Tag Archives: Episcopal Church

After SCOTUS, Will US Episcopal Church Approve Gay Marriage?

As the USA Supreme Court was handing down its ruling that institutes marriage equality across all 50 states, the bishops of the Episcopal Church were already gathered for their triennial General Convention from Thursday, June 25, until Friday, July 3. Sometime next week, they too will take a decision on whether to approve gay marriage.

Episcopalians have a strong progressive record on inclusion, so the chances are good. The Church has already approved a liturgical rite for use in same – sex blessing ceremonies. Even before the rite was formally approved in 2012, some bishops were already approving blessing services in their dioceses. Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan, told Mlive that he did so three years before that. Ousley notes that in the three years since 2012, the landscape has changed dramatically. Many bishops have already allowed this rite to be used for marriage services, in states where the law allows.  Even years before the rite was approved, two senior women priests where married in Boston’s cathedral. When New York state approved same – sex marriage legislation, some of their bishops instructed priest in same – sex partnerships to either get married, or end the relationships. When the Supreme Court struck down a part of the Defence of Marriage Act in Windsor, the Washington Cathedral rang its bells in celebration. It’s likely that across the USA, many churches will be celebrating the court’s ruling today.

The landscape has changed even more dramatically today, with same – sex marriage now approved in secular law, across the USA. We wait now, to see if the bishops’ decision next week is in step with the country, and the court.

 

Religious Support for Marriage Equality – in Oklahoma

In North Carolina, the United Church of Christ has launched a legal challenge to the state ban on gay marriage, because it limits their religious freedom to decide which couples it may bless in marriage.

Also in the South,  United Church clergy have joined with Methodist and other religious leaders in a coalition to support gay marriage – because they are Christians, not in spite of it.

Oklahoma faith leaders form coalition supporting marriage equality

More than 50 Oklahoma faith leaders have formed a coalition in support of marriage rights for all couples, whether gay or straight.The Oklahoma Faith Leaders for Marriage group includes leaders of congregations of Mennonites, United Methodists, Unitarians, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ and at least one Baptist minister and two rabbis.

Standing in the sanctuary of Church of the Open Arms, Kenny Wright and Bo Bass are an Oklahoma City gay couple who say they will get married in Oklahoma if the state’s same-sex marriage ban is overturned. Photo by Jim Beckel, The OklahomanThe United Methodist and United Church of Christ denominations have the most coalition representation, with at least eight United Methodist clergy and at least eight United Church of Christ ministers among the faith network’s members.“Expanding marriage equality will finally remove a long-standing obstacle to our pastoral care — and allow us to minister equally to all families in our community,” the coalition said in a statement released after its April launch.

-More at  News OK.

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Bishop of Chicago Steps Up for Marriage Equality!

A more accurate title might be “Bishop of Chicago Continues to Step Up For Marriage Equality” because Bishop Jeffrey Lee has been such a consistent and valiant ally for equality both inside and outside the church. But the particular moment of “stepping up” I’m celebrating today was one that came out of his willingness to step up with a letter of support for marriage equality in Illinois — a letter that made the national news reporting on the legislation as it winds its way through the legislative process.

It was a moment of great delight as I sat on my day off happily having my second cup of day off coffee and watching a second hour of day off morning news to see this quote from Bishop Lee pop up on an MSNBC report. And thanks to the “rewind/pause” feature on my remote control and an iPhone camera hard-by and VOILA: the moment was “screen captured!”

My actual favorite quote from the letter was this one:

As a Christian, I believe that our society needs all of the sources and signs of grace that we can get. As a citizen of the United States, I believe in equal protection under the law. I believe that both ends will be served when marriage equality is the law of the land in Illinois, and I am grateful to be bishop in a church that offers all couples a community of faith, love, support and accountability.

Does it matter if a bishop speaks out on the issue of civil marriage equality? You bet it does. It matters to those in Illinois who will be speaking to their representatives in letters, calls and emails that they can say their faith tradition stands for equality for all.

via Rev. Susan Russell

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Vida Dutton Scudder, American Lesbian Saint for Our Times

Vida Dutton Scudder is a rare example of a modern lesbian who is a recognized Christian saint (recognized by the US Episcopal Church, not the Roman Catholics). Her work and message are particularly relevant to the twentieth century, as we grapple with an economic crisis triggered in effect by corporate and consumer greed.

 Born in 1861, over a long life Scudder was an educator, writer, and welfare activist in the social gospel movement. Much of her thinking has particular relevance to us today, as we grapple with a financial and economic crisis precipitated in effect by a corporate and consumer culture marked by unrestrained greed. Throughout her life Scudder’s primary relationships and support network were women. From 1919 until her death, Scudder was in a relationship with Florence Converse, with whom she lived.

  After earning a BA degree from Smith College in 1894, in 1895 she became one of the first two American women admitted to graduate study at Oxford university. After returning to Boston, Scudder Continue reading Vida Dutton Scudder, American Lesbian Saint for Our Times

Can Non-Liberal Christianity Be Saved?

