The Episcopal Church Task Force on the Study of Marriage has issued the following report:
In its second face to face meeting since being established by the 2012 General Convention of The Episcopal Church, the Task Force on the Study of Marriage continued its broad inquiry of the historical, biblical, theological, liturgical, and canonical dimensions of marriage, as well as the ever-changing social norms around marriage.
In preparation for this meeting, the Task Force recently received input from both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops. Deputies from around the country had been asked to view a video report from the Task Force, and submit their responses. Task Force chair the Rev. Brian C. Taylor and Joan Geiszler-Ludlum, vice chair, gave a presentation to the recent House of Bishops meeting at Camp Allen, Texas, where they received written responses to reflection questions.
“It became clear from the input we received that there is a profound level of support and concern for the work we have been asked to do,” Taylor said. “Episcopalians care deeply about marriage and its potential for bringing joy and grace and for helping people become more fully alive and faithful as God’s agents of love and reconciliation in this world.”
He continued, “We also find that people want to know both what we are doing and what we are not doing. We are working to be faithful to Resolution A050 in studying and writing about the biblical, historical, theological and liturgical dimensions of marriage. We are not writing a definition, or re-definition, of marriage that could then be proposed as official church teaching.
We are tracing many of the historic and current themes and developments of this evolving institution, and we are inviting everyone to join us in learning, listening, and discussing.”
The Task Force is also looking at ways to respond to one of the specific charges in the original resolution, to “address the pastoral need for priests to officiate at a civil marriage of a same- sex couple in states that authorize such.” Many dioceses are already finding their own ways of doing this, and the task force “feels that it is part of our responsibility to propose something for the church’s consideration that could offer consistency to what is currently taking place,” according to Taylor.
Soon the Task Force will offer new ways for conversation across The Episcopal Church. In June, Resources for Conversations on Marriage will be released for use by congregations, dioceses, seminaries, and other groups and individuals.
The Resources will include a variety of options: 3-35 minute sessions; a 90-minute event; multiple 45-minute forums; and more in-depth studies of reading material. All of these options will include a discussion guide and the vantage points will range from scripture, theology and history to those contemporary points of variance where friction is sometimes felt.
Episcopalians may also engage the Task Force through its Facebook page and are asked to send 1-minute videos to firstname.lastname@example.org on how people have seen the image of God in relationships. The videos will be to the “Taskforce on Marriage” YouTube channel.
Taylor looks forward to this church-wide conversation, and says “We hope that the resources we provide this year will give a foretaste of the much more comprehensive materials and resources for further study we will offer in our report to General Convention 2015.” That report is due to be released in the coming winter. “But more than that, our hope is that we will contribute to a church-wide conversation about the ways in which marriage can be for many a place of union in heart, body and mind, of joy, help and comfort; a place where, through both prosperity and adversity, we are transformed by love and made more fit for building up God’s kingdom.”