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Committee prepares same-sex blessings resolution for bishops

By David Skidmore
8/2/2003
[Episcopal News Service]  As the Gene Robinson consent is introduced to the House of Deputies Sunday, the convention’s other high-profile issue — same-sex unions — could be headed to the House of Bishops as early as Monday.

The Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music met in executive session following an hour-long hearing this morning to craft a plan for addressing four resolutions dealing with blessings for same-sex unions. According to the committee chair, the Rev. Frank Wade, the committee will meet in another executive session Sunday to decide which resolutions it will report out to the House of Bishops and what recommendations it will make. 

Three of the resolutions — C005, D022 and C051 — call for the preparation of rites of blessing for committed relationships outside marriage, while the fourth — B007 — lays out a compromise involving the recognition that a diversity of opinion and practice exists regarding “pastoral support” for gays and lesbians in the church. Sponsored by bishops of Province IV and authored by Bishop Stacy Sauls of Lexington, the resolution acknowledges that no consensus exists on how the participation of gays and lesbians is ordered by the church’s doctrine, discipline and worship. It further states that the unity of the Episcopal Church depends on compliance with its constitution and canons and that legislation attempted in the absence of consensus on homosexuality would “imperil the unity of the church.”

In his testimony before the committee, Bishop Sauls noted that the genesis of the resolution was something of a miracle since it was the first time in his memory that the Province IV bishops ever unanimously supported a resolution or memorial to General Convention. The intent, he said, was to lay out ground large enough to accommodate bishops like himself, one who is “passionately committed to same-sex unions,” and those who are passionately opposed, “a place where we could stand and move forward on this issue.”

What it offers the church, he added, “is a way in which a bishop such as myself can allow blessings of same-sex unions to take place as a matter of pastoral care in my diocese without requiring a bishop who is opposed to have such blessings take place in his or her diocese.”