General Convention moves one step closer toward sacramental marriage equality

House of Bishops must act on ‘compromise’ resolution

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
Posted Jul 9, 2018

California Deputy Christopher Hayes explains his floor amendment to Resolution B012 during debate on July 9. Hayes is wearing purple in honor of Purple Scarf Day, which calls for more women in the episcopate. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The House of Deputies overwhelmingly endorsed a heavily amended resolution July 9 aimed at ensuring that all Episcopalians can be married by their priests in their home churches.

Resolution B012, a carefully crafted compromise that its final proposers hope will be accepted by both houses of convention, gives full access to two trial-use marriage rites for same-sex and opposite-sex couples approved by the 2015 meeting of General Convention (via Resolution A054).

The deputies voted by orders and the results were:

* Clergy: 96 yes, 10 no, 4 divided
* Lay: 97 yes, 8 no, 5 divided

Fifty-six votes in each order were required for passage. Divided votes are recorded when the clergy or lay members of a deputation split their votes between yes and no.

The resolution, as passed by deputies, provides for:

  • Giving rectors or clergy in charge of a congregation the ability to provide access to the trial-use of the marriage rites for same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Resolution A054-2015 and the original version of B012 said that clergy could only use the rites under the direction of their bishop.
  • Requiring that, if a bishop “holds a theological position that does not embrace marriage for same-sex couples,” he or she may invite another bishop, if necessary, to provide “pastoral support” to any couple desiring to use the rites, as well as to the clergy member and congregation involved. In any case, an outside bishop must be asked to take requests for remarriage if either member of the couple is divorced to fulfill a canonical requirement that applies to opposite-sex couples.
  • Continuing trial use of the rites until the completion of the next comprehensive revision of the Book of Common Prayer.

A House of Deputies page collects the written version of the Diocese of Southern Virginia’s vote by orders on Resolution B012. During votes by orders, deputies vote on paper ballots and then deputations calculate the results and cast their vote electronically. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The resolution also eliminated the original B012’s call for a Task Force on Communion across Difference. Formation of such a group is now being proposed in a new resolution, A227.

California Deputy Christopher Hayes, whose floor amendment formed the basis of the version of B012 that the house adopted, told the deputies during debate that it was “written in consultation with a number of people who have labored for the last two triennia on how to honor the theological diversity of this church on the issue of marriage while ensuring that liturgies for marriage of same-sex couples can be used as widely as possible.”

In addition, he said, the amendment makes clear that the canonical authority to use the liturgies rests with the rector or other clergy in charge of a congregation.

“Our tradition had long recognized that the rector has the authority to use any liturgy authorized by General Convention,” he said.

Hayes suggested that convention could do nothing less but honor both the consciences of those bishops who refuse to approve use of the rites “and the needs of same-sex couples for an equal place in this church.”

Debate on the resolution, which spread over two days, was at times passionate and at others sober.

The Rev. Calvin Sanborn, deputy from Maine, told the house July 8 that he has performed many marriages in the last three years, many of them for same-sex couples. Some were young people “just beginning their journey together,” and he has solemnized the marriages of “many, many couples who have been together for decades and are finally able to have their loving relationships affirmed by the church.”

“These are not just parishioners who came to the church to be married in a beautiful place and then simply disappear, as is often the case in a coastal Maine church,” he said. “These are faithful couples who have not only committed their lives to each other, but also to Christ and to the work of God in the world.”

Sanborn said he supported B012 as a compromise, although he longs for a time when marriage for same-sex couples will be included in the Book of Common Prayer and “no longer be second class.”

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

The Rev. Susan Russell, Los Angeles deputy and long-time leader in the effort for full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of the church, supported B012 because it “will move us beyond the seemingly intractable challenge of living together as a church where the sacrament of marriage has been authorized for all couples in the Episcopal Church is irreconcilable with the theological consciences of some members of the Episcopal Church.”

Russell told the deputies that they should be clear that the resolution contains “costly compromises that come with very real pain.” Some will be pained by a resolution, she said, that falls short of giving “full and equal claim” to all the sacraments to baptized LBGTQ persons. Others will “experience this action as a bridge too far away.” The question the convention faces, she said, is “whether the gift of walking together into God’s future as members of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement is worth the painful compromises we are mutually being asked to bear.”

