Bishop Johnston is speaking now.
Is thanking the diocesan staff for going above and beyond to serve us in the diocese. "We have the smallest staff of any domestic dioceses."
Bishop Gulick is being welcomed and complimented for his pastoral wisdom and leadership throughout the wider church and the Anglican communion. Bishop Jones is being thanked for his seventeen years of service as bishop and thirty four years of ministry. The bishop says we need three bishops and we must call for an election of a new bishop suffragan to take place in April 2012. There will be a diocesan self study ahead of time.
Remarkable work of the "listening sessions" now being touted. The sessions were open to anyone who wished to attend. Around 800 people attended In a safe atmosphere ... All of this reflects an intentional decision on what was said rather than who said it.
We have 2000 comments on 247 pages, and "it is wonderful". This was "a true watershed for the diocese". He is comparing them with the past in the diocese, "with a dramatic shift" and a concern for "community" among all. There was a much better capacity he says for people to respect take care of and speak to one another than before, from the right and the left ... (there were people from the right there?). "There is a need for teaching from the larger church and a the local level because it is explicitly Anglican for this to happen ..."
"We are united in Christ rather than in agreement on issues ... our center holds because it is nothing less than Jesus Christ."
More in a moment ...
He is recalling the discussions ... Describing the struggle between church and culture. No real answers being offered, just a recap through open ended questions.
He will not be offering answers in this address, but through gatherings in the diocese throughout the coming year ... "After listening to hear the lay of the land there is teaching to address it ..." I have always affirmed that monogamous same sex relationships are blessed. Will be working immediately to help congregations establish pstoral responses. He wants the next general convention qto authorize ssb, "but in my jugement it is right to do something and it is time to do what we can."
Now talking about missions with native Americans in Va, in New Orleans, triangle of hooe, diocese of Christ the king, etc. "Missions are just what Christians do."
"The Diocese of Va continues to be entangled in litigation with congregations that are attempting to keep Episcopal church properties. These properties ought to be returned to us for our mission strategy and for our congregations. We have four continuing congregations that have been turned out of their houses of worship ... It is vitally important as a matter of who we are as a church that we secure a positive resolution not only for these churches but for our diocese and the whole of the Episcopal church."
"We have pursued litigation because up to this point there has been little choice. "
"Be assured in the past we have opened dialogue for settlement and we are even now pursuing settlement. We will continue to pursue all avenues for the just resolution of this suit."
He added that these costs are being cover by a line of credit based on unsecured unconsecrated lands.
No pledge dollars are being used for this
That's it for now. ... Quotation marks show the places where I am 99% sure of the text. One should be printed and available sometime soon ...
Intrepid is a member of the Diocese of Virginia Annual Council. Bishop Johnston's text of his pastoral address is here. In it he writes, "
You may remember that I have always affirmed that committed, monogamous same-gender relationships can indeed be faithful in the Christian life. Therefore, I plan also to begin working immediately with those congregations that want to establish the parameters for the “generous pastoral response” that the 2009 General Convention called for with respect to same-gender couples in Episcopal churches.
Personally, it is my hope that the 2012 General Convention will authorize the formal blessing of same-gender unions for those clergy in places that want to celebrate them. Until then, we might not be able to do all that we would want to do but, in my judgment, it is right to do something and it is time to do what we can.
BB NOTE: It is probably safe to assume that Bishop Johnston will be a leading candidate for Presiding Bishop. The pendulum swing indicates that he is not speaking to Virginia here, but to the wider leadership of The Episcopal Church (Bonnie Anderson does not just create a personal award and hand it out to the person who took on Lauren Stanley two years ago on the floor of Diocesan Council for nothing).
Of course, truth be told, I am frankly far more surprised (to put it lightly) that Bishop Johnson wore a cassock to Annual Council - what in the world is that all about? The Bishop of Virginia is High Church Anglo Catholic?
It is very cold here, but did hell freeze?
That is far more of a page-turner than most of this other stuff coming out of Annual Council, truly - and it doesn't even get a blip on the news radar! Sorry Bishop Meade, Bishop Johns, and Bishop Whittle - why, even, Bishop Lee! Who would have thought it?
Time for a cup of hot tea.