Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
This Sunday is the Festival of All Saints and we will have 5 baptisms; two at the eight o'clock service and three at the 10:30. We will once again reaffirm our own baptisms and we will be asked, "Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? We will respond "I will with God's help."
This question carries with it great anxiety, especially since over the past years we, as a denomination, have dealt with issues of equality and justice for all our brothers and sisters who have been baptized into the Body of Christ. In 1976, the Episcopal Church was dealing with whether we should ordain women; in 2003, we were wrestling with the consecration to bishop of a gay man, living in a committed relationship. Today, we find ourselves wrestling with the sacrament of matrimony and what marriage looks like in a world where the state recognizes same-sex marriage. This may be a difficult topic for some of our community here at All Saints but I feel I must be transparent and let you know where I find myself, as well as where the Vestry find themselves.
With the recent court decision, our bishop, The Rt. Rev. Porter Taylor, put out his guidance regarding same-sex marriage. The guidance was fairly simple and straight forward: As priests, we are free (not required, priests can always refuse to marry anyone) to marry same-sex couples as long as we use the prescribed liturgical rite (specially written for same-sex marriages) and follow all the other rubrics prescribed by the Prayer Book regarding marriage (be a member, be baptized, have counseling, etc.). Additionally, the priest must consult with the Vestry.
The Vestry and I had a discussion about four months ago regarding same-sex blessings as we wanted to be prepared if we were asked. At that time the Vestry unanimously approved doing blessings. So, at our Vestry meeting in October we had a conversation about same-sex marriages and it passed unanimously as well. So that is the process side of the issue.
This month two of our partnered couples will be married, and I am honored to be the priest for these ceremonies where these Children of God, made in the image of God, will make vows to God, one another and themselves, professing their love for God and commitment to one another. This is significant because it communicates to them and the greater world that we affirm their union, and believe their relationship is pleasing to God. I can think of no greater blessing the Church can provide than this.
I hope you can see how our promise, made at baptism to "...strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being" helps to guide us in these decisions. As the search committee who recommended me knows, and the Vestry who interviewed and called me knows, my own personal understanding of this issue has been a process and journey. I am so happy and joyful that our church has taken this step whereby all our brothers and sisters are recognized, accepted, and loved as Children of God.
With all this being said I realize there may be some of you who are still struggling with this issue. As your pastor, priest, and teacher I want to offer myself to anyone who would like to discuss this issue further. I am here to listen, pray, and guide you in your journey, wherever that may lead.
See ya Sunday!
Peace & Blessings,
All Saints Messenger >