Updated Thursday evening
ENS has this report by Mary Frances Schjonberg South Carolina Supreme Court issues ruling in church property case.
In a complex ruling Aug. 2 the South Carolina Supreme Court said that most but not all the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina congregations whose leaders left the Episcopal Church could not continue to hold on to the church property.
The justices said 29 of the congregations specifically agreed to abide by the “Dennis Canon” (Canon 1.7.4), which states that a parish holds its property in trust for the diocese and the Episcopal Church. That agreement means they cannot retain church property. However, they said that eight congregations had not agreed to the canon and thus could keep those properties…
The full text of the ruling is here.
The ACNA-affiliated diocese reported the decision this way: South Carolina Supreme Court Releases Divided Opinion on Diocese of South Carolina and its Historic Property
…In a complicated ruling consisting of five separate opinions, the S.C. Supreme Court today ruled that parishes which had “acceded” to the national church’s ‘Dennis canon’ are subject to a trust interest on their property by the denomination. Eight congregations that had not so acceded were judged to have full rights to retain their property.
The dissenting justices expressed concern regarding the long term implications of this decision. Former Chief Justice Jean Toal stated that the court should have relied on “over three hundred years of settled trust and property law… I believe the effect of the majority’s decision is to strip a title owner of its property…” on the basis of actions that do not create a trust interest under South Carolina law. In concurring with Justice Toal, Justice Kittredge observed of other church properties where there is affiliation with a national organization, based on this ruling, “if you think your property ownership is secure, think again.”
This current litigation became necessary when TEC attempted to wrongly remove Bishop Lawrence, and the Diocese, in response, elected to disassociate from TEC. At that time a small group, of TEC loyalists who had been preparing for this attempted removal began an intentional campaign of using the Diocesan Seal and other service marks of the Diocese. They began to function as if they were the Diocese of South Carolina. To maintain its identity required that the Diocese defend that identity…
The bishop of the TEC-affiliated Diocese of South Carolina issued this pastoral letter:
Dear Friends in The Episcopal Church in South Carolina,
Please join me in giving thanks to God for the gift of grace given to us through the August 2 ruling of the State Supreme Court that was generally in our favor. I acknowledge the difficult work of the court justices in coming to this decision.
Many of you have worked faithfully and diligently in preparation for this day and have remained steadfast as disciples of Jesus through your many sacrifices. For every one of you I give thanks, as well as to many throughout the wider Episcopal Church who have remained in solidarity with us.
We will continue to study the decision as we prepare for the journey awaiting us, and we enter it knowing that God’s Spirit is with us and in us as the Body of Christ. I am aware that coming to this day has been painful for many, and some you of lost much along the way. In that same vein, please be aware that this decision is painful in a different way for others. I ask that you be measured in your response without undue celebration in the midst of your own gratefulness.
I call upon all of you to be in prayer for all the people of this diocese, including those in congregations who chose to align with the breakaway group. Many conversations will need to occur for which we have not yet had the opportunity, yet our God is a God of reconciliation and hope as shown forth in the living Christ. Healing is our desire, and we renew our commitment to the hard work of reconciliation in whatever form it can come. May we focus on the healing of division and the seeking of common ground for the good of all Episcopalians, but even more importantly, for the sake of the Good News of Jesus.
The TEC-affiliated diocese has published this: Diocesan leaders to review Supreme Court decision
Episcopal Church leaders from across eastern South Carolina will gather on Friday at Grace Church Cathedral to review the South Carolina Supreme Court ruling on church property and assets and consider the next steps toward resolving the division and confusion resulting from a breakaway group’s lawsuit against The Episcopal Church.
Bishop Skip Adams called the meeting on August 2, hours after the court issued the ruling. Friday’s meetings will include a joint gathering of the Standing Committee, Diocesan Council, and Trustees, three bodies of clergy and non-ordained elected leaders. Bishop Adams also has called a meeting for the leaders of nine congregations that organized as mission churches since the 2012 breakup left them without buildings where they could worship as Episcopalians.
Both gatherings will give local Episcopalians an opportunity to discuss the complex, 79-page court decision, which includes separate opinions written by all five Supreme Court justices who heard the case. The decision cannot be viewed as final until all possible steps toward an appeal have been resolved…
The ACNA-affiliated Bishop of Fort Worth, Texas has issued this letter.
The Anglican Curmudgeon blog carries this: Massive Conflict of Interest Taints South Carolina Ruling. Earlier it had this analysis: BREAKING – So. Carolina Decision Is Out.40 Comments
Updated again 2 August
The Los Angeles Times reports: Episcopal bishop faces suspension over efforts to sell Newport Beach church
An Episcopal Church disciplinary panel has recommended a three-year suspension for the bishop who locked worshippers out of St. James the Great church in Newport Beach after a failed sale attempt two years ago.
The panel also recommended that the shuttered church be restored to its displaced members.
The tentative ruling, which came down late Friday afternoon, determined that the Right Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, was guilty of all allegations brought against him by the congregation during a hearing the panel conducted in March: that he attempted to sell consecrated property without consent of diocesan leadership, that he made several misrepresentations along the way and that he acted in a manner unbecoming of a clergyman.
