The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has picked its next leader, a 48-year-old Alabamian who says one of the most endearing qualities of his denomination, roiled by disagreements centering on homosexuality, is "our ability to 'agree to disagree' on issues, biblical and otherwise."The impressions of EpiscoSours are close to mine. EpiscoSours writes:
In a candidate questionnaire and in other comments about the role of gays and lesbians in the church, Johnston has been vague, if centrist. In a 2005 article posted on his church's Web site about the dispute, he wrote: "I insist that the answer will not come from one of the two 'sides' but rather will be found in the Center."
In the candidate questionnaire, he also said he supported -- "with some reservations" -- a 2004 report by an Anglican commission that rebuked the U.S. church for ordaining a gay bishop and blessing same-sex unions and called for both practices to stop until some consensus emerges in the Communion, the second-largest church in the world.
The Mediator. I continued to be won over by Fr. Johnston’s charm and humor and his solid understanding of what it means to be Anglican. My question to him was about the Windsor Report, which he understands as a process; I asked him what he expected the end result of that process to be in 5, or 10, or 20 years. He didn’t think that the process would or should last that long, that there would come a time when we would have to make progress in pastoral care for LGBT Episcopalians. I think he does have a goal, but he wants to get there in a theologically correct manner. I’m not certain if anyone else was reassured, but I was anyway.UPDATE: Jim Naughton (dailyepiscopalian) has much, much more about what it means to be a centrist in The Episcopal Church. Read the whole thing. Here is his bottomline:
But Fr. Johnston is a very calming presence, and this as well is what our diocese needs.
It is easier for me to understand, and to converse with leading figures on the Anglican right like Kendall Harmon and Matt Kennedy than with those who think that sitting out this struggle is a transcendent moral act. Perhaps because it seems to me more Christian to argue with someone--see the Council of Jerusalem, or any Church council, for that matter--than to look down on them.Especially if you are a candidate or nominee for bishop, perhaps? I'm not (though I'm eligible - you don't have to be ordained to be a bishop, you know). My guess is the answer is that centrists work towards consensus and value process as intrinsic whose we are. That doesn't mean the compromise their values if others stymie consensus or give them a veto, but they do try to bring everyone along, listen, and try to get us to the right place.
So, if anyone who identifies themselves as a centrist can explain their philosophy to me, I would appreciate it.
As an example, a centrist might say confirmation of Gene Robinson was wrong because we were not at consensus on issues of homosexuality. Centrists might ask some to wait for justice - just a while? - for the sake of the body.