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Plea for feedback on study of marriage

Plea for feedback on study of marriage

(The Reverend Canon) Susan Russell asks her General Convention colleagues for feedback:

Dear HoB/D Colleagues,

The A050 Task Force on the Study of Marriage is hard at work responding to the charge we were given by GC2012, outlined here …to create a report for the 78th General Convention in 2015.


To accomplish the “consulting with …” part of that charge, a call went out in the House of Deputies newsletter for input from Deputies to General Convention. The request was to watch a short video updating the church on the process and status of our work and then to answer a few questions. The request went out at the end of January with mid-March (March 14) deadline for responses.

Today is March 11. I found out today that we have nine.

As in 9.

Nine responses from the WHOLE CHURCH.

Please consider taking time to follow the steps below and give us feedback on this important work. I know we can do better than this.

Thank you so much …

Lenten Blessings,

Susan Russell

Here is the original request from the Task Force:

Watch this short video report from the chairs of the marriage task

force working groups:

Now that you have heard how we are addressing Resolution A050, what considerations or questions would you suggest for our 3 working groups (below) and/or the task force in general?

A. Historical, Theological, and Canonical Roots

B. Biblical and Theological Dimensions

C. Conversations and Consultations; Changing Norms

D. Other general considerations or questions

As you prepare for General Convention 2015, what hopes, concerns or expectations will you bring about how we, as a church, might carry forward the work of this task force?

What are you experiencing in your life, or among your friends, family, congregation, diocese, or society in terms of how norms for marriage are being challenged today?

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Joan Mason

I am responding because you are wondering why more people are not. This is a topic for which I have a lot of prayer and energy and experience. But I do not have that same level of energy around the questions you posed. I find them not easily approachable. And the video did not increase my desire to grapple with the questions. Frankly I just don’t have the time it would take to answer them intelligently, or to type in everything I’d like to say. I suspect if I was sitting with the committee in a conference setting, these questions would be fun to explore. But on my own? No thank you. I am grateful to you, though, for doing this work.

Elizabeth Kaeton

Three thoughts: (1) The format is pretty dense and calls for responses that require lots of thought. It might have been easier and you might have gotten more responses if we had been asked questions that required short or multiple choice answers. (2) The video is very, very dry and not at all well done. I’ve never, ever heard Susan Russell be boring but even her presentation didn’t exactly inspire a response. (3) Perhaps the low response is also due, at least in part, that marriage equality is considered a non-issue by most members of the church?

Paul Woodrum

Through the Middle Ages, on the American frontier, and well into the 20th Century, in many places the church was the recorder of vital statistics. Though the state has, for the most part, taken over that function, civil law, like faith communities, in some, but not all places, provides very wide latitude where marriage is concerned especially who the officiant and primary witness may be and where the wedding may take place, and more and more whose hands may be joined in the blessed estate.

Instead or self-righteously seeking to narrow that, why not work to expand it as the Episcopal Church is trying to do and as some faith communities have already done. If even the little church around the corner turns you down, there’s always the internet minister

at a restaurant, wedding palace, beach or rowboat who, if requested, will even use the Book of Common Prayer with immunity from tiresome canons and stuffy bishops. And if Mississippi says no, go to Maryland, California or Maine.

I just don’t see why this needs to be one of those either/or issues while both states (especially courts) and churches are haltingly moving in the same, more inclusive and equal direction.

Robert Martin

Seeing as how many Americans view their church or religion (if they even have one) as more irrelevant than before, wouldn’t a Canon recognition of marriage be useful in maintaining at minimum, this connection to “the populace.” If a cleric doesn’t wish to marry two people because they are the same sex or because they are of different sex or because of whatever deficiency the cleric concludes, then so be it. But to inject this conclusion of deficiency in a way that applies to all, strikes me as pig headed.

Gary Paul Gilbert

The church should treat all couples the same, which currently they do not because they are prohibited from using the marriage rite from The Book of Common Prayer.

City Hall seems a better option until the institution decides to treat all couples the same.

Getting out of the civil marriage business because of fighting over the status of same-sex couples I could support, but it also would make it seem as if the withdrawal were motivated largely by homophobia.

I see little point to blessings in church until the institution can promise to respect all couples. Of course, the argument can be made they would be a precedent for some recognition of same-sex couples, but they would still be far short from full equality.

There are different paths to go down, but the status quo right now has little to offer same-sex couples.

Gary Paul Gilbert

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