Friday, July 06, 2018
We came to Austin to address -- among other things -- the seemingly intractable challenge of living together as a church where the sacramental marriage that has been authorized for all couples in the Episcopal Church is irreconcilable with the theological conscience of some members of the Episcopal Church.
This morning the legislative committee charged with the high calling of addressing that challenge responded by reporting out a compromise resolution which will be a bridge too far for some and a disappointment to others.
According to Merriam Webster, a compromise is defined as "an agreement or settlement that is reached by each side making concessions" -- in other words, a profoundly Anglican solution to intractable challenges. And that is precisely what will be brought to the House of Deputies for its consideration on Saturday morning, July 7.
Entitled "Marriage Rites for the Whole Church" Resolution B012 protects the conscience of those who cannot embrace the marriage of same-sex couples while making liturgies for marriage available to all couples in all dioceses in their home churches.
To achieve this compromise, those who had hoped to finally see the Book of Common Prayer revised with gender neutral language for marriage will be asked to concede that goal at this time. And those who had hoped to continue diocesan policies of sending same-sex couples to other dioceses to be married will be asked to change that policy.
The resolution provides bishops who do not embrace marriage for same sex couples the creative option of inviting another bishop to assume episcopal oversight on matters-relating-to-marriage for congregations in their diocese wishing to make marriage available to same-sex couples. It allows the bishop to exercise his or her conscience while allowing all couples seeking Holy Matrimony in the Episcopal Church equal access to the sacrament of marriage. It continues the trial use of the liturgies authorized in 2015 and preserves the canonical authority for any member of the clergy to decline to solemnize or bless any marriage.
Make no mistake about it: these are costly compromises that comes with very real pain. Pain for those who will experience this action as falling short of the full and equal claim for the LGBTQ baptized we have been striving for since 1976. And pain for those who will experience this action as a bridge too far away from their belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman.
The question for this General Convention will be whether the gift of walking together forward into God's future as members of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement is worth the painful compromises we are mutually being asked to bear in order to make that possible.
I believe the answer is yes and I urge support for Resolution B012 as Proposed by Committee 13.
I am convinced that just as 16th century Anglicans were able to walk forward together in spite of the seemingly intractable challenge of being together in a church that is both protestant and catholic, 21st century Episcopalians can walk forward in spite of seemingly intractable challenge of being together as a church where the sacramental marriage that has been authorized for all couples is irreconcilable with the theological conscience of some members.
We've got this. We're Anglicans.
Deputy Susan Russell
Diocese of Los Angeles