The Living Church explains further in its report (do read all of it) Panel: Suspend Bruno, Save St. James:
…According to Title IV 14.5 of the church’s canons, the presiding bishop is charged with reviewing this sentence and then pronouncing it or lessening it.
In a 4-1 decision, the panel wrote that “the scope and severity of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct … have unjustly and unnecessarily disturbed the ministry of a mission of the Church. St. James the Great is a casualty of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct.”
Neva Rae Fox, public affairs officer for the Episcopal Church, said late that evening, “This document is marked as a draft, and that is what it is. We will offer no comments as the Hearing Panel’s work continues.”
Episcopal Café also has a report: Hearing Panel to recommend suspension of ministry for Bruno. Their report (also worth reading in full) includes this summary of the decisions:
A) Bishop Bruno is suspended for three years. During the period of his suspension Bishop Bruno will refrain from the exercise of the gifts of the ministry conferred by ordination (Canon IV.2, definition of “Sentence”) and not exercise any authority over the real or personal property or temporal affairs of the Church (Canon IV.19.7)
B) The Hearing panel declines to depose Bishop Bruno
C) The Hearing Panel is not aware of any evidence supporting a need for forensic accounting. IF the Church Attorney possesses such evidence he should present it to the appropriate authorities.
D) After thorough and detailed consideration of the facts, positions, contentions, testimony and documents, the Hearing Panel has concluded that the scope and severity of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct, as described above, have unjustly and unnecessarily disturbed the ministry of the Church. St James the Great is a casualty of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct acting as Diocesan and Corp Sole. While it is beyond the authority and ability of the Hearing Panel to fully assess what might have happened if St James the Great had been allowed to continue its ministry in its church facility, there is ample evidence of its viability and promise to convince the Hearing Panel that St James the Great was robbed of a reasonable chance to succeed as a sustainable community of faith.
Episcopal News Service now has a report: Draft order calls for Bruno to be suspended from ministry for three years.
…The hearing panel did not publicly release its draft order. It apparently gave the draft to the complainants and the presiding bishop for comment. Title IV.14.7 (page 153 here) calls for those parties “to be heard on the proposed terms of the order.” Comments to the hearing panel are due by July 26.
Bruno is not allowed to comment on the draft to the hearing panel. The diocese released a statement July 21 saying in part that no one from the diocese would make any public statement on the draft, “continuing their commitment to respect the integrity of the Title IV process, a priority that Bishop Bruno has upheld through the duration of the two-year proceedings.”
Neva Rae Fox, Episcopal Church public affairs officer, said the church would not comment while the Title IV process continues.
Roger Bloom, a communications consultant working for St. James, released the draft late July 21, reportedly after consulting a lawyer who told him Episcopal Church canons did not prevent its release.
Forty days after the final order is issued, the Rt. Rev. Catherine Waynick, president of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, has 20 days to sentence Bruno. He can appeal that sentence and, if he does, the sentence is not imposed while the appeal proceeds. Meanwhile, however, the draft order is clear that Curry’s partial restriction on Bruno remains in force.
2 August update
The Presiding Bishop has taken additional steps, see here: Presiding Bishop removes disputed Newport Beach congregation from Bruno’s authority
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on Aug. 1 removed Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno’s authority over St. James the Great in Newport Beach, California.
The presiding bishop’s action, which includes placing St. James in the jurisdiction of Los Angeles Bishop Coadjutor John Taylor, came as the Episcopal Church awaits the final order from the hearing panel considering disciplinary action against Bruno.
The Further Partial Restriction is intended to chart a way forward that clarifies and respects the appropriate role and authority of Taylor and the Standing Committee as well as the Title IV disciplinary process and the hearing panel, according to an Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release…
Updated Friday afternoon
This situation inside a part of GAFCON may be of some interest to UK readers.
Truro Anglican Church in Northern Virginia is a congregation of the Anglican Church in North America, within the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. The buildings in which it meets are the property of The Episcopal Church.
Truro recently announced the Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation as a joint venture with the local Episcopal diocese.
In this Easter season of rebirth and renewal, Truro Anglican Church is pleased to announce a new ministry of peace making and reconciliation called the Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation. The Institute represents the continued fulfillment of God’s work at Truro over many decades and is consistent with our congregational history and DNA. It is also the culmination of our outreach to and discussions with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia with whom we are joining in this exciting initiative. Years after the costly litigation and sometimes on-going animosity with the EDV, we have arrived at a new era of community building and peacemaking.
This new ministry, formed by Truro Anglican, will have equal representation on its board from EDV and Truro, along with representation from the Dean of Coventry Cathedral and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The following is a quote from Archbishop Justin Welby, regarding this ministry:
“I am deeply moved by the establishment of the Peace Centre at Truro, not least because I have looked more closely at it in the days following the terrorism in Westminster, merely 400 yards from Lambeth Palace. The kingdom of God is proclaimed in practices that develop virtues. The Peace Centre will proclaim that reconciliation is the gospel, with God through Christ, but like the Temple in Ezekiel 47, releasing a flood of water that as a mighty river becomes the place of fruitfulness and healing for the nations. Thank you for your step of faith. We too will work with you as best we can.”