The next speaker, Dallas Deputy William Murchison, vehemently disagreed, saying the convention was being asked to “throw out a historic Christian understanding and supplant it with a new one, untested, unproved, but now, all of the sudden, necessary to be believed and practiced.”

Murchison said despite “all this cloudy talk of love … you don’t achieve love with a hammer, you don’t achieve love with a club. You achieve it with open arms and open heart and open minds.” Assuming no one else is right and that it’s “my way or the highway” is “not Christian, it’s not even Episcopalian.”

Albany Deputy Mary Jones tell the House of Deputies July 9 that Resolution B012 will divide the church. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Deputy Mary Jones of Albany agreed, saying that such a compromise was, indeed, too much “and would not serve our church well.” Passing B012 will “ultimately lead us to division” because of its underlying difference in the interpretation of Scripture.

B012 began in response to Resolution A085 from General Convention’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage, proposed in part to find a way for Episcopalians in eight dioceses of the church’s 101 domestic dioceses in which the diocesan bishop refuses to authorize use of the trial-use marriage rites for same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

A085 would have required bishops to make provision for all couples asking to be married to have “reasonable and convenient access” to the two trial-use marriage rites. However, A085 would also add the two trial-use marriage rites to the Book of Common Prayer and amend the prayer book’s other marriage rites, prefaces and sections of the Catechism to make language gender neutral. That change was a sticking point for many.

Five Province IX diocesan bishops and one retired bishop objected and warned the task force in a statement that, if convention makes changes about marriage that would force them “to accept social and cultural practices that have no biblical basis or acceptance in Christian worship,” the action would “greatly deepen the breach, the division and the Ninth Province will have to learn to walk alone.” The bishops of Colombia and Puerto Rico, also dioceses in Province IX, did not sign the statement.

[The version of the statement sent to the task force included the names of the bishops who were representing the dioceses of Ecuador Litoral, Ecuador Central, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Honduras. However, since then Victor Scantlebury, the acting bishop of Ecuador Central, has said he did not sign the statement.]

Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, together with Pittsburgh Bishop Dorsey McConnell and Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely, proposed B012 the week before convention as an alternative.

The original B012 would have continued trial use of the two trial-use marriage rites without a time limit and without seeking a revision of the prayer book. The resolution proposed that access to the liturgies be provided for in all dioceses. However, in dioceses in which the bishop will not authorize the rights, congregations wishing to use them could request and would receive Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) from another bishop of the church who would provide access to the liturgies.

The pastoral oversight called for in the amended B012 is not DEPO, according to Hayes. The DEPO process, which is not part of the canons of the church, is meant only for congregations whose relationship with the bishop is broken on all levels. Not all congregations wishing to use the rites are in that level of conflict with their bishop, he said.

After two hearings on A085 and B012 on July 5, the committee crafted a new version of the latter resolution. It was that version that Hayes moved to amend to clarify several points.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.


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Comments (84)

  1. PJ Cabbiness says:

    I am pleased to see progress on this issue. Finally, something positive from Convention.

  2. Rev. Dr. James Hargis says:

    Sad to see this ill-conceived, non-biblical resolution. Provine IX has it right. TEC is going further down the road to ruin on this one; and it’s simply to please the LGBTQ community.

    1. Jordan Sakal says:

      As one such member of that LGBTQ+ community that you are maligning, I think that this movement by TEC towards full sacramental equality is fantastic and needed. We deserve to have the same communion of marriage before God as all other couples.

      God bless the Episcopal Church for this move.

    2. Dr. Harris: The Episcopal Church is not going to retreat from our path to assure that same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are treated identically. The Biblical prohibitions against homosexuality have been thoroughly studies and addressed. I would think that the conservative dioceses would be happy that the rest of the church is not forcing them to go along, but to simply step out of the way. Oh, and the LGBTQ community that we are so eager to “please” are our brother and sister Episcopalians, likely some of which are in your own congregation, and certainly in your own diocese.

      1. Robbie Johnson says:

        The Biblical passages that clearly state that God does not approve of homosexuality have been addressed by the church. The church simply ignores them!

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          No, it’s the non-affirming side the continues to ignore the responses against the so-called “clobber passages.”

          1. Robbie Johnson says:

            The liberals and LGBTQ simply write off what God says about the homosexual lifestyle and dismiss these passages with the cute little name “clobber passages”.

