Thinking Anglicans

Solution proposed for full access to TEC same-sex marriage rites

Readers will recall the letter that William Nye sent to The Episcopal Church recently.

Three bishops of The Episcopal Church have made a legislative proposal for the forthcoming General Convention to consider, which attempts to find a solution to the issue.  See this ENS report by Mary Frances Schjonberg: Bishops propose solution for full access to same-sex marriage rites.

Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, Pittsburgh Bishop Dorsey McConnell and Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely said in a news release late on June 28 that their Resolution B012 is “an attempt to move the church forward in an atmosphere of mutual respect, reconciliation and the love of Jesus Christ.”

The resolution continues to authorize the two trial-use marriage rites first approved by the 2015 meeting of General Convention without time limit and without seeking a revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

“Given our particular time in history, this resolution provides a way forward for the whole church without the possible disruption of ministry that might be caused by the proposed revision of the Book of Common Prayer,” the three bishops said.

The news release from the bishops is here: “Marriage for the Whole Church”, Resolution B012, Proposed for General Convention.

…This resolution re-authorizes the two Trial Use marriage rites first authorized in 2015, but with modified terms. Resolution 2015-A054 stated that bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority “will make provision” for all couples to have access to these liturgies, while also providing that trial use in a diocese requires the permission of the diocesan bishop.

By contrast, this resolution proposes that access to these trial use liturgies now be provided for in all dioceses, without requiring the permission of the diocesan bishop.

Additionally, this resolution proposes to authorize Trial Use versions of “The Blessing of a Civil Marriage” and “An Order for Marriage,” suitable for use by all couples. These services were not authorized in 2015.

Finally, this resolution calls for a Task Force on Communion Across Difference, tasked with finding a lasting path forward for all Episcopalians in one church, without going back on General Convention’s clear decision to extend marriage to all couples, and its firm commitment to provide access to all couples seeking to be married in this church…

This proposal has been given qualified approval by another group of seven bishops, who are opposed to same-sex marriage, see this statement by the Communion Partners of the Episcopal Church: The Vocation of Anglican Communion.

…While we cannot endorse every aspect of this proposal, we will be grateful should it help us all to continue contending with one another for the truth in love within one body.  It preserves the Book of Common Prayer as established by our church, and it preserves our dioceses for the exercising of the “historic episcopate, locally adapted” (Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral).  If our church chooses not to preserve these two institutions — the historic Prayer Book, and the historic episcopate with jurisdiction in dioceses — we would no longer have a place in this church.  With the protection of the prayer book and episcopate, we can carry on as loyal Episcopalians and Anglicans, in charity with our sisters and brothers in Christ.

The inclusion of a Task Force on Communion across Difference is of utmost importance.  Parity requires that if congregations in our dioceses must be granted delegated episcopal pastoral oversight at their request, this should be reciprocated throughout the church for Communion Partner congregations.  For them, it is not simply a matter of whether or not a conflictual relationship exists with their bishop, but instead whether the bishop whose spiritual care guides their common life is one that they understand as in full communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.  These and other matters need to be worked out carefully and coherently for a lasting truce of God, one that will allow all of us to re-focus our energies on mission and proclaiming the Gospel to all people, as our Presiding Bishop calls us to do…

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CRS
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CRS

I wrote this at Episcopal Cafe, “B012 is certainly a valiant effort. I wonder what happens in the 8 dioceses which B012 grants a DEPO possibility for LGBT couples, when such couples are in parishes that are not in favor? B012 covers a lot of variables, but not this one. I do wonder if it is too compromising for the rank and file in the HOD. It does not call for BCP rites and it wants to honor Bishops in the 8 diocese not allowing access by setting up a DEPO scheme. It probably reflects the mind of the HOB.”… Read more »

Tobias Stanislas Haller
Guest

I know that some of the Communion Partner bishops are anxious about what they see as entanglement in authorizing the use of same-sex marriage rites. I assume this is what is referred to as desire to preserve some aspect of the historic episcopate. But in the Episcopal Church marriage is hardly ever an episcopal affair. Marriages are recorded in the parish register, and the bishop is free to consult the record at a visitation, but the only marriage in which the bishop has any necessary entanglement is one in which one or both of the parties has a living former… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

On parish v episcopal. It is the Diocese of Dallas that has canons regulating marriage for the parishes. Not the Bishop. This is not simply what you call ‘benign neglect to liturgical goings-on of which a Bishop disapproves’ but entails the Diocese, its parishes in convention, and its identity.

