Episcopal Southern Ohio Diocese to Bless Same-Sex Unions

We got some good news from last week’s Episcopal Convention of the Diocese of Southern Ohio. In his address to the convention, Bishop Tom Breidenthal announced that the Diocese will begin blessing same-sex unions in 2010. From his address (pdf):

Bishop Tom Breidenthal
Bishop Tom Breidenthal
As you all know, in the forums that preceded my election as your diocesan bishop, I was very clear that I thought the church should bless the godly, faithful and lifelong union of two persons of the same sex. Moreover, my views on this matter have been expressed in two published books. So my own views will not be a surprise to anyone.

At the same time, as I also stated in the forums, I do not wish to act in isolation from the Episcopal Church. So since I became a bishop I have upheld the policy I inherited, which did not permit the blessing of same-sex unions under any circumstances. It is my view that the recent General Convention resolutions D025 and C056 have altered the terrain, by reasserting the possibility of godly unions between persons of the same sex, and by inviting bishops who have jurisdiction in states that have offered some form of civil union to gay and lesbian couples to exercise “pastoral generosity” in offering the church’s public ministrations to such couples.

In so doing, the Episcopal Church has effectively acknowledged that the godly union of two persons of the same sex – by which I mean the union of two persons who have vowed lifelong fidelity to one another, and accept accountability to the faith community as a faithful household – can be blessed by the church. I am convinced that in fairness to our fellow Episcopalians who have entered into such unions or who desire to do so, we must move deliberately toward the implementation of a policy that will permit and govern the blessings of such unions in Southern Ohio.

On this basis, I am lifting the prohibition on the blessing of same-sex unions in this diocese, effective Easter 2010.

Bishop Breidenthal goes on to lay out a few “ground rules” for beginning these blessings, including that at least one of the persons entering into the union be Episcopalian, the bishop’s direct oversight in each union, and conversation within the local congregation.

I like these ground rules, though I expect them to relax and disappear in coming years. The diocese needs to show that this is a spiritual expression, not a political statement and I think Bishop Breidenthal is wise to direct the conversation in such a deliberate manner.

On a personal note, it’s fantastic to get good news from my own neck of the woods. The Southern Ohio Diocese includes Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton, and extends to 40 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Thank you Bishop Breidenthal for taking this important step!

(tip of the hat to IntegrityUSA.)