Tag Archives: Episcopal Church

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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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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Gay, Christian, and Proud in Love Free or Die.

Winning a Special Jury Prize at Sundance, Love Free or Die has already become a pivotal film this year as President Obama has embraced its subject matter: gay marriage. Even more timely, the Episcopal Church has just approved a same sex blessing service.

The documentary follows Gene Robinson, the first openly gay ordained Bishop who becomes a symbol of both LGBT pioneering and exemplary Christian values of compassion, forgiveness and tolerance.

From Robinson’s chronicles of discrimination abroad to his relationship with his partner Mark, the film takes a personal look at the role faith plays in his and others’ lives, brushing aside the notion that Christianity is only for fundamentalists and evangelicals. Compelling for secular audiences and non-LGBT viewers, the film finds that the greater love that guides people must be shared.

Robinson has faced so much open hatred for his lifestyle that he wore a bullet proof vest to his own consecration. The film shows Robinson discovering another plot on his life, prompting deep questioning and thanks to above. Bishop Robinson was invited by Barack Obama to give the invocation at the opening inaugural ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2009.

This scene of Bishop Robinson speaking before serving cups of water at the Gay Pride Parade is riveting, and a rallying cry that should be seen in its entirety and taken to heart.

–  full report by John Wellington Ellis, at Huffington Post.

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Pauli Murray: Episcopal church votes on queer saint / activist for gender and racial equality.

Human rights champion Pauli Murray, an unofficial queer saint, will be voted on this week by the Episcopal Church at its general convention in Indianapolis.

Murray (1910-1985) has been nominated for inclusion in the Episcopal Church’s book of saints, “Holy Women, Holy Men.” If approved, she will be honored every July 1 on the church calendar.

She is a renowned civil rights pioneer, feminist, author, lawyer and the first black woman ordained as an Episcopal priest. Her queer orientation is less well known.

Murray was attracted to women and her longest relationships were with women, so she is justifiably considered a lesbian. But she also described herself as a man trapped in a woman’s body and took hormone treatments in her 20s and 30s, so she might even be called a transgender today.

via Jesus in Love Blog

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(American Lesbian) Pauli Murray bound for sainthood

The late Rev. Pauli Murray, a woman of many accomplishments – civil rights activist, feminist, author, lawyer and the first female African American Episcopal priest – will likely be named in the next few days to The Episcopal Church’s book, “Holy Women, Holy Men.”

Her nomination is up for a vote at the Anglican denomination’s general convention, meeting in Indianapolis through Thursday.

If it passes, Murray will have her own date on the Church calendar, July 1. Later this month, St. Titus’ Episcopal Church, where Murray worshipped, will hold its annual service in celebration of her work. She was born in 1910 and died in 1985. Murray’s impact goes beyond just her racial and gender barrier breaking in the church.

“Pauli Murray’s significance to The Episcopal Church is as a pioneer, as an advocate for racial reconciliation, an agent for social justice, racial and gender equality both in the church and society,” said Rev. Brooks Graebner, rector of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Hillsborough and member of the steering committee of the Pauli Murray Project based at Duke.

“I would consider her a woman who in many ways anticipated major movements in the life of church and society,” Graebner said.

After being turned away from UNC Chapel Hill’s graduate school in 1938, Murray participated in civil rights protests in the early 1940s and graduated first in her class and the only woman from Howard Law School in 1944. In 1965, she was the first African American to receive a J.S.D. from Yale. A year later, she was a founding member of the National Organization for Women.

Among her law and other publications is the memoir “Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family,” regarded as her seminal work. In it, she talks about growing up multi-racial in Durham’s West End. She became a priest in 1977.

The Episcopal Church’s book of saints, “Holy Women, Holy Men,” is a major revision of “Lesser Feasts and Fasts,” a worship book that included biographies of those commemorated on the church calendar. In 2009, the last time The Episcopal Church General Convention was held, more than 100 women and men were named to the new book in trial usage. Murray is among a handful to be considered at this year’s convention.