And that is also why I am sceptical DEPO will work.

Tobias Stanislas Haller
Guest

This may well be, as you suggest, a problem in Dallas. Then again, the notion of DEPO is so exotic and novel that perhaps a workaround can be found to the general principle of geographic parish membership in the diocese, along the lines of the individual parish being “in but not of” the diocese of Dallas, in more than episcopal oversight. “Delegated Diocesan Membership”? These are largely uncharted waters.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

And do you really believe the Bishop of Dallas has NO influence on what canons his diocese passes in convention? He is powerless to propose, push, lobby for, the canons he approves of and against those he does not? That he has no ability to influence the choosing of suffragan bishops? Or the licensing of priests in his diocese? Really?

CRS
Guest
CRS

Your questions sidestep the reality that this is Sumner’s first GC and he was elected by the Diocese based upon their history and identity. The idea that a Bishop singelhandedly runs a diocese and determines its direction independently of the identity and history of its people is exactly the kind of model being rejected. It also portends the HOD v HOB battle likely to unfold this week at GC.

EDOD did not elect its Bishop so she/he could tell them they are wrong and he/she is right.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

And it wasn’t the PREVIOUS Bishop of Dallas who determined the direction of the diocese, so that it once again chose a conservative leader? Who licensed priests who agreed with his views? Dallas didn’t become this bastion of “orthodoxy” because every Episcopalian in the area is a hide-bound traditionalist.

CRS
Guest
CRS

I think you are getting tied up in your questions, PON. Of course Dr George Sumner has written and defended his own considered view, now some 30+ years in the making. He was elected Bishop by a diocese that shares those views. ‘Hide-bound’ is a characterisation that says something about you and not very much about Sumner or the Diocese. But perhaps you could just indicate what it is that you want to say without just continually posing rhetorical questions. Bishop Sumner is the traditional Bishop of a largely traditional diocese. “Dog bites man” story.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

I guess my question is how does a diocese become “traditional”? (In quotes because I’m not sure what the Diocese of Dallas is doing is in any way in the tradition of the Episcopal Church.) Surely not every Episcopalian in the Dallas area is adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage and always has been. Surely they are not all opposed to women priests and bishops. My experience in all kinds of organizations, both religious and secular, is that leaders have a great deal of influence over the members, to the point of making sure that the elected representatives at meetings like… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

PON. The parishes and people of the Diocese of Dallas are BCP episcopalians for the most part. They are traditional and preserving in temperament. They do not see the need for changing the BCP and the theology and practice they have remained in for the past generations. GC proposes to do that. They do not want to follow that direction. Of course there are those anxious for change. But this is not the overall drift. As for seeing women clergy as agreeable with the BCP, yes, they have taken this view. And of course this is also the general tendency… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Have you truly done a survey to determine that the “parishes and people of the Diocese of Dallas are BCP episcopalians for the most part. They are traditional and preserving in temperament”? Or is that merely your observation based on the ones you know personally? If find it hard to believe that a group of people in a modern metropolis like Dallas could be so “traditional” (to use your word) on such matters.

CRS
Guest
CRS

The survey is called a diocesan convention. Reps are sent, clerical and lay. No one tells them what they believe is BCP Christianity. What you find hard to believe speaks more about you than any other reality. Ample are the choices for non-traditional Christians in the metroplex: methodists (with SMU and methodist history, the largest option), lutherans, ucc, millenial free churches, unitarians, and so on. If you are an episcopalian in the metroplex you are likely a catholic who is not Roman Catholic. Have a look at the opposition to the traditional diocese in ‘Dear General Convention.’ Only 4-5 parishes… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

But we are not speaking of the “majority reality across the globe”…or even of the “traditional, Anglican Communion”. We are speaking of the majority reality and tradition of the Episcopal Church in the United States and especially in the second decade of the 21st Century. What the lack of representation in the opposition you cite says to me is that those parishioners of the liberal (small “l”) tradition of the Episcopal Church have been pushed aside in the majority of parishes and have either retreated to those four or five parishes…or have left the Episcopal Church entirely, disenchanted with what… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

