A tale of two churches

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Comparing and contrasting the decision by Washington National Cathedral to perform same-sex marriages and the University of the South’s decision to do so only if the bishop in the place where the couple lives approves.

SCG writes on the blog “Wake Up and LIVE.”

I was delighted to open up to my Facebook page and to see the announcement that the Washington National Cathedral, the site of so many state celebrations and funerals for presidents and a major tourist attraction in the nation’s capital, will be making use of the new blessings for same-sex couples in the Episcopal Church. …For Episcopalians such as myself, this is a momentous occasion. To have such a visible symbol of the church open its doors so completely for the LGBT community is very hopeful and encouraging.

Especially in light of another story I read about involving the chapel at one of the Episcopal seminaries and how it is handling the new blessing rite.

The University of the South, more commonly called Sewanee, is an Episcopal university and home to All Saints’ Chapel, an equally stately, beautiful, Gothic cathedral. Sewanee’s School of Theology, which produces the Education for Ministry program, is one of the preferred seminaries for postulants from the southeast. When the General Convention overwhelmingly adopted A049, the resolution to allow for the same-sex blessings, Sewanee was faced with a dilemma. While located in Tennessee, it’s governing authority is a chancellor, a position that rotates among bishops representing 28 dioceses of the Episcopal Church. Many of those bishops were among the 41 who voted against A049, including the now rogue Bishop Lawrence of South Carolina, and Bishop Samuel Johnson Howard of Florida, Sewanee’s chancellor. Now, they had to make a decision: would Sewanee allow a gay or lesbian couple, who meets the basic requirements to request use of the All Saints’ Chapel for a wedding, the opportunity to have their union blessed there? Commence hand-wringing now.

“An absolute yes or an absolute no was just not possible,” John McCardell, Jr., vice-chancellor and president, said. The college feared its chapel could become a sort of Las Vegas for blessings of gay unions — an end-run for couples whose bishops wouldn’t permit the rite in their own diocese.(“Going to the Chapel?” by Libby Nelson, Inside Higher Ed., Dec. 19, 2012).

Stop right there. End run? A ‘sort of Las Vegas’ for LGBT couples?? Are they serious???

Yes, obviously, they were serious. Seriously afraid of what might happen if they were to open up the use of the chapel for LGBT couples who are affiliated with the school.

I read that statement and I was appalled.

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Shane Lyle
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Shane Lyle

I think it also notable that The Rt. Rev. George D. Young III, Bishop of East Tennessee (the Diocese in which Sewanee is geographically located) voted in favor of the use of the liturgy/blessing in addition to several other Bishops of Province IV. Though this is frustrating, I find joy in the overall movement toward progress & equality in our church, and our Province, as a whole. We are overwhelmingly moving forward despite the few dissenting voices in the minority. May the Holy Spirit continue to work and speak in The Episcopal Church USA!

Sincerely & in Peace,

Shane Lyle

Member, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church - Maryville, TN of The Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee

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Harrison West
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Harrison West

Please note dear reader that the Las Vegas bit is unattributed. The VC (Vice-Chancellor=University President in Sewanee-speak) is a Christian gentleman of the first-order, and he would never use such language. The University Chaplain was a classmate of mine at the University's School of Theology, and neither would he use such language. The University is in fact reflecting the local-option pattern of the Episcopal Church as an institution governed by 28 dioceses. While I wish an absolute "yes" were possible, I'm grateful equal marriage will be available to those whose home dioceses permit it.

Harrison West+ T'90

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leeborden
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leeborden

As a wholehearted supporter of gay marriage in a parish generally opposed to it, I have some appreciation for the tenderness of this issue. Our own Alabama bishop Kee Sloan voted in favor of permitting same sex blessings but has decided at least for now not to permit them in the Diocese. I suppose that means Sewanee will say no to same sex couples from Alabama.

Lee Borden

Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, Tallassee

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Gary Paul Gilbert
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Gary Paul Gilbert

Is anyone really surprised by the onoing ambivalence of this denomination to LGBTs?

Bishop Samuel Johnson Howard was vicar at Trinity Church Wall Street for several so it is disappointing to read that he voted against blessings at General Convention.

Disappointing but not surprising.

Gary Paul Gilbert

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Michael Hartney
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Michael Hartney

When I was a student at Sewanee the Tenor Section leader of the Sewanee Choir was V. Gene Robinson, of recent notoriety. As an all male undergraduate university at the time I can assure you that the Gay community was well represented in the student body and faculty. And not all Bishops of Province IV (whose Dioceses are the owners of The University of the South)voted against the provisional rite for the blessing of same gender couples (Bishop Leo Frade of SE Florida is one example). Perhaps the good Vice Chancellor could be reminded of the University's motto: Ecce, quam bonum and get on with life.

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