Monday, March 21, 2011

Episcopal Church marches forward on developing rites for same gender marriages

Former Integrity president Susan Russell makes presentation.
The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music gathered about 200 deputies in Atlanta to prepare the way forward for The Episcopal Church to formally approve rites for same gender marriages, as outline in CO56 at the Anaheim General Convention in 2009. That resolution reads:

Liturgies for Blessings

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge the changing circumstances in the United States and in other nations, as legislation authorizing or forbidding marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian persons is passed in various civil jurisdictions that call forth a renewed pastoral response from this Church, and for an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships; and be it further

Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological and liturgical resources, and report to the 77th General Convention; and be it further

Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, devise an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals who are engaged in such theological work, and inviting theological reflection from throughout the Anglican Communion; and be it further

Resolved, That bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church; and be it further

Resolved, That this Convention honor the theological diversity of this Church in regard to matters of human sexuality; and be it further

Resolved, That the members of this Church be encouraged to engage in this effort.
You can see the web broadcasts of the plenaries here of the campaign to formally authorize same gender marriages (the word "blessing" is just a euphemism - these are not pet blessing we're talking about, it's marriage, make no mistake about it). Of note is the the third plenary which is worth taking the time to watch - Anglicans and Episcopalians.  If you want to see how to conduct a political campaign, this is how it's done.  The campaign is quite brilliant and puts those who may want to uphold the biblical view of marriage on the defensive.  There is a lot to learn in how this presentation is being done - it's jubilant, it's positive, it appears to be collaborative, it appears transparent - and, friends, make no mistake about it -  it is assumed it is all a done deal.  A very sobering event to watch, indeed. 

Here it is:



See it all here.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

and the ABC makes sure the PB is in the councils of the AC, going against what the Windsor Report advised.........he has been a great help in helping the 'inch at a time' project......

Anam Cara said...

"Pastoral and teaching resources that support theological and liturgical resources being developed."

I guess no one has thought of Lev 18:2, Lev 20:13, Rom 1:27, Jude 7 as being teaching or theological resources.

I guess no one has considered that those might be pastoral materials that address the differences in preparing for blessings vs. marriage.

I found it interesting that they had conversations "over and over" with the man at St. Mary's who was opposed to blessings being done in his Vermont church until they beat him down and he agreed. I wonder how long he endured this before giving in. (It sounded like such a small church - average Sunday attendance of 24 - he probably didn't see anyplace else to turn)

But the real shock to me came with the "read through a discernment process" and small group "questions specifically designed to help you explore," as I thought back to the 40 Days of Discernment we went through.

It was hard to believe at the end that people would do anything except vote to leave. I alone in the small group I attend thought if the vote was to leave, those who voted to break away should leave and not try to retain the property. (Of course, not being a member, I had no vote, so what I thought didn't matter at all.) When the vote came back with more people wanting litigation to save property than those voting to leave, I had to wonder if most people doing that study skipped the part about lawsuits among Christians or if they all decided that one party wasn't Christian so it was okay. (Judging others is okay though?) (One couple in the small group resolved the problem by becoming Roman Catholic)

It is clear to me now that that "discernment" guide was pointing those who used it to the end designed by the authors much as the discernment process here is to guide those using it to approving same sex blessings. Same thing, but one is considered a good thing and the other a bad thing depending on which side you are on.

I was naive. But, then again, I didn't have a dog in the fight. I left the Episcopal Church - or rather, it left me - years before the folks at the church my husband is a member of. I agreed the people should leave a church that wasn't teaching what they believed (as I had done), but I didn't see any reason for clinging to "stuff."

Anonymous said...

The previous comment makes a fair point that we have had too much of "directed result" discernment in the American Anglican community over the past few years. The rush toward same-sex blessings and the pro-secession campaigns of 2006 are both good examples of a kind of herding mentality that makes the process of "discernment" anything but a process of objective, open analysis.

Scout

Anonymous said...

These discernment efforts didn't just spring up suddenly with a rush to judgement in 40 days. In both cases, the issues had been building for years.

Each group has simply said
"Choose this day whom you will serve". The question is whether they will choose to serve the same Master.

RalphM

Just Me said...

There were people present who "stand firm" to defend the faith once delivered; I suspect they won't get any "air time". That being said, the word "steam-rolled" comes to mind.

mhmcintyre said...

If you don't want to persist in following the clear teaching of Scripture and the historical Christian understanding of gender and marriage, why not just start your own group and stop pretending to the label of Christian?

You have freedom to choose your lifestyle. I disagree with your choice, but grant you that freedom. But since you don't believe what God has revealed as his will, why take his name?

Dale Matson said...

What they conducted was story collecting ("The power of story") not survey research. Additionally, there was not a testing of the Null Hypothesis but an imposition of the Experimental Hypothesis. Although they use the phrase "Pastoral and teaching resources that support theological and liturgical resources being developed." There remains no consensus even within TEC regarding the theology behind the effort. Press on regardless.

Anam Cara said...

@mhmcintyre: AMEN, which is why the Episcopal Church and I parted company in the mid 90's.

I suddenly saw where all this was going when the heresy charges against Bishop Righter were dismissed without a trial. I knew it was over then.

Of course, my bulb isn't very bright or I would have realized it much sooner - like 20 years sooner!

Anonymous said...

mhmcintyre - why not start their own revisionist church? well.... ECUSA had lots of property and cash - given it was easy to take it over, as few resisted for years and years, they took it over....because they could.