Sorry, Pat, episcopal churches in EDOD are actually doing well over against the national average (69 percent under 100). Retreated to these parishes? How could you possibly know that? I was on staff at Incarnation for 6 years. We were the ‘beneficiary’ of parishioners leaving other parishes, as well as decent young family newcomers and millenials. A BCP Rite I parish. There are similar success stories amongst large Methodist churches (Highland Park), Presbyterian (Park Cities, which left the PCA) and others. MS Lutheran churches in the area seem to be doing well, as also the big mega churches. And the… Read more »

Tobias Stanislas Haller
Guest

It is important to recall that marriage is sui generis among the church’s ministries. The ministers of marriage are the couple, not the priest, and certainly not the bishop — who has no role in marriage unless officiating, or, as I noted, permitting a priest to officiate at a marriage where one or both of the couple are divorced; and even in the latter case the bishop is not “permitting” the couple to marry, but “permitting” the cleric to officiate.

CRS
Guest
CRS

“The ministers of marriage are the couple, not the priest, and certainly not the bishop…” then the couple doesn’t need to be involved in church disagreements at all. But the reality is that the parishes in conservative dioceses have not chosen to move beyond BCP realities, so the issue isn’t couples v priests or v bishops. It is the BCP and what it permits and does not. And how dioceses in convention regard that status. My hunch is that GC 2018 will do what is necessary to change the BCP and that the CP bishops get that and warn against… Read more »

Tobias Stanislas Haller
Guest

CRS, I am addressing the concern expressed by some bishops that they are somehow entangled in marriages of which they disapprove. Your view that diocesan canons (or bishops) can contravene decisions of the General Convention that have canonical force, a view shared in some of these dioceses and by some of these bishops, is at the heart of the disagreement, and the cause for further action and clarification by General Convention. Directive resolutions have canonical force when they stem from a canonical mandate. This is because of the general legal principle that when a law assigns implementation to a body,… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

“…and the cause for further action and clarification by General Convention” and, if I may add, also further constitutional change. When an effort was made–similarly in TN–to put a resolution before EDOD convention which operated on the notion that diocesan canons ‘needed to be brought in line with GC’ said resolution failed. We have a mess of conflicting principles being invoked: 1) BCP, 2) GC resolutions, 3) diocesan identity and corporate structure (recall +LA’s batting away property claims vis–vis TEC, 4) Trial Rites, 5) ‘make provision’ but without directives further. I do not anticipate ‘compromise’ or for that matter cleaning… Read more »

Tobias Stanislas Haller
Guest

The failure to adopt a change in the diocesan canon is not the issue. Nor is there a conflict of principles, once one accepts (as I know you do not) the authority of General Convention. In this case, the General Convention acted on an authority granted to it explicitly by the Constitution and Canons, and the action thus bears the full weight of the Constitution and Canons. I agree that the directive to “make provision” was too vague for some; but failure to make ANY provision is clearly not on. Meanwhile, I have no interest in further debate as to… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

“I suspect GC will 1) remove all discretion, 2) will move forward on BCP alteration, 3) will say diocesan canons are ‘confederate script’ but without voting convention-wide to amend the Constitution. Then we will see the remaining conservative dioceses held captive to these changes.”

In the light of this, I would not be interested in any further polity debate either! The ‘fat lady’ will soon sing. Clarifications? One can but hope for coherence. Je ne le prévois pas.

Blessings to you.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Simon, your caption is one-sided. Same-sex marriage isn’t anything that requires a “solution.” As for “access,” this resolution is an attempt by the conservatives to delay the inevitable.
All the sacraments for all the baptised. It’s that simple.
On this issue–equality for all in the Church–bishops should either lead, follow, or get out of the way. Anything less is discrimination.

Kate
Guest
Kate

All the sacraments for all the baptised with no gatekeeping

CRS
Guest
CRS

“If our church chooses not to preserve these two institutions — the historic Prayer Book, and the historic episcopate with jurisdiction in dioceses — we would no longer have a place in this church. With the protection of the prayer book and episcopate, we can carry on as loyal Episcopalians and Anglicans, in charity with our sisters and brothers in Christ.” This is not an easy statement to step back from if GC, as is likely, moves toward having these rites headed to BCP status. And that is certainly only a matter of time if for some reason GC 2018… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

The Episcopal News Service headline writer used the title: ‘Bishops propose solution for full access to same-sex marriage rites’. This really is about solutions, pragmatism, living with difference, etc. The SSM issue is the single most important missional challenge to the CofE today and must be solved. Given that the Church is not going to alter the BCP on this or any other issue any time soon, what TEC is proposing is actually very important as a model that other provinces need to study carefully.

