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January 8, 2013


Great News: The National Cathedral is Now Available for Gay Weddings

A friend in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington sends along this email distributed Tuesday, January 8, by Dean Gary Hall of the National Cathedral.

A Message from Cathedral Dean Gary Hall

Dear friends of the Cathedral,

I am writing to announce that, effective immediately, same-sex weddings may be celebrated at Washington National Cathedral, which has a long history of advancing equality for people of all faiths and perspectives. The Cathedral is called to serve as a gathering place for the nation in times of significance, but it is also rooted in its role as the most visible faith community within the Episcopal Church. For more than 30 years, the Episcopal Church has prayed and studied to discern the evidence of God’s blessing in the lives of same-sex couples. It is now only fitting that the National Cathedral follow suit. We enthusiastically affirm each person as a beloved child of God—and doing so means including the full participation of gays and lesbians in the life of this spiritual home for the nation.

Consistent with the canons of the Episcopal Church, the Cathedral will begin celebrating same-sex marriage ceremonies using a rite adapted from an existing blessing ceremony approved in August 2012 by the Church at its General Convention. That approval allowed for the bishops who oversee each diocese within the Church to decide whether or not to allow the rite’s use or to allow celebration of same-sex marriage. In light of the legality of civil marriage for same-sex couples in the District of Columbia and Maryland, Bishop Mariann Budde announced last month that the diocese would now allow this expansion of the sacrament, which then led to my decision for the Cathedral’s adaptation of the same-sex rite.

In my 35 years of ordained ministry, some of the most personally inspiring work I have witnessed has been among gay and lesbian communities where I have served. I consider it a great honor to lead this Cathedral as it takes another historic step toward greater equality—and I am pleased that this step follows the results made clear in this past November’s election, when three states voted to allow same-sex marriage.

Matters of human sexual identity and questions about the Church’s role in blessing lifelong, committed relationships between its members are serious issues around which feelings run high and people of good will can often disagree. It is my hope and prayer that, if all of us open ourselves to the fullness and diversity of our nation’s many voices, we will learn to walk together in a new way as we listen for God’s call to us to be faithful to each other and to God.

I must also take this opportunity to stress that the same guidelines for couples eligible to be married at the Cathedral stay in effect. All weddings at the Cathedral are conducted as Christian marriages in which the couple commits to lifelong faithfulness, love, forbearance, and mutual comfort. At least one person in the couple, therefore, must have been baptized. Only couples directly affiliated with the life of the Cathedral—as active, contributing members of the congregation; as alumni or alumnae of the Cathedral schools; as individuals who have made significant volunteer or donor contributions over a period of time; or those judged to have played an exceptional role in the life of the nation—are eligible to be married at the Cathedral.

The Episcopal Church has shown faithfulness and courage in the long discernment process that led to the development and approval of this rite. The Diocese of Washington has similarly been a leader in the implementation of marriage equality. I have shared this decision with the Chapter and staff prior to this announcement, and I am proud that Washington National Cathedral will be among the first Episcopal institutions to adopt and implement a rite that will enable our faithful LGBT members to share in the sacramental blessings of Christian marriage.

Gary Hall
Dean


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32 comments

Caligula wants to marry his horse.  Can they hire vergers to clean the aisles afterwards?

[1] Posted by Bill2 on 1-8-2013 at 11:35 PM · [top]

No surprise.  The Metropolitan Church with vestments.

[2] Posted by Br. Michael on 1-9-2013 at 07:28 AM · [top]

He sure makes the blessing sound like a marriage rite doesn’t he?

[3] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 1-9-2013 at 07:48 AM · [top]

UGP,
“He sure makes the blessing sound like a marriage rite doesn’t he?”

“Consistent with the canons of the Episcopal Church, the Cathedral will begin celebrating same-sex marriage ceremonies using a rite adapted from an existing blessing ceremony approved in August 2012 by the Church at its General Convention.”

I am confused here. I thought General Convention only approved a blessing rite. How did we get to a marriage rite? Although we all knew the blessing rite was merely a transitional one.

This is not just a covenant between two people. All present agree to it. Caveat emptor.

[4] Posted by Fr. Dale on 1-9-2013 at 08:53 AM · [top]

Let there be clarity.  As Pink Floyd said, “Another brick in the wall.”

[5] Posted by Looking for Leaders on 1-9-2013 at 09:19 AM · [top]

According to Bishop Vono of the Diocese of Rio Grande, the blessing ceremony is not a marriage:

“It’s not a marriage in any way,” Vono said in an interview Sunday. “It’s not a legal marriage. It’s not a marriage in the church. This is a recognition of a commitment, which is a covenant, of two people who vow to live their lives in a monogamous relationship.”

According to Dean Hall, it is.

So which is it?  Or is it both a dessert topping and a floor cleaner?

