The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle has amended the diocese’s Unity in Mission document to allow some parishes to officiate same-sex marriages. Previously, Unity in Mission allowed the blessing of same-sex unions. However, in June and July of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage and the General Convention of the Episcopal Church both amended its canons to allow same-sex marriage and approved trial marriage liturgies that can be used for same-sex couples beginning in Advent of this year.
For those parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas that have already undertaken a Unity in Mission discernment process and been approved by the bishop to bless same-sex unions, the bishop’s prior approval also includes approval to officiate same-sex marriages. Christ Church Cathedral’s Unity in Mission Task Force completed a prayerful and rigorous six-month discernment process last year, including communications to the parish through The Bulletin and public announcements at the Dean’s Class on Sunday mornings.
In December, the task force recommended to the vestry that the Cathedral bless same-sex unions. The vestry concurred and subsequently sought Bishop Doyle’s approval. The bishop extended approval in January. At its August meeting, the Cathedral Vestry again studied the task force’s report and voted to accept the bishop’s revised approval to allow same-sex marriages at Christ Church.
The Unity in Mission Task Force studied Holy Scripture and theology carefully, engaging in lively, respectful, and prayerful conversation. In its report, one task force member concluded, “Isn’t it better for all concerned to have loving partnerships looked upon with favor, rather than disdain, by Christ’s church? Just as loving partnerships between a man and a woman are more likely to succeed if the couple has benefitted from a Christian marriage, a church blessing of a same-sex union is likely to produce a more loving and beneficial relationship to the couple and society than if it were withheld.” At its August meeting, the vestry concurred that this same sentiment applies to Christian marriage for same-sex couples.
Reflecting on the process and its outcome, Dean Thompson offered, “Because we at the Cathedral have been formed as a people who find our identity in the saving grace of Jesus, I believe our gracious community will grow stronger as we move forward together. As St. Paul says in Colossians, we will continue to allow the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts, clothe ourselves in love, and bear with one another in this and all things.”
Any couple seeking to be married at Christ Church must undergo premarital counseling. Episcopal Church canons also allow any Episcopal priest to refrain from marrying any couple the priest believes to be ill-prepared for marriage.
The entire Cathedral Unity in Mission Task Force report is available at www.christchurchcathedral.org/unity.