          2. Matt Ouellette says:

            No, we don’t simply write them off. There have been detailed arguments made which demonstrate how they don’t say what many conservatives think they say. Here is a blog series by Bishop Matthew Gunter as an example:
            http://anoddworkofgrace.blogspot.com/2015/05/how-i-came-to-change-my-mind-on-ssu.html
            If you’re looking for books, God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines is a great introduction.

    3. Actually, the measure will please not only the LGBT community, but its supporters and people who are concerned about human rights generally. It is the latest instance of Christians abandoning fundamental biblical beliefs like human slavery, requiring women to marry their rapists, beating children, treating women as second-class citizens, killing women found to be non-virgins at their first marriage, bias against homosexuals, bias against transgender persons, etc. There are some practices in the Bible that need to be soundly rejected ASAP.

  3. Martha Farnham says:

    As a cradle Episcopalian and lifelong straight LGBTQ ally, I fully support this move. I have absolutely no doubt that Jesus would have supported it as well.

    1. Susan Warner Nance says:

      Amen. Alleluia!

  4. Susan Warner Nance says:

    Though I would prefer to see full inclusion, I appreciate the spirit of compromise. I hear the words Love Your Neighbor – and the definition of NEIGHBOR continues to broaden across the globe and across my street. I will not be the one to judge who God loves as a whole person. My baptismal covenant mandates that I seek and serve Christ in ALL persons and strive for justice and peace for all people, thus, my support and advocacy for All Sacraments for All People.

  5. Robert Walker says:

    It is a wonderful thing to see the Holy Sprit at work in Austin. This is truly the Church and God working together to insure that all of God’s people who happen to be Episcopalians are treated with the same respect and love that God has for all of us, no matter how we were created by God. I am still amazed that an educated person like Mr. Murchison of Dallas still, after the Church has studied the issue of human sexuality for 40 years, thinks that people “choose” to be homosexual rather than heterosexual. At least this is the impression I have after reading his many letters to the editor of the Dallas Morning News over the years. And his submissions to various Diocese of Dallas publications. I pray that we can, in a way I have yet to know, help him understand the actual experience of “gay” Episcopalians. There is nothing Christ-like about the treatment of fellow members of the Church in the Diocese of Dallas, where I live and worship.

    1. Robbie Johnson says:

      It is now time for Bible believing Christians to leave this apostate church! I am returning to the Bible believing Baptist Church!

      1. Matt Ouellette says:

        It’s disheartening that you think being affirming of LGBTQ+ Christians makes us apostate. I encourage you to read this blog by Bishop Matthew Gunter of the Diocese of Fond du Lac. It shows how you can still be faithful to the Scriptures and affirm marriage equality in the Church:
        http://anoddworkofgrace.blogspot.com/2015/05/how-i-came-to-change-my-mind-on-ssu.html

        1. william dailey says:

          Can someone show me where “marriage equality” is found in the Bible?

          1. Susan Warner Nance says:

            I hear your need to find that reference in the Bible. Society has evolved past cultural norms of 2000 years ago, to include guns, nuclear power, cars, electricity, internet, etc. The Bible is not
            clear on appreciate use of these developments in society. Shouldd a preacher refuse to use a microphone, tv, internet because Jesus did not use them? The many denominations that exist today were not referenced in Acts, neither were political ideologies such as democracy. What is the same, however, is Jesus’s message of affirming love and inclusion for all.

          2. David Lloyd says:

            Guns, nuclear power and so forth – no, they’re not specifically in the Bible. Yet, marriage actually is…

          3. Wendy Owens says:

            The Bible isn’t a law book, nor is it a list of do’s and don’ts. It is a marvelous gift to us from God, and we honor that gift by receiving it graciously and seeking to follow Jesus’ admonition that the Jewish Law can be summed up by loving God and by loving our neighbors as ourselves. When we start nitpicking about what is and isn’t “in the Bible” as a way to exclude or marginalize our neighbors, we diminish the gift God has given us.

