The Episcopal Church Task Force on the Study of Marriage has issued the following report:
The Episcopal Church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage met and reports significant progress.
The Task Force, meeting September 27-29 in Chicago, IL, continued its work as directed by the 2015 General Convention. During the previous triennium, the Task Force concerned itself with marriage, and as one of many subsets of that subject, marriage between people of the same sex.
This triennium, the Task Force has been asked by Resolution A037 to explore a different group of topics: singleness, sexual intimacy among unmarried persons, cohabitation, those who seek a rite of blessing without marriage, patterns of marriage among various racial and ethnic groups, the debate around clergy acting as “agents of the state”, the impact of same sex blessings and marriage upon our church, and differing forms of household that include single parenting, same-sex parenting, adoption, and racial diversity.
The Rev. Brian Taylor, chair, commented, “Our presiding officers appointed a remarkable group – coming from diverse perspectives, but each person with a heart for the unique experiences of those whom this resolution asks us to address. In our discussions, we found the trust to truthfully and lovingly confront our own and others’ assumptions, and to hear one another. I believe this will serve as a model for the wider church as we go forward with these challenging issues.”
Taylor said further, “The leadership of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has caused us to frame this often difficult work in a positive way, as a part of what he calls ‘The Jesus Movement’, so that it may truly be loving, liberating, and life giving. Our hope is that our Task Force will help build reconciling bridges between our many differences of race, ethnicity, privilege, and patterns of living and loving.”
To help further this kind of conversation, a series of essays drafted by the Task Force will soon be sent to theologians, ethicists, pastors, social scientists, and educators from a variety of perspectives for their responses, which will inform the final versions of the essays. The Task Force intends to use this material as part of the “educational and pastoral resources for congregational use on these matters that represents the spectrum of understandings on these matters in our Church” that are requested in Resolution A037.
The Task Force will be seeking wider input and participation as time goes on. A Pastoral subcommittee is currently seeking stories from those whom this resolution addresses. Together with the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (represented by Drew Keane), the Ecclesial subcommittee will communicate with dioceses to determine whether or not the new gender-neutral rites for marriage have been authorized for use, and if not, how access to them is being provided. In addition, this subcommittee will seek a broadly representative set of responses from dioceses and the wider Anglican Communion about what impact the marriage of same-sex couples has had upon them.
For current information and to join the conversation, visit the Task Force’s Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/MarriageTaskforceTEC/
The Rev. Brian C. Taylor, Diocese of Chicago, Chair
Joan Geiszler-Ludlum, Diocese of East Carolina, Vice Chair
The Rev. Philip Dinwiddie, Diocese of Michigan, Secretary
The Rev. Stannard Baker, Diocese of Vermont
Bishop Thomas Ely, Diocese of Vermont
The Rev. Gianetta Hayes-Martin, Diocese of California
The Rev. Jordan Hylden, Diocese of Upper South Carolina
The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, Diocese of California
Bishop Steven Miller, Diocese of Milwaukee
The Rev. Humphrey Paulino, Diocese of Venezuela
The Rev. Susan Russell, Diocese of Los Angeles
Deborah Stokes, Diocese of Southern Ohio
Bishop Brian Thom, Diocese of Idaho
Melodie Woerman, Diocese of Kansas