Read more: The Herald-Sun 

(What is not stated in the Herald-Sun, but is clearly stated on Wikipedia, is that “She was a lesbian”).

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U.S. Episcopalians move closer to allowing transgender ministers

The U.S. Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops on Saturday approved a proposal that, if it survives a final vote, would give transgender men and women the right to become ministers in the church.

The House of Bishops voted at the church’s General Convention to include “gender identity and expression” in its “non-discrimination canons,” meaning sexual orientation, including that of people who have undergone sex-change operations, cannot be used to exclude candidates to ministry.

The move comes nine years after the Episcopal Church, an independent U.S.-based church affiliated with the worldwide Anglican Communion, approved its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, sparking an exodus of conservative parishes.

The Anglican Communion is a global grouping of independent national churches, which develop their own rules for ordination and other matters pertaining to membership and conduct.

The Episcopal Church, which has about 2 million members mostly in the United States, now allows gay men and lesbians to join the ordained ministry.

The resolutions on gender would allow transgender individuals access to enter the Episcopal lay or ordained ministries, and extend the overall non-discrimination policy to church members.

The resolutions must now be approved by the church’s House of Deputies.

The church already bars discrimination, for those who wish to join the ministry, on the basis of race, color, ethnic and national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities and age.

When a similar resolution was considered at the church’s last convention in 2009 the bishops agreed the church would ban “all” discrimination, rather than identify individual groups.

But supporters of the change said it was time to go further.

At this year’s triennial convention, being held in Indianapolis, the church’s leadership is also due to consider approving a liturgy for same-sex weddings.

If approved, the church would establish a standard liturgy to use in same-sex unions for use on a trial basis starting in December, 2012.

Currently when church members ask for a blessing for their same-sex unions, they rely on their bishop for approval of liturgy, whether for a purely religious ceremony or for solemnizing a marriage where such unions are legal.

– Reuters.

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The Episcopal Church in the US is to debate a blessing rite for gay couples who wish to marry

The Episcopal Church in the US is to debate a blessing rite for gay couples who wish to marry.

The church only recognises marriage as being between a man and a woman and supporters of the blessing rite emphasise that it is not a sacrament and would not confer marriage on a couple.

However, if approved, the liturgy would be the first such rite endorsed by a major US denomination.

Titled “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant”, it would allow for the exchange of rings.

In 2009, during its last General Convention, the church approved language encouraging bishops to give “generous pastoral response” to gay couples in states with marriage equality.

The church’s General Convention starts today in Indianapolis and the liturgy will be debated on Saturday. It requires the approval of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies.

In 2003, the Episcopal Church ordained the first openly gay bishop, Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

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Gene Robinson: Gay Marriage is God's Work

The Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop on Saturday told several hundred Presbyterians committed to advancing gay equality issues that their work soon could pay off.

“This is hard work, but we can do it because it is worthy work and it is Godly work,” Bishop Gene Robinson, 65, of New Hampshire told those attending a dinner hosted by More Light Presbyterians, a pro-gay rights group of the Presbyterian Church (USA), in the Westin Convention Center Hotel, Downtown. “We will live to see the day that the church of Jesus Christ, in whatever form it is, will repent from what it has done to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people the way it has repented for slavery.”

The Presbyterian Church (USA), the country’s largest Presbyterian group with 1.95 million members, is holding its 220th General Assembly in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, through Saturday.

Various proposals concerning gay marriage could lead to contentious debate within the Louisville-based Protestant denomination.

Robinson, who plans to retire next year, said he finds inspiration from the civil rights movement of the 1960s. He called what is happening now in the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches “holy chaos.” Gay equality work in both denominations has caused a sense of confusion, which he called a step forward from the certainty that most Christians felt when it came to what God and churches thought of homosexuals.

Christian history teaches that standing for the right thing often comes with a price, Robinson said.

“So the real question for your church and mine is this,” he said, “If you’re not in trouble for the gospel you preach, is it really the gospel?”

TribLIV£

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