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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Episcopal Church OK's Same-Sex Weddings

By coincidence, the Episcopal Church began its triennial General Convention in Salt Lake City last Thursday, the day before the Obergefell ruling came out, which was celebrated with applause and a conga line (yes, you read that right) by attendees. On Tuesday, the House of Bishops approved resolutions authorizing same-sex weddings, and the House of Deputies followed suit yesterday. Episcopal News Service reports:
The House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops’ approval the day before of a canonical change eliminating language defining marriage as between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorizing two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054).

The resolutions marked the culmination of a conversation launched when the 1976 General Convention said that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the church,” said the Very Rev. Brian Baker, deputy chair of the Special Legislative Committee on Marriage. “That resolution began a 39-year conversation about what that full and equal claim would look like. The conversation has been difficult for many and painful for many.” . . .

The two new liturgies, “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage” and “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2” from “Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You and You Will be a Blessing, Revised and Expanded 2015” from the supplemental Blue Book materials of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, are authorized for use beginning this Advent. Those rites offer the option of using “wife,” “husband,” “person” or “spouse,” thus making them applicable for all couples. The liturgies can be found on pages 2-151 here from the materials provided to convention by the standing commission, including one rejected by bishops in their deliberations. . . .

Both resolutions say that clergy retain the canonical right to refuse to officiate at any wedding.

The changes take effect on the first Sunday of Advent, November 29. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Many dioceses in the New York-based church of nearly 1.9 million members have allowed their priests to perform civil same-sex weddings, using a trial prayer service to bless the couple. Still, the church hadn’t changed its own laws on marriage until Wednesday.

The Episcopal Church joins two other mainline Protestant groups that allow gay marriage in all their congregations: the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The 3.8-million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lets its congregations decide for themselves, and many of them host gay weddings.

The New York Times reports:
The Episcopal Church is the U.S. wing of the Anglican Communion, an 80 million-member global fellowship of churches. Ties among Anglicans have been strained since Episcopalians in 2003 elected Bishop Gene Robinson, who lived openly with his male partner, to lead the Diocese of New Hampshire. Many more conservative Episcopalians either split off or distanced themselves from the national U.S. church after Robinson's election.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans, earlier this week expressed deep concern about the move to change the definition of marriage.

During debate Wednesday, the Rev. Jose Luis Mendoza-Barahona of Honduras said the new church law goes against the Bible and would create a chasm in the church. "The fight has not ended, it's starting," he said during debate at the convention. "Those of us in the church who are loyal followers of Christ are going to remain firm in not recognizing what happened today."

But in an interview after the vote, Robinson said he was "delighted" and "proud" of the church. "It's a day I wasn't sure I would live to see," said Robinson, who is now retired. "What we're seeing I think in the Episcopal Church, and last week with the Supreme Court decision, is an entire culture evolving into understanding that gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender people contribute just as much as anyone else to this society and deserve all the same rights."
In London, Lambeth Palace issued this statement from Archbishop Welby, who holds the "primacy of honor" in the Anglican Communion, but no governing authority over any church outside of England:
While recognising the prerogative of The Episcopal Church to address issues appropriate to its own context, Archbishop Justin Welby said that its decision will cause distress for some and have ramifications for the Anglican Communion as a whole, as well as for its ecumenical and interfaith relationships.

At a time of such suffering around the world, he stated that this was a moment for the church to be looking outwards. We continue to mourn with all those who are grieving loved ones and caring for the injured from the terrorist attacks in Sousse, Kuwait and Lyon, and from the racist attacks in Charleston.

He urges prayer for the life of the Anglican Communion; for a space for the strengthening of the interdependent relationships between provinces, so that in the face of diversity and disagreement, Anglicans may be a force for peace and seek to respond to the Lord Jesus’ prayer that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (John 17: 21).
The United Kingdom Parliament passed the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill in 2013, with weddings beginning in March 2014.  However, the legislation specifically exempted the Church of England, the established state church, from conducting any same-sex weddings.

Welby spoke in the House of Lords in opposition to the bill in 2013, saying it would "abolish marriage" and "weaken society," but in 2014 appeared to waffle on the subject in an interview with Pink News:
Asked in the interview what his message for the LGBT community was, he said: “We are struggling with the issues across the Church globally. “It’s complicated with ramifications that are very difficult to deal with in many parts of the world.” "He added: “As you know I have said, and got a fair amount of flak for it within parts of the Church, we have to accept, and quite rightly, that the Same-Sex Marriage Act is law, and that it’s right and proper, it’s the law of the land, and that’s great.”

A spokesman for Lambeth palace said: “The Archbishop has said numerous times that he accepts the right of Parliament to change the law and that the Church should continue to demonstrate the love of Christ for every person."


Tim said...

Most of us now live in the 21st century; the Archbishop seems to be stuck in the 18th.

Davis said...

^^^ What Tim said.

Russ Manley said...

Quite. I'm afraid the dithering, blithering Welby is simply not the man for the job.

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