Task force on "the study of marriage" announced

Presiding Bishop, President of House of Deputies announce 12-member Task Force on the Study of Marriage

The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs Thursday, February 14, 2013

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings have announced the 12 members of the church’s new Task Force on the Study of Marriage.

Approved at the 77th General Convention in July 2012, Resolution A050 called for the creation of a task force of “theologians, liturgists, pastors, and educators to identify and explore biblical, theological, historical, liturgical, and canonical dimensions of marriage.” The group is expected to consult broadly across the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, develop tools for theological reflection and discussion, and make a report to the 78th General Convention in 2015.

“The theology of marriage has evolved over time, with biblical examples including polygamy, concubinage, and other forms of relationship no longer sanctioned in The Episcopal Church,” noted Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. “We no longer expect that one partner promise to obey the other, that parents give away their children to be married, or that childbearing is the chief purpose of marriage. This task force is charged not only to take the pulse of our current theological understanding of the meaning of marriage, but to assist the faithful in conversation and discernment about marriage, in particular what the Church might hold up as “holy example” of the love between Christ and his Church.”

“The Episcopal Church's theology and practice of marriage has changed significantly over the centuries, and we need to understand more clearly what we as a church mean when we use that word,” President Jennings said. “I am grateful to the twelve leaders who have offered their time and expertise to help the church have a wide-ranging discussion about marriage and respond to the issues raised by the marriage debate in civil society.”

The members of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage are:

The Rev. Brian C. Taylor, chair, Diocese of the Rio Grande
Carolyn M. Chilton, Diocese of Virginia
The Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely, Diocese of Vermont
Joan Geiszler-Ludlum, Diocese of East Carolina
The Rev. Gail Greenwell, Diocese of Kansas
The Rev. Tobias S. Haller, Diocese of New York
The Rev. Canon W. (Will) H. Mebane, Jr., Diocese of Ohio
The Rev. J. David Knight, Diocese of Mississippi
The Rev. Dr. Cameron E. Partridge, Diocese of Massachusetts
The Rev. Susan Russell, Diocese of Los Angeles
The Very Rev. Dr. Sylvia A. Sweeney, Diocese of Los Angeles
The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo, Diocese of Upper South Carolina


Resolution A050 is available in full here.

Comments (6)

I'm really curious where this is going to go, and what conclusions they will reach. I really hope they have a good mix of thoughts from radical thinkers and staunch traditionalists. It could be interesting.

Are any of the members staunch traditionalists? I wish we had done this study before we authorized a rite of same-sex blessings, but there was too much momentum to hold that up. I just hope this committee does solid, historically- and biblically-grounded sacramental theology.

Chris, I don't know whether the individuals are "staunch traditionalists," but I do know that many folks in the dioceses of Rio Grande, Ohio, Missippi, and Upper South Carolina are traditionalists. I think we can say that those folks are around us in all of our dioceses. I would hope and trust that those positions will be reflected on with respect by all the participants. I'm significantly progressive myself, but I want to take my "traditionalist" siblings seriously. I find their positions important, even when I don't find them compelling.

Marshall Scott

I would recommend the Lead item on Bp Alan Wilson's mail for those longing for traditionalists on this commission. I don't really want a bunch of people who think LGBT persons are unworthy of committed loving blessed relationships to be deciding the future of marriage equality in TEC.

The danger with putting traditionalists next to liberals is that it makes it seem the two are extreme and that the truth would be found somewhere in the middle. LGBTs are not equal in the Episcopal Church and do not need to have to justify themselves to traditionalists.

Bishop Waldo does not permit the blessing of same-sex couples, though he has not ruled it out completely.

Tobias Haller and Susan Russell are definitely in the pro-LGBT camp. Sylvia Sweeney seems progressive.

Eventually we will know more. It seems reasonable to rethink marriage in the light of many recent developments. But it also seems too little, too late.

Who knows?


Gary Paul Gilbert

The most likey scenario is that people who support or at least are open to supporting opening marriage to same-sex couples will write a report which enables the next General Convention to move forward.


Gary Paul Gilbert

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