The ministry will work with seminarians and other young people to seed our respective denominations with a new generation of peace makers, by teaching them and letting them live into the challenging work of reconciliation. Just the fact of the joint involvement of EDV and Truro Anglican is a living testament to the work the Institute hopes to accomplish…
The Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, Shannon Johnston, wrote about this here.
…As I noted in my Pastoral Address at January’s Annual Convention, members of the Diocese have spent the past three years building new ties of trust and friendship with the Truro ACNA congregation, which is leasing the Truro campus from the Diocese. Those efforts have helped to give birth to an Institute for Peace and Reconciliation at Truro. The governing board of this Institute will have equal representation from the Diocese and the Truro ACNA congregation.
The final pieces fell into place last week when the 18-member vestry of the Truro ACNA congregation voted unanimously to approve all documents related to the creation of the Institute. Our own Standing Committee already had given its consent to this proposal, subject to the final review of documents by our Chancellor and by me. All of this has now been accomplished.
Our agreement provides for an important three-year period of discernment. You will be hearing a lot more about our activities at Truro during this period, as both the Diocese and the ACNA congregation reflect and pray on whether we have successfully launched this important Institute. If both of us agree at the end of three years that we have succeeded, the congregation will be granted a 50-year lease to the property that the Diocese will continue to own. We in the Diocese will not only participate in the Institute, but also will have continued access to the property for office space, events and services to ensure a long-term Episcopal presence at Truro…
Corrected Monday morning
The Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis issued this press release on 28 October:
The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows was elected 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis on the second ballot on Friday, October 28, at Christ Church Cathedral Indianapolis. The election culminated a nearly two-year discernment and search process by the diocese at the 179th Diocesan Convention. The Right Reverend Catherine M. Waynick plans to retire in the Spring of 2017.
The Rev. Baskerville-Burrows currently serves as Director of Networking for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, nourishing partnerships and connections for church revitalization.
“In 19 years of ordained ministry, and especially in the past five helping to oversee and restructure the Diocese of Chicago, I’ve supported communities of transformation, communicated a vision of hope and gathered and networked God’s people across distance and difference,” the Rev. Baskerville-Burrows said. “I believe these experiences have prepared me to lead and serve in the particular place that is the Diocese of Indianapolis.”
She is from New York, ordained by the Diocese of Central New York, and a graduate of Smith College, Cornell University, and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. She has expertise in historic preservation and a passion for issues including gun violence, social justice, and racial and class reconciliation. She also maintains a strong focus in guiding others through the practice of spiritual direction.
One of the defining experiences of her ministry came when she found herself near the World Trade Center the morning of September 11, 2001. In the midst of a fearful situation, her own faith and the faith of others who sought shelter alongside her gave her a renewed perspective of faith vanquishing fear.
“The Episcopal Church is where I found my relationship with Jesus some 30 years ago, “she said. “It teaches me that the world is filled with incredible beauty and unspeakable pain and that God is deeply in the midst of it all loving us fiercely. So each day, nourished by the sacraments and stories of our faith, the beauty of our liturgical tradition, the wide embrace of this Christian community, I learn over and over again how to live without fear.”
The Rev. Baskerville-Burrows will be ordained and consecrated as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis on Saturday, April 29, 2017, 11 a.m., at Clowes Hall at Butler University.
A vast amount of information about the process of this election, including the profile of the diocese, and information about all the candidates, can be found here.
As Episcopal Café notes:
…Pending consents, she will become the first black, female diocesan bishop in the history of the church. This election also marks the first time that [a] woman diocesan bishop is succeeded by another woman…
But this is inaccurate. There was already such a succession in the Diocese of Edmonton, Canada (Jane Alexander followed Victoria Matthews) and there are already diocesan bishops in Swaziland who are both black and female.
The Bishop of Chicago, where she currently serves, wrote this about her election.20 Comments
There is a good deal of additional information in this lengthy article. Worth reading carefully right through. Here is what Michael Curry said:
…Before the Jan. 14 vote, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry told the primates gathering Jan. 11-15 in Canterbury, England, that the statement calling for the sanctions would be painful for many in the Episcopal Church to receive.
“Many of us have committed ourselves and our church to being ‘a house of prayer for all people,’ as the Bible says, when all are truly welcome,” Curry said in remarks he later made available to Episcopal News Service.
“Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all. While I understand that many disagree with us, our decision regarding marriage is based on the belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians are true for the church today: All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ.
“For so many who are committed to following Jesus in the way of love and being a church that lives that love, this decision will bring real pain,” he said. “For fellow disciples of Jesus in our church who are gay or lesbian, this will bring more pain. For many who have felt and been rejected by the church because of who they are, for many who have felt and been rejected by families and communities, our church opening itself in love was a sign of hope. And this will add pain on top of pain.”
Curry told the primates that he was in no sense comparing his own pain to theirs, but “I stand before you as your brother. I stand before you as a descendant of African slaves, stolen from their native land, enslaved in a bitter bondage, and then even after emancipation, segregated and excluded in church and society. And this conjures that up again, and brings pain.
“The pain for many will be real. But God is greater than anything. I love Jesus and I love the church. I am a Christian in the Anglican way. And like you, as we have said in this meeting, I am committed to ‘walking together’ with you as fellow primates in the Anglican family…”
The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church adopted the following statement unanimously, in response to the statement of dissent reported earlier.
