Bishop Waggoner responds to WSJ article on General Convention & more from our GC2012 blogJuly 26th, 2012 | Posted by in Bishop's Messages | News
Jay Akasie wrote a piece about the 2012 General Convention for the Wall Street Journal that caused quite a stir. Last week, you saw some of the responses from around the Episcopal blogging networks. Below is a response from our very own Bishop James E. Waggoner, Jr. to address some of Mr. Akasie’s points. (The article by Bishop Waggoner was originally posted in the comments section of the Wall Street Journal article.)
Having read Jay Akasie’s article about the recently concluded triennial General Convention of the Episcopal Church, I write to offer a quite different experience and perspective, and I do so as a Bishop who participated fully in the convention.
For example, the primary focus of the convention was not on developing funeral rites for dogs and cats, nor was it in effect an apology to Native Americans for exposing them to Christianity. The primary focus of convention from beginning to end was on how to continually strengthen God’s mission to the world as lived and taught by Jesus, and expressed in the Five Marks of Mission that have been adopted across the Anglican Community:
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
I wish to note that the funeral rites for dogs and cats were approved as supplemental, to be used as a pastoral resource during times of loss. They are a compassionate response to a recurring request, and are offered as meaningful and helpful instruments of healing. This was one of over four hundred resolutions submitted to the convention for consideration.
Concerning Mr. Akasie’s description of the resolution to “dismantle the effects of the doctrine of discovering,” as apology to Native Americans for exposing them to Christianity, this is simply a misstatement of what was done. The resolution adopted expressed a spirit of lament for having treated indigenous peoples in the Americas and other countries as less than human, resulting in wholesale slaughter and enslavement. The actions at convention affirm the Christian call to respect the dignity of every human being and to act in ways that promote healing for all.
With respect to re-imagining the church’s governing body, the unanimous vote in both the House of Deputies and House of Bishops was a powerful message that the vitality and energy of the church are in focusing on God’s mission, not retaining structures that are sometimes bulky and outdated.
It is, I believe, important to note that while the Presiding Bishop has a distinct leadership role, no legislation can be passed at a General Convention without the concurrence of both Deputies and Bishops. Terms such as potentate simply do not apply.
With respect for Mr. Akasie’s right to express his perspective, it was disappointing to read in the ordinarily accurate Wall Street Journal such a sarcastic and inaccurate piece.
The overall story of the recent convention of The Episcopal Church consistently conveys a prayerful and unequivocal commitment to carrying out God’s mission to promote healing, health, and hope for all people. I sincerely hope that this truth will shine through in the midst of varying preferences, perspectives, and interpretations. It will serve us all well.
The Rt. Rev. James E. Waggoner, Jr.
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Spokane
Readers of the Diocesan Digest and the website might have been keeping up with the General Convention Blog. The Very Rev. Bill Ellis and Ken Beck have both posted follow-up articles about their experience as deputies that are worth reading. If more reflections are posted, we’ll let you know right here!