Thinking Anglicans

TEC proposals for same-sex marriage

Updated

Following up on the letter from William Nye to TEC, the actual proposals to come before the General Convention in July were the subject of analysis by Andrew Goddard, earlier this month (I had missed his article until today).

“Communion Partners” and Marriage Doctrine and Liturgy in The Episcopal Church (USA)

An article, written from the perspective of one of the TEC bishops opposed to these changes, can be found here: Reconstructive Surgery on the Prayer Book? by Bishop Dan Martins.

And yesterday, there was This Source of Doctrine and Unity Requires Our Care by Bishop John Bauerschmidt.

Updates

Scott Gunn has also written about this proposal: Study of Marriage.

Bishop George Sumner has issued a pastoral letter on the same subject.

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Cynthia
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Cynthia

I’m not convinced that Andrew Goddard’s analysis is accurate. Perhaps Tobias Haller would shed more light. The considerations are all in the context of potentially revising the Book of Common Prayer. The last revision was 1979 and ever since the New Zealand Prayer Book was published, some of us have been jealous of the inclusive language. As for Bishop Martins… A085 sounds like a great idea. Not only for allowing SSM rites but also to have a marriage rite that makes the woman (in a heterosexual marriage) equal. Our bishop has encouraged straight couples to use the new rites. They… Read more »

Dennis Roberts
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Dennis Roberts

Bishop Martins writes: “Is it too much to hope for that I, and others who march to the proverbial different drummer, could be afforded some space in this church in which we might not only be tolerated, or treated affectionately as mascots, but be allowed to flourish?” What hubris. What entitlement. And said in the same letter where he brags about not making provision easy for others. What gall. Ok, Bishop Martins, I live in one of those dioceses where marriage equality is forbidden by one of your friends. I wasn’t able to have a church wedding. Parishes here can’t… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“There is space for conservatives in TEC to hold their beliefs and practice them in particular parishes, but there is little “space” left for them to oppress others – and that little space needs to go as soon as possible.” – Cynthia – Thank you, Cynthia, for this succinct summary of the situation regarding the complaints of Bishop Martins and other conservatives in TEC who would like their national Anglican Church to exclude Same-Sex couples from having their loving, caring monogamous relationships recognised by their co-congregants in Church. The recent blanket approval of the Royal Wedding Sermon by TEC’s Presiding… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

Look for others than conservative Bishops and Dioceses to begin to shuffle in their seats. Is this the Deputarian Church of the USA? The kind of polity Seabury worked to constrain? Nothing worse than to be a Bishop in a Presbyterian polity — that was his concern. Throw in concerns for financial and demographic survival — concerns for which Bishops are charged — and you have a recipe for problems. It has always appeared to me that the real battle will come at this 2018 GC. HOD v HOB. The latter will be prepared to be accommodating out of simple… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

“No one is demanding that priests marry anyone, they can refuse to marry gay people.”

The underlying theological question is not whether it is right or wrong for same sex couples to marry, but whether God will or will not marry them. Once a church accepts that He will, then allowing any individual priest to refuse places that priest’s definition of marriage above God’s. That’s a nonsense and clearly insulting to God. How on earth can TEC not see that their responsibility is to the conscience of God not to that of individual priests? It has to be universal.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

People opposed to same-sex marriage like to think they would have been on the right side in arguments about miscegnation and the church’s view of it. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a Dutch neighbour who points out sadly that everyone in Holland says they joined the resistance, but unfortunately most of them waited until 1946 to do so. Similarly, people like Martins want to convince themselves they would have been on the right side of history against Jim Crow. But we know different.

Kelvin Holdsworth
Guest

I am puzzled at what is being demanded from bishops who desire the right to prevent everyone in their dioceses from having access to what the national church has agreed. In Scotland, bishops who are against the marriage of same-sex couples are still expected to administer the necessary paperwork to allow their clergy who desire to be able to conduct such weddings to do so. If people’s consciences are what matters then it matters that bishops who are opposed should not be forced into marrying couples they do not desire to marry nor to enter a marriage they do not… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“No one is demanding that priests marry anyone, they can refuse to marry gay people.”

They can, and do, refuse to marry couples of different races. We normally recoil from these sorts of people:

https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2014/02/19/tennessee-pastor-rails-against-interracial-marriage

but if people who thinking of themselves as “decent” and “respectable” want to swim in the sewer with them, who are we to stop them?