CRS
Guest
CRS

Mr Archer, you write,

“Given that the Church is not going to alter the BCP on this or any other issue any time soon…”

One possibility is that the new rites are regarded as a first reading. If so, changes in the BCP would be three years away. Those who believe this is the teaching for the whole church will not be content with anything less than BCP inclusion and as soon as possible. Trial rites are not just. Too ad hoc. Too ‘trial’.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

I don’t disagree with you on trial rites, but the CofE slogged through the women priests and bishops issue finally declaring a new settled mind of the church on the issue, but made generous provision for those who could not in conscience accept the development. I realise we are talking here about liturgy, but the genius of the CofE is that it remains a very broad church and I for one will do all I can to try to keep traditionalists inside it. The BCP resonates most clearly with traditionalists. Why change it? I know the SEC has gone for… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

I agree that the CofE has different instincts than TEC. TEC in time mandated women’s ordination, across the board. That tracks with its instincts, vis-a-vis the CofE (as you hope for).

That said, I believe the CofE has other challenges, among them simple survival and establishmentarianism.

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

“That tracks with its instincts, vis-a-vis the CofE (as you hope for).”
Christopher could you possible translate/explain what you mean by this sentence? It would be helpful to know what you are trying to express before answering.

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

In talking with some people I know in the Diocese of Dallas, it is my understanding that some several churches in the diocese (some quite large) want to do marriages for same-sex couples. Even before this latest proposal was released, I understand that, if General Convention did not do something to permit them to do so, they were all going to ask for DEPO so they could do so. If something like this is not allowed for these parishes, I fear that things are going to become very unpleasant in the diocese after General Convention. Please keep the Diocese of… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

I was canon theologian in the diocese before moving to France, and I helped start Communion Partners now 10 years ago. Transfiguration is the one large parish that is pro LGBT marriage. St Thomas small. Ascension mid sized. As I have said above, what happens in St Michael and All Angels or Incarnation, the biggest parishes in the diocese, if DEPO is made available but these parishes do not agree or end up being splt down the middle? You have similar circumstances in CFL and TN and elsewhere. +Albany’s name is not on this, maybe an inadvertance? I doubt that… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

At Least the ‘Communion Partners’ in TEC – including our brother-in-Christ, Christopher (crs) – is desirous of remaining in the Lambeth-united Anglican Communion, rather than rallying with GAFCON under the leadership of – ACNA’s Archbishop Foley. What they want, and possibly what we all want, is to remain in kononia with our spiritual forebears in the Anglican Fold a precious commonality centred around the Book of Common Prayer and the historic Episcopate (not, necessarily, though, the 39 Artifacts, which are now out-dated.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

The appeal to the BCP is silly, as TEC has its own version and has had since the 1780s. Indeed, to say that this is a BCP issue is circular.
No one objects (anymore) that the TEC BCP has no prayers for the Queen.
No one objects (anymore) that the TEC BCP allows women to be ordained as bishops.
It’s only when we get to same-sex marriage that we hear about a “precious commonality” around “the” BCP, as if there were only one. I wonder why that is.

CRS
Guest
CRS

I do not understand what you are saying. At issue is of course the TEC BCP. That is what is being referred to by the liberal bishops proposing B012 and the conservative Bishops of TEC who respond on behalf of CP. There is ONLY ONE BCP being referred to here. TEC’s.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

CRS, you know best whatever it is that you may be referring to–or trying to limit the argument to. My comment, however, was in response to Father Ron, who wrote about “remain[ing] in kononia with our spiritual forebears in the Anglican Fold a precious commonality centred around the Book of Common Prayer.” My point, in response to him, stands. There are many versions of the Book of Common Prayer in use around the “Anglican Fold”–several dozen, as a matter of fact. The BCP in use in each province is generally an expression of that province, and reflects the autonomy of… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

