Diocesan bishops who blocked same-sex marriages take reluctant first steps toward allowing ceremonies

By David Paulsen
Posted Jul 17, 2018

Deputies, bishops and visitors packed a meeting room in the Austin Hilton Hotel the afternoon of July 5 to testify on three marriage-related resolutions. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church’s General Convention first approved trial rites for same-sex marriage ceremonies in 2015, but the bishops of eight domestic dioceses still refused to allow those ceremonies in their congregations as of this month, heading into the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas.

Then Resolution B012 happened.

After a back-and-forth negotiation between the House of Deputies and House of Bishops, both houses approved an amended B012 that struck a compromise on the issue of granting Episcopalians across the country access to the liturgies, regardless of their bishops’ stance on gay marriage.

The new requirement doesn’t take effect until the first Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2, and it remains to be seen how those eight dioceses will implement the process outlined by B012. They are the dioceses of Albany, Central Florida, Dallas, Florida, North Dakota, Springfield, Tennessee and the Virgin Islands. Five of the eight bishops said before General Convention they would implement Resolution B012 if passed. None of the eight has said explicitly he will defy the resolution’s mandate.

A joint statement signed July 13 by 11 acting and retired bishops, members of a group of traditionalists who call themselves the Communion Partners, sounded a conciliatory note. Though warning that “challenges to our communion in Christ are profound,” they praised efforts to find common ground at General Convention, citing as an example Resolution A227, which ordered the creation of a Task Force on Communion Across Difference.

The Communion Partners, including seven of the eight bishops who had blocked gay marriage in their dioceses, affirmed their desire to “maintain the communion of our dioceses within the Episcopal Church,” despite differences over Christian teachings. “We recognize that other Christians of good will and commitment hold contrasting convictions about marriage. There is deep disagreement, which leads to a difference in teaching and practice among dioceses and congregations of our church.”

One of the core compromises of B012 was to allow bishops who object to gay marriage to request that another bishop provide pastoral care and oversight for same-sex couples who wish to be married by priests in their home churches. The resolution also makes clear that no clergy member can be forced to preside over any marriage ceremony.

“The meaning of B012 for our church remains to be discovered, and we recognize that the contexts of our dioceses vary, as well. We continue to seek, through the Task Force on Communion across Difference [in A227] and in other ways, more lasting means of walking together within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, preserving and deepening our communion in Christ,” the Communion Partners’ statement said.

The bishops’ level of acceptance of the compromise has varied, with Albany Bishop William Love and Florida Bishop Samuel Howard opposing it at General Convention and even raising concerns it could lead to further schism in the church over homosexuality, according to Religion News Service.

Episcopal News Service surveyed post-convention statements from the bishops and sought additional clarification about their stances on B012. Their reactions so far to the question of implementation range from noncommittal to proactive.

Diocese of Albany

Love was one of the most vocal bishops opposing the resolution, speaking for 10 minutes during debate in the House of Bishops on the final amendment to B012. He said passage would put him in the awkward position of violating parts of his ordination vows.

“There has been a lot of discussion as we have struggled with this issue over the past several years on whether or not sexual intimacy within that of a same-sex couple was appropriate,” he said July 11. “There are many in this church who have proclaimed that it is and that this is a new thing that the Holy Spirit is revealing and that the Episcopal Church is being prophetic in putting this forward and ultimately the rest of the body of Christ will come to understand that.”

Love said he wasn’t convinced, adding, “we have not had an honest look at … what God has said about this issue and how best to help people who find themselves in same-sex relationships.”

A spokeswoman told ENS that Love was on a brief vacation and had not issued any additional statement since General Convention ended July 13.

Diocese of Central Florida

Central Florida Bishop Greg Brewer summarized the effect of Resolution B012 for his diocese in a July 13 news story on the diocese’s website.

“We can expect to see some changes happen and it really will be up to the bishops in each of those dioceses, including the Diocese of Central Florida, to figure out what that may actually look like because it raises a lot of questions as you can certainly imagine,” Brewer said.

The bishop has not issued a statement on the subject since then, though he is scheduled to hold a “General Convention Debrief” from 10 a.m. to noon July 21 at the Episcopal Church of St. Luke and St. Peter in St. Cloud, Florida.

Diocese of Dallas

Dallas Bishop George Sumner supported the resolution, telling The Dallas Morning News that he would abide by the process of reaching out to the bishop of a neighboring diocese when asked to oversee a same-sex marriage ceremony.

“I think we’ve come out of this with something that lets everyone stay true to their conscience,” he said. “That’s not bad in America in 2018.”

Sumner also released a video statement July 16 saying he was “grateful for some good things that came out of this convention.”

“The right of a rector found in the canons to oversee the liturgical life of his or her parish in his or her own building was affirmed,” Sumner said in the video. “New rites cannot be imposed on a priest or on a congregation which does not wish them.”

He also said he had sent a letter to clergy about accommodating the same-sex marriage rites.