CRS
Guest
CRS

Kate to Cynthia and Kelvin: it must be universal. No exceptions.

KH: SEC does not have the same historical polity as TEC. And TEC has 100 plus Bishops not 7.

crs
Guest
crs

PS. It also looks like the TEC International Communion idea, latterly confected, is not finding Province 9 cooperation. The vast majority is not marching in step. ‘Must be universal’ is not their cup of tea but indeed the opposite. I hope there is some engagement with Sumner’s letter to the Diocese of Dallas. As in TN, this is a diocese that sought to bring a resolution to stop anything short of ss marriage in that Diocese. One assumes the hope is for GC 2018 to fix this. Goddard mentions both this–Joan Gunderson said as much at TA last month–or first… Read more »

Tobias Stanislas Haller
Guest

Cynthia, Andrew Goddard’s essay errs in stating that adopting the proposals will force people from the church. This is a rhetorical strategy. No one will be forced from the church, though there will no doubt be some who will feel that they have to part company with it, on grounds of conscience. The canons protect clergy (including bishops) who are opposed to any given marriage; they do not have to give a reason for this refusal to officiate. (I can think of several off hand, and have written a bit about it in my book about preparing for marriage in… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

“KH: SEC does not have the same historical polity as TEC. And TEC has 100 plus Bishops not 7.”

I don’t care how many priests or bishops they have. They are still allowing some priests and bishops to deny God’s will – and once the Church has accepted that same sex couples can marry, that is what it amounts to. Why aren’t those bishops and priests being disciplined?

crs
Guest
crs

Kate, that remark was to a priest in SEC.

Your own position is crystal clear!

It is one opposing the views of KH and CK both. I was acknowledging that.

crs
Guest
crs

TSH. OK. You do not like the rhetorical tone of Goddard but that was not CK’s point. She said his references to the choices before GC were wrongly summarised. How so? I spoke with a prominent progressive bishop recently who wanted to assure that nothing would happen to restrict any Bishop at GC 2018. I suspect this is because the HOB has those who understand bringing them all to heel is sauce for the gander. And this is why what we will observe at GC will be a struggle between HOD and HOB. My bet is on the former. TSB… Read more »

Tobias Stanislas Haller
Guest

CRS, I am neither offering prognostications about GC 2018, nor expressing approval or disapproval of Mr. Goddard. I said he was being rhetorical with regard to “force.” Surely you don’t think I of all people disapprove of rhetoric! But I do know it when I see it. I did not understand what in Goddard’s article Cynthia was referencing. His summary seems, in the main, accurate if brief. Of course all will depend on the actual wording of any resolution adopted, and as I noted, trial use can specify a proviso involving the local bishop. Bp Martins acknowledges that the current… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

The introit of Bishop George Sumner’s pastoral letter is a recounted story from a particular Canadian indigenous experience. With regards to the appropriation of LGBTQ2 experiences from First Nations communities, I would encourage readers of Sumner’s letter to do their own research. Where possible access directly and listen carefully to the views of First Nations two spirit folks who felt they had to leave their communities. Listen as well to the view of some First Nations two spirit voices that trace the problems they experience with acceptance back to colonial Christianity and the residential schools. I have attached a link… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

“Kate, that remark was to a priest in SEC.”
No, I was quoting you, crs

IT
Guest
IT

I have long said there is no middle ground here. Those in favor of marriage equality are injured by its absence in dissenting dioceses; those opposed are offended by its presence in affirming dioceses. As Tobias says, priests have the ability to say no to any couple without reason, with which I have no problem; I don’t see why that isn’t sufficient cover for both sides. If your priest refuses to marry you, I doubt you are very happy in that parish anyway. But having a Diocesan say “no” is a much broader and harder limit. Bp Martins bleats that… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Kate, I appreciate your sensibility that SSM has to be universal. However, there has been a lot of talk about having space for everyone in the church. Priests have always had discretion on who to marry, or not. I can’t see that the use of force is very conducive to a joyful celebration of the sacrament of marriage. I appreciate Kelvin’s observation that bishops be required to do the paperwork, while not being forced to do the marriages themselves. Along with the Scotland-proud “It is being done with goodwill elsewhere.” Kelvin, it’s only 8 of our US bishops, out of… Read more »

crs
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crs

CK. You omitted the entire Province IX group in your tally. Effectively the international component, if you will, of TEC.

