Monday, May 23, 2011


Kardinal Offishall has a song, Clear: People on the left, clear; people on the right, clear. I was thinking about clarity today, trying to follow the Church of Scotland's General Assembly on Twitter and in the British media. There were two resolutions dealing with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) clergy in the same day: one to lift a moratorium on inducting LGBT clergy ordained before 2009 to their parishes; and another to consider lifting a ban on ordaining candidates who are in same-sex relationships. Both passed, but it was unclear to an observer, even one steeped in church polity, that the first was independent of the second, and the implications of the first in particular. This may have been clear to commissioners to the General Assembly, but it wasn't to me and others, and it was embarrassing to tweet the results of the first vote based on equally fuzzy reporting in the Guardian newspaper and have to be corrected by more knowledgeable folks.

My reflection today was that so often the resolutions presented to church courts, whether the local Session, Presbytery, Conference, or General Council (in our case in The United Church of Canada) are likely just as confusing. So often we've been about to take a vote and I can hear delegates asking each other urgently, "What are we voting on?" It's made me resolve as chair of my Presbytery in 2011-12 to ensure that resolutions are as clear as possible - because, after all, there are few bureaucracies with language as opaque as the Church.

People on the left, clear; people on the right, clear.

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