          4. Virginia Bailey says:

            Marriage is definitely spoken of in the Bible, and yet today it is nothing like what it was in 3500 BCE. How many wives did Abraham have? How many times did he prostitute her to the king to save his own skin when in a foreign country? (and that’s fine???) Who did the children of Adam and Eve marry, actually? And the children of Noah? How many wives did Jacob have? How about Joseph? Did it occur to you that Jesus actually advised no one to marry? Did Jesus marry? To the careful reader, the Bible invites more questions than it answers.

      2. Thomas Golden says:

        “Robbie Johnson says:
        July 9, 2018 at 9:58 pm
        It is now time for Bible believing Christians to leave this apostate church! I am returning to the Bible believing Baptist Church!”
        And I’m sure you’ll be sorely missed, brother!

  6. Van Windsor says:

    I’m sure God’s Will is going to win the day.. Surprised how few people there are voting on our behalf. I thought GC was bigger…

    1. Van Windsor says:

      I don’t just mean this issue, but overall

  7. Jeff Chapman says:

    Sadly I am not a well schooled theologian however, I believe we are made by God in God’s image – male and female. I also don’t think God makes mistakes. I support our churches position.

    1. Katie Murphy says:

      Nor did God make mistakes when he created LGBTQ+ persons. God created people who love those of the same sex, of any sex, those who do not identify with the body they were born into, those who are non binary and more. God created us in a multitude of colors, shapes, abilities, identities and more. Jesus said, “Love one another.”

  8. Bill Ansley says:

    I am extremely pleased that FINALLY in the Diocese of Dallas and elsewhere marriage for LGBT individuals within our own Episcopal approving churches is now a reality which cannot be blocked by a minority of bishops. As a senior gay man, I had begun to think this would never be a reality in my lifetime and thank all of those who have helped move us beyond exclusion from marriage in our own local parish church. For those who differ, I continue to pray for your enlightenment and compassion. If you don’t want same sex marriages in your church, fear not…we would rather not darken the doors of your exclusive edifices where Christian love is selective.

    1. Debra Aring says:

      We have to be careful here. We’re not out of the woods yet. While this is a wonderful development out of the HoD, it still must be passed by the HoB in the current form before we can really claim inclusion.

      1. Robbie Johnson says:

        I don’t think you have to worry. The Episcopal Church is now controlled by the LGBTQ! The next move by the church is conservatives get out!

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          You’ve said this countless times, and it’s still not true. The majority of leadership is heterosexual and cisgender, not LGBTQ+, even though they are affirming. That’s because they recognize the basic dignity of LGBTQ+ people instead of writing them off.

          1. Robbie Johnson says:

            As for “writing them off”, it is the conservative Bible believing Episcopalians who are now being written off by the liberal church.

          2. Matt Ouellette says:

            No, they aren’t being written off. They just can’t deny members of the church access to the sacraments.

  9. Matt Ouellette says:

    This is a good compromise, and a positive step in the right direction for sacramental marriage equality in the Church. As a gay Episcopalian, I am glad to see this Church continue to fully affirm us and our relationships.

    1. Jordan Sakal says:

      Matt,

      We need to stand and let the tiny ember of love grow and nurture it in our own way. As gay Episcopalians we are unique to this dialogue in that it impacts our day to day lives. We deserve to have the same recognition as other church members.

      To equality opponents I say this: You don’t have to help the ember of love, you don’t have it applaud it, you don’t have to fight for it. Just don’t put it out. Just don’t extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don’t know and you don’t understand and maybe you don’t even want to know…It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person…

      As as a church of love, that is what it is all about. Being a mirrored reflection of the love of Christ in all ways.

  10. Kathy Anderson says:

    Welcome to the 21st Century, dear Episcopal Church.

  11. David Ashburner ∞ says:

    As a cisgender straight white male in the Diocese of Dallas I can definitively say to Mr Hargis that this is about more than “pleasing the LGBTQ community”. This is about listening and hearing where God, through the Holy Spirit, is leading and encouraging The Episcopal Church to grow in recognizing who is our neighbor, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
    I pray that TEC continues to expand, as Paul first heard and answered the call to fully include gentiles (come as you are, foreskins intact), and much later people of all color and race, then women, and now by painful increments, our LGBTQ 🏳️‍🌈 sisters and brothers.

  12. mike geibel says:

    I think we need to respect the positions of both sides. I can’t cite scripture one way or the other, and I certainly don’t profess to know God’s mind on the issue, but for me, I say everyone should be able to pursue happiness, and if that means a religious ceremony rather than civil ceremony, then it should be left to them and their pastor. Let God be the judge of whether the pastor’s actions are right or wrong.