crs
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crs

CK, just for some geographical orientation. It is closer to Ft Worth from Dallas, or Orlando to Tampa, than some distances within these same Dioceses. I believe in the case of SE Florida, that diocese actually refused.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Kate, I appreciate your sensibility that SSM has to be universal. However, there has been a lot of talk about having space for everyone in the church. Priests have always had discretion on who to marry, or not.” Practically that makes sense. The trouble is, it’s theologically difficult to justify. There is also a big difference between a minister deciding not to marry a couple on exceptional grounds and a minister refusing to marry a couple because of their gender when the church has decided that is not a theological barrier. It is not reasonable simply to extrapolate from discretion… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

It may be useful to know that TEC dioceses, historically, organized themselves as something like corporations, legally or incipiently. With trustees, audits, annual conventions, boards, delegations, and canons. People here like to imagine rogue or stentorial bishops. But they were elected to serve dioceses already with canons and integrity. The Diocese of Dallas or Springfield or TN or Central Florida elected bishops who suited their already determined popular will. They want their bishops to uphold canons popularly voted for in canonically regular assemblies, with delegates of clergy and laity. TSB, I am happy to be corrected, having been licensed in… Read more »

Christopher Rees
Guest
Christopher Rees

I really hope and pray that the proposed changes takes place. It would be worth buying another copy the 1979 U.S Prayer Book.

Tobias Stanislas Haller
Guest

CRS, perhaps not correction, but clarification. The polity point I hold to be relatively universal throughout the Communion is that bishops (and all clergy) are to conform to the law of the church, however that law is established. The Episcopal Church is likely unusual in having a synod that meets in two separate houses, the concurrence of which is required for any action to be finalized. But the difference lies in the manner of meeting, and not in the substantive matter of consent of the whole church. In votes in General Synod in England the three orders must all assent;… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

CRS:

“They want their bishops to uphold canons popularly voted for in canonically regular assemblies, with delegates of clergy and laity.”

Are you suggesting that these changes, if approved at General Convention, would not be so voted for?

crs
Guest
crs

PO’N. I am not sure what you are asking. Perhaps you could rephrase. When in 2015 GC passed the trial rites nothing changed in the Diocese of Dallas. They already have canons on marriage. Are you asking, did they meet and decide to vote them out? No they did not. The canons represent the larger mind of the diocese. At the last of three annual conventions a resolution was moved to say GC over-ruled the canons. It failed by a wide margin. TH: what is unusual in TEC is the composition of dioceses. No region I am aware of has… Read more »

Tobias Stanislas Haller
Guest

Thank you, CRS, for the note about the inner workings of some of our dioceses. Of course a large part of this, especially corporation status, has to do with civil law (a fact recognized from the beginning, in the preface to the 1789 BCP) and that varies significantly from state to state. But this is not in fact part of the “polity” of the Episcopal Church, merely a consequence of requirements of civil law. However, the Church of England and the ACC also have “corporate” arms governing how they handle a number of concerns. Diocesan canons exist — in fact… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

Dear TSH, I suspect the salient difference, as I believe you know well, is that a diocese in TEC has canons. Canons that speak the mind of the diocese. Where is the analogy elsewhere in the AC? These go back to the reality that TEC originated as a voluntary association of States in which pre-revolutionary churches resided. TEC could of course have decided to adjust this fully 150 years ago, and thereafter, and make PECUSA a federated entity under a Constitution and GC. +John Bruno in LA knew this was not so. The next decade will show us how this… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

CRS, I know about Province IX, and Province II (Haiti and Europe). Usually, I say US domestic bishops, but I got sloppy. Again, I know people on the ground, lay and clergy, who differ from their bishops. Folks from Haiti, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Puerto Rico (oddly in Province IX), Navajoland, Taiwan, etc. Again, the ACC and our General Convention of clergy and laypeople seem far more representative than the bishops. Down with patriarchy, up with PEOPLE.

Love, Cynthia

crs
Guest
crs

TH: Diocesan Canons do not exist in places other than TEC. And that is tied up with TEC’s polity of creating a diocese and then petitioning GC for association. And that in turn is tie up with the colonial reality of states existing (and as dioceses) prior to the USA as such. As Shelby Foote used to say, one used a verb in plural to speaks of the United States well into the 19th century. The Civil War ended it. And of course it is the existence of such Diocesan Canons which represent the mind of the Diocese, not a… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“Until then, a diocese can conclude that it is staying the course.”

