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A tale of two churches

A tale of two churches

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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Jonathan Galliher

I don’t disagree about the quality of Sewanee’s decision, but the original post would have been improved by either dropping the comparison to the National Cathedral’s decision or actually taking the time to dig into why the National Cathedral chose a different policy from Sewanee, asssuming that there’s anything more to say than that one answers to a much more liberal constituency.

Terry Pannell

Thoughtless whine? Being dismissive does not negate the fact that fear has been a primary motivator in many of the church’s decisions regarding the place of people whose orientation is not heterosexual. Whether or not anyone is channeling Mitt Romney is not the point. Back to my original post, where is the concrete evidence of Episcopal Churches becoming revolving doors for gay weddings?

Jonathan Galliher

Honestly, that post comes across as something of a thoughtless whine. It seems to boil down to “Oh why couldn’t the bishops of Province IV act like folks in the DC diocese”. As if leadership meant doing what liberal folks, like me, would prefer.


Gary Paul Gilbert

As I said when this came up in another lead item, the reference to Las Vegas is not innocent but seems to be a citation of Mitch Romney’s bragging about how, when the Supreme Court of the State of Massachusetts decided Goodridge v. the Department of Health in favor of the right to marry in 2003, as Governor he dusted off an old anti-miscegenation law from 1913 to prevent out-of-state couples from marrying in Massachusetts if their home states would not marry them. Last February in front of a conservative audience the Presidential candidate said he “prevented Massachusetts from becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage.” I suspect Sewanee was channeling Romney.

The position of Sewanee seems to be to allow bishops who feel like Romney (at least when he spoke to conservatives) to prevent such marriages from taking place in the chapel at Sewanee, while bishops who don’t share this fear may give permission.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Terry Pannell

Would someone please provide me a list of Episcopal Churches that have become Las Vegas style chapels for gays weddings? I serve a parish in a town that is euphemistically called Sodom by the Sea in that ultra-liberal Diocese of Massachusetts. Obviously we must be doing something wrong because the gays are not lining up for blocks for their turn at the altar.

The Reverend Terry Pannell,

Vicar of Sodom and graduate of the School of Theology at Sewanee

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