+Johnston on Convention

The Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston, Bishop of Virginia, reflects on the 77th General Convention:

Even during the most controversial matters at hand, in which profound disagreements were voiced and significantly split votes resulted, both sides remained respectful and reached out to one another after all was said and done.

For example, with regard to one of the most publicized and momentous resolutions, the authorization of a “provisional” rite for the blessing of same-sex couples, strong conscience-clauses were inserted to protect clergy and congregations whose convictions will not allow for such liturgies. I can tell you first-hand that some of the most vocal support for the conscience-clauses came from those who staunchly supported same-sex blessings. This, for me, is important evidence that Episcopalian inclusivity can indeed embrace both left and right.

… A large majority of the House of Bishops rejected proposals that weakened the requirement of baptism prior to receiving communion, and the House of Deputies concurred. In this, I wholeheartedly agree. I am aware of places that make exceptions to this requirement and I quite understand what people are hoping for in allowing the communion of those not baptized. There are other ways to achieve hospitality and inclusion within a community of faith. Baptism is specifically a part of the Great Commission from Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20) and it remains primary in our discipleship of the risen Lord.

… I have been clear that I am vigorously “pro-Communion.” Even so, I oppose the adoption of the Covenant in its present form because I believe that our worldwide fellowship of Churches must be chosen and not required and enforced.

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