Really? Do priests and bishops no longer vow to adhere to the canons of the National Church? If they do, how can they ignore them, as adopted and revised by GC, to “stay the course”?

CRS
Guest
CRS

PON. Your question, so obvious to you, situates itself almost perfectly on top of the neuralgia. Do laity in dioceses which insist on upholding diocesan canons need to be brought before a tribunal? Who would that be? Clergy who made solemn pledges upon ordination did so in respect of BCP at the time. They did not pledge to abide by any foreseeable alterations. There is no new BCP yet. This is what staying a course means. Your scenario would mean there could never be any allowance such as GC 2015 accepted was necessary. We do not have as yet GC… Read more »

Tobias Stanislas Haller
Guest

CRS, you are simply mistaken on the matter of diocesan canon law being peculiar to TEC. You can find them in Canada, Australia, ACNZAP, and in Scotland several dioceses have their own Constitutions or other Rules. I have not searched further. Again, this is not the place to argue with the minority view you and Mr McCall hold concerning diocesan independence in re the Constitution of TEC. Those interested might find it of help to review original sources rather than to rely on secondary opinions. I can commend, for example, a review of Dalcho’s history of the Episcopal Church in… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

“…on the matter of diocesan canon law being peculiar to TEC. You can find them in Canada, Australia, ACNZAP, and in Scotland several dioceses have their own Constitutions or other Rules.” Thank you TSH. I gather that you have found several (=4 total) instances within 38 total Provinces. I think this pretty much confirms the oddity. I also do not hear you saying they are representative of *entire Provinces*, as they are of course in TEC. Otherwise consult my comment to PON above. Obviously when the BCP is amended clergy will have to refer to this. See the cautions of… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“Clergy who made solemn pledges upon ordination did so in respect of BCP at the time. They did not pledge to abide by any foreseeable alterations. There is no new BCP yet. “

Really? When an elected government official makes a solemn vow to uphold the laws and constitution of the USA, and/or of his own state or locality, does he mean only those laws currently in effect? And not those that may be passed, changed, amended, rescinded during his term of office?

Well, that certainly changes things, doesn’t it?

Tobias Stanislas Haller
Guest

CRS, I have never been incardinated in the SEC, but I did work closely with the former primate for five years on an Anglican Communion committee. As I say, I listed only a few exceptions to your allegation of American Episcopal peculiarity as to dioceses. I’m sure there are more. The notion of diocesan synods and regulations (whether called “canons” or “constitution” or “ordinances”) is common enough to be noted in Principle 20 in the _Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion_ which was produced during the time of my service with the Communion, though… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

PON. You now have recently, built to purpose, title IV recourse, with officers, budget, and remit. Not 1, not 2, but 3 years have passed and not one charge has been made consisgent with your opining. Why not? Because we do not have a new BCP standard and because dioceses like Dallas and others have canons on marriage. I believe what you are wanting is not a back-date stamp but a 2018 GC set of decision to block this and set a new standard over against the present one pertaining which is the staying course one. TH. The most obvious… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

The Gunn piece does usefully expose where all the snakes are on all sides. He does not favour BCP revision because he believes there is a way to make provision for all anyway and ‘improve’ the arrangements he thought were to be in place at 2015. One can see in the comments the resistance to this, and also suggestions that it will not work anyway. If the expression ‘devil in the details’ has any saliency it certainly does here. I also think a governing assumption of those who wish to be more accommodating–whatever that looks like; Gunn wants alternative oversight… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

I find Scott Gunn’s and Bishop Bauerschmidt’s writings the most measured and compelling. Sadly, Bishop Sumner wastes a lot of ink swimming upstream. Obviously, TEC has decided that there is a case for SSM and so his first chapter is clearly a position statement, his position statement. Tobias is more than welcome to correct me if I’m wrong here, but what I find unfortunate about the progression of the development of SSM in TEC is that we got to SSM before we had provided heterosexual women with liturgies that reflect full equality rather than subordination (subtle or otherwise). If I’ve… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