[6] Posted by Martha on 1-9-2013 at 09:24 AM · [top]

He sure does make it sound like a marriage rite, adapted from the approved blessing rite for same sex couples. Does this mean any bishop has the right to change the meaning of a sacrament in his diocese without a change in the prayer book or change in the church’s canons? Sure seems that way. Oh well , more drama sure to come!

Blessings

seraph

[7] Posted by seraph on 1-9-2013 at 09:24 AM · [top]

#3, #4, the press release sounds like these are going to be marriages, the marriage rite “adapted from” the same-sex blessing rite passed by General Convention.  SS marriage is legal in the District and in Maryland where the Diocese runs.  Evidently adherence to General Convention is optional if the direction of the change is more “progressive” than GC.  It has been so for decades.

[8] Posted by Katherine on 1-9-2013 at 09:26 AM · [top]

They will never again get another dime from me. For many years, when I’ve been in DC on a Sunday, I’ve worshiped there. Not again. No matter how good the music is.

The schism deepens and widens.

[9] Posted by Ralph on 1-9-2013 at 09:35 AM · [top]

I agree with Ralph #9. Until the temple is cleansed and re-consecrated, I can’t see going there to worship.

[10] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 1-9-2013 at 09:38 AM · [top]

Well, that’s one place I will not take my children to visit whenever we go to Washington D.C.  That’s too bad for them.  However, I will not subject them to that most blatant form of paganism.

[11] Posted by Cranmerian on 1-9-2013 at 10:07 AM · [top]

Revisionists are not obliged to follow resolutions of General Convention when they don’t want to.  Only the orthodox are bound.

[12] Posted by Br. Michael on 1-9-2013 at 10:20 AM · [top]

I have a sense that this is not the end to the sexual revolution in TEC. There have to be more causes out there. NAMBLA would appear to be one since it has love in its name.

[13] Posted by Pb on 1-9-2013 at 10:28 AM · [top]

I guess there’s always possibility for another earthquake. 

My old man, who pushed the NCA years in my home state - is doing about 1,000 RPM in his grave right now.

[14] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 1-9-2013 at 11:33 AM · [top]

Pb [#13],

To avoid being misogynistic and exclusive, won’t NAMBLA have to change its name to the North American Older Person - Younger Person Love Association, or perhaps the North American Adult-Minor Love Association, before TEC can bless it as a cause worth pursuing?  NAAMLA looks to me like a better acronym than NAOPYPLA.
wink

[15] Posted by Daniel on 1-9-2013 at 12:36 PM · [top]

  Only couples directly affiliated with the life of the Cathedral—as active, contributing members of the congregation; as alumni or alumnae of the Cathedral schools; as individuals who have made significant volunteer or donor contributions over a period of time; or those judged to have played an exceptional role in the life of the nation—are eligible to be married at the Cathedral.

Well, it’s great to know that they have standards about who they will marry. 

Sounds suspiciously like the evil 1%.

[16] Posted by hanks on 1-9-2013 at 12:38 PM · [top]

They are trending on Bing. Hope it was worth it.

[17] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 1-9-2013 at 12:39 PM · [top]

“...if all of us open ourselves to the fullness and diversity of our nation’s many voices, we will learn to walk together in a new way as we listen for God’s call to us to be faithful to each other and to God.” 

And by “us” and “we,” of course, the Very Open Gary Hall means those of you bigots who need to repent of the sin of opposing equality for people.

[18] Posted by tired on 1-9-2013 at 03:10 PM · [top]

I guess one earthquake was not enough….

[19] Posted by Publius on 1-9-2013 at 03:40 PM · [top]

SpongJohn, for TEc it is ALWAYS about trending on Bing. Has there ever been an organization as desperate for attention as these people? Give ‘em enough rope…

[20] Posted by polycarp on 1-9-2013 at 03:43 PM · [top]

When Gary Hall was dean of Seabury-Western seminary (which, following his tenure, is still alive in name only), he led in founding the “Chicago Consultation” and still serves on its steering committee.  The organization’s goals are:

  To strengthen the movement toward the blessing of same sex relationships.
  To advance the inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in all orders of ministry.
  To strengthen the Anglican Communion’s witness against racism, poverty, sexism, heterosexism, and other interlocking oppressions.

So, I think we can look forward to a lot more of this agenda being proclaimed from the pulpit of the once-great National Cathedral.

The Rev. (Professor) Ruth Meyers, who is on the Consultation’s steering committee, moved to the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) following the demise of Seabury-Western.  She is chair of TEC’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. It was she who got the $400,000 grant from the Arcus Foundation which was used to develop and promote the liturgy for same sex blessings approved at last year’s General Convention.

And, incidentally, the Rev. Gay Jennings, who is now president of the House of Deputies, is also on the steering committee of the Chicago Consultation, so that gives you an idea of the direction of the leadership of the House of Deputies, committee appointments, etc.

