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February 7, 2013


Austin Episcopal church to offer first same-sex blessing in Texas

This is the “model” on which the Diocese of Mississippi’s same-sex blessings will be done:

Doyle and Baker saw how divisive and energy consuming this one issue had become so they decided that there needed to be a compromise, since it was clear that the legitimacy of same-sex relationship was not a win-lose issue.

As part of the compromise, called the “Texas Compromise,” St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Houston was also given permission to offer same-sex blessings if the church wished to. So far neither church has blessed any same-sex couples, according to The Episcopal Diocese of Texas, St. David’s in Austin. However, in Houston, St. Stephen’s has two blessings scheduled for April.

Whoever wins this race to be the first Episcopal Church to bless a same-sex couple is far less important that the fact that, finally, such a race can exist.

Although members of the Episcopal church have made it clear that these gay blessings are not the same as a marriage, which many still believe is a sacrament that can only be shared between a man and a woman, it is refreshing to see a major U.S. Christian denomination recognize that same-sex relationship are valid in many of the same ways that heterosexual relationships are.
It is even more refreshing to have them recognize that the sole purpose of the church is not to police marriage rights.


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17 comments

Doyle and Baker saw how divisive and energy consuming this one issue had become so they decided that there needed to be a compromise, since it was clear that the legitimacy of same-sex relationship was not a win-lose issue.

TEC approved a rite for blessing same sex unions, and now the Diocese of Texas has started doing so.  No matter what they say, this is NOT, NOT, NOT, NOT a compromise.

Although members of the Episcopal church have made it clear that these gay blessings are not the same as a marriage…

Except in states where gay marriages are legal, in which case it IS a marriage.

The amount of bald-faced prevarication being engaged in by the Diocese of Texas is staggering, while, at the same time, not surprising.  It is what we have come to expect from TEC.  The only difference in the Diocese of Texas is that they can recruit a former Secretary of State to help them do it.

[1] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 2-7-2013 at 11:03 AM · [top]

Makes me sick that a “church” in the great state of Texas would be participating in this heresy.

[2] Posted by B. Hunter on 2-7-2013 at 11:21 AM · [top]

I should add that I made my previous comment having spent a great deal of time studying the 124 page document and the 66 page study guide and other material produced by the Diocese of Texas, and not merely on the basis of articles and press releases.

The whole approach to the issue taken by the diocese is that disagreement happens, so how do we live in unity in spite of it?—totally disregarding the fact that the reason disagreement is happening is because innovations that would have us call sin good are being introduced into the Church’s teaching and practice.

The document’s title and purported emphasis on “unity in mission” is a falsehood because it presumes that there can be unity in mission in a group that cannot agree on something as fundamental to the Church, the family, and society as the definition of marriage.  And, of course, veiling it under the notion of “compromise” and “unity” makes anyone who does not agree appear to be unreasonable and schismatic.

This undertaking by the Diocese is both a masterful accomplishment and a total waste of time.  People are going to look at same sex blessings in Austin or Houston and read them in the light of what they see happening in Massachusetts, or California, or the Washington National Cathedral; and it doesn’t really matter what Texas says or how reasonable they want to appear or how careful they have been in arriving where they are.  And that is a good thing; because when the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes, everyone recognizes it eventually.

[3] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 2-7-2013 at 11:57 AM · [top]

Note that St. David’s Rector David Boyd graduated with a Masters in Divinity from not Episcopal Divinity School, not Church Divinity School of the Pacific, but ... Nashotah House: http://stdave.org/site/about/cat/clergy/

[4] Posted by Jeff Walton on 2-7-2013 at 12:13 PM · [top]

Jeff, Given the faculty who were teaching at Nashotah House when Fr. Boyd studied there, his position is not surprising.  In the 1970’s and 1980’s it had become a much more liberal place than many were willing to recognize and others to admit.  Deo gratia, Deo gloria, things are much better now.

[5] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 2-7-2013 at 01:01 PM · [top]

Correct, marriage “rights” are not the venue of the church, however, marriage “rites” very much are.  Render unto Caesar, but you are not compelled to have the same vision of marriage as the state.  Churches are very much within their “rights” to determine what will and will not be sanctioned, regardless of what the state does.

I think it would be fruitful for the orthodox to differentiate between the church and state.  It is amazing how clueless many people are about this distinction.  Just because something is legal, does not mean we sanction it.  I know this is elementary, but we need to remind those in the public that we are seperate from the world on this.

Of course, there are fewer and fewer Christians, so it gets tougher.  It is amazing to me that all these Ep. priests can’t see the opportunity in front of their eyes, with more and more young people describing themselves as “spiritual”, but not belonging to a religion.