I was genuinely confused. I’ll let you continue to engage RS.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Dear Jeremy. My mistake here was to have mentioned the BCP – which we, in ACANZP still use as one of our variants of the various Prayer Books in the A.C. We here in N.Z. were one of the first provinces to have our own prayer book, so obviously were not ‘tied’ to the BCP.: What I was trying to say was that most Anglicans around the world do still have some affection for the BCP – even if it is not used on a regular basis. However, insistence on regulation by the so-called 39 Articles is no longer an… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Father Ron, I would say that most Anglicans around the world have varying affections for the prayer books that they use or have used on a daily or weekly basis. Some of the books are called “The Book of Common Prayer”; others are not. The prayer books in current use vary in their distance from the ur-BCP. This is true even of the version of the BCP that is in use in the Church of England today, which I assume is what you are referring to as the BCP in use as a variant in ACANZP. With respect, the idea… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

I had a Lenten fast from TA. When I came back I tried making a few Betjemanesque remarks, humoresques if you like, to try and lighten the tone a bit and prick a few bubbles. I was amused anyway. But I really think it’s time for me to say goodbye. You see, from where I look—urban parishes in Burton on Trent which include the civic church, a chunk of Burton UPA, and a huge Anglocatholic temple built by Bass beer, hardly any of the things that so exercise TA contributors matter to ‘my’ people. They, we, are bothered about food… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

“May the Lord light up your lives” AMEN. “And also with you”

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

The canonical response is “and up yours”.

CRS
Guest
CRS

How appropriate!

Jim Pratt
Guest
Jim Pratt

Well put, Stanley, and may God go with you and your parish. We will miss your contributions.

At our recent diocesan synod, in the discussion about marriage, it was a pair of conservative evangelicals who were most emphatic that we need to stop the endless discussions about sex, move forward (by allowing marriage for all couples without restrictions), and focus on the real work of evangelism.

Revd Father John Harris-White
Guest
Revd Father John Harris-White

Stanley, You reflect my thoughts over the last few months of T.A. So much of it is selfish opiniated ecclesiastical waffle. No relation to the Gospel, and the people committed to our pastoral and sacramental care.. Very little love, and respect, reflecting the managerial style found in the ‘hearts’ of so many priests today. In the autumn of my earthly life, time is too short for such waffle; I need the love of good family anf friends; and God’s cuddle. Stanley , we both have shared the life of Kings College Hospital London, and Bless you and your good people… Read more »

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest

I’ll miss you. I can say that once the mind of the church in TEC became inclusive, an awful lot of energy has come into social justice. Once it’s really established that everyone actually is created in the image of God, it carries over into all endeavors, the poor, the refugees, everyone. Blessings.

Iain McLean
Guest
Iain McLean

Re Tobias above: ‘The ministers of marriage are the couple, not the priest, and certainly not the bishop’: here is the Quaker theology of marriage as set out by George Fox – I don’t know if it is helpful to (some) Anglicans).

For the right joining in marriage is the work of the Lord only, and not the priests’ or magistrates’; for it is God’s ordinance and not man’s; and therefore Friends cannot consent that they should join them together: for we marry none; it is the Lord’s work, and we are but witnesses.

George Fox, 1669

James
Guest
James

Fox would have been appalled at same sex marriage. It’s a complete non sequitur to use his words.

Iain mclean
Guest
Iain mclean

Not at all. The Quakers’ decision in Yearly Meeting 2009 to accept same sex marriage and lobby for a change in the law was precisely inspired by Fox’s insight. They accepted that SSM was the Lord’s work, of which they (we) are but witnesses. A leaflet explaining this is available from http://www.quaker.org.uk

Flora Alexander
Guest
Flora Alexander

Stanley Monkhouse – I am sorry you intend to leave TA. I’m going to miss your sensible views.

Jill Armstead
Guest
Jill Armstead

Stanley Monkhouse – So refreshing! Although I would add pompously to constipated.
PS I trained as a nurse at KCH in the days before the NHS went mad.

CRS
Guest
CRS

Looks like we are headed as expected. The only two remaining issues, soon to be resolved, appear to be: BCP timing and whether one rite or two when that happens.

CRS
Guest
CRS

Forgive a PS. I forgot: also, what Province IX does and what that looks like. They are obviously irked on a number of levels. This is the soi disant Episcopal “International Church.” One can wonder what life will be like with congregations saying No and others saying Yes inside a diocese. In some ways what we appear to be headed toward, or have arrived at, is The General Convention Congregational Church of USA. That is what the majority appear to want and GC is the means to secure this. I do not say this as a criticism but as what… Read more »