We the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church wish to express our love and appreciation to our colleagues who identify as Communion Partners and those bishops who have affinity with the Communion Partners’ position as stated in their “Communion Partners Salt Lake City Statement.” Our time together in Salt Lake City, in conversation and in prayer, has demonstrated how profoundly the love of God in Jesus binds us together and empowers us for service to God’s mission. As we have waited upon the leading of the Holy Spirit in our deliberations, we have been reminded that the House of Bishops is richly gifted with many voices and perspectives on matters of theological, liturgical, and pastoral significance. This has been shown in our discernment with respect to doctrinal matters relative to Christian marriage. We thank God for the rich variety of voices in our House, in our dioceses, in The Episcopal Church, and in the Anglican Communion, that reflect the wideness of God’s mercy and presence in the Church and in the world.
We give particular thanks for the steadfast witness of our colleagues in the Communion Partners. We value and rely on their commitment to The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. We recognize that theirs is a minority voice in the House of Bishops in our deliberations with respect to Christian marriage; and we affirm that despite our differences they are an indispensable part of who we are as the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church. Our church needs their witness. Further, we appreciate that each of us will return to dioceses where there will be a variety of responses to Resolutions A054 and A036. The equanimity, generosity, and graciousness with which the Communion Partners have shared their views on Christian marriage and remain in relationship is a model for us and for the lay and ordained leaders in our dioceses to follow. We thank God that in the fullness of the Holy Trinity we can and must remain together as the Body of Christ in our dioceses, in The Episcopal Church, and in our relationships with sisters and brothers in Christ in the Anglican Communion. The bonds created in baptism are indeed indissoluble and we pray that we have the confidence to rely upon the Holy Spirit who will continue to hold us all together as partners in communion through the love of God in Jesus.
Twenty bishops of the Episcopal Church have issued a statement dissenting from the recent actions of the General Convention in passing resolutions A036 and A054.
News report from The Living Church here: The Salt Lake City Statement
Full text of the statement is copied below the fold. A PDF version is available here.24 Comments
The Rt Revd Michael Bruce Curry (Diocese of North Carolina) has been elected the 27th Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church. He is the first black Presiding Bishop. The press release is here:
The Rt. Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, was elected the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church on the first ballot on June 27.
Bishop Curry, 62, is the first African-American to be elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.
The election occurred during the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church.
Of the 174 votes tallied, Bishop Curry received 121 (89 needed to elect).
Following his election by the House of Bishops, Bishop Curry’s election was overwhelmingly confirmed by the House of Deputies, 800 for, 12 against…
Online reports include:
Mary Frances Schjonberg Episcopal News Service Historic election of Bishop Michael Curry as 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church
Czarina Ong Christian Today US Episcopal Church makes history by electing 1st black presiding bishop
Associated Press in The Guardian Episcopal church elects first African American presiding bishop
Associated Press in The New York Times Episcopal Church Elects Its First Black Presiding Bishop
Episcopal News Service Episcopalians, Anglicans react to historic election of Michael Curry as presiding bishop
Brady McCombs and Rachel Zoll Huffington Press Episcopal Church Elects Michael Curry, Its First Black Presiding Bishop
Robert Gehrke Washington Post Episcopal Church elects Michael Curry first black presiding bishop3 Comments
British mainstream news coverage of this story is slight:
Christian Today has this report by Ruth Gledhill Episcopal Church confirms change in law to allow same-sex marriages. And here is her earlier report on Justin Welby’s earlier statement.
George Conger has the rollcall of the House of Bishops in their voting on the marriage canon.
Criticism of the decision from conservatives has begun to appear:
The Covenant blog of The Living Church carries another very detailed article, this time by Zachary Guiliano titled The substance of the argument. Like the Hylden article before it, this is well worth reading.
On the other side of this debate, there is an article at Huffington Post by Susan Russell ‘We Do!’ — Episcopalians OK Marriage for Same-Sex Couples.3 Comments
Updated Thursday morning
An earlier article deals with the proposed changes to canon law. The changes described here, together with those mentioned in the earlier article will be considered by the House of Deputies of General Convention later today.
As ENS explains in Marriage-equality resolutions advance to House of Deputies,
…If the House of Deputies concurs with the House of Bishops-amended Resolution A054, the 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 will be available for trial use beginning this Advent. Those rites offer the option of using “wife,” “husband,” “person” or “spouse,” thus making them applicable for both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
The bishops eliminated a third proposed liturgy from the resolution, “The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony.”
All three liturgies can be found on pages 2-151 here from the materials provided to convention by the standing commission.
The amended resolution stipulates: “Bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority or, where appropriate, ecclesiastical supervision, will make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies. Trial use is only to be available under the discretion and with the permission of the diocesan bishop.”
The resolution also says “That bishops may continue to provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.” During discussion, bishops said this was intended to address bishops’ situations in jurisdictions outside the United States, such as Italy and countries in Province IX, where same-sex marriages remain illegal.