    But the deputies should also respect the autonomy of Bishops in other dioceses, and not try to force the marriage equality issue upon those who have more Puritanical views. Unfortunately, we tend to focus on labels for each other, rather than looking at the character of the individual and not his or her sexual orientation. This means the Church must accept the impact of this decision. The TEC lost over 70,000 members in 2015 and 2016, and the number of marriages and baptisms have continued to plummet. Bishops in conservative middle America and the South, in addition to their more orthodox theological beliefs, may be legitimately concerned that announcing the TEC as the Church sanctifying gay marriage will result in the number of congregants who leave the Church significantly outnumbering the number of same sex marriages that would be performed. I only say, don’t diminish the traditional sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman by requiring all marriage rites to be gender neutral.

  13. christopher seitz says:

    As written, it appears that a congregation is in a position to have ss marriage even if the rector is opposed. He/she are canonically protected from being involved directly, but these services will happen under their direction, so says B012.

    I doubt HOB will allow this, but in the present climate who knows? As for conservative dioceses, they will of course now have subsets and conflict with canons of the diocese. But again that is probably just now to be viewed as so much nuisance.

  14. John Hobart says:

    Had we not taken uncompromising, hard line, progressive positions on virtually every conceivable trend secular political issue, we might be able to take a principled stand on marriage in that it is clearly a religious as well civil issue. We sacrificed that opportunity on the alter of political idolatry long ago.

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      Wait, so you’re saying that because the Episcopal Church has made political stances that have aligned with secular progressives that now we can’t have marriage equality? What kind of sense does that make? Or am I misunderstanding you?

      1. Jordan Sakal says:

        He’s saying that the church (because it is so progressive) that it lost out on the ability to take a “principled” (read: conservative/one man/one woman) stand on marriage. Hobart believes that the Church is wrong for being both a political entity and seeking to enshrine and protect the rights and beliefs of LGBTQ+ members.

        He’s mewling for a long lost conservatism which no longer exists.

        1. John Hobart says:

          You are both wrong. I am saying that our stance will just appear to be another lockstep democratic position rather than a principled stand. And I would ask Jordan Sakal to stick to expressing his own opinions. Your characterization of mine is entirely incorrect.

          1. Matt Ouellette says:

            Have you considered that those progressive political positions might also be principled stances as well?

          2. John Hobart says:

            The only principle that I see is a self-righteous certainty that all things necessary for salvation are contained in the Democratic Party Platform. I don’t think the religious left is any more principled that the religious right.

          3. Matt Ouellette says:

            It’s not an adherence to the Democratic Party platform. It’s standing by principles of equality and social justice promoted by Jesus. You may disagree about how we stand by those principles, but it’s not fueled by secular politics.

          4. John Hobart says:

            The Christian Right has also read their politics into the Bible. You have a right to your political opinions, but your political opinions are not my religion.

          5. Matt Ouellette says:

            Certain issues, though, should not be up for debate. I think the problem is that certain issues have become partisan when they should be agreed upon across the political spectrum (e.g. climate change is a problem that needs to be solved and not a conspiracy theory that should be ignored; children should not be separated from their parents who are seeking asylum from violence in their home countries). That says more about our country’s culture than it does about our Church (except, perhaps, how much our culture has influenced our churches).

          6. John Hobart says:

            Who gets to decide what should and what shouldn’t be up for debate? My suggestion is that we put nothing up for debate. You are entitled to your political opinions and I am entitled to mine. If you feel strongly about a political opinion, write to your congressman.

          7. Matt Ouellette says:

            I think we, collectively, as a church should decide. I don’t think our church should be apolitical. I don’t see how a church that doesn’t engage with the world (while not being part of the world) can effectively advance the kingdom of God.

          8. John Hobart says:

            It seems to me that we have come full circle and you have just put up for debate the things that you say shouldn’t be up for debate.

          9. Matt Ouellette says:

            Let me propose this thought experiment to help you understand where I am coming from: Let’s say the United States was considering banning interracial marriage and undoing the civil rights legislation of the 20th century. Do you think it would be the moral obligation of the church to condemn such racist policies, or should we remain neutral in such a circumstance? In a situation like that, I thin the church should speak out. When something is clearly wrong, we should say so and not dance around it. That how I see the child separation policy, for example.

