Let me move to talk about some in-house matters for our Diocese, though important in their own right. First I turn to the matter of same-sex blessings, as approved by the General Convention last summer in Indianapolis. There are about two hundred pages of materials forwarded to the rest of the Church””Bible studies, theological resources, study guides for congregations, pastoral practices, and the rites themselves. The enabling resolution allows the implementation of these rites in a diocese with the bishop’s permission, and under his or her direction. I have decided to permit their use in congregations who are willing to prepare for them, through a season of prayer, study, and discernment. This decision is cause for joy and excitement for many, and consternation or dismay for others. I understand both responses.
Let me tell briefly how my own position on matters of human sexuality has changed. Or rather it is not so much that my position has changed, but the context in which I express my position has shifted markedly. My purpose has been, and still is, to work for the full inclusion of the faithful gay men and lesbians in our Church, while at the same time maintaining the highest degree of communion possible within our common life and with the rest of the Anglican world. That is the constant. We are, I think, at that highest possible degree of communion possible, right now. It is not likely to get much better or much worse.
There was a time, early in my episcopate, when it looked like the choice was either inclusion or communion. It looked binary, with no gradations between these two poles, and it looked as if it might be that way for a long time. The season after General Convention in 2003 was fractious, to say the least. Now, however, it looks like both inclusion and communion are available to us, at least provisionally.