At the Diocesan Convention last November, Bishop McConnell promised that his decision concerning the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of persons in such unions would be informed (although not determined) by a diocese-wide dialogue, and announced the formation of a planning team to work with outside consultants to organise this dialogue. In February, the bishop sent a letter to the whole diocese describing the progress made. By that time interviews had been conducted with a diverse group of twenty others, a number of whom would go on to participate in the first two dialogues, and the team itself had tested the dialogue that resulted, and refined the procedure further in the light of its experience.

The first of what the bishop called these 'Phase Two' dialogues has now taken place, and the planning team is pleased to report that both facilitators and participants have given the process high marks. According to one observer, "at times the atmosphere was electric with collaborative, constructive energy… some participants offered a few suggested tweaks but as a general proposition people communicated that the structure and facilitation were experienced as supporting meaningful, constructive conversation."

The Phase Three dialogues will take place throughout the diocese over the summer. The only limitation on the number of participants will be the need for there to be a roughly equal number who come at this controversy from both sides; this may limit participation by those in the majority (whichever side that turns out to be-we do not yet have enough information to say).

Clearly we need a large pool of volunteers on both sides of the question.

To volunteer to take part in the summer dialogues, click this link.

This is where the process is today. We will continue to work to keep the diocese informed, and all of us are willing to meet with any interested persons to get feedback and, we hope, new ideas about how to keep the process moving forward. The team members are Nano Chalfant-Walker (St Stephen's Wilkinsburg), Greg Davis (St Michael's Ligonier), Alan Lewis (Calvary Shadyside), Dorsey McConnell (Diocese of Pittsburgh), Dana Phillips (St Thomas's Oakmont), Mary Roehrich (St Andrew's Highland Park) and Philip Wainwright (University of Pittsburgh Episcopal Chaplaincy).
Posted April 23, 2013
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