Title IV Officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis
The Rev. Suzanne Wille
Title IV Officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis
The Rev. Suzanne Wille
Your Executive Council has entered into an agreement with the legal firm of Plews, Shadely, Racher & Braun LLP, to assist member parishes or ministries with introductory consultations regarding legal needs.
These consultations will be limited to thirty minutes and will be charged against a Diocesan retainer that was added to our budget for 2016.
RULES TO ACCESS THIS BENEFIT:
1. Congregations or ministries seeking the advice of an attorney will need to be referred by the Diocesan Office.
You will start by contacting either:
2. The name of the requesting leader and their contact information will then be emailed to both that leader and George Plews, Diocesan Chancellor, with a brief description of the issue. Then George or one of his colleagues will contact you.
3. If the local ministry needs more than an initial consultation, the firm may represent the local ministry on terms separate from this Agreement.
POSSIBLE SUBJECTS FOR A CONSULT: (Not an exclusive list, just suggestions):
3. Tax issues
4. Lease or rental/facility use
6. State requirements
8. Insurance and insurance claims
Many Episcopal groups have prepared resources that may help congregations and individuals in their prayer and conversation this weekend.
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The date for Information Day has changed and will be on August 6 . For complete details, please check the Event Calendar.
NEW YORK, November 23, 2015 — Church Publishing Incorporated has released a revised and expanded edition of marriage rites for all couples who wish to be married in The Episcopal Church. Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing, which has been authorized for trial use in Episcopal Church congregations beginning on the First Sunday in Advent—November 29, 2015—is now available.
This new volume is the result of the 2012 General Convention of The Episcopal Church commendation of Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing for study and use throughout The Episcopal Church. In the 2013–2015 triennium, the materials were widely used in a number of dioceses, and the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) invited responses through several avenues.
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, “The Court, in this decision, holds same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States. It follows that the Court must also hold—and it now does hold—that there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character.”
Heeding the concern that “separate but equal” rites are inherently unequal, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music developed and recommended to the 2015 General Convention an adaptation of the 2012 liturgy that can be used for marriage for any couple, as well as The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2, a gender-neutral adaptation of the marriage rite in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The Convention authorized these rites for trial use; that is, as a proposed revision of the Prayer Book. General Convention Resolution 2015-A054 directs that these liturgies be used under the direction and with the permission of the diocesan bishop, and stipulates that bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority or, where appropriate, ecclesiastical supervision, will make provision for all couples asking to be married in The Episcopal Church to have access to these liturgies.
The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, Chair of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music from 2009–2015, Dean of Academics and the Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, said, “I’m excited to have these resources for same-sex marriage available for use in The Episcopal Church. In preparing this material, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music listened carefully to responses to the resources for blessing same-sex relationships that were approved in 2012. An international and ecumenical consultation on same-sex marriage in June 2014 was especially helpful for the Commission’s understanding of the needs and concerns of many in our church.”
The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer of The Episcopal Church General Convention and Secretary of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, expressed his pleasure at the liturgies’ release, saying, “Discerning the movement of the Spirit is at the heart of what we do each General Convention. The prayer, experience, discussion, scholarship, and consultation embodied in I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing is an outstanding example of this discernment, and I believe it will bless not only our church, but add blessing throughout God’s world as the Spirit continues to move.”
The recent decision of the Supreme Court, not to review the rulings of lower courts on the legality of same gender marriages, has altered our reality in the State of Indiana. Same gender marriages are now legal in our State. Some among us are elated, believing this should have happened long ago. Others are dismayed and angry, believing that marriage is diminished in some way by this change. Others are simply bewildered and not quite sure how they feel about it. No matter what a person feels about this change, it has happened – it is part of the reality of life in the world around us.
What follows here are some reflections on the situation, and my counsel for our clergy and parishes.
First, it is important to remember that legality does not equal a mandate; clergy have always used pastoral judgment in agreeing to prepare any couple for marriage in the Church, or to decline to do so. Even our own members cannot demand that clergy perform a marriage rite with them. So the legal possibility of marriage – for any couple – has never been a guarantee of involvement on the part of this Church.
Second, though The Episcopal Church has a provisional rite for the blessing of same gender couples, to be used only with the permission of a Bishop Diocesan, it is abundantly clear that the Church remains divided on the issue. Not all clergy are able, in good conscience, to make use of this rite, even if their bishops do grant permission.
Third, a priest and the parish s/he serves and leads may be in very different places regarding same gender marriage, and these differences need to be taken seriously.
In the past, I have permitted the blessing of same gender unions in parishes meeting several criteria:
the parish must have studied and come to considerable consensus that such blessings are desirable – and would not prove divisive to the parish,
the couple must be known in the parish (as we would hope any couple seeking marriage in the Church to be),
the couple must have at least as much, if not more, pre- counseling as a heterosexual couple,
I wanted to review the liturgy the couple proposed to use. General Convention approved a provisional liturgy for use with the permission of Bishops Diocesan, and that is the liturgy which is now used in the Diocese of Indianapolis.
In those counties which issue marriage licenses to same gender couples these guidelines remain in place.
I would expect that clergy whose personal consciences will not permit them to officiate at same gender weddings will arrange for such couples who attend their parishes to be helped by clergy colleagues who are willing to preside.
All members who have been legally married must be acknowledged as married in any parish of this diocese.
I further urge any of our parishes which have not yet provided a study of the issue for their members to arrange to do so during the coming year. Whether or not there are any same gender couples in the congregation, whether or not a priest feels able to preside, same gender marriage is now a legal reality, and the Church as a whole can benefit from reflection on the meaning of marriage, how the provisional rite meets the needs of same gender couples (or not) and what is at stake when decisions about same gender celebrations are made.
As the Body of Christ we must make room for those who disagree with us, and with humility concede that the Church cannot afford to claim perfection of understanding and practice in any age. We are obliged to reflect continually on what is happening around us, and whether or not the Spirit of God is calling us to embrace new ways or to hold fast to old ones. We must have the generosity of spirit to travel together with good cheer and holy hope, remembering that, as William Temple so aptly put it, “When we choose wisely God reigns, and when we choose foolishly, God reigns!”