Thursday, May 22, 2008

Marriage for All at All Saints Church

Press Release sent from All Saints Church, Pasadena this afternoon:

All Saints Church, Pasadena rector, J. Edwin Bacon, Jr., announced today that the church will treat equally all couples presenting themselves for the rite of marriage. The announcement followed a special meeting of the All Saints Church Vestry, which unanimously adopted a “Resolution on Marriage Equality” [below] in response to the May 15, 2008 ruling of the California Supreme Court.

“Today’s decision is consistent with All Saints Church, Pasadena’s identity as a peace and justice church,” said Bacon, following the historic vote. “It also aligns us with the Scriptures’ mandate to make God’s love tangible by ‘doing justice and loving mercy’ (Micah 6:8) and with the canons of our Episcopal Church that forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

“In this our 125th year, this morning’s decision was a natural step forward on All Saints’ lengthy journey of justice, peace, and inclusion,” Bacon concluded. “As the rector of All Saints Church, I am inspired by the visionary stride All Saints’ lay leaders took today. I am honored to serve a church where the leadership demonstrates such stirring courage to move beyond lip service about embodying God’s inclusive love to actually committing our faith community to the practice of marriage equality.”

“As a priest and pastor, I anticipate with great joy strengthening our support of the sanctity of marriage as I marry both gay and straight members and thus more fully live out my ordination vow to nourish all people from the goodness of God’s grace.”

For further information contact:
Keith Holeman, Director of Communications
626.583.2739 or kholeman@allsaints-pas.org

=========

MARRIAGE EQUALITY RESOLUTION
Adopted by the Vestry of All Saints Church, Pasadena, California
on May 22, 2008

WHEREAS, our baptismal covenant commits us to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being;”

WHEREAS, Holy Scripture reveals that we are all created in God’s image and that God embraces all people as equally precious;

WHEREAS, the Vision Statement of All Saints Church, Pasadena, calls us to “embody the inclusive love of God in Christ” and our Foundational Values urge us to be “dispersed throughout this multicultural region for courageous and risk-filled work of peace and justice;”

WHEREAS, All Saints Church, Pasadena, currently blesses same-sex unions, but does not perform the rite of marriage for same-sex couples;

WHEREAS, on May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court issued its decision holding that marriage is a “basic civil right of personal autonomy and liberty” “to which all persons are entitled without regard to their sexual orientation;” and

WHEREAS, as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, on June 16, 2008, the State of California will begin to license and recognize same-sex marriages;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Rector, Wardens and Vestry do declare that, as of June 16, 2008, All Saints Church, Pasadena will treat all couples presenting themselves for the rite of marriage equally.

20 comments:

Richard said...

I think this is wonderful, but how will this play out within the greater framework of The Episcopal Church?

Does this mean that the priests at All Saints will santify same-sex marriages using the ritual as laid out in The Book of Common Prayer and not perform the current "blessings?"

Yankee_Fan_At_Fenway said...

WOW! What a great message (from both the Bishop and the Vestry)! These responses make much more sense than the mess we were in here in Massachusetts back in 2004. Good to see what a difference four years makes!

Philius said...

Congratulations to all involved and thank you, thank you, thank you for setting the pace. If only the Churches here in the UK could act with such integrity and bravery.

RonF said...

Since you invoke the Canons, let's take a look at them.

CANON 18: Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony

Sec. 1. Every Member of the Clergy of this Church shall conform to the laws of the State governing the creation of the civil status of marriage, and also to the laws of this Church governing the solemnization of Holy Matrimony.

Sec. 2. Before solemnizing a marriage the Member of the Clergy shall have ascertained:

(a) That both parties have the right to contract a marriage according to the laws of the State.

(b) That both parties understand that Holy Matrimony is a physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman, entered into within the community of faith, by mutual consent of heart, mind, and will, and with intent that it be lifelong.

My emphasis.

So much for the Canons of the Church, eh? Does this mean we can dispense with the Dennis Canon as well?

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Although it's certainly debatable, reading Canon 17:5 in conversation with Canon 18:1 we believe that the spirit of those canons transcends the letter of the language describing marriage as a union between a man and a woman in Canon 18:2b. And we'll be suggesting fixing that in Anaheim.

It's arguable that the 1976 approval of the ordination of women wouldn't have happened without 1974 and Philadelpia pushing the church to amend the canons to reflect the reality there WERE women who were priests. I'll argue it's the same here ... and that the church needs to amend the canons to reflect the reality that there are same-sex couples who are MARRRIED.

(PS -- And what if Rosa Parks had waited til they changed the law before she sat down on that bus ... ? Sometimes unjust laws need to be challenged and that's what we're doing.)

john said...

I knew we could count on you!

:-)

Suzer said...

There are times when I would like my church to charge forward and make change. It would be nice if my partner and I could be married in TEC, if we so chose (though I think we'd just stick with a civil marriage ceremony if it were available to us, for many reasons).

