Generous Pastoral Response

Bishop's Statement Following Overturn of Prop 8 - February 7, 2012

A recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the State of California regarding the constitutionality of same sex marriage has caused some to ask about my position on this matter. That position has not changed. While this ruling will not provide a final resolution for the complexities involved, I am personally encouraged that we are moving closer to marriage equality.

Although this news is important it does not change my pastoral and sacramental response. General Convention 2012 will be considering recently proposed rites for blessing of same gender marriages (view details here). I will not and cannot act apart from decisions properly belonging to General Convention. You will recall my actions in response to General Convention 2009 which provided the option of a “generous pastoral response” for pastoral and liturgical resources. These are still in effect.

As I stated then and reiterate now, for some of us, this step represents a very great challenge. For others, it is a mere shadow of things hoped for. With this ruling, the state of California is moving closer to full marital equality for all persons. I am personally in support of this. I am also fully aware that others in our Diocese disagree with me. Nevertheless, we are one in Christ. God help us to be mindful of each other’s fears and joys, hopes and disappointments. God help us to honor and support each other as fellow servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Generous Pastoral Response Letter to Clergy - January 4, 2010


Dear Friends in Christ:

Grace and peace to you. I am writing to each of you in your capacity as a priest with pastoral oversight of a congregation of this Diocese. I know that you are aware that since General Convention I have been working closely with a select group, including a number of your clergy colleagues, to prepare materials related to the Generous Pastoral Response charge made to us by Convention.

Below you will find liturgical material which I am authorizing for your use, together with a statement of related policies and procedures. My hope is that you will study these documents carefully, share them with others who share with you in pastoral ministry, discuss them, and come prepared for further discussion when we gather together. We will devote the Wednesday morning session of Clergy Conference to this topic.

Subsequent to Clergy Conference, you may begin to use these materials on a discretionary basis. My intention is to honor your work as pastors, and to provide you with additional pastoral resources which may be of help. Providing a Generous Pastoral Response, including a liturgy of blessing of relationship, is at the sole discretion of the priest in charge of each congregation; associate or assisting clergy must respect the guidance of the priest in charge where this is being sought. Anyone who chooses not to make use of these materials in their congregation for any reason has my full respect and support; anyone who does use them also assumes responsibility for providing all necessary congregational education and preparation prior to their use. With their use also comes the responsibility to participate in the Church-wide reflection which will take place around the time of the next General Convention. Resources for that wider conversation will be made available to you as we proceed.

A full list of the members of our Generous Pastoral Response Working Group was published last fall, and is available on the website. I am very grateful to them all for their good work. The following members of the Group have indicated that they are available to you prior to Clergy Conference, if you wish to discuss any aspect of their work: Britt Olson, Ron Griffin, Sara Potter, Edie Westphal, Lucinda Ashby, Ernie Lewis, Jeanne Forte, Jeff Frost, Brian Baker.

For some of us, this step represents a very great challenge. For others, it is a mere shadow of things hoped for. God help us to be mindful of each other’s fears and joys, hopes and disappointments. God help us to honor and support each other as fellow servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. God help us to feed His sheep faithfully.

Yours in Christ,

+ Barry

Resolution CO56, 76th General Convention (2009)

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge the changing circumstances in the United States and in other nations, as legislation authorizing or forbidding marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian persons is passed in various civil jurisdictions that call forth a renewed pastoral response from this Church, and for an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships; and be it further

Resolved
, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological and liturgical resources, and report to the 77th General Convention; and be it further

Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, devise an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals who are engaged in such theological work, and inviting theological reflection from throughout the Anglican Communion; and be it further

Resolved, That bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church; and be it further

Resolved
, That this Convention honor the theological diversity of this Church in regard to matters of human sexuality; and be it further

Resolved
, That the members of this Church be encouraged to engage in this effort.

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