The resolution extends the canonical provision to these resources that, “‘It shall be within the discretion of any member of the clergy of this church to decline to preside at any rite contained herein” and that “this convention honor the theological diversity of this church in regard to matters of human sexuality; and that no bishop, priest, deacon or lay person should be coerced or penalized in any manner, nor suffer any canonical disabilities, as a result of his or her theological objection to or support for the 78th General Convention’s action contained in this resolution.”
Some bishops questioned whether this meant a priest could officiate at a same-sex marriage ceremony without consequence even if his or her bishop didn’t approve of use of the trial liturgies.
The provision is intended to protect clergy in a diocese where the bishop advocates for the use of the liturgies, replied retired Virginia Bishop Peter Lee. Clergy are protected if they disagree with their bishop, but not if they disobey them, he said…
See also the detailed explanation by Jordan Hylden of the process by which these new texts can be incorporated in the American Book of Common Prayer:
…The church’s specially appointed Task Force on the Study of Marriage had originally proposed canonical changes that would have redefined marriage as gender-neutral and authorized liturgies for use. But many voices on both right and left objected to this course, since it would have placed the church’s constitution and canon law at odds with one another. The church constitution requires that worship services in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) cannot be altered at one General Convention, nor can alternatives to them be authorized except for “trial use” (Article X). To change canon law by itself, therefore, was not sufficient to provide alternative services to BCP liturgies. Therefore “trial use” was the course taken by the bishops, some of whom (such as Bishop Shannon Johnston, of the influential Diocese of Virginia) argued that precisely because same-sex marriage is so important, it needs to be passed in a way that is constitutionally beyond question. Other bishops, such as Thomas Ely of Vermont, eventually came around to this view and a consensus was reached early on in committee…
…What will happen now? Significantly, the bishops authorized the trial-use marriage liturgies “at the direction and with the permission” of diocesan bishops. If this holds up in the House of Deputies (on the docket soon), it will then mean that for the next three years bishops like William Love of Albany will be able in church law to continue their current practice of forbidding same-sex marriages in their dioceses. After that, if the liturgies become part of the BCP, it is difficult to see how that will any longer be possible….
See also this commentary by Tobias Haller Comprehension not Compromise.
…Some have characterized these resolutions as compromises. I prefer to see them as comprehensive. The resolution on liturgies authorizes trial use as provided for in the Constitution, with the mandate that bishops will see to it that all couples have access to the liturgies, while at the same time affirming that the bishop is responsible for directing and permitting these liturgies. This may be too subtle for some, but I believe it will allow the minority of bishops who are personally opposed to marriage equality sufficient conscientious cover, while at the same time requiring them to find ways to provide for couples in their dioceses who wish to make use of the liturgies. This will be a time for creativity and generosity…
ENS reports General Convention approves marriage equality.
…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.”
Resolutions A054 and A036 represented compromises reached after prayerful consideration and conversation within the legislative committee, and then the House of Bishops to make room for everyone, Baker said. “I know that most of you will find something … to dislike and to disagree with” in the resolutions, he said, asking deputies to “look through the lens of how this compromise makes room for other people.”
Deputies defeated an attempt to amend each of the resolutions. Following 20 minutes of debate per resolution, each resolution passed in a vote by orders. A054 passed by 94-12 with 2 divided deputations in the clerical order and 90-11-3 in the lay order. A036 passed 85-15-6 in the clerical order and 88-12-6 in the lay order.
Updated Tuesday evening
The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church has passed this resolution. The House of Deputies (clergy and laity) has yet to vote on the matter, and must concur before the changes can take effect. They have also been debating the authorisation of various liturgies to be used in connection with this change. We will report on those separately.
The situation is explained in this ENS report: Marriage-equality resolutions advance to House of Deputies:
Among many edits, the resolution removes references to marriage as being between a man and a woman.
It also recasts the requirement in the canon’s first section that clergy conform to both “the laws of the state” and “the laws of this church” about marriage. The bishops’ amended version now reads clergy “shall conform to the laws of the State governing the creation of the civil status of marriage, and also these canons concerning the solemnization of marriage. Members of the Clergy may solemnize a marriage using any of the liturgical forms authorized by this Church.”
Clergy may “decline to solemnize or bless any marriage,” a provision similar to the existing discretion allowed to clergy.
Under the revision, couples would sign a declaration of intent, which the legislative committee crafted to respect the needs of couples where only one member is a Christian.
A resolution to substitute a minority report on A036 for the resolution failed.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following statement: Response to the US Episcopal Church Resolution on Marriage. The full text of this statement is copied below the fold.
This article on the Covenant weblog of The Living Church by Jordan Hylden seeks to explain just how far TEC has got, and how much further there is to go, in completing these proposed marriage changes: Marriage redefined?
There are headlines today, even in such august magazines as The Living Church, that say that the Episcopal Church’s “Bishops Redefine Marriage.” Understood as a headline, that is probably the best way to say what happened yesterday. But details matter, and they matter here. It is probably more accurate to say that the bishops redefined marriage insofar as the constitutional process of this church allowed them to at this time, and if the deputies concur (which they will). Next General Convention, three years from now in Austin, will be the first opportunity for that headline to be accurate without qualification. But for now, the church will live with a mixed economy, and what remains to be seen in the next few years is whether a mixed economy of conservatives and progressives will be retained in a comprehensive church, or whether the majority will ensure that a redefinition will be enforced in the dioceses and parishes that still hold the traditional view…
The first TA article about this can be found here. A number of further items have been published.
