On the floor of Council this morning is a resolution (R2a) requesting that Bishop Shannon Johnston issue guidelines on same-gender blessings. We will also hear an oral report from Ed Jones, who chaired our task force on same-gender blessings (you can read the written report of the task force by clicking HERE).
In his pastoral address yesterday, Bishop Johnston said he is prepared to work with congregations that are ready to move forward with such blessings:
"I realize that there are presently clergy and congregations who have addressed these questions of blessing, community, society and Scripture in ways that could be deemed thorough and conclusive. Furthermore, you may remember that I have always affirmed that committed, monogamous same-gender relationships can indeed be faithful in the Christian life.
"Therefore, I plan also to begin working immediately with those congregations that want to establish the parameters for the “generous pastoral response” that the 2009 General Convention called for with respect to same-gender couples in Episcopal churches. Personally, it is my hope that the 2012 General Convention will authorize the formal blessing of same-gender unions for those clergy in places that want to celebrate them. Until then, we might not be able to do all that we would want to do but, in my judgment, it is right to do something and it is time to do what we can."
He left open the details on how he will work with such congregations, but his declaration yesterday was a major step along the way. Other bishops have issued guidelines in their dioceses for how to proceed with same-gender blessings, and we can expect that our bishop will follow a similar practice.
The same gender blessings task force, upon which I served, drafted proposed guidelines as recommendations to the bishop. Whether he issues them, or how, of course remains entirely up to him. We may learn more today.
To read the bishop's full address, click HERE.