The Episcopal Church passed a resolution with overwhelming support on Friday that removed restrictions on same-sex marriage in Middle Tennessee and seven other U.S. dioceses that had not permitted religious wedding ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples in their regions of the church.
The General Convention, which concluded its triennial meeting in Austin, Texas, on Friday, passed the resolution which allows all couples to marry in their local congregations and to do so under the direction of their priest, instead of their bishop.
The Tennessean explained, “Under the resolution passed Friday, clergy still can decline to bless or solemnize any marriage. But if the couples live in a diocese where the bishop theologically objects to same-sex marriages, that bishop will tap, if necessary, another willing one to provide pastoral support to all involved.”
“I am thrilled,” said Connally Davies Penley, a member of the local grassroots group All Sacraments for All People, which has been pushing for this expanded resolution since 2015.
“I think it’s a wonderful compromise, which respects the dignity of the bishop and his position, but still allows marriage for all in their home congregations,” said Penley.
“The Resolution allows access to the liturgies for same sex marriage in the Diocese of Tennessee while preserving the rights and responsibilities of the parish clergy for the use of their buildings for any liturgy. In other words, there is much to work out. It also preserves the ministry of bishops as chief pastors and teachers in our dioceses,” Bishop John Bauerschmidt said.
“We will be working out what it means for our diocese with clergy and congregations in the coming days.”
The Tennessean notes:
This resolution builds on the General Convention’s 2015 decision to approve the trial-use liturgies for marriage that made way for same-sex couples to wed in the Episcopal Church. At the time, they left it up to each bishop to decide whether or not the liturgies could be used in their diocese.