St. Paul’s by the Sea in Jacksonville Beach, Florida is poised to conduct its first blessing of a same-sex civil union this Spring. In 2019, the vestry voted to pursue the possibility of same-sex marriages and blessings. The Rev. Louanne Loch and the wardens met their bishop, the Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard, to seek approval to move forward. Howard expressed his love for the parish and agreed to provide an alternate bishop for the marriage process as outlined by The Episcopal Church. Except for marriage issues, Howard remains as bishop for St. Paul’s. In late summer, the parish held several grace-filled conversations about same-sex marriage and blessings.
As a result of these dialogue sessions, the vestry voted on Dec. 19, 2019 to support same-sex marriages and blessings by approving a revised wedding customary. In January, Loch was approached by two long-time parishioners, a former senior warden and her wife who is currently a vestry member, to conduct a blessing of their civil marriage.