This week we will take our first steps toward breaking the impasse between our bishop and ourselves over the issue of same-sex blessings. The initiative is called Shared Episcopal Ministry and should result in our receiving the pastoral services of a bishop who is sympathetic to our request to perform same-sex blessings at St. Stephen’s.
Back in 2004 the House of Bishops passed a resolution that accepted Shared Episcopal Ministry as a model for resolving conflict between parishes and their bishop over this issue. Then, the concern was for congregations offended by diocesan decisions that allowed parishes to decide for themselves whether or not to offer blessings to same-sex couples. Now, of course, it is the reverse, as we find ourselves frustrated by a bishop who has categorically dismissed same-sex blessings as an option for the Diocese of Calgary.
Shared Episcopal Ministry means that on all routine matters we would continue to be led by our diocesan bishop. But on this one matter we would receive the support of a bishop appointed to us from another diocese. We would continue to have seats at Synod and to participate fully in the life of the diocese.
The Parish of St. Laurence joins us in this initiative. Christ Church—Elbow Park is voting on the issue this weekend. If a formal conversation with the bishop fails to find a resolution then we will call a General Meeting of our congregation to seek your approval to apply for Shared Episcopal Ministry. Your thoughts?