In a telephone interview from his Tupelo home last night, Johnston said he was excited and humbled beyond measure by his election.About "his views about the role of gays and lesbians in the church" I believe Johnston is referring the reporter to this question and answer (source):
"I'm honored beyond any expectations. I'm so much looking forward to being part of the life, witness, ministry and history of the diocese. The future of the Diocese of Virginia is boundless. We are going to be stronger and stronger."
. . .
When asked his views about the role of gays and lesbians in the church, Johnston referred a reporter to questions he had responded to for the diocese.
"One of Anglicanism's most famous and endearing qualities is our ability to 'agree to disagree' on issues, biblical and otherwise," he said. "Our commitment is to each other in Christ Jesus, not to each other's opinions in like-minded groups."
He added: "I am deeply sympathetic to the painful dilemmas at hand, but I balk at the notion that this must be a choice between the unity of the church and the inclusiveness of the Gospel. Both church unity and inclusiveness are direct Scriptural imperatives."
Johnston lists the church's priorities as starting new congregations and Christian education. He is especially interested in starting churches to attract young adults and in increasing diversities of racial, ethnic and socio-economic identities, he said.
As our bishop, how will you address the various issues arising in the Diocese of Virginia regarding homosexuality, especially in light of the fact that, for many, these issues seem to require making a choice between the unity of the church and the inclusiveness of the Gospel?My emphasis.
The real issue in this crisis is the nature of Scripture itself. My concerns with the Church’s actions regarding homosexuality do not arise so much from the biblical texts. There is more going on there than meets the eye, and I reject selective literalism. Responsible exegesis is a norm for our tradition, and so I would promote forums for biblical studies to help reset perspective.
Because of my strong ecclesiological concerns in this controversy, I support the Windsor Report (with some reservations) as the best way forward for the Church. I also support the Lambeth Conference’s call to a respectful dialogue with the Church’s homosexual communicants.
One of Anglicanism’s most famous and endearing qualities is our ability to “agree to disagree” on issues, biblical and otherwise. Our commitment is to each other in Christ Jesus, not to each other’s opinions in like-minded groups. Facing the complexities of human life, much less the heights and depths of God, “like-mindedness” can be a small (and quite un-Anglican) thing.
I am deeply sympathetic to the painful dilemmas at hand, but I baulk at the notion that this must be a choice between the unity of the Church and the inclusiveness of the Gospel. Both Church unity and inclusiveness are direct Scriptural imperatives. Our faithfulness to our Lord and our witness as a Church envision both of them.
Johnston was a delegate to GC 2003. I believe he voted in agreement with his bishop and shared his reasoning on the consent to the election of Bishop Robinson.