Sunday, January 28, 2007

Diocese to study same-sex blessings :: Richmond Times Dispatch

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has cracked the door for allowing the blessing of same-sex unions.

Delegates to the diocese's 212th Annual Council adopted a substitute resolution that calls for a commission to look at a possible agreement on a local option for blessing same-sex unions.

Current diocesan policy prohibits blessing same-sex unions publicly. The commission is to report its findings at next January's annual council.

An overwhelming show-of-hand vote was taken yesterday during the closing business session of the council's two-day meeting at the downtown Richmond Marriott Hotel.

The original resolution called for the council to recommend that a policy of local option for parishes be adopted on a trial basis and be reviewed for final approval by the 2010 council.

During a news conference following the council meeting, the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, bishop of the diocese, said he was surprised that the resolution did not draw more discussion from the floor.
"A lot of the animosity from the past has been avoided. We seem to be operating more as one church," said Augustine [Sanjiv Augustine, a lay delegate from St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Annandale], who was attending his fourth council meeting. "The church is about so much more than the hotbutton issues. It's about the family, worship, spirituality. I think we are over a watershed. The people who feel strongly have left the church, and I wish them well. That allows the rest of us to focus on what is important."

Augustine referred to the 15 churches in the diocese that have left the denomination and the diocese over differences about the role of homosexuals in the church and biblical authority.

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