As we first reported Friday, the Rt Rev Duncan Gray announced in his Annual Council address that he will give permission for use of the same sex blessing rite in the Diocese of Mississippi. He also called for the election of a coadjutor. There is now more information on the diocesan website.
He compared his process to the one implemented by the Bishop of Texas.AP has a report as well.
While a general ban on the blessing of same gender unions remains in place, he will allow congregations which self-select and undergo a thorough process to move toward blessings of same gender unions.
Clergy and vestry – the elected lay leaders of a local congregation – will be free to enter into a process of prayer and study on the matter. They will be asked to submit the design and results of their study and also to explain to the Bishop how the blessing of same gender unions would enhance the congregation’s missional efforts. He said he would also require those congregations discerning such a call to describe how they would prepare couples for the blessing liturgy. Congregations would also be required to report back on their experience in time for the 2015 General Convention.
Gray said that he is taking the step to keep the issue from dominating the nomination and election of his successor. He also noted that the process is “provisional” and will be allowed only until the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2015. He said that the blessing liturgy provisionally approved by the 2012 General Convention is “not marriage,” something which would not be allowed under state law and “which my own conscience would not accept.”
He said “No priest, no vestry, no congregation will be asked to do anything that violates their conscience. This liturgy will only be authorized in congregations that have met” the criteria and have petitioned for permission.