For some reason, back in January, my church decided that I would do well as one of our three delegates to Diocesan Convention, which is the main decision-making body for the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. That was Saturday.
I had been dreading it horribly.
I don't want much of anything to do with church politics. It gets in the way of spirituality. I miss the days when I could just go to church and sing in the choir, maybe do an occasional reading. I have been "herded" into more and more of an administrative role, and I dislike it. I'll do it as necessary, but I'm not really all that comfortable with it.
This Convention, though, I'd been dreading more than anything. The job of Convention is to approve the Diocesan budget for the next year, and also to pass or block various resolutions which guide the Diocese on its way. There were huge budget cuts necessary this year, and I was expecting huge battles.
Even worse, though, was Resolution 11.
You see, the reason I started attending an Episcopal Church in the first place was that they elected Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, to be the Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire. I figured that if they would do that, they must align fairly well with me on political and social justice issues, so I'd be comfortable. And with the parish I chose, I was right.
The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion, which is essentially a loosely knit group of all the churches which were founded by the Church of England. Much of the Anglican Communion was, shall we say, less than pleased about Bishop Robinson's consecration, particularly several bishops of Dioceses in Africa. The church may well wind up in a schism over this issue-- it's not there yet, but there's a pretty strong chance it will.
Now, I happen to believe that eventually, science will prove that one's sexuality is a matter of genetics and brain coding, thus meaning that folks who are gay were made that way by God, thus making homosexuality in no way a sin. So in my mind, Bishop Robinson has as much right to be a bishop as does anyone else, and I'm more than a little irked that it's such a big deal.
But Resolution 11 basically stated that we would apologize to the bishops in Africa, that we would repent for the election of Bishop Robinson, and we would never do such a thing again. That's a highly simplified version of it, but you get the gist.
I had a plan. If this passed, I was going to stand up and register a formal objection, then walk out in protest. I hated it, hated that it was on the ballot. I'm not at all sorry that Bishop Robinson was elected, and damned if I'm going to repent for it.
Anyway, back at Convention.... it was actually going quite well. The budget passed with a minimum of fuss, and we were making our way through the resolutions at a good pace. Ones that I thought would cause a lot of debate, such as support for adoption by "non-traditional" parents (step parents, or same-sex partners of parents), or in support of restoring domestic partner benefits to those who lost them when Michigan passed the anti-gay-marriage amendment last year? Went right through. Hardly any debate.
Then we came to Resolution 11, and the words flew. Up, down, for, against. Someone moved that we amend the resolution to be instead a feel-good resolution that he had written. The substitute resolution basically stated that we were sorry pain had been caused, but we had to do what we had to do. This was lovely and well-written, but since it wasn't really a resolution to do anything, it was defeated.
Then we had to vote on whether to pass the original resolution. Would we accept it? Would we apologize to the African bishops for taking what I feel was a prophetic action and a direct bit of guidance from the Holy Spirit? My heart was pounding as our bishop called for the vote.
"All those in favor?"
We voted by holding up voting cards to be counted and tallied.
When the bishop called for those in favor of adopting Resolution 11, very few people raised their voting cards. I could feel a big grin spreading across my face as I realized what was happening.
"All those opposed?"
Pink ballot cards up in the air as far as I could see. Everywhere, pink ballot cards raised high, pink ballot cards raised to show the world that we really did feel that we did what we had to do and what was right to do.
I actually had tears in my eyes.
I tell you, my friends, it was beautiful to see. Absolutely glorious.