“If a rector and vestry after deliberation decide that they want to use the rites of same-sex marriage, I can no longer hinder them. They will remain, I hasten to add, part of the diocese,” he said while noting the deep theological differences that remain. “We are doing what we can to work them out collegially, so as to maintain our communion as much as we can, so as to honor convictions and conscience.”

Diocese of Florida

Howard opposed the compromise B012, though he mentioned the resolution only briefly in a newsletter to the diocese before the final vote.

The diocese told ENS that it was working to coordinate a follow-up comment from Howard as soon as possible, but a statement was not available in time for this story.

Diocese of North Dakota

North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith said in 2015 he could not “in good conscience authorize the use of these trial liturgies for the Diocese of North Dakota.” When reached by email on July 17, Smith said he intended to release a statement to the diocese about B012 by the end of this week.

Diocese of Springfield

Springfield Bishop Daniel Martins supported the compromise resolution, saying during debate that he was “immensely and seriously grateful” for it, though he also expressed concerns that it could alter the bishop’s role as chief liturgical officer of the diocese and will begin to “erode the sacramental relationship between a bishop and a diocese.”

Martins followed up July 15 with an extended message to the diocese on the subject, titled “Toward Generous Faithfulness About Marriage.”

“This most recent General Convention has constrained the authority of bishops to simply prohibit same-sex marriage within the diocese,” he said. “This is deeply lamentable. It undermines and erodes the ancient and appropriate relationship between a bishop and a diocese as chief pastor, teacher, and liturgical officer.”

Martins also said B012 didn’t give “carte blanche” for same-sex marriage. He noted that priests may refuse to preside over marriage ceremonies, and the bishop remains rector of “all unincorporated Eucharistic Communities,” so Martins’ prohibition on same-sex marriage remains in those communities.

And he called the process of requesting an outside bishop’s assistance “harsh” and “a source of deep personal sorrow – indeed, heartbreak – for me.”

“I profoundly love all our worshiping communities, and it would be a grievous loss to be in an impaired relationship with any of them. Nonetheless, these painful measures are vitally necessary.”

Diocese of Tennessee

Tennessee Bishop John Bauerschmidt told The Tennessean he planned to write a message to the diocese about Resolution B012 this week. He expressed support for the compromise.

“The resolution allows access to the liturgies for same-sex marriage in the Diocese of Tennessee while preserving the rights and responsibilities of the parish clergy for the use of their buildings for any liturgy,” Bauerschmidt said. “In other words, there is much to work out. It also preserves the ministry of bishops as chief pastors and teachers in our dioceses.

“We will be working out what it means for our diocese with clergy and congregations in the coming days.”

Diocese of the Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands Bishop Ambrose Gumbs was absent from the hearing July 5 on B012, according to The Living Church, which spoke with him earlier in Austin and quoted him as warning against adding the trial liturgies to the Book of Common Prayer because parishioners in his diocese “can’t condone this type of behavior.”

Gumbs, when reached July 17 by email, told ENS that he would accept the compromise contained in B012 and said he had just communicated the details of the resolution with diocesan clergy.

“If a same-sex couple asked to be married at their parish, they cannot prevent the marriage from taking place. While they are not obligated to marry any one, WE must make provision for a priest to perform the ceremony,” Ambrose said. “That is the law, and I have to abide by it, whether I like it or not.”

He was not among the bishops who signed the Communion Partners’ statement.

Diocese of West Texas

West Texas was among the majority of dioceses that chose to allow same-sex ceremonies, under former Bishop Gary Lillibridge. Bishop David Reed, who took over leadership of the diocese in 2017 after Lillibridge’s retirement, was among the bishops who signed the Communion Partners’ statement on B012, though a diocesan spokeswoman indicated Reed had not changed the policy put into effect under Lillibridge.

Reed and West Texas Bishop Suffragan Jennifer Brooke-Davidson issued a joint message to the diocese on July 16 that provided a summary of Resolution B012.

“The most significant change is that a bishop’s authority to not allow the use of the same-sex rites in his or her diocese is removed,” the bishops said. “We will be reviewing our diocesan marriage policies this fall to see what, if anything, will need to be changed.”

So far, four congregations in the Diocese of West Texas have taken the steps required to hold same-sex marriages in their churches, according to the diocese.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.


Comments (85)

  1. John Post says:

    I am reminded of the General Convention several years ago when Bisops were guaranteed by Convention that they would not be required to ordain women priests or to accept them in their dioceses. How long did that last?

    1. Robbie Johnson says:

      It is just a matter of time until all priests and bishops will be required to carry out non hetro weddings! Refuse and you will be defrocked! The Episcopal Church now bows to the LGBTQ!

      1. Robbie Johnson says:

        Hetrosexual couples are now forbidden to use such terms as husband, wife, bride, groom in their wedding ceremony. To mention procreation is no longer allowed in the wedding ceremony!

        1. Robbie Johnson says:

          Bishop Curry will cleanse the church of all conservatives. Only liberals and LGBTQ will be allowed!

        2. Matt Ouellette says:

          Considering that a couple can still use the marriage rites in the 1979 BCP, this is blatantly not true.

