Uh oh … Diocese of Virginia Comission recommends taking steps toward permitting same sex blessings as "Local Option"

BB NOTE: Following last years’ Council of the Diocese of Virginia, Bishop Lee created another group called the “R-5 Commission.” Their task was to “to discern a possible ‘emerging consensus’ regarding the permitting of ‘local option’ for the blessing of same-sex unions” and then report to this year’s Diocesan Council which starts later this week. However, it looks like they are planning to pass out “educational materials” favoring the blessing of same sex unions in the Diocese of Virginia. They also want to appoint a new commission to carry this action. While there are at least two excellent orthodox members of R-5, they seemed to have been outnumbered since the proposed vision of the so-called educational materials aimed at “consensus building” does not include making the case for the biblical view of lifetime holy matrimony between a man and a woman. This is a page out of After the Ball. The point is to desensitize the diocese into complacency.

All ready we’ve heard from one of our regulars here at the Cafe. He writes this synopsis of the report:

The group is making recommendations for the Council. The theology is very iffy in the report (again relying on the fact that we let Gentiles into the church so that must mean we offer SSB’s …). The group’s recommendations include setting up four town hall meetings at which to “share resources for education” and to “establish a better sense of an ’emerging consensus’ pertaining to ‘local option’ for the blessing of same-gender unions …” in the Diocese over the next year.

The educational material to be collected and then distributed by the group is, we are told, “for the pastoral care and spiritual support of same-gender couples in committed relationships.”

So while the R5 Group recognizes that not everyone agrees with this theological position, they are not prepared to produce educational materials that would represent those who disagree with the “emerging consensus.”

I don’t suppose they even gave it a thought … though they do conclude that “The Commission does not regard the expression of these views as incompatible with full membership of the Church, and we specifically resolve that we remain in communion with those who hold these views and regard each of them with respect.” Translation: We don’t agree with the “minority of the Commission” who hold less “moderate” views, but we all want to be able to say we’re in this together. Whatever that would mean, when the different groups hold contradictory theological positions.

Here are the recommendations from the Commission Report:

We, the members of the R-5 Commission, being mindful of our membership in the Anglican Communion, recommend that the 213th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia, building on the process of continued listening and discernment of a possible “emerging consensus” with regard to the permitting of “local option” for the blessing of same-gender unions, appoint a new commission to identify the practical steps necessary to provide for the pastoral care and spiritual support of same-gender couples in committed monogamous relationships.

We specifically recommend that:

1) An appointed Commission compile and make available theological, catechetical, and liturgical resources within the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion for the pastoral care and spiritual support of same-gender couples in committed relationships; and
2) The Commission design and execute four town hall meetings, in order to share
resources for education and to establish a better sense of an “emerging consensus”
pertaining to “local option” for the blessing of same-gender unions; and
3) The Commission be tasked to make a report of its findings and work to the 214th
Annual Council, in time for further action to be taken in anticipation of the 76th
General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2009.

This recommendation seeks to provide an ongoing commitment to discern ways of being generous and faithful in our common pastoral call, even as we acknowledge that we are not of one mind in this Diocese on the permissibility of “local option” in the blessing of same-gender unions.

Who are they kidding? Who didn’t read the Reconciliation Commission Report (Level Five Conflict)? Or the Windsor Report (No to Same Sex Blessings)? Or the Primates Reports from Dromantine (No to Same Sex Blessings) and Dar Es Salaam (No to Same Sex Blessings)? Or the Bishop’s Special Committee Report (Congregations are Voting to Depart) or even the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent Advent Letter (N-O spells No)? Now the re-education begins for the diocese, despite the pleas of the minority on this most-recent commission. “No” is not in their vocabulary. Council officially opens this Friday. Stay tuned.

LATER: For those of you who are attending Diocesan Council and find this report troubling, you may want to check out this Open Letter to Katharine Jefferts Schori by Dermot O’Callaghan, a member of General Synod of the Anglican Church of Ireland.

Roger in the comments brings up R-23s which continues as the policy of the Diocese of Virginia. In order for a commission to go forward with their re-education materials, will the Council first repeal R-23s from the 209th Council of the Diocese of Virginia;

R-23s Reaffirmation of Policy on Sexual Intimacy
(As presented by the Committee and adopted by Council)

Whereas, significant differences have arisen in the Diocese of Virginia in the wake of the 74th General Convention’s votes on matters of human sexuality, now, therefore be it

Resolved, that the 209th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia reaffirms the Diocesan model for sexual intimacy as adopted by the 199th Council in the words of Bishop Lee: that “the normative context for sexual intimacy is lifelong, heterosexual, monogamous marriage, and we have resisted with compassionate strength attempts to divide us, or to define us, by such a fearful or narrow expression of that teaching that it becomes oppressive and self-righteous.”

How can this most-recent Commission make the recommendations that it is attempting to do while R-23s still stands? When does a diocese go from being “not of one mind” to becoming “double-minded?” Guess we’ll see this weekend. The Diocese is in our prayers. In fact, we’re thinking of organizing a 24-Hour Prayer Vigil here at the Cafe while Diocesan Council is going on. Stay tuned for more on that as well.