Saturday, April 25, 2015

"Marriage Matters" -- Clergy Conference 2015 in Dio L.A.

Every year the Diocese of Los Angeles has a Spring Clergy Conference. It's meant to be a time of both continuing education and fellowship with clergy colleagues throughout this large, diverse diocese of over 140 congregations that stretches from Santa Maria to Needles to south Orange County.

This year the theme of the conference is "Marriage Matters" -- and our keynote speaker is Dr. Rosemary Radford Ruether. From the conference design team:
"Marriage is both a sacred covenant and a civil contract. Whether we’re preparing a couple for marriage, counseling a couple in a troubled marriage or answering questions about where the Episcopal Church stands on marriage equality -- whether we serve a mission or parish, urban or rural, large or small – marriage is an issue that we all “touch” as clergy.

Over the last three years the Task Force for the Study of Marriage – convened by the 2012 General Convention – has been working on its charge "to identify and explore biblical, theological, historical, liturgical, and canonical dimensions of marriage” and to “address the pastoral need for priests to officiate at a civil marriage of same-sex couples in states that authorize such.”

The Task Force framed its work with the question “What does the Episcopal Church have to say to today's world as to what makes a marriage Christian and holy?” And that is the question we want to consider together at this year’s clergy conference.

We are honored to have as our keynote speaker Dr. Rosemary Radford Ruether. Rosemary Radford Ruether is arguably an embodiment of the theological vocation well lived. Her scope is awesome, her writing compelling, her commitment to a livable planet unceasing. The impact of her work can be found in so many fields and hearts that she fairly defines the term "scholar activist," teaching and mentoring generations of appreciative colleagues. Dr. Radford Ruether will help us ground our reflections in and exploration of theology, marriage and family in the 21st century.

This year’s conference will also include expanded opportunities for interaction and consultation with workshop and breakout sessions focused on a wide range of marriage matters, including:
* Pre-marital Counseling Best Practices; * Navigating Life as a Clergy Couple; * Challenges & Opportunities of Interfaith Couples; * Same-sex Marriage: What’s Next in the Church and the Courts.

We will also have one breakout session for further conversation with Dr. Ruether and the opportunity to consult with a representative from CPG (Clergy Pension Group) on benefits and beneficiaries.
Another facet of the pre-conference preparation was recruiting a number of colleagues to write reflections on the seven essays that make up the Blue Book Report from the Task Force on the Study of Marriage. You can check those out here as timely reflections [a] just days before the SCOTUS marriage equality oral arguments and [b] just weeks before General Convention 2015.

Proud of my diocese for providing space, time and context for us to engage in these conversations together. Looking forward to the conference -- May 3-5 in San Pedro. (Film at eleven!)

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