For those of you who may have missed this morning’s debate, this is a brief and probably unsatisfactory summary but as a delegate here my primary role is not that of a blogger, so please forgive the lack of detail.
Yesterday, a proposal to delete the final clause of Article 1 of the Network Charter to remove the description of the Network as a body that operates within or under the constitution of the Episcopal Church.
Today, Bishop Duncan initiated the debate by asking whether a change in the Network Charter might cause more division and disruption than necessary. He suggested that the council might rather employ the by-laws deal with the issue of consistency between the Articles of the Common Cause Partnership Article 10 and the first Article of the Network Charter. Bishop Duncan argued that Article 7 of the Network by-laws already specifies that the Network is an independent entity, not subject to the Episcopal Church.
There was some debate.
Bishop Stanton argued that deleting the offending clause from Article 1 of the Charter would change the nature of the Network from a body dedicated to remaining bound to the Anglican Communion, to a body with no such commitment.
Some worried that the deletion might cause legal difficulties for western Network parishes currently in the midst of litigation.
Others argued that the difficulties for dioceses like South Carolina would only be exacerbated and that such exacerbations would serve to disrupt unity within the Network.
Many others disagreed with the above positions. They argued:
1. that the Network has been, from its inception, a body straddling or bridging the jurisdictional boundaries of the Episcopal Church and it will become an increasingly external organization subsequent. Article 1 does not represent this reality and, in fact, is no longer consistent with the real circumstances and potential for reform in the Episcopal Church.
2. that the deletion of the final clause of Article 1 does nothing and says nothing with regard to the status of Network affiliates within or beyond the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church. The deletion would not represent a rejection of the constitution of the Episcopal Church.
Finally, it was agreed by both sides not to change the Charter but to alter Article 7 paragraph C of the Network by laws to read:
(paraphrased) Nothing in the Network Charter shall be interpreted as requiring submission to the constitution of the Episcopal Church by any affiliate of the Network not itself a member of the Episcopal Church.
This change, it was thought, satisfies the needs of Network entities within and beyond the jurisdiction Episcopal Church without altering the founding documents of the Network.