Magazine article The Christian Century

Episcopal Church Adopts Same-Sex Liturgy, Causing 'Distress' for Some Anglicans

Magazine article The Christian Century

Episcopal Church Adopts Same-Sex Liturgy, Causing 'Distress' for Some Anglicans

Article excerpt

THE 2-MILLION-MEMBER Episcopal Church voted overwhelmingly on July 1 to let gay and lesbian couples marry in the church's religious ceremonies, reinforcing its support for same-sex nuptials days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.

Meeting in Salt Lake City for its 78th General Convention, the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops to approve a canonical change that eliminates a written definition of marriage as between a man and a woman and authorizes two new marriage rites for same-sex or different-sex couples. Among the changes to church laws on marriage, the words husband and wife will be replaced with the couple.

Clergy can decline to perform same-sex marriages without incurring a penalty or punishment, and bishops can refuse to allow same-sex marriages in their dioceses. So same-sex Episcopal couples seeking a church wedding could find themselves having to go somewhere other than their home church or even their home diocese.

The move by the Episcopal Church, part of the Anglican Communion, contrasts with the position of the Church of England, which secured an exemption from ever having to perform a gay marriage ceremony when Parliament passed a law in 2014 making same-sex marriage legal.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, head of the 80-million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, said in a statement that he is deeply concerned about the Episcopal vote.

The Episcopal decision "will cause distress for some and have ramifications for the Anglican Communion as a whole," Welby's statement said. He called for "the strengthening of the interdependent relationships between provinces, so that in the face of adversity and disagreement, Anglicans may be a force for peace and seek to respond to the Lord Jesus's prayer that 'they may be one so that the world may believe' (John 17:21). …

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