          10. John Hobart says:

            That would probably be one of the few times when the Church should make a statement, and I also think that we could achieve pretty close to a consensus on that. However, that statement would appear like just another lockstep democratic position because we have undermined our own credibility. During the last election cycle the national church published a document that delineated 40 something pages of political opinions on everything and anything…they were all predictably the democratic position on every issue.

          11. Matt Ouellette says:

            On specific policies, or on broad goals? I think goals like reducing poverty, reducing gun violence, combatting climate change, etc. are good goals that both parties should agree on, even if they disagree on specific policy solutions.

        2. John Hobart says:

          I’m not a terribly political person, but I think there is some sort of consensus on “broad goals.” I don’t know anyone who is in favor of poverty or gun violence or opioid addiction or whatever. The disputes come when we endorse the specific partisan solution of the Democratic Party, which is what we almost invariably do. If you were to advocate for broad goals statements, someone would quickly point out that you haven’t said much except to state the obvious. I think we should pray for peace, without endorsing any particular foreign policy, pray for justice without endorsing either parties program, pray for an end to poverty without taking a position on specific solutions. We are mostly reasonably well-educated people in the Episcopal Church and we are capable of forming our own opinions without some bishop, who doesn’t understand the issue any better than we do, trying to tell us what to think.

          1. Matt Ouellette says:

            I mostly agree, except when one of the two parties starts denying that there is a problem or proposes specific policies that are obviously at odds with the stated goals. However, there is definitely room for disagreement about specific solutions to problems. It just seems that nowadays we can’t even agree on the problems. I remember a time when Republican politicians, for example, agreed that climate change was a problem that needed to be solved. Nowadays, however, it seems they all think it is a hoax and deny it even though all evidence points to it as a problem.

  15. Roger Hamilton says:

    I fail to see how this is good for the church. Though it may seem right in the eyes of some it is an abomination in the eyes of God. It goes against scripture, common sense, and biology. The gay lobby is set on the ruin of the Church!

    1. Debra Aring says:

      As a queer Episcopalian, I have a very hard time hearing this statement, AGAIN. I love this church and working toward ordination in this church. My fellow queer Episcopal sisters and brothers want to be treated as full members of Christ’s Body, not relegated to second class status within the church we love.

      Your arguments are tired, trite, and have proven time and again to be untrue. This resolution is not the end of our inclusion journey. I hope you will be open to the Spirit as she leads us.

  16. Hugh Hansen, Ph.D. says:

    While points can be raised about the type of marriage, the overriding point is that the writers of these resolutions seem to take not just the priest but the bishop out of the decision process so that neither can manage the work of God in their domains of endeavor.

    1. Debra Aring says:

      Preventing bishops from denying marriage to all was precisely the point. A couple shouldn’t be denied access to marriage within their own parish just because the bishop believes they know better than the General Convention, and by extension, The Episcopal Church. Access to marriage shouldn’t be an accident of residence.

  17. christopher seitz says:

    I think the intention was always to take the Bishop out, so as to correct the ‘injustice’ propogated at GC 2015.

    What I did not anticipate is taking the rector out, which is I believe where the present wording can take us. The individual priestly conscience idea, in canons, remains, but it remains only for the individual priest. His or her parish can request and get ss marriage rites, even if the rector is opposed, and his/her job it to direct how this will unfold.

    The way the ENS article is written is from the standpoint of rectors who had previously been denied. That problem is clearly no more in B012. Rather, the new ‘problem’ is not access, but whether the rector has any ability to regulate rites in the parish anymore. The Bishop is out and so is he or she.

  18. Stephen O'Connell says:

    As a member of the Episcopal Church in a Diocese that prohibits the union of same sex marriage in the sacramental rite, I am very pleased to see that the National Church is working to make the church inclusive and accepting of all individuals. If we continue to only focus on the things that make us different rather than how we are all one family, we will never be a true community of faith.