But I have to say that even though I am all for full inclusivity (obviously), the quick actions of All Saints Pasadena to marry same-sex couples took me aback.

On the one hand, I want to say "that's fantastic!" On the other hand, it leaves a lump in the pit of my stomach regarding the repurcussions that will be felt from the larger communion. My fears are that this is imprudent at this time, and that it will only divide people further. I would much rather TEC legislate this change first, before churches start doing it on their own.

But I see your point as well (being a Libra) -- often change does not happen without someone taking that leap of faith.

Still, I'm feeling hesitant about this.

Hiram said...

"Although it's certainly debatable, reading Canon 17:5 in conversation with Canon 18:1 we believe that the spirit of those canons transcends the letter of the language describing marriage as a union between a man and a woman in Canon 18:2b"

According to the letter of the canons, however, the rector would be liable for presentment if he acts on the policy.

When their is selective enforcement of the canons, the rule of law ebbs away, to be replaced by the rule of individuals -- so that one has either chaos or tyranny -- or most likely, chaos leading to tyranny.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

hiram ... sounds like the same argument the British made in 1776

suzer ... I couldn't agree more .. "I would much rather TEC legislate this change first, before churches start doing it on their own." And so would the Philadelphia 11 have preferred the church to have legislated the change first. And if they had not stepped forward to challenge the canons I do not believe they would have been changed in 1976.

Thanks for taking time to comment!

Yankee_Fan_At_Fenway said...

Thank You Susan! Amen!

------------------------------
Please edit as you see fit or if possible - can you send this along to Suzer?
____________________________
Suzer said... "if we so chose (though I think we'd just stick with a civil marriage ceremony if it were available to us, for many reasons)." Suzer - I'd like to understand your comment. My partner and I had our "Holy Union" in our Parish in 1995 (the Boston area). In 2004, when Marriage was possible for us - sought the services of our Rector to sign the civil marriage license. (which is another story!) However, we did eventually have the civil license signed by clergy and have been blessed many times over. I am curious as to why "you would just stick with a civil marriage..."? Please feel free to contact me privately if you'd like to continue the conversation - eleighpowers@gmail.com

Jim of L-Town said...

Dear Rev. Russell:
I try to stay out of these discussions because I really don't have a dog in the fight. However, Ronf does make a point, one that if I were a current attorney for St. Luke's of the Mountains and the other three Los Angeles churches that are trying to retain property I would use.
If canons are only subject to the interpretation of individual churches, why then would the Dennis Canon be any different.
I would take that into court, brief it and point out that while Bp. Bruno is strictly applying one canon to three churches he was winking at another.
I'll stay out of the other debate. I just think Ronf and Hiram have a good point.

A sinner saved by God's Grace

Jim of Michigan

RonF said...

Although it's certainly debatable, reading Canon 17:5 in conversation with Canon 18:1 we believe that the spirit of those canons transcends the letter of the language describing marriage as a union between a man and a woman in Canon 18:2b.

Then why didn't you wait for the debate? Instead, your vestry has set themselves up as an authority superior to General Convention, who apparently didn't see a conflict there.

And we'll be suggesting fixing that in Anaheim.

You'll be suggesting to change it. Whether or not that's a fix is certainly debatable.

And what if GC 2009 doesn't make the change? Will you continue to defy it and the Canons?

It's arguable that the 1976 approval of the ordination of women wouldn't have happened without 1974 and Philadelpia pushing the church to amend the canons to reflect the reality there WERE women who were priests.

They weren't priests until their ordinations were accepted by GC. And has it occurred to you that perhaps some of the conflict and loss of membership and property that came from that action might have been avoided if the people involved had not crammed their idea of what was right down other people's throats. You know; had determined to "be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them?" - the latter being defined as what's in the Constitution and Canons? It's by no means established that the actions of 1974 led to the advancement of the Church or of Christ's gospel. It's not like the influence and membership of TEC has increased since then.

I'll argue it's the same here ...

You can argue it, but you don't know. Seems to me that actions such as this should be based on knowledge.

and that the church needs to amend the canons to reflect the reality that there are same-sex couples who are MARRRIED.

So, then, should the church change it's principles to reflect whatever "reality" occurs in the secular world? Should the church accept fornication and other things as blessed, just because the civil authority has decided to accept them?

(PS -- And what if Rosa Parks had waited til they changed the law before she sat down on that bus ... ?

It is quite presumptive to put yourself in the same class as Rosa Parks. Do you really think you're worthy of that?

Besides, Rosa Parks was defying a local law that was in violation of law that was supreme to it; the Constitution (as clearly stated in Amendment XV). There is no analagous situation here.

Sometimes unjust laws need to be challenged and that's what we're doing.)

Was it a deliberate challenge? Or was it simply self-righteous self-fullfillment? I don't see any acknowledgement that the canon even exists in the statement from All Saints, or that there is a perceived conflict and that you have any concern for the Church in this matter.

