July 2, 2015
The Church is all about Jesus’ mission of mercy, compassion and hope. Sometimes in our broken world, that vision of God’s love for all people can feel very far off. But this week in Salt Lake City, the elected leaders of the Episcopal Church have made some decisions and commitments that make that Reign of God feel a little closer.
One of those decisions concerns marriage equality. We approved liturgies for trial use that will treat all couples equally in marriage. This means true marriage equality. The marriage between two people of the same sex is equal to the marriage of a woman and man. I rejoice in this decision.
We made this decision in the context of forty years of debating and moving forward in our recognition of the full inclusion of LGBT people in our Church and in our society. I am grateful to all those who have been prophetic and all those who have been patient as we grew in our understanding of our LGBT brothers and sisters.
Because there is marriage equality in Massachusetts, I gave permission to our Episcopal clergy to celebrate marriages between same sex couples two years ago. So the decision of our General Convention meeting in Salt Lake does not radically change things here, but it does give us some new liturgies to use and expands our language in these services.
While marriage equality is now the law in all fifty states, there are still dioceses in the Episcopal Church where marriage equality has not previously been permitted by the bishop, as well as priests within our own diocese and others who cannot in good conscience officiate at same sex marriages. In those places we have decided that it is now up to the Bishop to make arrangements for same – sex marriages, perhaps by bringing in another priest to officiate or by having the couple go to a church that is willing to host them. In so doing, the intent is for the Episcopal Church to continue to be a “big tent” that allows for diversity of opinion.
We are blessed by all couples who commit themselves to faithful love. They make God’s Reign of Mercy, Compassion and Hope come alive.