          1. Robbie Johnson says:

            Give it time Matt. Hetro couples will be forced to use gender neutral language in the wedding ceremony. Also the mention of procreating children will not be allowed! The feelings of the hetros will be washed away by the LGBTQ controlled church. Hetrosexual couples no longer will have any say in the church!

          2. Matt Ouellette says:

            Sounds like a slippery slope fallacy to me. There’s no evidence any of that will happen.

          3. Robbie Johnson says:

            As for your slippery slope, it has happened at least once. Read the first post concerning the ordination of women priests. I was not in the Episcopal Church when this took place. Apparently when the church started ordaining women to the priesthood some diocese objected. They were told they would not be forced into women ordination. According to the initial post, this was changed and diocese were ordered to ordain women. Slippery slope? It has happened before and it can happen again. Refusing to conduct same sex weddings is at the present time on life support in the Episcopal Church. The LGBTQ controlled church is about to pull the plug. It is just a matter of time until they do. The next step is pulling the plug on all hetrosexual weddings.Weddings in the Episcopal Church will for same sex couples only. Hetros need not apply to be married in the Episcopal Church.

          4. Matt Ouellette says:

            The church is not going to end heterosexual marriage. Granting rights to one group doesn’t mean denying them to others. Your fears and concerns are, with all due respect, ridiculous and unrealistic.

        3. Donald Caron says:

          Would you be so kind as to cite the documentation for your assertions.

  2. It would be responsible to mention the Province IX dioceses and the diocese of Haiti in this story, instead of singling out mainland dioceses with a conservative position.

  3. James Koenig says:

    Rites, rights, and continued obstinance in the affirmation of one of God’s greatest gifts to human beings– the gift of love, and the gift of sharing life and love with another according to the magnetic force we call “orientation” seems to be a tap-dance that just goes on and on. In a way, the more the church battles on, the more it engages in a “yada, yada” irrelevant exercise that began in outrage and ends in tedium. I met my partner at church– We had 44 years together. We were richly blessed by God in the gift of each other. Did it matter that we had gone through the “invisible years” and the struggles of “to bless or not to bless”– the struggles of inclusion– the debates and analysis? No– In the end, it didn’t. God him- or- herself is present, and pulls rank on the church, on any committee, house of bishops, or delegates. We had been blessed by God in our union. “Hey God– they’re going to bless and include.” And God said “Been there, done that!” It was and is in a way– too little too late. Lord, forgive the wrongs done in the name of God. To those still bound up in prejudice and judgment and misinterpretation of the Gospel I can only say “Let it go!” Enough– If you did not find the blessing of love with a person of the same gender, what’s it to you anyway? And who are you to deny a fellow believer either their rights or rites.

    1. Jordan Sakal says:

      Alleluia Alleluia! The LGBT+ community deserves this recognition. We are just as all others on this Earth. We deserve love and access to the rites and privileges accorded to others in the church and now we will have them.

      1. James Koenig says:

        It becomes ludicrous that there is even a struggle going on–
        And, by the way, no one seems to have any problem with LGBT people giving of their
        talents or writing checks– Hmmm

  4. James Koenig says:

    Rites, rights, and continued obstinance in the affirmation of one of God’s greatest gifts to human beings– the gift of love, and the gift of sharing life and love with another according to the magnetic force we call “orientation” seems to be a tap-dance that just goes on and on. In a way, the more the church battles on, the more it engages in a “yada, yada” irrelevant exercise that began in outrage and ends in tedium. I met my partner at church– We had 44 years together. We were richly blessed by God in the gift of each other. Did it matter that we had gone through the “invisible years” and the struggles of “to bless or not to bless”– the struggles of inclusion– the debates and analysis? No– In the end, it didn’t. God him- or- herself is present, and pulls rank on the church, on any committee, house of bishops, or delegates. We had been blessed by God in our union. “Hey God– they’re going to bless and include.” And God said “Been there, done that!” It was and is, in a way, too little too late. Lord, forgive the wrongs done in the name of God. To those still bound up in prejudice and judgment and misinterpretation of the Gospel I can only say “Let it go!” Enough– If you did not find the blessing of love with a person of the same gender, what’s it to you anyway? And who are you to deny a fellow believer either their rights or rites.

  5. Carolyn Brown says:

    Springfield Bishop Daniel Martins also added, “In plainer language, here’s what this means: If a Eucharistic Community of the diocese wishes to conduct a same-sex wedding, it will first, through its rector or senior warden, inform me of this desire. We will then arrange an in-person meeting between the Mission Leadership Team, the Rector, and me. The first purpose of this meeting will be to discern whether there is indeed a consensus around the desire to hold such a ceremony. If a consensus is evident, we will discuss the terms, conditions, and length of the relationship between that Eucharistic Community and another bishop of the Episcopal Church. It will then be my responsibility to find such a bishop, to whom I will refer all the routine components of spiritual, pastoral, and sacramental oversight, including regular visitations, for an agreed-upon season. In temporal matters, such as participation in synod and payment of assessments, nothing will change.”

