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Diocese pulls back from approving same-sex rites: CEN 2.26.10 p 8. March 5, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Virginia.
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The Episcopal Church’s largest diocese has pulled back from approving rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, voting at its annual synod to wait for the national church to take the lead on gay marriage.

The Feb 20 vote by delegates to the annual council meeting of the 80,000 member Diocese of Virginia halts the push for the legalization of gay clergy and blessings in the Episcopal Church as it prepares to debate the Anglican Covenant—which would blocks such innovations.

At its July 2009 General Convention the Episcopal Church voted to lift its ban on gay bishops and blessings and asked the diocese to begin “collecting and developing theological resources and liturgies” for same-sex blessings.

Saturday’s vote by Virginia stated the diocese would not undertake this work until the national church had authorized these developments. It came as a compromise between resolutions that reaffirmed the traditional teachings on marriage, with a call on lifting the prohibition on permitting the ordination and deployment of gay clergy and the use of same-sex blessings.

The diocese “remain[s] divided over the wisdom and theology of blessing same-gender relationships” the resolution said, and conceded the “growing differences between Christian and civil understanding of marriage and relationships.”

Should the national church authorize gay blessings at its 2012 General Convention in Indianapolis, the compromise resolution said the diocese must examine the question of providing a “theological principle” for clergy who refuse to perform gay blessings.

The close vote reflects the shifting politics of the diocese, which lost over 10,000 members and its largest congregations to CANA, the Convocations of Anglicans in North America. A report to the diocese stated that litigation with breakaway conservatives had consumed over $3.5 million. The diocese hopes to recoup this loss through the sale of church land.

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