The latest issue of the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia’s publication, News From the Hill, contains an important article addressing the unhappy divisions over homosexuality in our church. The article contains a new proposal from a layman, and a layman of impressive credentials—former Secretary of State James Baker. Entitled ‘Finding our way forward’, it can be read here.

The heart of Baker’s proposal is that each parish in the Episcopal Church decide by vote, in the year 2012, on the approach it wants to take on the matter of homosexuality—whether or not it will accept a non-celibate homosexual rector, permit the blessing of civil unions and so on—and that thereafter a revisiting of the issue would only be permitted every three years, and only at the written request of more than 50% of its communicants. The parish’s bishop would be bound to honor its decision.

Baker’s arguments are based not on ecclesiology but on his practical experience of working with parties in disagreement apparently too deep for resolution. ‘In those cases,’ he writes, ‘the most practical approach usually is to address those matters where progress is possible, postpone decisions on irresolvable issues, and mutually respect the differing opinions of each side.’

The proposal is supported by an article in the same publication by the rector of his parish, Dr Russell Levenson, which can be read here. What do you think?