    “ I have just outlined the procedure for making that happen in our incorporated Eucharistic Communities. This may seem a minor point, but, as far as I can tell, there is nothing in it that nullifies my earlier prohibition on clergy of this diocese presiding at same-sex weddings outside the diocese. That pastoral regulation, in the context of a cleric’s vow of obedience to his or her bishop, remains in force.”

    The Eucharistic Communities that are unincorporated are the following:
    glen carbon
    granite city
    springfield: St Luke’s
    west frankfort

    1. David Fleer says:

      Bp. Martins described the detail procedure he and his diocese would follow in the event two of his parishioners (same-sex) desired to marry. Imagine the tumult had he proposed the same process for hetero couples who wanted to marry in the diocese! Is the extraordinary scrutiny of gay couples’ desire to marry the price we must pay for our love to be acknowledged? And why only in the Diocese of Springfield? What is it about the southern half of Illinois that necessitates extraordinary measures to ensure the purity of … something?

  6. Josh Thomas says:

    The Bishop of Albany reveals his homophobic bigotry in his own speech about “how best to help people who find themselves in same-sex relationships.” Like they just woke up one day only to find they’re in the middle of Highway 101. “Help!”

    Like all such persons, Bishop Love and his cohorts learned to fear being accused of homosexuality on the streets, in their churches, playgrounds and schools, and in their homes years before they ever took up theology. An open-minded seminarian doesn’t wake up one day “only to find that” God hates Gay sex, so he must too. The rest is all post-hoc proof-texting.

    1. Mark Bigley says:

      There is a saying in a book, I think it’s the Bible, where someone named Jesus, tells people to “take the log out of your own eye first…” Perhaps you have none?

      1. Vernon Sheldon-Witter says:

        Or Perhaps there was no log in the first place. Ever think of that?

  7. Bronson de Stadler says:

    We are all one. To divide us is to allow sin to enter our lives. Jesus made no comments on intimate same sex relationships (to say they did not exist is ludicrous), but he had a lot to say about love and the “larger picture” of our humanity. Let us stick to that larger vision and his words.

    1. John A. Renick says:

      Didn’t Jesus say, “the Scripture cannot be broken?” [John 10:35] He did not have to comment on “intimate same sex relationships.” Leviticus had already said, “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable” [20:13]. Jesus also said, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me” [John 5:46], and “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” [Matthew 22:29]. If Jesus is Lord, He is right.

  8. Matt Ouellette says:

    I’m happy that gay Episcopalians will now have full access to all the sacraments regardless of geographical location.

    1. Robbie Johnson says:

      Also you folks can rejoice when those who believe in hetro marriage only are kicked out of the church!

      1. Matt Ouellette says:

        No, it’s non-affirming churches which kick out those who don’t agree with them (e.g. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, GAFCON).

  9. Kent Higgins says:

    I hope that ENS will stay on this story. The information from the dissenting dioceses is far from complete. The use once again of alternative Episcopal oversight denies those seeking the sacrament of their church in the same way of do straight couples and therefore is inequitable. I accept that bishops are troubled by what they see as an erosion of their authority, but when they use that authority to tear down relationships rather than to build up the church they do no good thing.

    1. Kent Higgins says:

      Sorry – should be “in the same way as do.”

  10. Tom Downs says:

    Like most resolutions this one doesn’t have the precision and detail to cover all possible interpretations. However, the sense seems clear: marriage ceremonies. In doing so it limits a bishop’s authority in that one narrow area. Of course bishops who want to make its use as onerous as possible will write understandings into the resolution that were never intended, such as alternative episcopal oversight. Bp Martin should have been a lawyer.

  11. Al Blackwell says:

    I think the fact that gets overlooked is a rather simple one: If the Church’s legislative body has said that clergy of the Church may bless a same-sex relationship it stands to reason that a Bishop, who is bound to support the canons and constitution of that same legislative body, cannot invalidate the right to perform that ceremony. No one is being force to do anything. People are being given the right to do what the Church has already approved. The bishops who still wish to put roadblocks in the way of Clergy who are just doing what the Church has approved, such as Bishop Martins with his prohibition of Clergy participating in a Same-Sex Marriage outside his diocese, seem to position themselves as superior to General Convention. This smacks of the days when female clergy were opposed. The odd thing is that these morally superior bishops don’t seem to have a proble with the remarriage of divorced people in their diocese (as they should not) but if you want to talk about clear biblical prohibitions there is one but it would infringe on the rights of heterosexual couples of which we assume they are a part.

  12. Will Andrew says:

    Bishop Martins is in error if he believes he can prohibit his clergy from officiating at same-sex marriages outside his diocese. The beginning of the resolution makes clear the rites are authorized for trial use without any conditions (unlike the 2015 resolution, which specifically required bishop’s authorization to proceed). His only responsibility as bishop is to refer his clergy to another bishop should they need episcopal oversight of a remarriage case or some other pastoral need relating to an upcoming marriage. All of this is clearly stated in the resolution. If the bishop attempts to pull this stunt, affected clergy should immediately appeal.

