Breaking the Bonds of Affection: Denver 2000 Revisited

Susan Russell, the former head of Integrity, has now publicly admitted that the the landmark resolution D039 from the Episcopal General Convention “Denver 2000” was indeed a political maneuver crafted by political organizers not to be as it was promoted at the time to be a compromise between two sides working hard to build trust and commitment, but actually to achieve long-term political results at the expense of that trust and commitment.

In a post on the late Pamela Chinnis, the former House of Deputies president who passed away this week, Susan writes on the landmark General Convention Resolution DO39, “The resolution was crafted knowing that the “8th Resolve” was going to be a bridge-too-far for this convention. And so when it came to pass in the legislative process that it was separated off and failed by a narrow margin, our strategists inwardly celebrated the victory …”

It was in fact their intention to see the final resolve struck (which would have called for the creation of liturgies for same sex blessings) and instead lay the significant foundation for Minneapolis 2003 when the Episcopal Church took major actions to break what the Windsor Report would describe as the “bonds of affection” with the Anglican Communion, as well as within the church itself.

As we can see in this post, the “bonds of affection” were in fact broken in 2000, not 2003. I can remember conservative bishops at that time working so hard to find some way to bridge the enormous gap between the two sides and hold the church together. Who would not want to affirm that God loves all persons, but now we see it was premeditated and intentionally designed all along to be reinterpreted as an endorsement of communion-breaking actions, with the full support of the church hierarchy.

In fact, D039 led to a tremendous loss after Denver 2000 with the departure of major evangelical leadership with the formation of what would become the Anglican Mission in America (AMIA, now Anglican Mission in the Americas) and the emergency consecration of Chuck Murphy and John Rodgers by two overseas Anglican archbishops.  It was never the intention of the entrenched Episcopal leadership to ever do that theological work, which we can see now the AMiA and other global Anglican leadership recognized.

What had been hoped to be a stop-gap measure to prevent the church from splitting apart in schism, we now see in Susan’s admission became the very catalyst that broke the church apart.