And today, the ABC tries to force the rest of the Communion to accept revisionists....even at the cost of division with most of the AC not turning up or Primates meetings or the Lambeth conference. They guys (and girl) with hardly anyone attending their church (eg Wales, Scotland, Ireland...TEC), well...they turn up....the ABC has caused division by trying to force the AC to accept revisionists who stay in the AC for the same reason...because they can, thanks to the ABC.

Anonymous said...

mhmcintyre - why not start their own revisionist church? well.... ECUSA had lots of property and cash - given it was easy to take it over, as few resisted for years and years, they took it over....because they could.

And today, the ABC tries to force the rest of the Communion to accept revisionists....even at the cost of division with most of the AC not turning up or Primates meetings or the Lambeth conference. They guys (and girl) with hardly anyone attending their church (eg Wales, Scotland, Ireland...TEC), well...they turn up....the ABC has caused division by trying to force the AC to accept revisionists who stay in the AC for the same reason...because they can, thanks to the ABC.

Anonymous said...

With the departure of so many orthodox parishes, and even whole dioceses, in recent years, there is little to stop the move towards making this denomination "gay friendly." The public will decide whether they see God in this. The continued numerical decline suggests they don't.

Anonymous said...

The Standing Committee could have saved a lot of words by stating the simple fact:

"We have remade God in our own image!"

RalphM

Josh H. said...

I'm curious why anyone who considers themselves even remotely "orthodox" in their theology stay in ecusa? Seriously, it is way beyond "we want to be a conservative voice"...this group (ecusa) falls further into apostasy with each new day. The leadership of ecusa doesn't care about the few orthodox left, and you, the few who remain theologically solid have NO VOICE LEFT. When is it time to just give up and begin to minister without all the liberal garbage of 815 looming over you?

Anonymous said...

Josh - a lot of the people in ECUSA don't really care about a few loonies in other places. The national leadership pretty much lets parishes do what they think best. There is no pressure on "conservative" parishes to buy in the merry prankster stuff that goes on here and there. I doubt very much that one would find any significant difference in core beliefs between a typical Episcopal parish and any other protestant denomination, including some of the new offshoots from Episcopalian practices. A lot of the agitation is positioning at the top of these groups. I certainly don't notice much or any difference in worship or fellowship (well, the fellowship is stronger and more personally valuable because the smaller configuration allows people to know each other better, but that's a detail in this context) between my Episcopal parish now and the way it was before virtually all the clergy and the majority of the members decamped for CANA precincts.

So I guess the answer to your question is that nothing's changed at the parish level. As far as having "no voice left", I haven't felt in any way inhibited in making my "conservative" (horrible word in this context, but don't have a ready substitute - perhaps "traditional" might be more precise) views known. If anything, they stand out more because they are unencumbered with separatist, schismatic baggage.

Scout

Anam Cara said...

Scout,
You might choose the word "orthodox" or "orthopraxis" depending on whether you are focusing on beliefs or actions.

Anonymous said...

AC: I was responding to Josh's comment and its terminology and content. However, you are right that orthodoxy is, in most of these contexts, a better term than "conservative" or "liberal", terms that are fairly degraded even in a political context, and certainly not useful in a church discussion.

Scout

Joanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"The national leadership pretty much lets parishes do what they think best." (Pay no attention to the large number of lawsuits filed by TEC against departing parishes.)

"A lot of the agitation is positioning at the top of these groups." (Ignore the actions of 815 and various bishops around TEC, but be careful of those "agitators" in the departing groups.)

"a lot of the people in ECUSA don't really care about a few loonies in other places" (Precisely, but those loonies are running the asylum.)

RalphM

Doug said...

I have asked and prodded Susan Russel to answer a simple question about her vocation and views: If she is so convinced that she is right about gay marriage and that the Church will be blessed by her, then why doesn't she become the rector of her own Church? Why stay in the "line up" at All Saints where the mindset is just as self-congratulatory as this "Commission's" work? Why not really try her viewpoints and priorities out on a parish of her own someplace and then watch it crash and burn or prosper.
I think, ultimately, that many of those who have been pushing "The Agenda" do so from a safe place. They dare not really...and I mean REALLY...push it in the real pews out there. It works in small circles....and that's just about it.
Now, get ready to have it rammed won your throats.

Doug said...

....sorry...that's "rammed DOWN your throats" in case you needed another take....

Anyway, Ms Russell dodges that answer. I, for one, would like to find out where the truly successful parishes are where "The Agenda" works to grow the church (outside of a few liberal ultra-liberal metro pockets). Shall that be Newark? Nope. New Hampshire? Nada. Where??

Anonymous said...

Doug - not sure about your point.... if you are campaigning for a particular agenda, does it not make sense to have a job which gives you a platform and income but also lots of free time to travel and push your agenda?

Anonymous said...

Doug - not sure about your point.... if you are campaigning for a particular agenda, does it not make sense to have a job which gives you a platform and income but also lots of free time to travel and push your agenda?

Doug said...

Anonymous, you're right. I remember the Rev Dr Cynthia Black, the former dean of the now defunct Christ the King cathedral. Dean Black went all over the place photojournaling for the "cause" of gayness and meanwhile her cathedral went to pot; eventually having to be sold to independent Pentecostals. One wonders if Dr. Black had spent NEAR the time on her cathedral that she did on rallying the cause that maybe she would have kept the cathedral. But, while it lasted, it made a pretty platform to holler "discrimination" and "sin" from. The real sin, though, is that the Gospel is being trumped and used for a bully stick by these unworthy clerics and that they are literally ruining the church under their care.