  13. John White says:

    As a parishioner in the Diocese of Albany, I have little hope that our diocesan will yield to the decisions of General Convention. When the decision of the whole church conflicts with his personal convictions, many of us feel that he will have no problem in declaring the resolution of GC to be void. Will this inevitably set up a confrontation with the national church? Despite the clear challenge to the supremacy of GC, many of us doubt that the national leadership has the will to effectively challenge such action by Albany. I hope someone will declare me wrong.

    1. christopher seitz says:

      You raise an interesting question about the status of GC resolutions as such.

      The chancellors for the HOB themselves urged the inclusion of reference to Canon III.6.9(a). The implication of this is that resolutions are themselves subject to canons.

      One could well imagine a position that says, until resolutions have the force of canons, they are not binding but rather speak the mind of an individual convention only.

      Do not shoot the messenger. Obviously there are canons and constitutions for good reasons of order. B012 is in many ways confused at the level of workable polity.

  14. Douglas Daze says:

    TEC has gone the way of the Roman Empire. It is collapsing under its own decay. We left when we saw it happening and we couldn’t save it. You either believe the Bible or you don’t. I realize that we have had two thousand years of theological study and reflection and that if God had more than six days to do everything he would have come up with the same decision as TEC but give God a break. He’s only human! Avoid the millstone being tied around your neck. Don’t keep going. Repent and come back to the Lord.

    1. Donald Caron says:

      There are many Christians of all denominations who rely upon a literal, un-contextualized understanding of the Bible. Few scholars would agree with the application of those few verses that seem to condemn same-sex relationships to the question of marriage.

  15. Bill Louis says:

    “The Communion Partners, including seven of the eight bishops who had blocked gay marriage in their dioceses, affirmed their desire to “maintain the communion of our dioceses within the Episcopal Church,” despite differences over Christian teachings.”
    What went on here is some good old ECUSA bullying similar to what went on with the threat to cancel the convention in the city of Austin if they didn’t comply with cross gender bathroom usage. The ECUSA needed only to remind the non-conforming bishops that their assets belong to the EC and if they wanted to continue to have a Diocese they better fall in line.

    1. Jordan Sakal says:

      Mr. Louis,

      I highly doubt that there was any form of “good old ECUSA bullying” going on either in this situation where LGBTQ+ personages like myself are being extended the same rights, rites, and courtesies extended to you as a (presumedly) heterosexual male member of the same Episcopal Church or in the situation where the church threatened to cancel the convention in Austin. The fact of the matter is, TEC stood up for its trans brothers and sisters in that scenario because to do otherwise would be an anaethema to the very teachings of Christ himself (Love one another as I have loved you), to do so otherwise would also affirm that transphobia, or homophobia have a place in this church and they most certainly do not!

      1. Bill Louis says:

        Mr Sakal,

        My comment wasn’t directed at you or your sexual preferences but at the EC. You are entitled to your rights just like everyone else in the EC. What I am objecting to is having the rights of others violated for the sake of some. If the bishops in question feel they do not want to perform same sex marriages because of their beliefs then they shouldn’t be forced (or bullied) by the Progressive ECUSA to do it against their will. If you feel that is homophobic then that’s your problem.

        1. Vernon Sheldon-Witter says:

          But it is Homophobic-and hate and fear are against every Christiaan teaching I have ever read in the Bible, Prayer Book, Christian History or Theology textbook It has been my privilege to read. Or the Homilies of all Bishops I have heard. Except for the 8 Bishops mentioned in this article.
          Just Sayin Mr. St. Louis, perhaps you did not hear the fear in the 10-minute whine of the Bishop of Albany.

          1. Bill Louis says:

            You fail to see my point so I’m done here. Your comment is smug, typical and unaccepting of the opinion of others. As well read as you say you are I would think you would be more inclusive of those that have different opinions. Also typical is calling those that don’t agree with you homophobic, un-Christian. Just sayin.

        2. Jordan Sakal says:

          Mr. Louis,

          Your language regarding sexual orientation is degrading. Being gay is not a “lifestyle choice” or truly a “preference.” It is a matter of biology, I was born gay much like the hundreds of thousand or millions of others in this country and throughout the world. The Bishop’s rights are not being violated, the bishops are not being forced to perform the marriages, rather to allow them to occur in diocese.

          Why is it that you (or those bishops) cannot seem to handle the granting of the same rights which you already enjoy to other people? Is it just because you want to thumb your nose at us? I would argue then that is an un-Christlike position to take towards your brothers and sisters in Christ.

          1. Robbie Johnson says:

            A person is not born gay! It is a choice. It is an abomination and a sin. Scripture makes this clear starting with the 19th chapter of Genesis!

          2. Matt Ouellette says:

            You are seriously mistaken, Robbie. All evidence indicates homosexuality is not a choice. That is a myth perpetuated by homophobic groups who refuse to follow the science on this issue, and you should refrain from spreading this lie. Also, it is not clear that homosexuality is condemned by Scripture, and it can be interpreted in an affirming way (read God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines).