[6] Posted by Looking for Leaders on 2-7-2013 at 02:14 PM · [top]

ToAlltheWorld, I noticed, too, that the author of this piece doesn’t seem to know the definition of the word “compromise.” A diocesan sponsored race to the bottom is what it is.

[7] Posted by polycarp on 2-7-2013 at 02:19 PM · [top]

One does have to remember that when looking at Austin from up here in North Texas, the city is so far to the left that it is almost in Louisiana. wink

[8] Posted by BillB on 2-7-2013 at 03:13 PM · [top]

Long live Jerry Jeff Walker

[9] Posted by Looking for Leaders on 2-7-2013 at 03:18 PM · [top]

What exactly IS the compromise here?  Rectors or parishes who won’t do SSBs won’t be excommunicated?

[10] Posted by Bill2 on 2-7-2013 at 04:00 PM · [top]

Also having spent a lot of time studying +Doyle’s treatise and being unsure of his manner of implementation of “the solution” (the term makes one’s hair stand up on one’s neck), I asked him directly during a one on one conversation at GC last summer. He boiled it down to : “if I receive a written request from a rector and senior warden with assurance of the Vestry’s approval, I’ll permit it.” He then goes and votes against the resolution because “personally, he has theological reservations.” His tap dancing isn’t playing well in the Diocese of Texas. +Stanton in Dallas made it clear he will not permit SSBs. Still awaiting decisions from Northwest and West Texas. Rump Diocese of Ft. Worth presumably is all for it.

Even moderates and some liberals are taken aback when they actually see the SSB liturgy approved by GC. How it can be reconciled with the faith once delivered is incomprehensable.

[11] Posted by Doubting Thomas on 2-7-2013 at 05:13 PM · [top]

“Rectors or parishes who won’t do SSBs won’t be excommunicated? “

Not until GC2015 (2018, if you are lucky), or until the bishop feels like it, whichever comes first.

This is clearly going in the same direction as WO and WBs- Now it is official policy of the national church.  Given that the reality is that gay marriage has been legit in TEC and widely practiced since the mid 2000s (name me one single case of a cleric or bishop disciplined for performing or allowing one, canons or no canons) refusal to provide gay marriages will become a canonical violation in another 5 years.  10 years after that, the 2 or 3 bishops refusing to provide gay marriages will be deposed- as well as virtually all priests refusing to participate.  By comparison- Barbara Harris became a bishop in 1989, refusing to ordain women became a canon violation in 1996 (this was denied at the time, but any “plain reading” of Title III even as it was then makes it pretty obvious) and in 2009, the last bishop refusing to ordain women was deposed.

[12] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-7-2013 at 07:59 PM · [top]

We used to call Austin “50 square miles surrounded by reality”.  That was in the 70s, but the only difference is the size of the land mass.

St. David’s was a wonderful place back then, a place of great faith and faithfulness. But there was also an openness to the theologically off-beat that has, I fear, borne a bitter harvest in these later days.

[13] Posted by Words Matter on 2-7-2013 at 09:06 PM · [top]

We can talk about how loony liberal Austin is.  But the next blessings in April will be at St. Stephen’s, Houston.  If it is two parishes this year, then next year probably Christ Church Cathedral and Palmer Memorial in Houston will want to jump on the bandwagon, along with another church in Austin.  That makes five.  Then, the following year, ten (basically every parish that has an Integrity chapter).  By the year after that, parishes won’t even have to ask permission because everyone who might get upset by this will either (1) be dead, (2) have gotten over it, or (3) left the Episcopal Church.

[14] Posted by radrector on 2-8-2013 at 12:22 AM · [top]

The “orthodox” frogs in the EDOT pot signed off on the compromise that turned the burner on high.  I wonder if they still feel the water is fine?

[15] Posted by BillK on 2-10-2013 at 10:26 AM · [top]

Bill K (#15), I assume you are talking about a vote at yesterday’s Diocese of Texas convention.  I am eager to know how that convention turned out, but the news hasn’t been widely reported yet.  If you have more specific information, how about sharing it?

[16] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 2-10-2013 at 07:07 PM · [top]

Some photos from the same-sex blessing are being shared on the House of Bishops e-mail list.  Fellow Episcopalians, this is what is coming to a parish near you. 

http://bobkinney.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/first-episcopal-church-gay-wedding-aka-witnessing-blessing-of-a-lifelong-covenant-in-state-of-texas/

[17] Posted by Pigeon on 2-25-2013 at 04:02 PM · [top]

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