Tobias Haller has published a series of three blog articles:
This contains additional articles: see
But also, some papers published there take a different view, see
Another different view has been published by Craig Uffmann and can be found on the website of the Diocese of Rochester (USA):
Yet another paper has been published, this one by two American bishops, Scott Benhase (Georgia) and Dorsey McConnell (Pittsburgh), titled A More Excellent Way.
Once again, Tobias Haller has responded, see One Last Question on the Canon Change.2 Comments
In February this year, the General Convention Task Force on Marriage issued a report which recommends changes to the marriage canon of The Episcopal Church.
The changes are explained in this report from Episcopal News Service by Mary Frances Schjonberg Marriage task force calls for gender-neutral language in marriage canon.
The 122-page report of the Task Force is available in full here.
In addition to the recommendations, the report includes seven essays, which form the bulk of the report (pages 9 to 98) and are:
1. A Biblical and Theological Framework for Thinking about Marriage
2. Christian Marriage as Vocation
3. A History of Christian Marriage
4. Marriage as a Rite of Passage
5. The Marriage Canon: History and Critique
6. Agents of the State: A Question for Discernment
7. Changing Trends and Norms in Marriage
More recently, some articles have been published by the Anglican Theological Review which discuss this report. These articles are all available from this page, but are as follows:
The recent Report of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage, as presented to the 78th General Convention, proposes substantial changes to The Episcopal Church’s marriage canons. By replacing language in Canon I.18 drawn from the marriage rite in The Book of Common Prayer, the changes would render optional the traditional understanding that marriage is a “covenant between a man and a woman” that is intended, when it is God’s will, “for the procreation of children.” We contend that these changes obscure the nature of marriage as a divinely created social form that is the external basis of the covenant union between “Christ and the Church” (Eph. 5:32). As such, it draws a veil over marriage as an outward and visible sign of this union. While leaving open the issue of blessing same-sex unions, we make an Augustinian case for retaining the prayer book’s doctrine of marriage.
Three further articles respond to the above:
This announcement has been made jointly by the Global South Primatial Steering Committee and the Diocese of South Carolina led by Bishop Mark Lawrence.
Diocese of South Carolina: Global South Welcomes Diocese of South Carolina
…As you will recall the 223rd Diocesan Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina meeting at Christ Church in Mt. Pleasant on March 14-15, 2014 unanimously accepted the offer of the Global South Primates Steering Committee for Provisional Primatial Oversight.
Now this morning we receive with gratitude this letter from the Global South Primatial Steering Committee. It is their acceptance of our request for this gracious relationship. I trust you will be heartened as I have been by their welcome of us “… as an active and faithful member within the Global South of the Anglican Communion, until such time as a permanent primatial affiliation can be found.” It is my joy to share it with you…
Letter from Archbishops Anis and Ernest: Announcement regarding the Diocese of South Carolina.
Also available at Global South Anglican.
…The Global South of the Anglican Communion welcomes the unanimous request of The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, XIV Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, and the Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina to “accept the offer of the newly created Global South Primatial Oversight Council for pastoral oversight of our ministry as a diocese during the temporary period of our discernment of our final provincial affiliation.”
The decision of the Diocese of South Carolina was made in response to the meeting of the Global South Primates Steering Committee in Cairo, Egypt from 14-15 February 2014.1 A recommendation from that meeting stated that, “we decided to establish a Primatial Oversight Council, in following-through the recommendations taken at Dar es Salam in 2007, to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to dissenting individuals, parishes, and dioceses in order to keep them within the Communion.”
Recognizing the faithfulness of Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Diocese of South Carolina, and in appreciation for their contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, the Global South welcomes them as an active and faithful member within the Global South of the Anglican Communion, until such time as a permanent primatial affiliation can be found…
Updated Friday evening
The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church recently visited St Albans and Oxford.
At St Albans she preached at the Alban Pilgrimage.
At Oxford, she preached at the University Church and received an honorary degree from Oxford University.
The citation for the degree can be seen here.
The Church Times carries this interview with her, conducted by Paul Handley ‘A long process of liberation’.
Lucy Davis of WATCH has written Wonderful, inspiring day in St Albans with Bishop Katharine.21 Comments
Updated Thursday evening
The Archbishop of Canterbury is this week visiting Canada and the USA.
See Lambeth Palace press release: Archbishop of Canterbury visits Anglicans in Canada and the USA
From Canada, the Anglican Journal reports: Welby explains gays and violence in Africa remarks. An extract:
…Q: Were you in fact blaming the death of Christians in parts of Africa on the acceptance of gay marriage in America?
A: I was careful not to be too specific because that would pin down where that happened and that would put the community back at risk. I wouldn’t use the word “blame”— that’s a misuse of words in the context. One of the things that’s most depressing about the response to that interview is that almost nobody listened to what I said; they mostly imagined what they thought I said…It was not only imagination, it was a million miles away from what I said.
Q: So what exactly were you saying?
