Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Yesterday's Vote in the House of Bishops regarding Same Gender Blessings

As many of you know, yesterday the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church voted (with 41 bishops dissenting/111 in favor) to approve the rites and materials for the blessing of same gender covenants.

As I have explained this will be passed by the House of Deputies.  The Diocese of Texas has a plan for dealing with this. Our plan, rolled out in April, communicated to all Diocese of Texas clergy, and posted for the diocese in order to have access to the materials is available at: http://www.epicenter.org/unity

In our plan the progressives will be allowed generous pastoral provisions to respond to gay and lesbians while the traditionalists who oppose the blessing of same-gender blessings are protected by the legislation and by my desire to make room for all people of many views on this subject within our diocese.  In the Diocese of Texas we have a way to move forward with our continued work of proclaiming the uniqueness of Christ Jesus and participating in God's mission of salvation.

Our goal is to keep the church together for the sake of mission. In the past we have not had a plan that enabled us to stay together, so people on all sides have been frustrated, fearful, and suspicious of one another.  Traditionalists and progressives alike have left as our church because of a lack of direction.  The Texas plan offers a vision of unity for the sake of mission of God; it reminds us that our future resides in the arms of God and God's kingdom.

The Texas plan makes room for the consciences of all our people.  And, all people are encouraged to be involved in discussions with their leadership.  Read our plan, pray and think before acting, and let us work together to grow God's church.  You will find the plan here: http://www.epicenter.org/unity

We in Texas are taking the opportunity to say to the world that the greater mission of God's church is the essential unifying factor.  This is not to say our differing theology on sexuality is not important but rather to say that GOD'S MISSION IS ESSENTIAL for us all regardless of our view.  We proceed into our future of mission under the Lordship of Christ Jesus and his mission.  I believe that it is on the ground doing God's mission, building up the kingdom of God, that each person can find and discover our unity.

A great deal of listening by the committee allowed for several important pieces of language which supports both the desire for the church to remain together and support the Texas plan.

1) Ensuring that this liturgy did not kick off Book of Common Prayer revision
2) Limiting the use of this new liturgy to same gender couples
3) Leaving the use of the rite to the bishop's discretion
4) Authorizing local adaptation by the bishop
5) That clergy may not be forced to do this liturgy

These key pieces of the legislation support our plan and also support the careful attention to the theological diversity of this house and our church.

The discussion was less of a debate on the piece of legislation and more of a time in which the House of Bishops, though divided on this issue, listened to one another as we openly and prayerfully, and humbly offered our different opinions.

As of today, 16 other diocese have distributed, used, encouraged reading, are haing their clergy read, or are developing parallel plans to the Texas plan.  Several deans of seminaries have also spoken to me and have applauded Texas for our work together.  

Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, D.D.
IX Bishop of Texas
Sent while out of office.

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