  19. Gregg Conroy says:

    It saddens me to see that, despite CURRENT provisions which allow for same sex couples to be married in the church even though their bishop does not permit such rites to be performed in their home diocese, that is not enough to satisfy the very vocal (may I say ‘militaristic”) part of the Episcopal church’s population. I didn’t read EVERY comment above but I don’t recall seeing a reference to the very real erosion this proposal makes in the authority of the bishop in his/her diocese. It seems to me that this “camel’s nose under the tent flap” will just be the beginning of further removal of the bishop’s authority. Is that authority defined in the Bible? Nope, but it is in in the Bible in the church’s governance since the time of its formation.

    And, BOY Mary Francis, your article at least seems more neutral than its headline. I think it could just as easily be slanted the opposite way with something like “General Convention moves one step closer toward apostasy in proposed ‘sacramental marriage’ change.” Something in the middle (the via media we’re supposed to be know for) would be refreshing.

  20. Julian Borda says:

    This whole episode is beginning to remind me of 1 Kings 22. 400 prophets tell King Ahab that the Lord has ordained that an upcoming battle is his to win. A single prophet, Micaiah, is actually told by God that Israel will be scattered and without a master after the battle. But Ahab hates Micaiah because “he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.” Ahab imprisons the faithful prophet for daring to speak against what he plans to do. Then things go exactly as Micaiah predicted!
    Because we are a very small minority in the church who say that human tampering with the sacrament of Holy Matrimony is contrary to the will of God, we are still a thorn in the side of the Ahabs who desperately want everyone to agree that what they are doing is, in fact, God’s will. Well, you need us to be your Micaiah. Even if we are somehow wrong (which, in my imperfection, I admit as a possibility), you need to be reminded that there is no clear ordinance of God to change His sacrament, and that your view is not the only acceptable one. You and the 400 say that it is God’s will. Remember that that means nothing sometimes, and that it can end very badly when you punish the one dissenting voice.

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      You do realize that TEC’s affirming position is actually a minority in the global Anglican Communion, right? So, according to your logic, the affirming side would be more like Michaiah and the non-affirming side would be more like Ahab and the 400 prophets.

      1. Julian Borda says:

        I was referring specifically to Resolution B012 at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. The relationship between TEC and the Anglican Communion is different from that between members within the Episcopal Church. All I want to say is that though you dislike the “non-affirming” message, it is not wise to silence and punish its messengers.

        You may choose to think of yourself as Micaiah in a global context, but as it relates to the relationship between TEC and the Anglican Communion, a more apt analogy would be the prodigal son, in my opinion. I pray that our church will one day return to a loving feast with its father.

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          I don’t think we are the prodigal son, but a prophetic voice for the marginalized within the church. We do not need to repent of our affirming theology (our zeal in speaking out for it may need some repenting, though).

          1. Virginia Bailey says:

            I love that you mention the Prodigal Son. This story is so much more about the Father who reaches out to both sons – when the Prodigal returns, running to him in fact, and to the Older Son who sulks outside the party. Of the three, whom do we really want to emulate?

          2. Julian Borda says:

            I suspect that you want me to answer that we should emulate the Father – and it is certainly true that we should strive to love unconditionally, as He does. But the sons (human beings) relate to us too, because they show us how we should and should not relate to God. I believe we should emulate the faithfulness of the older son, but not his pride; and the humility that the younger son discovers, but not his departure from his father.
            As this relates to the current debate, we will probably disagree about which of us is prodigal, and which is faithful, but I hope we will serve God and our neighbors with love, faithfulness, AND humility.
            P.S. Matt, I read Bishop Gunter’s blog. While I don’t agree with all of his conclusions and reasoning, I appreciate his attempt to enrich and add something new to the conversation. Thank you for sharing.

  21. christopher seitz says:

    It bears repeating something said often but not widely heard. Canon I.18.7 was written to provide pastoral discretion for clergy in respect of couples for whom reservations arose, in the context of marriage preparation. Clergy will know how this can happen; I do.

    In 2015 the canon was artificially bootstrapped into a debate, of a different character, and offered as a kind of consolation prize for those with misgivings about same-sex marriage, not individual couples, something for which it was never designed and that is inappropriate to its purpose.

    We now find the same canon put to even further contrived application: now that all couples will have access to these new rites, it is a kind of last “opt-out clause” for rectors who nevertheless must see to provision being made for same-sex marriage whether they or their parish like that or not.