Whereas in the statements I have read from those in the civil rights struggle, they were careful to acknowledge and explain the conflicts between the law and their actions. In this case, the law being not the actions of a bare majority of the California Supreme Court, but that of the Church, which is the agency you are currently defying.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

RonF ... "They weren't priests until their ordinations were accepted by GC ..."

Really? So the sacramental efficacy of the apostolic succession in the laying on of hands by a bishop was contingent on General Convention?

Now THAT'S a revisionist postion that makes anything we've proposed pale in comparison. It makes me feel quite the traditionalist!

David said...

Writing from a certain distance - Montreal- the only lump I'm aware of is in my throat, and its of joy and sheer wonder- at the clear-sighted grace and courage of the folks at All Saints Passadena.

The bottom line is, some times after long prayer, much study and fellowship one simply has to gird up one's loins, trust in God and step forward in faith- into the new day our lovng God has made.

Maybe I've been feasting on Saint Verna Dozier a bit too much of late- so sue me- but is it not possible that the choice here is acting as a beloved people of God, or an institution.

And I would quote Saint Verna' What is important in the Gospel is a new world, not an institution'

However recent or ancient particular Canons might be, they are historical artifacts- the witness to the experience and strivings of our predecessors- a lense to inform our discussions and discernment- little more.

'New day a coming' brothers and sisters- a Love 'beyond our wildest imagening' at work here, to quote another living saint of our Church.

Sometimes when the Spirit says lead you've just got to take a deep breathe in faith & put that first foot forward.
Thank-you +Jon Bono
Thank-you Ed+ Bacon
Thank-you Susan+

David@Montreal

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

PS for Ron ... Actually I do -- think that gay and lesbian families are "worthy" of being compared with Rosa Parks. And so did the California Supreme Court. (Ergo the May 15th decision)

Jim said...

I was there and involved when the issue was civil rights.

One of the rules for non-violent protest was that yes, we would break the laws. Yes we would take the resulting legal actions to appellate courts and argue that the law was inoperative because it was both immoral and unconstitutional. But(!) we recognized that the courts might not agree and accepted the chance that we might pay the law's price.

All Saints and its vestry have not said they will stamp their fee and stalk off to Uganda or some where if their bishop, or the various canonical courts do not accept the action. They stand in public ready to make their case and defend the action.

That is something that makes progress possible. The courage to put one's self on the line, to risk the law's price, is what Jesus did, what Martin Luther did, what Martin Luther King did and what Cranmer did.

Jesus observed that greater love has no one than to give one's life for a friend. The decision to risk a professional life, and a vestry's standing is not that dramatic, but it is if the same material.

Congrats All Saints. You stand in the path of martyrs, and you wont stand alone.

FWIW
jimB

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

david ... would you email me at president@integrityusa.org, please? thanks! susan

uffda51 said...

I am delighted by the California decision and the stand taken by All Saints Church.

I can only wonder why the idea that women are equal to men and gays are equal to straights is so offensive to some Christians that they feel these simple truths are being crammed down their throats. Progress, according to these folks, should be resisted because we need to do things the way they’ve always been done. We have canons and institutions to tell us what to do. The thing is, all of these canons and institutions were created by men and are subject to change by other men – and women. Why should there be more concern about injury to the canons than the very real ongoing injuries to the LGBT community?

Why would anyone think that the movement within TEC and the actions of All Saints Church are somehow motivated by the actions of the secular world? We believe in the Trinity, which includes the Holy Spirit, which acts in people’s lives on a daily basis. That is what is behind these changes, which have been coming for decades. Martin Luther wasn’t acting out of secular motivation and he didn’t clear his theses with the Pope before posting them either.

Why does anyone think that marriage equality will destroy traditional marriage? Marriage has survived Liz Taylor, Mickey Rooney and Britney Spears. I think it will survive the two guys down the street who have been together for 20 years. I suppose that those who think that marriage equality will destroy traditional marriage are the same people who believe that the gay community is constantly recruiting. If these statements were true everyone in liberal Christian congregations would be divorced and somehow newly gay.

I realize that “traditional” Anglicans won’t be happy until every gay person in the world undergoes two weeks of conversion therapy and becomes straight. Then all of these pesky equality problems go away. However, this seems unlikely to happen. I don’t believe that some sort of “height” therapy could change Kareem Abdul-Jabbar into a six-foot tall person either.

By the way, does anyone really think that all Rosa Parks was doing was “defying a local law that was in violation of law that was supreme to it?”

Suzer said...

"By the way, does anyone really think that all Rosa Parks was doing was “defying a local law that was in violation of law that was supreme to it?”"

Thank you, uffda51! Though I am hesitant (as expressed above) about All Saints' choice, your comment does put things into perspective for me. I guess it could be viewed that All Saints' is defying a "local" law that is in violation of a law supreme to it. The law of Love, God's Love, is available to all, and supreme to any other law.

dctoedt said...

Given that California same-sex couples can get all the legal protection of marriage by going through a civil marriage ceremony, “justice” would not seem to require California’s TEC clergy to violate the church’s marriage canon by officiating at the weddings.