          3. Jordan Sakal says:

            Mr. Johnson,

            This will surprise you, but Hi, you’ve now met your first gay person here on these boards (I am not the only one here but I felt like saying hi.) I can tell you immediately that I did not choose to be gay, just as you did not choose to be straight. I can tell you with all of the honesty that my brain and heart possesses that I have never been attracted to the female sex. I have no biological, psychological, or physical attraction to females whatsoever. This is not a mental disorder, I am not broken, I am not diseased, I am not an abomination or subhuman.

            Your God may be a God of hate who has poisoned your heart, my God is a God who wraps me in His Love and support. I am a proud gay man and an even prouder Christian and Episcopalian.

          4. Robbie Johnson says:

            Don’t worry. The LGBT now governs the Episcopal Church. Their next move is to kick out those who express support for hetrosexual marriage. After this they will work with the government to shut down all churches that refuse to bow to the LGBT agenda. The LGBT is already seeing to it that those who voice opposition to the homosexual lifestyle are fired from their job, lose their health insurance and social security.

          5. Matt Ouellette says:

            Robbie, everything about your comment is ridiculous and false. I don’t know where you are getting your information, but it is obviously not from a credible source.

        3. Donald Caron says:

          Mr. Louis, In recognizing the rights of your fellow Episcopalians to a marriage in their church, I fail to see how your rights have been abrogated. You may choose not to participate.

          1. Bill Louis says:

            Mr Caron,
            Use of the term “rights” is only because Mr Sakal used it. There is no “right” to be married in the EC The Bible speaks of marriage as between a man and a woman and the policy of the church has been to marry opposite sex couples for the purpose of procreation and mutual support, or love. There are those that twist scripture in an attempt to prove that marriage in the EC should be for all combinations of sexes. Not so according to the practice of the EC over the lat 200 years. Now the PC crowd wants to change it and the EC is bowing to the pressure. To suggest if I don’t like it I may choose not to participate is offensive. You have the same choice.

          2. Charlene R Cook says:

            Bill Louis – I have to agree with you in your response of today.

          3. Jordan Sakal says:

            Mr. Louis,

            According to the Bishops and the Deputies there is now a right and rite to marriage for LGBTQ+ couples in the Episcopal Church or did you not understand what they are legislating over (for the lack of a better term to come to mind) on the creation of language for use in the Book of Common Prayer for LGBTQ+ couples (and heterosexual couples who want to use a separate rite of marriage) for the ordination/blessing/sanctifying of LGBTQ+ weddings.

            The purpose of marriage is not only for procreation, rather it is for the sanctification of love. (do you believe that heterosexual couples who cannot procreate due to health issues or personal choice are not religiously married?– That is the slippery slope you are operating under.

            Lastly, it is not that “PC attitudes” or the “PC Crowd” has forced the hands of the Episcopal Church, rather it is the fact that theological understandings have changed, just as they have regarding the ordination/place of women in the church, or the issue of slavery, or so many other issues. Opening up the sacramental rite of marriage to LGBTQ+ couples does not infringe upon the heterosexual couples who enjoy that selfsame rite, it does not invalidate or devalue or debase your marriage. Just because you theologically oppose marriage rites (and rights) for LGBTQ+ couples does not mean you have the right to deny gay couples access to them.

  16. Doug Desper says:

    The spirit of this headline is appalling: “bishops who blocked”. For a Church that brags incessantly about a big tent, generous orthodoxy, and yada, yada, yada the leading liberal voices have quickly faded as they speak about dissent and have moved from “we need their voices” to “bishops who blocked”. So begins the liberal enforcement of a new orthodoxy: to shame and stigmatize. What might escape the attention of ENS and others is that there is no consensus in the Church at all about the rightness and scriptural grounding of same gender marriage. The tone of this headline and article sounds familiar remembering the voice of a leading liberal bishop who taunted orthodox African bishops by saying that they can be bought for a chicken dinner. So, in truth, ENS and certain loud progressives are really saying, “We don’t need your voices. You don’t conform.”

    1. Robbie Johnson says:

      The Episcopal Church quit listening to conservative Bible believing members several years ago. Led by the LGBTQ zealots, the only response the church leaders have to conservative views is to dismiss them by terms homophpbes and haters!

      1. Charlene R Cook says:

        Robbie Johnson – I agree with all that you have stated in your responses here. Sadly, being a conservative Episcopalian is frowned upon…………parishioners will be leaving churches in droves……….

        1. Jordan Sakal says:


          It is not being “conservative” that is being frowned upon, just like being “liberal” is not being celebrated. What is happening here is that the same rights and rites (in TEC) which exist for heterosexual couples are now being extended to LGBTQ+ couples. The heterosexual right/rite to marriage in the church is not being taken away. Heterosexuals are not being threatened or turned away. It is okay to be inclusive.

    2. Matt Ouellette says:

      I’ve yet to see conservatives excommunicated for opposing the validity of same-sex marriages. And yet, in many conservative denominations like the Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and even several GAFCON churches, you would be excommunicated for speaking out in favor of marriage equality. So I would say that conservatives in TEC are treated with much greater respect than progressives are in non-affirming churches.