  22. Brian MacFarland says:

    As a member of the LGTBQ community and an Episcopalian since 1971, I am beginning to tire of ALWAYS being the subject of another Task Force, or another Conversation, or another Resolution or Compromise. Frankly, I honestly cannot see myself hanging around this church until 2030 when the proposed BCP revisions go into trial use. Although my civil marriage was blessed using the Trial Liturgy in 2013, I am still a 2nd class member of the church; 40 plus years is long enough!

  23. Michael Lilly says:

    I read the multiple conversations under this article and weep, over the divisiveness and intractability that has come over us when we seek to legislate this particular behaviour in our Church.I have never understood why GC felt compelled to remove such sexual behaviour from the realm of Sin, or what arguments for such a position could be. I am not asking about identity or orientation, but about behavior. I acknowledge that the Scriptures do not speak one way or another about same-sex intimate relationships as covenantal marriage. I also acknowledge that this is because the Scriptures do not know this relationship. When the nuptial metaphor is used of God and His People it is always as Groom to Bride, as Husband to Wife. When Jesus responds to the harrrying Pharisees and refers to “from the beginning” His hearers knew that He spoke of the relationship of Adam and Eve. Paul speaks of marriage between man and woman even when he prefers singleness.

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      I recommend reading this blog by Bishop Gunter to get a sense of the affirming position:
      http://anoddworkofgrace.blogspot.com/2015/05/how-i-came-to-change-my-mind-on-ssu.html?m=1

    2. Rae Dier says:

      ETC was formed to politically and religiously “sacramental-ize” the sexual and marital “behavior” *cough* of HenryXIII. They have made themselves sacramental apostates from the beginning for political agendas. Why are you surprised at where they are now?

  24. Sloane Graff says:

    TEC has become an official arm of the Democrat Party. With this convention, that becomes confirmed. There is not a single issue on which the two organizations disagree. Not abortion, not gay rights, not immigration, not global warming, not Israel, none. Jesus has just become a convenient way to justify a political agenda.

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      I’m pretty sure the Democratic Party does not agree with all the positions of TEC. The nuanced position on abortion would not be in line with the more activist pro-choice groups in the Democratic Party, for example. Just because many of its positions anger conservatives doesn’t make it an official arm of the Democratic Party.

      1. Sloane Graff says:

        It would be equally upsetting if TEC had become an official arm of the Republican Party. A church should be about Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, 24/7. There is no time or room for all this political crap.

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          I agree that Jesus should be our central focus as a church. However, sometimes following Jesus means speaking out against injustices in our society.

  25. Greg Bedingfield says:

    What does it say about a church congregation’s theological beliefs if they are passively willing to accept controversial changes …major revisions…made by a committee that gathers in a convention…and are led by those who are not even obligated to resent the congregation beliefs? Becoming a cookie cutter denomination that changes theology to suit the latest activist agenda leads to a weak religious character.

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      And who says that this was being accepted passively, without congregational input?

      1. Greg Bedingfield says:

        Once elected as delegates, these people have no obligation to advocate the convictions of local churches. Once elected, they are elevated to a position where their personal beliefs supercede the will of the churches they supposedly represent. Somehow, they became wiser than the common folk. Why? It works great…if their personal agenda happens to fit your own. It is like the government electoral college. We are happy with the results if it matches our own voting booth decisions….but if the polls end against our choice, then we talk about popular vote and heaven forbid electors vote contrary to general election voting results!
        Churches should be run locally, not dictated by Pharaohs who set themselves up in a palace on the hill.

        1. Once again, I wonder if enough Episcopalians will ever have the courage to save the church a lot of grief and abolish the office of bishop. If it does happen, the shock might be too great for fully reorganizing into a congregational system right away, but that undoubtedly will occur as well. The apparel industry would have a field day making purple scarves for all those who yearn for the good old days.

          1. Matt Ouellette says:

            We should not remove the Historic Episcopate from our church. It is one of the important marks of the catholic Church. It would also make our name meaningless (Episcopal refers to our church being governed by bishops).

        2. Matt Ouellette says:

          If you want a denomination where all churches are run locally, I suggest a congregationalist church. However, we have an episcopal polity, and so we are governed by bishops who are in communion with one another. I don’t think the delegates become wiser than the other parishioners. They simply act as representatives of their congregations and dioceses. If someone is unhappy with how things are being run nationally, they can take it up with their bishops and delegates.

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