Just to be clear, Bishop Bauerschmidt is dead-set against a compilation idea of any kind. For him and for others–lacking the Confessions of continental reform churches, or the black letter law of RCC, or the conciliar polity of the Eastern Churches–Anglicanism’s centre or canon is the BCP. For him and others, changes in the marriage rites could only at best be a teaching in reception, since not shared by those within Catholic Christianity. Obviously Scott Gunn is Bauerschmidt’s example #1 of where not to go. I have been wondering about parishes which, according to the present system, can turn down… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“This is why setting up episcopal oversight systems can’t really stop at parishes wanting such rites, but will have to deal with parishes which don’t, but have ss marriage desirous couples.” As I said, in Colorado a parish has to go through a discernment process and have a vestry vote before it can offer SSM. Our parish has hosted SSM’s of people who go to other parishes. In the cities, it’s likely that the vast majority of LGBTQI people attend open and affirming churches, or have one nearby. The scenario that you bring up, CRS, is most likely to be… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

“TEC has decided that there is a case for SSM and so his first chapter is clearly a position statement, his position statement.” Again it needs to be emphasized. This is not ‘his’ position but the position of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, and has been so regularly, canonically put into place. Alternatives have been mooted at recent annual diocesan conventions and these were voted down by wide margins. On ‘equal marriage’. If one holds the view that there are specific goods in the estate of Holy Matrimony; that these are stated clearly in the BCP and especially the history… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

I have in mind two very large parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. Dallas is a metroplex and voted for Obama. Get rid of JR Ewing ideas. It is behind Austin for being hip with the millennial crowd. Uptown is full of millennials who love traditional liturgy and are not of one mind on ss marriage. These two churches do not have apathetic and hostile clergy but big clergy staffs representative of the population. I cannot imagine one of them voting to approve same sex marriage and at the other it would divide the parish right down the middle.… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

For the record, CRS, I’m a Virginian. My 9th great-grandfather was on the founding vestry of Bruton Church and gave up 300 acres of land for the founding of the College of William and Mary. This Virginian would indeed jump for joy at the inclusion of rites that are egalitarian for straight women and SS couples. But I’ve not demanded total replacement of the current rite. I’m advocating for including, not excluding. There are parishes that still use the 1928 Prayer Book, so the idea of overlap, or simply including new rites in a digital resource, is my desire. One… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

“This Virginian would indeed jump for joy at the inclusion of rites that are egalitarian for straight women and SS couples” — sorry I was using the example in respect of language, not in respect of literal citizenship… If it helps, let me change geography. No one in North Dakota would be thrilled at having South Dakota change its name to Dakota. Your inclusion is someone else’s alteration. You are happy at that. Very clear. You make it most clear when you enthuse about couples opting out of a marriage rite in favor of a genderless one. But opting out… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“The word “Holy Matrimony” refers to something and that something is now unclear.” There’s nothing unclear about Holy Matrimony, I just think that it is just as holy for gay couples as straight couples. And the term is gender neutral (equal) not genderless (lacking gender). Inclusion of the new does not mean exclusion of the old! That isn’t logical. The Colorado example is not anecdotal. There is an established process of discernment that parishes follow in order to be eligible to do SSMs. If the parish doesn’t “get there,” then SSM doesn’t happen. There are nearby alternative parishes. Is that… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

“Inclusion of the new does not mean exclusion of the old!” “The Boy Scouts” are now something different. “Inclusion” of Girls means the name requires changing. (This is an analogy. I do not mean to occasion a discussion about scouting.) “Holy Matrimony” has typically been associated with four goods. Male-Female. Openness as such to procreation and its attendant responsibilities for raising children in the Christian Faith. A sacrament mirroring the Love of Christ for His Bride the Church. As a curb against fornication. The point is simple: You can disagree with that. You can arrange and prioritize the goods and… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Typically Holy Matrimony treated women like chattel. This redefinition to the 4 points given may have been true for a short time, but it certainly opens the door for new understandings. Though I am in agreement with point 3, in gender-neutral terms, and actually point 4, to some extent. an·ec·do·tal – anəkˈdōdl, adjective (of an account) not necessarily true or reliable, because based on personal accounts rather than facts or research. Colorado is not anecdotal, it is factual. It is a solid example of how SSM is being handled at the parish level for opting-in or not to SSM. It… Read more »

crs
Guest
crs

“Holy Matrimony typically treated women like chattel.” Then leave the term for those who don’t want it co-opted to be used for something else. “True for a short time.” How about for the length of the church’s life? Dropping out Genesis and Ephesians happens for a reason in the new rites. It isn’t forgetfulness. If you can find evidence of anyone driving the 45 minutes to Fort Worth to get married I am all ears. Or the same distance to the Diocese of SW Florida. I think the best solution is Kate’s. Using clerical discretion–which is purposed for a different… Read more »