If same-sex civil marriage is a contentious subject in many Christian churches, the idea of giving formal church blessing to such unions is even more so. Some denominations, and some congregations and dioceses though are seeking ways to bridge the divides while still moving forward, towards full inclusion. One of the ways that some are doing this is by simply recognizing the diversity of views that exist, and making provision for local decision taking, rather than trying to impose one universal standard across an entire denomination – or even an entire diocese.
In West Virginia, a resolution by the Episcopalian diocese does just this, recommending that local communities be permitted (not compelled) to conduct same-sex blessings. This is a recommendation to the bishop, not a binding mandate, but will have significance all the same even if the bishop rejects the advice. IT is one more sign of the remarkable spread, in many denominations, of widespread acceptance of the principle of LGBT inclusion in church.
The resolution was submitted by the Rev. Ann Lovejoy Johnson, associate rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Charleston. It "urges our Bishop to honor same-gender relationships by supporting public rites for the blessing of same-gender relationships in congregations where such blessings are supported and so desired."
Another resolution passed at the 133rd annual diocesan convention urged Klusmeyer to encourage the Legislature to include protections for gays and lesbians in the state Human Rights Act and state hate crimes statutes.
A decisive factor in the decision was the personal testimony of a lesbian pastor:
However, an ordained minister who works at the women's federal prison in Alderson and who has a lesbian partner, stood up and shared her personal story with convention members.
"After she spoke, a majority of people gave her a standing ovation," said Walker.
(Full report at Charleston Gazette)