A: What I was saying is that when we take actions in one part of the church, particularly actions that are controversial, that they are heard and felt not only in that part of the church but around the world…And, this is not mere consequentialism; I’m not saying that because there will be consequences to taking action, that we shouldn’t take action. What I’m saying is that love for our neighbour, love for one another, compels us to consider carefully how that love is expressed, both in our own context and globally. We never speak the essential point that, as a church, we never speak only in our local situation. Our voice carries around the world. Now that will be more true in some places than in others. It depends on your links. We need to learn to live as a global church in a local context and never to imagine that we’re just a local church. There is no such thing…
The Anglican Journal also reports Welby & Hiltz discuss issues of sexuality, reconciliation
When Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby met with the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, he was “very interested” in the work of the Anglican Church of Canada’s commission on the marriage canon because of the reality that the Church of England will have to wrestle with the issue of same-sex marriage following its legislation in the U.K.
“Notwithstanding the declared position of the Church of England at this moment, he [Welby] is very conscious, of course, that there’s going to be a fair amount of pressure from within the Church of England to at least have some discussion around that [same-sex marriage],” said Hiltz in an interview with the Anglican Journal. “He hoped that we would stay in touch over the work of the commission, [because] inside the Church of England, they will need to have the same conversation.”
Welby was also very interested in the issue of reconciliation as it relates to the history of the Canadian church’s relations with indigenous people and its involvement in the Indian Residential School System. “As he said now, in the Church of England, things are coming to light in terms of abuse in church schools…they’re kind of at that early stage,” and Welby wanted to know how the Canadian church responded. “They’re compelled [to respond] and they will not stand in anyone’s way,” said Hiltz, adding that Welby was interested in the church’s 1993 apology to former residential school students for the harm and pain inflicted through the schools.
On the issue of the marriage canon, Hiltz said Welby was “very appreciative” that the commission will conduct a broad consultation across the Anglican Communion and with its ecumenical partners on the matter of changing the Canadian Anglican church’s marriage canon (church law) to allow same-sex marriage…
The archbishop then moved to Oklahoma, where he delivered this speech: Archbishop Justin’s speech at the Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace conference, Oklahoma, USA
…During the news conference, Welby noted that he had made similar comments in the past and that he was trying to say that “at its heart is the issue that we’re a global church.”
“The Anglican Communion is a global church. And that wherever we speak, whether it’s here or in Africa, or in Asia or in any of the 143 countries in which we are operating, in which there are Anglicans, we never speak exclusively to ourselves but we speak in a way that is heard widely around the world,” he said. “And so the point I was making, because the question was essentially about why don’t we just go ahead and do gay marriages, we have a profound disagreement within the Church of England about the right thing to do, whether to perform gay marriages or have blessing of same sex marriages where the marriage has taken place in the civil system.”
Same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales on March 29. Parliament by a comfortable majority passed The Marriage (Same-sex Couples Act) in July 2013.
The Church of England is “starting two years of facilitated conversation about this and we are not going simply to jump to a conclusion, to preempt that conversation in any direction at all but we need to spend time listening to each other, listening to the voices around the communion,” Welby said.
The example he gave during the call-in program of his experience at the site of the mass grave “was of a particular example some years back which had had a great impact on my own thinking,” he said during the news conference…
The Diocese of South Carolina led by Bishop Mark Lawrence has issued this press release: Diocese Formalizes Worldwide Anglican Ties
The Diocese of South Carolina has been formally recognized as a member in good standing of the Global Anglican Communion.
On Saturday, March 15, the Diocese’s 223rd Annual Convention unanimously accepted an invitation to join the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA) and temporarily enter into a formal ecclesiastical relationship known as provisional primatial oversight from bishops in the Global South.
The convention’s nearly 400 participants supported clergy and delegates as they voted to create a task force to explore more permanent affiliation options for the diocese. The task force will offer recommendations at the next Convention, which will be held next March.
Local critics of the Diocese’s 2012 separation from The Episcopal Church had said the disassociation would isolate the Diocese from the Global Anglican Communion. While the Diocese has maintained many informal relationships with organizations that are part of the communion, this formal primatial oversight arrangement makes clear that the Diocese is officially part of the greater Anglican Church.
“There’s an African proverb that wisely states ‘If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together,’ said the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, 14th Bishop of the Diocese, in his address to the Convention. “This will give us gracious oversight from one of the largest Ecclesial entities within in the Communion; one which includes Anglicans from a diverse body of believers from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, the Indian Ocean and many, many others.”…
The Charleston Post-Courier reported this: Diocese of South Carolina accepts provisional oversight from Global South primates.
Another press release says: SC Court of Appeals Denies TEC Appeal
SOUTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS DENIES TEC APPEAL, BLOCKS DENOMINATION’S STALLING TACTICS
Justices prevent TEC from using legal maneuver to delay court proceedings
CHARLESTON, SC, March 18, 2014 – The South Carolina Court of Appeals today rejected an appeal that would have delayed a trial in the Diocese of South Carolina lawsuit to protect diocesan and parish property from seizure by The Episcopal Church (TEC) and its local group, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC).
The Court decided that TEC and TECSC could not appeal a lower court ruling on the process to be used in discovery.
The Court of Appeals effectively said it will not tolerate legal shenanigans to delay a trial to decide whether the denomination may seize South Carolina property, including churches and the diocesan symbols. In asking the Court of Appeals to dismiss the action, the Diocese of South Carolina argued that TECSC is appealing a court order that is “unappealable”.