      1. Jordan Sakal says:


        Beyond the threat of excommunication, don’t forget that those GAFCON churches also support calls for the deaths of LGBTQ+ people. It is not just religiously where we as LGBT+ Christians are threatened but also our lives as well.

        1. Robbie Johnson says:

          What are GAFCON churches? Never heard of ’em.

          1. Jordan Sakal says:

            GAFCON (Global African Conference) Churches are those that believe in “authentic Anglicanism” or that they are “authentically Anglican.” Mostly this set of churches believes that women should not be ordained and that gays should be excommunicated/killed and that they also do not belong in the church.

      2. Robbie Johnson says:

        I guess you are correct. In the Episcopal Church conservatives are simply ignored or have the hateful labels homophobe or bigot thrown at them.

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          And conservatives attack right back with labels like “heretic” or “gay agenda.” You even repeated the myth that being gay is a choice. So don’t think your side is so high and moral.

          1. Robbie Johnson says:

            I worked in a private boarding school twenty years ago. One of the young male teachers trumpeted the gay lifestyle. On several occassions he went into the dorm and tried to recruit cadets to the gay lifestyle. This happened over a period of about three weeks until the head of the school found out what was happening. After being informed about the situation this predator gay was fired immediately!

          2. Jordan Sakal says:


            The “predator/y gay” what is this? a salacious anti-gay propaganda film from the 1950s? What are you next going to warn us about, having integrated schools or “coloreds” being allowed in the same restaurants/places of business as white folk?

          3. Robbie Johnson says:

            Jordan Sakal I was not quoting a propaganda film. It was a person who openly proclaimed to other staff members that he is a practicing homosexual. As far as your comment about me warning about certain individuals using public accommodations, you are way off base. Homosexual behavior is a choice one makes. Skin color is not.

      3. Doug Desper says:

        Matt, no one stretched to talk about excommunication. However, listening to incessant societal re-engineering, Biblical relativism, and near-identical Democrat party talking points from leading voices and in weekly sermons has lead enough Episcopalians to just sit it out on Sundays. When the accelerator floored to push through the marriage redefinition one talking point was that we have to “try it out” to see if it is valid. That’s ridiculous. No one believes that once tried that marriage redefinition will be walked back. At some point this Church will have to move away from social engineering and ponder where all of our members have gone. Or, perhaps those at the top kinda like a special sort of member who goes along and doesn’t ask questions – which says a lot about the true value given to all orders of ministry. By 2035 we’ll see the end product. Studying the current rate of death and attrition shows that circa 2035 will see the Episcopal Church collide with history to become about as numerous and relevant as the Shakers once were. Lots of dead Episcopalian’s money will keep the lights on here and there. It’s in the hands of those above and what they will yet learn is the big question.

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          I see, so your problem is that you don’t like how TEC challenges secular conservative positions which are at odds with Christian morality (like how it is wrong to kidnap children from their parents at the border). I’m sorry, but the church should not change its approach just because it makes secular conservatives uncomfortable. It’s not social re-engineering to be expand the sacrament of marriage to include gay couples. It’s based on a theological interpretation of scripture that, apparently, you don’t agree with. Sure, there are some in the church with extremely liberal theology who supported marriage equality primarily on secular grounds. That doesn’t mean all affirming Christians supported it because of secularism. How about you try reading arguments from more affirming Christians who base their position on firm theological grounds (e.g. Matthew Gunter, Matthew Vines, James Brownson, Rowan Williams) instead of dismissing those you disagree with as just wanting to follow secular liberalism.

        2. Robbie Johnson says:

          I believe the last Shaker died in the 1980s. I last Episcopalian will probably be buried in the late 2030s or early 2040s.

          1. Jordan Sakal says:


            On January 2, 2017, Sister Frances Carr died aged 89 at the Sabbathday community, leaving only two remaining Shakers: Brother Arnold Hadd, age 58 and Sister June Carpenter, 77. Just so you know there are two left 😉 and as I and my partner are Episcopalians in their 20s I highly doubt we will be the last ones come the 2030s/40s. For a fact, I know that my church community has a large and active youth ministry/lots of younger kids.

          2. Robbie Johnson says:

            It should have read, The last Episcopalian will robably be buried…..

  17. Jordan Sakal says:


    I did not say you were quoting such a film, I was rather inferring that you yourself were spouting off the information contained in such a film, portraying gays like myself as predators and dangers to society. It is the same sort of attacking misinformation that portrayed African Americans and others as dangers in society too.

    Furthermore, according to current scientific research by animal biologists, homosexual behaviours of all forms (sex, courtship, affection, pair bonding, and parenting) exists in over 1,500 animals species (including humans.) I don’t know about you but that is pretty convincing to me that being gay is biological, not a choice.

    1. Robbie Johnson says:

      To bring this exchange to an end. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. Neither of us will move from the position each of us have decided to take. I wish for you the best.

