Bishop Brian Seage of Mississippi has decided that clergy in the diocese may perform marriages for same-sex couples without advance permission.
With this letter and effective immediately, I give permission to the congregations and clergy of the Diocese of Mississippi, canonically resident or licensed to serve here, to use the liturgies included in Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be A Blessing, Revised and Expanded 2015. With The Book of Common Prayer (1979), these liturgies permit marriage in church for all couples legally entitled to marry, and are to be used according to the instructions and “rubrics” that accompany them, and for the purposes for which they are intended.
This significant modification of our former Diocesan policy means that parishes and missions are no longer required to engage in a process of discernment and study, culminating with formal vestry action and submission to me of a petition requesting approval to perform same-sex weddings. Since the sacrament of marriage occurs within a community of faith, and is an outward and visible sign of the care and support extended to a couple, I strongly encourage parishes and missions to engage in such discernment and study if that has not already been completed. The resource page is intended to assist parishes and missions that may want to have conversations on this very important matter.
Church members from parishes across the state had asked Bishop Brian Seage for resources to foster discussions about same-sex marriage at a January Diocesan Council meeting in Biloxi, Seage said in the letter.
Seage promised resources would be available by Easter, though he missed his own deadline by nearly three months.
But rather than just give literature, Seage also recommended action — the liturgies he offered to Mississippi’s congregations in his letter “permit marriage in church for all couples legally entitled to marry,” Seage said.
Prior to the release of the bishop’s letter, parishes were required to submit to Seage a petition requesting approval to perform same-sex weddings.
Now, priests — if they so choose — are able to marry LGBT members who wish to have a church wedding.
The Rt. Rev. Brian Seage…says clergy members still have “the discretion to marry, or not marry, any specific couple for any reason.”
He says he respects priests who are unable to perform same-sex weddings because of their own conscience or because they believe it would cause irreparable harm to their congregation’s unity. However, Seage asks them to tell him about any same-sex couple who wants to marry so arrangements can be made for another Episcopal congregation to offer the services.
Episcopal bishops in other places had already made similar announcements.