South Carolina’s Court of Appeals justices agreed…
Michelle Boorstein at the Washington Post reports: Supreme Court won’t hear appeal of dispute over Episcopal Church’s property in Va.
Seven years after 15 conservative Virginia congregations made global news by breaking away from the Episcopal Church — and refusing to give up tens of millions of dollars in property — the Supreme Court on Monday ended the complex legal dispute by declining to take up an appeal by the last remaining plaintiff.
The Falls Church Anglican, a 2,000-member breakaway congregation, had asserted that the nearly 300-year-old sprawling property belonged to the Anglican group because the Episcopal Church “left” its umbrella Anglican tradition by becoming more liberal in interpreting scripture and ordaining gay and lesbian clergy…
Mary Frances Schjonberg at ENS reports this way: U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear Falls Church Anglican case. This article contains many links to earlier documents.
More than seven years after a majority of clergy and members of several Diocese of Virginia congregations declared they had left the Episcopal Church and the question of ownership of the property involved began to be litigated, the U.S. Supreme Court refused on March 10 to hear the appeal of the last congregation still at odds with the Episcopal Church and the diocese.
The court gave no reason for deciding not to review a 2013 ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court reaffirming an earlier circuit court ruling that returned The Falls Church property to loyal Episcopalians to use for the mission of the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church. The court’s decision was included in its March 10 order list and was one of 121 requests for review that it refused.
All that remains in the case is for the Diocese of Virginia to request an order from the Fairfax Circuit Court releasing to the diocese more than $2.6 million that was in the Falls Church’s bank accounts at the time of the split and that the court has been holding in escrow during the progression of the case…
We received word today that the United States Supreme Court has denied our church’s petition for certiorari and declined to hear our case. This means that the long legal process in which our church has been involved since we were sued by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in 2007 has come to its end.
We have pursued this legal process out of the conviction that it is one of the ministries that God has entrusted to our church and out of our desire to be faithful to God’s calling to see it through to the end. We are grateful that our nation’s civil justice system allows us this recourse and we thank the Supreme Court for its consideration of our petition.
We will keep praying for the many churches and dioceses that remain embroiled in lawsuits over their property with The Episcopal Church or other denominations. We will continue to pray for clarification of this area of law, which has become increasing convoluted and confusing for the lower courts since the Supreme Court last addressed it in 1979…
A.S. Haley has published Heartbreaker: U. S. Supreme Court Denies Falls Church Petition.31 Comments
Press release from Oxford University:
Six leading figures from the worlds of science, the arts and religion are set to receive honorary degrees from the University of Oxford this year, subject to approval by Congregation.
The degrees will be awarded at Encaenia, the University’s annual honorary degree ceremony, on Wednesday 25 June 2014.
Degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa:
The Most Reverend Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, PhD, is Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America and 16 other nations. Over the course of her nine-year term, Bishop Jefferts Schori is responsible for initiating and developing policy for the Episcopal Church and speaks on behalf of the church regarding the policies, strategies and programmes authorised by General Convention. Bishop Jefferts Schori’s studies for the priesthood, to which she was ordained in 1994, were preceded by her career as an oceanographer. She holds a BSc in biology from Stanford University, an MSc and PhD in oceanography from Oregon State University, an MDiv from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and several honorary doctoral degrees…
Update Lambeth Palace has issued this:
Archbishop congratulates Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on honorary Oxford degree
Friday 7th February 2014
Archbishop Justin has welcomed news that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, is to be awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of Oxford
Archbishop Justin said: “I am delighted by the news that the Most Revd Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori is to receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the University of Oxford. This award, richly deserved, reaffirms Bishop Katharine’s remarkable gifts of intellect and compassion, which she has dedicated to the service of Christ.
“Prior to becoming ordained, Bishop Katharine pursued a career in oceanography, and her enduring deep commitment to the environment has evolved into a profound dedication to stewardship of our planet and humankind, especially in relieving poverty and extending the love and hospitality of Christ to those on the edges of society. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said of Bishop Katharine, ‘In her version of reality, everything is sacred except sin.’
“It must be noted, too, that Bishop Katharine’s achievements serve – and will continue to serve – as a powerful model for women seeking to pursue their vocations in the church.”
The US Episcopal Church has issued this press release.
Presiding Bishop on LGBT rights
The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following statement on LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered) rights:
The Episcopal Church has been clear about our expectation that every member of the LGBT community is entitled to the same respect and dignity as any other member of the human family. Our advocacy for oppressed minorities has been vocal and sustained. The current attempts to criminalize LBGT persons and their supporters are the latest in a series, each stage of which has been condemned by this Church, as well as many other religious communities and nations. Our advocacy work continues to build support for the full human rights and dignity of all persons, irrespective of gender, race, national origin, creed, sexual orientation, physical and mental ability or inability. To do less is effectively to repudiate our membership in the human community. No one of God’s children is worth less or more than another; none is to be discriminated against because of the way in which she or he has been created. Our common task is to build a society of justice for all, without which there will never be peace on earth. Episcopalians claim that our part in God’s mission is to love God fully, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. That means all our neighbors.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church