  18. Gale Erwin says:

    It is my hope that none of these people quit their jobs over the election results & remain champions for Christ by forging new paths by focusing on the tangible needs of society & reconciling with the Episcopalian clergy who were detached from the Episcopal Church(Who are willing to return to the priesthood).The Episcopal Church should focus a massive amount of energy toward things such as:building stable housing,providing training,medical clinics,& sustenance for those who are homeless,retired,or the working class poor.The Church should spearhead a campaign to focus their energy toward training leaders of today’s corporate society/ world businesses to focus on human ethics within their business model that respects the dignity of all who are employed by the company,are consumers of its services,or are touched by it’s environmental footprints.

    1. Freda Marie says:

      THANK YOU Gale! My sentiments EXACTLY.

      P.S. I LOVE my friends, ALL of them regardless of their sexual orientation. I LOVE THEM and will do anything for them; because they are my FRIENDS.

      Let’s keep our eyes on the PRIZE shall we?

  19. Bill Thompson says:

    Where is the love of Christ in the vitriolic conversation? I’m a 8 decade cradle Episcopalian. I recall days gone by when the same language was poured out over interracial marriage. It required a supreme court decision to allow that relationship just as it has with same sex marriage. Why was it not decided in the hearts of Christians, though love, before a secular court had to remind us of what love and companionship is all about? My wife and I know a number of same sex couples who have marriages with all of the love and mutual support found in heterosex couples. One thing we admire in them as contrasted with out nigh 50 year marriage is that those couples have had to weather external forces that we have not and still they bond together. I am evermore strongly drawn to the simple idea that we, the body of Christ, should stand for love among the body and let God sort it out if any of the manifestation of love are not to His liking. I think He loves more about us than what goes on in our bedrooms.

    1. Robbie Johnson says:

      Letting God “sort it out later” (if you believe what the Bible says about homosexual behavior) could result in eternal separation from God.

      1. Matt Ouellette says:

        If we are worrying about separation from God, I would be more concerned about homophobia than marriage equality.

      2. Jordan Sakal says:


        God, through his son Jesus Christ, commanded us to love one another as we loved Him. (See: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). and “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).)

        How can we (as gays) face “eternal separation from God” if we live by these commands? If we love God with all of our hearts and devote our lives to His Word we are serving him righteously. Surely then condemnation will not come from God, but those who choose to ignore Christ and ignore the command of God.

        1. Robbie Johnson says:

          I do not know. Of course I do not know the “mind of God”. Perhaps you all are right and the Bible is wrong when it comes to homosexuality. I guess wr should toss our Bibles in the trash due to them being full of error and useless to us living in the 21st century. If the Bible is wrong, perhaps all of us are heading to the flames of hell!

          1. Jordan Sakal says:


            The Bible is not the guiding light of Christendom, the Bible was written by men, men who are falliable and broken and can be wrong (and proved wrong.) Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ issued forth a new set of commandments that we have discussed previously as the guiding principles of the Church. Those principles are what we should be listening to as Christians. The Bible is a framework, the Word and Command of Christ is our guiding light, that above all.

          2. Robbie Johnson says:

            So The Holy Spirit had nothing to do with the formation of the Bible?

          3. Jordan Sakal says:


            The fact of the matter is that sections of the Bible were written ten, twenty, fifty, or hundreds of years after the life of Christ and the Apostles. The writers of the Bible were writing with second or sometimes third-hand information. However, what we can take as fact, the words of Christ himself.

          4. Robbie Johnson says:

            From what I understand many liberals, perhaps most, do not believe there is The Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit).

          5. Jordan Sakal says:


            From my own personal experience I do believe in the Holy Spirit. Your experience may differ though.

          6. Robbie Johnson says:

            I do believe in The Holy Ghost. I believe the Bible is just a book written by men. The Holy Spirit has a major part in the making of the Bible. The Holy Spirit does not make mistakes, nor is it wrong.

          7. Robbie Johnson says:

            Actually I meant to write the Bible is not just a book composed (written) by men.

          8. Matt Ouellette says:

            Yes, the Holy Spirit had an important role in inspiring the authors of the various books of the Bible (as well as inspiring the Church to recognize and canonize those books as Scripture), but that doesn’t mean that the Scriptures are inerrant in all things. There are many contradictions amongst the various texts in the Bible, as any scholar can point out. I don’t believe that inspiration means the Holy Spirit completely removes the autonomy of the authors. The Scriptures were still shaped by the historical and cultural contexts in which they were written, and we should acknowledge that. Doing so is being more faithful to the texts, not less faithful.

  20. Vernon Sheldon-Witter says:

    Do the Parishioners, Priests and Bishop of Springfield et al have an image implanted in their brains that all married LGBT People are unfaithful to their spouses. If so they need to be challenged. Bishop Martins is an equal opportunity offender in that regard. My Marriage is closed and my Husband and I are faithful Spouses, as are most of the Marriages of LGBT People that I know. The contortions they have gone through to block our participation in this Sacramental Rite are truly amazing.

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