In one of its last acts, General Convention reaffirmed baptism as the “ancient and normative entry point to receiving Holy Communion,” but did not address the question of “open communion,” the communing of unbaptized people.
When C029 was approved by Deputies on Wednesday, it included the sentence, “We also acknowledge that in various local contexts there is the exercise of pastoral sensitivity with those who are not yet baptized.” But the House of Bishops deleted that sentence during debate on Thursday.
When the resolution returned to Deputies for concurrence, the debate centered on whether to refer to resolution back to Standing Commission on Evangelism.
The Rev. Susan Buchanan, New Hampshire, a member of the Evangelism Committee, said that it was “better to fulfill the original intent of the Diocese of North Carolina, which gave us the original resolution. Let’s bring it back to the dioceses and congregations” for conversation.
Deputy Joseph Ferrell, North Carolina, agreed, saying, “This resolution as it has come back to us is not at all what we intended. In fact, it is the opposite.”
The Rev. James Sorvillo, Central Florida, was opposed to referring the resolution. “Our bishops have spoken,” he said. “The have made this intentional and sent it back to this body to concur. We should be in fellowship with them.”
The Rev. Robert Haskill, Albany, also rejected referring the resolution. “Let us support the House of Bishops and the traditional understanding of baptism.”
Before voting on either the motion to refer or on the resolution itself could take place, President of the House of Deputies Dr. Bonnie Anderson informed the House that the bishops already had adjourned, and that if they did not consent to the amended resolution, the matter would die.
A few moments later, by a close vote, the deputies agreed with the bishops.
-By Lauren R. Stanley