[21] Posted by radrector on 1-9-2013 at 04:04 PM · [top]

Martha, Good point. If what GC approved was a same sex blessing then these will not be marriages. Many liberals even said so (must be true!) but now it seems that these can indeed be “marriages”. Makes the decision by Bishop Lawrence very wise indeed!  So what he feared might happen has indeed come to be.  SO glad to not be part of this “church” (TEC) anymore.

[22] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 1-9-2013 at 05:08 PM · [top]

I just heard his interview on NPR which included the reporter saying,“You’ve been blessing same-sex unions for 20 years.”  He didn’t deny it and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had been doing that longer.  I guess what gets under my skin was the decades of defying the church teaching and being given a pass.  That was the shepherds not doing their job.  Now that the radicals control ship TitantEC, it’s hot and cold running depositions for bucking the agenda.  As long as you’re being more radical in the proper direction you can count on people looking the other way.  A lawless organization, I’m glad I’m gone.

[23] Posted by rwkachur on 1-9-2013 at 05:13 PM · [top]

One additional note here.  Despite the news release, there is probably no real news here.  I am reasonably certain that the Cathedral has been the location of same-sex marriages ever since they were legalized in the District of Columbia several years ago.  What is new is Dean Hall, who just arrived this fall.  I suspect the former dean Sam Lloyd was not such an enthusiast for SSMs, and did not issue press statements concerning same.  Dean Hall on the other hand seems to like to see his name in the paper.  Nice article in the Wash Post this AM—last month was the Big Sermon on Gun Control (“take on the Gun Lobby”).  Maybe later this season we will have something on global warming and/ or immigration.

[24] Posted by Dick Mitchell on 1-9-2013 at 05:24 PM · [top]

The National Cathedral is now named Icabod!

[25] Posted by Dave B on 1-9-2013 at 08:23 PM · [top]

Martha (#6) and SC blu cat lady (#22), it is really very simple, what GC passed was a liturgy for blessing “committed same sex relationships.”  In states (or DC) where same sex marriages are legal, then the relationship being blessed is a marriage.  In states where same sex marriages are not legal (such as New Mexico), then, obviously, the relationship being blessed is not a marriage, at least not in the eyes of the law.  But you still have the church’s (or supposedly God’s?) blessing being given to a sexual relationship that for all intents and purposes resembles marriage, except for the lack of civil legal recognition.

So Bp. Vono is being disingenuous in not calling them marriages and hiding behind the fact that New Mexico and Texas don’t recognize same sex marriages.  But then how does Bp. Vono explain the church giving a blessing to two people who are engaged in a sexual relationship that is not marriage?

And what will happen when when there are hundreds or thousands of same sex couples in states where same sex marriages aren’t legal who are nevertheless living in relationships that have been blessed by a church?  It will be a powerful tool to force reluctant legislators to vote to bless same sex marriages, won’t it?  That has been the strategy all along: use the church’s blessing to force society and the law to legitimize your behavior.

[26] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 1-10-2013 at 12:33 AM · [top]

Dr. Munday, Yes, you are probably right in your overall conclusions about this mess about SSBs. That is an especially depressing conclusion! When will this all end??

[27] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 1-10-2013 at 09:41 AM · [top]

#27 It won’t.  Evil will be in the world until Christ banishes it forever from the new heavens and new earth.

There are a couple of interesting articles linked over at Treading Grain; a feminist musing on the emptiness of her feminist life, without repudiating the ideology; and another on how the Millenial generation (The Young People) doesn’t want any religious intrusion into its sex life.  Folks are stuck in sexual sin (although the distaste for abortion is growing, so maybe some positive generational change on that front).

But I think that the whole gay, trans, poly whatev thing will just go on in our culture, much as usury and quick buck schemes have been a staple of our culture with no objection from the church.  Different evils for different generations - but some symptoms of the fallen world always with us.

I’ve been transfixed by the current Daily Office lessons from Revelation 2 and 3.  In Thyatira and Sardis, the Lord promises to reward those who remain faithful to him, even though they are enduring an evil world and a corrupt church.

“Hold fast to what you have.”

[28] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 1-10-2013 at 10:20 AM · [top]

A Roman Catholic blogger I occasionally read has an interest take on this story at
http://vivificat1.blogspot.com/2013/01/washington-national-cathedral-to-lead.html

He heard the story on NPR and gives the military associations of apostasy.

[29] Posted by off2 on 1-10-2013 at 12:02 PM · [top]

I guess one earthquake was not enough….

Please don’t wish one on the rest of us who live in the area but sharply disagree with the decision.

[30] Posted by the virginian on 1-10-2013 at 02:44 PM · [top]

I don’t know, but when your National Cathedral announces it will be performing gay marriages, how can you now deny that TEC is anything other than the Gay Church?

[31] Posted by DaveW on 1-11-2013 at 02:52 PM · [top]

Very astute observation by Dr Munday at #26

[32] Posted by MichaelA on 1-11-2013 at 08:16 PM · [top]

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