Friday, July 13, 2018

Final day of #GC79: Marriage rites approved; BCP revision defeated; and Becoming Sanctuary Church

General Convention gives church full access to same-sex marriage rites

On July 13, the House of Deputies overwhelmingly concurred with the House of Bishops and approved a resolution giving all Episcopalians the ability to be married by their priests in their home churches. The vote was: Clergy – 99 yes, 3 no, 4 divided; Lay – 101 yes, 5 no, 1 divided. No one spoke against the resolution during the short debate.

Resolution B012 took a winding road to approval, but none of the amendments changed the resolution’s goal of giving full access to two trial-use marriage rites for same-sex and opposite-sex couples that were approved by the 2015 General Convention.

The resolution provides for:
  • Giving rectors or clergy in charge of a congregation the ability to provide access to the trial-use of the marriage rites for same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Resolution A054-2015 and the original version of B012 said that clergy could only use the rites under the direction of their bishop.
  • Requiring that, if a bishop “holds a theological position that does not embrace marriage for same-sex couples,” he or she may invite another bishop, if necessary, to provide “pastoral support” to any couple desiring to use the rites, as well as to the clergy member and congregation involved. In any case, an outside bishop must be asked to take requests for remarriage if either member of the couple is divorced to fulfill a canonical requirement that applies to opposite-sex couples.
  • Continuing trial use of the rites until the completion of the next comprehensive revision of the Book of Common Prayer.

1979 BCP won’t be revised

The House of Bishops and the House of Deputies both approved a resolution that would allow congregations to use alternative, expansive-language versions of Rite II Eucharistic prayers A, B, and D in the prayer book.

Revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer was a big issue before this General Convention. Ultimately both houses voted to create new liturgical texts while continuing to use the 1979 prayer book without revision.

Here are some examples of the optional language included in the trial-use rites:
  • Priests may begin any of the three rites by saying “Blessed be God: most holy, glorious and undivided Trinity.” The current Opening Acclamation of “Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit” is also an option. In either case, the people’s response is “And blessed be God’s reign, now and for ever. Amen.”
  • At the beginning of the Great Thanksgiving in all three rites, the priest may say “God be with you” instead of “The Lord be with you.”
  • The Sanctus can now be said using “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” in addition to “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”
  • In Eucharistic Prayer A, celebrants now have the option of saying “ … you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and maker of all.” In the original version, that sentence ends with “…the God and Father of all.”
  • Eucharistic Prayer B contains an optional wording for the sentence “Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice, that we may be acceptable through him, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” The option reads “Unite us in the sacrifice of Christ, through whom we are made acceptable to you, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”
  • Eucharistic Prayer D offers the option of adding the word “matriarchs” after “patriarchs” in this sentence: “And grant that we may find our inheritance with [the Blessed Virgin Mary, with patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, (with ____) and all the saints who have found favor with you in ages past.”

Becoming a Sanctuary Church

General Convention passed three significant resolutions related to immigration. Resolution C033 puts the church on record as respecting the dignity of immigrants and outlines how public policy should reflect that belief. Resolution A178 takes a forceful stand against family separations and the treatment of immigrant families. Finally, Resolution C009 encourages Episcopalians and congregations to reach out to and support immigrants facing deportation, including by providing physical sanctuary if they choose. All three resolutions passed in both houses without anyone speaking against them and without any audible negative votes.

House of Bishops approves ethical investing in gun manufacturers

On July 12, the House of Bishops approved a resolution to develop and implement a “shareholder engagement plan” to guide dioceses, churches and individuals investing in gun manufacturers and retailers to change company policies through shareholder advocacy.

The Episcopal Church has long been an advocate for socially responsible investing in gun manufacturers. In January 2018, the church’s Executive Council authorized its Committee on Corporate and Social Responsibility to join an attempt to convince Dick’s Sporting Goods to abide by the Sandy Hook Principles developed to stem the tide of gun violence. A little more than a month later, Dick’s announced it would stop selling assault weapons.