Thursday, July 9, 2009

Another one to watch: D043

Designation of Inquiring and Discerning Parishes for the Blessing of Same Sex Unions:
Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church recognizes bishops to be stewards of the continuing conversation about human sexuality; and be it further

Resolved, That under the direction of their bishop or ecclesiastical authority, and consent of the priest in charge and vestry, parishes may be designated as Inquiring and Discernment Parishes where the blessing of unions of two consenting adults will be permitted with the same level of care, commitment, and integrity expected in Holy Matrimony, but not currently permitted under the rubrics of Holy Matrimony; and be it further

Resolved, That such designation shall take place after the parish has undergone a comprehensive study on human sexuality that provides for a broad discussion on different theological and pastoral perspectives and holiness in relationships; and be it further

Resolved, That Inquiring and Discerning Congregations shall make annual reports to their bishop or ecclesiastical authority. Information in such reports shall include but not be limited to the resource(s) used for the comprehensive study, the number of blessings performed, and the rites used for such blessings; and be it further

Resolved, That the above-mentioned reports shall be forwarded to a special committee of the 77th General Convention, with members of the committee to be appointed by the presidents of both houses to evaluate what is learned in this activity of discernment.

EXPLANATION The issue of same-sex blessings has significantly polarized society and has similarly become a divisive issue in the church. There are those who say that it is morally wrong and against God's law to bless same gender relationships. Others say that it is a matter of justice that they be fully recognized and blessed. Both perspectives led on Scripture, theological reflection, Church history and tradition, and science.

Each is willing to presume the absolute rightness of their position regardless of the consequences to the one with whom they disagree. As Anglicans we who often find ourselves between hardened positions seek a middle way. As Christians, Jesus calls us not to be right but to be peacemakers. This may be a justice issue without compromise; it may be a moral issue requiring condemnation of the particular behavior. Inquiry and discernment provides the space to do this work. This process is an invitation to those who have firmly fixed positions on either side to enter into a place of uncertainty where God can speak to the Church. If this feels like compromise for some on a question where there can be no compromise, then please pray that it is a Godly compromise under which we freely enter the wilderness of unknowing, led by God to a place none of us yet knows, but full of promise for all.

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