
-supporting ministry to juvenile offenders and their families
-supporting establishment of all Episcopal Church property as ``tobacco-free zones.''
Bishops debate push for mandatory anti-racism training
Bishops returned a resolution that would require church personnel to receive anti-racism training to Deputies on Wednesday, because some felt the scope of the requirements was unclear. Documentation, sanctions for failure to comply, time frame requirements and questions about which employees and volunteers would be required to take training were among the clarifications requested.
In other action, bishops approved resolutions:
-calling for the more awareness of social and economic problems facing rural communities
-urging more study of theological and ethical issues that arise near the end of life
-calling for secular and governmental support of programs in South Africa to improveme education system and reduce poverty
-appropriating $75,000 for a Leadership Program for Musicians Serving Small Congregations
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