It seems to me far from a given that conservative Christianity by definition will flourish. It is not as though it is only theologically liberal or socially progressive churches that have seen declines. Hence the title of this post, asking whether there is anything that would lead one to believe that conservatism gives churches more staying power. Many of the dwindling and disappearing institutional churches around Europe are profoundly conservative, and in the case of institutions like the Roman Catholic Church, one has to reckon with the reality that large numbers of adherents maintain a cultural and religious connection with that church, but feel free to individually disagree with its teachings. I hope that in the comments here we’ll see some discussion of whether and to what extent being conservative makes a religion’s persistence more likely. From my own liberal perspective, conservative churches have time and time again found themselves on the wrong side of issues, and yet seem to learn nothing from the experience, viewing the issue of women in ministry, for instance, the same way they viewed slavery, even after they have admitted their forebears were wrong about that issue. They seem not to grasp that the reason why they were wrong about that issue is intrinsically connected to their conservative approach to religion and social norms.

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There is a version of Liberal Christianity that it is easy to get excited about. And I am excited about it. Perhaps the time has come for all of those of us who see things in this way to unite, and to take back the identity of Christianity from the loud and prominent self-proclaimed spokesmen (yes, most of them are men) who have so managed to persuade the media and popular opinion that they represent “true Christianity,” that Liberal Christianity has come to be viewed as a half-hearted, half-baked mixture of the traditional and the cultural, which does justice to neither.

But that is not how things stand at all. Those who claim to be “Biblical Christians” are more prone than anyone to conflate their culture’s values (not all of them, to be sure, but many) with “what the Bible says.” And they are prone to miss that there has been liberal Christianity from the very beginning. When Paul set aside Scriptures that excluded Gentiles on the basis of core principles of love and equality, and arguments based on the evidence of God’s Spirit at work in them, he was making and argument very similar to that which inclusive Christians make today. The fact that his argument eventually became Scripture itself should not blind us to the fact that when he made his argument, his words did not have that authority.

– full commentary by James McGrath at Patheos?.

(in  response to Ross Douthat  at NYT, “Can Liberal Christianity be Saved?)

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God and Gays: The Rite to Bless Same – Sex Unions

The smooth certainty of the right is just as unattractive as the moral smugness of the left

The question of the hour is whether the Episcopal Church can continue to muddle into a sixth century, or whether falling levels of membership suggest inevitable decline. Critics such as Douthat link the church’s progressive stand on sexuality — the consecration of an openly gay bishop in 2003 and now the vote on the same-sex rite — to its troubled numbers. “It still has priests and bishops, altars and stained-glass windows,” wrote Douthat. “But it is flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes.”

Eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes. As I read it, his argument, shared by many, is that the church is essentially translating liberal views of sexuality into the language and forms of the faith. If the Bible speaks out against homosexuality, then a church that moves to embrace homosexuals must be acting not according to theological thinking but to political factors. Put another way, the Episcopal Church has taken the course it has taken on sexuality because it is politically fashionable to do so, not because there is a theological reason to open its arms wider.

The problem with this argument is that it ignores a long tradition of evolving theological understanding and changing scriptural interpretation. Only the most unapologetic biblical fundamentalists, for instance, take every biblical injunction literally. If we all took all scripture at the same level of authority, then we would be more open to slavery, to the subjugation of women, to wider use of stoning. Jesus himself spoke out frequently against divorce in the strongest of terms. Yet we have — often gradually — chosen to read and interpret the Bible in light not of tradition but of reason and history.

-full commentary by John Meacham at  TIME.com.

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Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts to allow clergy to bless gay couples

Starting in December, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts will let clergy bless gay couples, a change announced after a national Episcopalian convention this month approved a new rite for same-sex relationships.

The diocese will continue to forbid clergy from performing gay marriages, something its Eastern Massachusetts counterpart allows. But in an interview last week, the incoming Western Massachusetts bishop said he plans on asking worshipers whether they want to revisit the prohibition.

By a wide margin, Episcopalians at this month’s national General Convention approved a new rite blessing same-sex relationships. Each diocese in the country can decide whether to perform the blessing.

Following the convention, the Diocese of Western Massachusetts announced it would give parishes the option to perform the same-sex blessing.

Bishop-elect Douglas John Fisher, who will succeed Bishop Gordon Paul Scruton in December, called the resolution “a big move in the right direction.”

“This is a great development for our gay brothers and sisters, and we hope to celebrate that with them starting in December,” Fisher said in an interview.

While the new ritual will not constitute nuptials, Fisher left open the possibility the diocese may ultimately approve gay marriage, following the lead of the Eastern Massachusetts diocese, which sanctioned such services in 2009.

“When I get there, I’ll certainly be having those conversations,” said Fisher, currently rector of Grace Church in Millbrook, N.Y. “We’ll see where all of that leads.”

– full report at  The Boston Globe.

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