Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Same-Sex Blessings: Good Enough for Pensacola
Bishop Philip M. Duncan II of the diocese of the Central Gulf Coast has said he will allow priests in his diocese to use the recently adopted blessings for same-sex unions.
OK... let me say that again.
A bishop. Of the Episcopal Church. In the state of Florida that is NOT Miami Beach has said, "Yes to Bless."
This is a big deal. Especially because Bishop Duncan had voted, "No" at the General Convention in Indianapolis.
Now there is still a HOWEVER within this decision. Bishop Duncan is giving priests and parishes the chance to "opt out"; if they "opt in" then the couples must meet with a priest and he will consider each request for a blessing of a same-sex union individually upon notification from said priest. Still, this is a huge step toward equality from a part of the state which has infamously awarded custody of children to fathers with murder convictions rather than to mothers who also happen to be lesbians. Bishop Duncan is anticipating some push-back. And I appreciate what he told the Pensacola News-Journal:
“Episcopalians are a strange lot in that we are always asked to use our minds and our hearts, and to think about where God is calling us,” he said. “We can all hold divergent opinions on things that are allowed.”
I am hoping his decision will serve as a note of encouragement to other bishops in this pocket of the southeastern United States. The bishop of Alabama, Rt. Rev. Kee Sloan, voted for A049. But he is not allowing use of the liturgy until there has been more discussion within the diocese. Bishop Duncan's territory stretches into southern Alabama. Perhaps +Kee Sloan will receive a level of comfort from the approach his brother in the HoB has taken. And perhaps it will aid Bishop Sloan as he embarks on the dialogue in his part of the state.
And, of course, one can only hope that Bishop Duncan might pick up the phone and have a chat with the Bishop of Florida, who also voted No at GC77. And not only voted No, told us in a letter before convention that he would vote No and he won't allow any of our priests to get anywhere near that gay thing. For me, and for many others, the stance of our bishop on this matter has been a cross between tiresome to painful. You can only take so much of seeing the postcards from General Convention, gleefully announcing the widening inclusiveness of the Episcopal Church, all the while knowing that this "inclusive thing ain't gonna happen here!" In order for any of these resolutions to pass, there always needs to be the clause that allows somebody somewhere to be left behind. We wonder, "Gee, who will be the next group that is excluded from the welcome?" Well, right now, it's those of us stuck in those places that have been allowed to be foot-draggers or total obstructionists. When will "All" mean "All"?
If it can happen in the pro-military, patriotic, flag-waving land of Pensacola, it should be able to happen anywhere.
Bishop Philip M. Duncan II: very well-done and God bless you! You're a Bishop Duncan I can like!