Myths & Facts about GENERAL CONVENTION
by Kathy Copas, Diocese of Indianapolis

As we move further along into the Windsor Report proceedings, I thought it would be helpful to share some common myths/misconceptions around this whole process.

Myth: General Convention Deputies represent the diocese in their voting.

The Real Story: Deputies are actual deputies and not delegates. Bishop Cate was very helpful to me in understanding the differing terminology. While our Deputies represent our diocese, it is only as they are deputized to make educated voting decisions not based on a constituency of our diocese, but on their own prayerful consideration of each question and issue and the dictates of their own conscience. This process is really about the Deputies gathering information, sifting it, and prayerfully discerning their decisions. The convention process truly creates a space for the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Myth: The Episcopal Church has not complied with the Windsor Report.

The Real Story: The Episcopal Church has actually complied with more of the recommendations of the Windsor Report to-date than any other branch of the communion.

Myth: The Episcopal Church can be kicked out of the Anglican Communion by the primates.

The Real Story: There is no formal provision for any of the instruments of unity to exclude member churches from their body. The Episcopal Church and the Church of Canada were asked to voluntarily withdraw from some deliberative bodies of the Communion to allow some time and space for healing. Only the Archbishop of Canterbury can declare a church out of communion with the Anglican Communion.

The 38 Primates are but one instrument of unity in the Anglican Communion. While they have some moral authority, they have no formal or executive power over any part of the communion beyond their own individual provinces.

Myth: Actions this convention takes can get The Episcopal Church "kicked out" of the Anglican Communion.

The Real Story: While some within the Anglican Communion argue that decisions made here at General Convention might result in the Episcopal Church removing itself from the Anglican Communion, only an overt declaration to that effect by both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops---or a clear declaration by the Archbishop of Canterbury so stating---could have that result.

Myth: General Convention could undo the General Convention 2003's approval of the election of Gene Robinson to the episcopacy.

The Real Story: General Convention cannot "undo" that action. Gene Robinson was duly elected by the Diocese of New Hampshire. His election was duly certified by General Convention and he was consecrated by more than three bishops of the Episcopal Church who are themselves in good standing and in the apostolic line.

Myth: The Episcopal Church is the only member of the Anglican Communion that supports gay and lesbian persons as full participants of the church.

The Real Story: Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand (to name three others) also support gay and lesbian persons as full participants.

Myth: The global south has a united front in its disdain for the actions of The Episcopal Church.

The Real Story: There are provinces in the global south, such as Southern Africa, that do not show disdain to The Episcopal Church.

Myth: When all is said and done, the Windsor Report is really just about human sexuality.

The Real Story: The core issues raised by the Windsor Report actually related to authority and the importance of the provinces being in communion. The issues underlying the Windsor Report involve interpretation of scripture, (as in, is there only one correct interpretation or are there multiple acceptable interpretations?) and issues of whether there is any person or body in the Anglican Communion that can define the "requirements" for remaining in the Anglican Communion. Human sexuality has simply raised the bigger issue of how we all live and work together in communion.

I hope this information is helpful and addresses many of the questions and concerns out there around the Windsor proceedings. Feel free to share this around your parish. Until next time, grace and peace! Kathy Copas


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