Report from General Convention Listening Sessions

The listening session at St. Thomas’ Thomasville on April 21 is pictured above.

As your elected deputies and first alternates, we will represent the Diocese of Georgia at the 77th General Convention this summer. We are grateful for the participation of more than 100 lay persons and clergy in the listening sessions we held with the Bishop in Eastertide in Augusta, Thomasville, Albany, Brunswick, Savannah, and Dublin.

We were formed by the depth of thoughtfulness in both the comments made and the generosity of spirit with which all listened to one another. The sessions made it clear that the people of the Diocese are concerned primarily with the two issues that have been given the most advanced publicity—restructuring The Episcopal Church and the proposed rite for blessing same-gender relationships. While all present who expressed opinions on restructuring the Church are generally in favor of the proposal, we clearly are not close to being of one mind with regard to the blessing liturgy.

Many spoke in favor, to some degree, of blessing same gender relationships, while others were strongly opposed to any such action. It is impossible to reflect in a brief statement the diversity of views expressed, which truly ran across a spectrum. Many people of differing opinions expressed gratefulness for Bishop Benhase’s assurances that any such rite would not be mandatory, and would be permitted only if a.) the Bishop endorses the rite for use in the diocese, which is unlikely in its current form, and b.) the rector and vestry approve it for use in a given congregation. No priest will ever be required to officiate at the blessing of a same gender relationship.

After each session, all of the deputies, including those not present, were given full reports. Through this process, we have been formed again and again by the people of the Diocese, lay and ordained, who took the time to come be heard. Along with brief statements of support or opposition for trial use of a proposed rite of blessing, we heard many moving personal statements of how this issue impacts the lives of those with whom we worship.

The Bishop was joined at each session by as many deputies and alternates as could be present with reports on each meeting conveyed to our entire deputation. Though the listening sessions have ended, members of Episcopal churches in the Diocese of Georgia may still email the Bishop and deputies at deputies[at]georgiaepiscopal[dot]org

Clerical deputies
The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, Chair
The Very Rev. Ted Clarkson
The Rev. Lonnie Lacy
The Rev. Joe Bowden, MD
The Rev. Tar Drazdowski (1st alternate)

Lay deputies
Molly Stevenson
Victoria Logue
Bill Steinhauser
Jody Grant
Carolyn Baker (1st alternate)

The listening session at St. Mark’s Brunswick on May 6 is pictured above.


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