Thursday, July 16, 2009

General Convention: Same-sex blessings and what it means for Virginia and St. Paul's

ANAHEIM -- As you may have heard elsewhere by now, and on this blog earlier today, the House of Bishops Wednesday approved a resolution that would allow for the development of "resources" for same-sex blessings, and authorize those bishops who are so willing to provide a "generous pastoral response" to gays and lesbians.

What does that mean for us?

This morning I had a conversation with Virginia Bishop Shannon Johnston here at convention and asked him that question.

Bishop Shannon, who voted for the resolution, told me that he will allow us to develop a same-sex blessing ceremony as part of a "generous pastoral response" to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Virginia. If we do such ceremonies at St. Paul's, we will do them only with the permission of the bishop, and we will be asked to provide information on how it works so that the wider church can study what we do. We will not be doing this in secret or being sneaky.

The resolution must still pass the House of Deputies, expected to happen later today, and then it will be the law of the Episcopal Church. It is worthwhile reading the full text of the resolution by clicking HERE.

Let me add a few observations: I watched the House of Bishops debate yesterday and I was much impressed by the respectful tone. No one was throwing the Bible at each other, and all seemed to talk of how conversation among the bishops had broadened understanding. Bishop Stephen Charleston said the House of Bishops was learning again how to have a conversation.

At one point, Presiding Bishop Katharine asked the bishops if they would like 20 minutes to talk among themselves about the resolution, and so they broke into small group discussion (which we could not overhear). When they reconvened, they worked together to wordsmith the resolution. "Working on the minutiae of language is valuable," said Charleston. "This allows the House to breath."

As for St. Paul's, I am aware some of our gay brothers and sisters would like to have their partnerships blessed by the Church. We are now approaching the day when we can do that openly and wonderfully, and I give great thanks for that.

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