The Diocese of Virginia may be the only church council where both the treasurer and the chancellor receive standing ovations. But the longest applause came during the closing remarks of the chaplain for this year’s 214th Annual Council. Archbishop Barry Morgan, Primate of Wales, said Wales was in the same boat as The Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church and he would resist the formation of an alternative North American province with, in his words, “every fiber of my being.” The room jumped to its feet with applause and cheering.
At its concluding day of the 214th Annual Council the Diocese of Virginia debated several resolutions including a number on sexuality and addressing issues flowing from the Windsor Report. Complete resolution results can be found here.
R-4a: Blessedness of Covenanted Relationships was adopted as amended. Debate centered on the second resolve but the resolution passed as submitted (with the addition of the words “and blessedness”):
Resolved, that the Diocese of Virginia recognizes our responsibility to respond to the pastoral needs of our faithful gay and lesbian members in a spirit of love, compassion and respect, and in so doing seek to fulfill our baptismal commitment to respect the dignity of every human being; and, be it further
Resolved, that accordingly the 214th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia affirms the inherent integrity and blessedness of committed Christian relationships between two adult persons, when those relationships are “characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God” (Resolution 2000-D039 of the 73rd General Convention of the Episcopal Church).
Two resolutions, R-5: Allowing Clergy To Exercise Pastoral Care In Blessing the Unions Of Same-Gender Couples and R-6: Inclusiveness in Ordained Ministry were combined by the resolutions committee into R-9sa. The effect of R-9sa was to refer R-4 and R-5 to the diocese’s Windsor Dialogue Commission. The Council followed the lead of the resolutions committee and passed R-9sa. Among the whereas statements in R-9sa: “we are in the midst of episcopal transition.”
On the first day of business, the diocese’s Windsor Dialogue Commission submitted a report. The report includes, in Appendix 2, liturgies In Thanksgiving for a Committed Relationship.
The Council also passed resolutions concerning the Sudan and on advocacy for the poor in the state of Virginia. A resolution that would have urged a special General Convention between 2009 and 2012 to consider the Anglican Covenant was not adopted.
The balanced budget passed by Council preserved all diocesan staff positions although there will be no salary increases for the year.
As the Council learned on Friday, Bishop Lee will retire October 1st. In May he will be honored for his 25 years of service to the diocese. Lord Robin Eames, former Anglican Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh, will preach.