A Letter from Bishop Shannon Johnston of Virginia on General Convention 2009

Resolution C056 calls for gathering theological and liturgical resources with respect to offering the Church’s blessing for same-gender unions, which will be brought to the next General Convention in 2012 for study and consideration. The fact is that several states have legalized gay and lesbian unions, and others will likely follow suit. This resolution responds to that reality. It also allows bishops the exercise of personal discretion in providing for a “generous pastoral response” for gay and lesbian persons in the Church. I voted in favor of this resolution because I am convinced that it is both realistic and right. Monogamous same-gender unions are now a reality, and we should provide for the Church’s response, with blessing or without. The resolution allows for either. Bishops must also have the ability to respond to what is actually true in all the various locales and contexts in which this Church ministers. It is important to remember, however, that no official rites of blessing that wholly sanction same-gender unions have been approved for the Church. In fact, it would take years to develop such rites.

It is not so much the actual content of these two resolutions that may be problematic. The potential for difficulty follows from interpretation of the resolutions. The plain reality is that very little is actually changed by either one of the resolutions in themselves. Both statements address what is already true in the life and witness of the Episcopal Church. The Convention is overwhelmingly of the mind that the Episcopal Church will be the stronger for the realistic and clear perspective of these resolutions.

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3 comments on “A Letter from Bishop Shannon Johnston of Virginia on General Convention 2009

  1. Doubting Thomas says:

    The bishop does provide clarity. Give him credit for that. The problem of course is his theology of pandering to the winds of secular society by “responding to what is true in the various locals and contexts in which this Church ministers,” he trumps Scripture with the cultural reason of Universalism and there can be little prospect for common ground under those circumstances.

  2. Pb says:

    And nothing has really changed since Lamberth 1998 depending on your interpretation.

  3. aldenjr says:

    If we followed Bishop Shannon Johnston’s logic “What ever the state condones is a truth the church must accept and reorient itself to allow support”. What if Virginia were to condone the locking up of a class of people (the way the US did during WWII) or reinstitute slavery. What if there were a coup of the US government by a despotic leader bent on exterminating a whole race of people. By BP Johnston’s logic the church would change its traditional views to allow acceptance of this new situation as reality.
    No, the historical strength of the church is grounded in its courageous ability to speak truth to power rooted in the unwavering position of the Gospels. Bp Johnston is just another example of leadership in the Episcopal Church that is void of any roots in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.