Bishop’s group says bishop’s same-sex marriage policy is five weeks late

Episcopalians who advocate for marriage equality say the Bishop of the Diocese of Tennessee is five weeks behind in issuing guidelines for same-sex church marriages.

They sent letters this week to Bishop of Tennessee John Bauerschmidt and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Right Reverend Michael Curry, challenging the delay and calling on Bauerschmidt to act.

“We are gravely concerned that the General Convention decision allowing same-sex marriage rites to be made available to all church members has yet to be implemented in the Diocese of Tennessee.” , states the letter of January 7 to Bauerschmidt. .

Over 100 people signed the letters. They are connected to All the sacraments for all, a grassroots organization that lobbies for the inclusion of marriage in the Episcopal Diocese of Tennesseesaid Connally Davies Penley, who sits on the group’s steering committee and signed the letters.

“Everyone is in limbo,” Davies Penley said.

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In July, the General convention, the governing body of the Episcopal Church, deleted restrictions on same-sex marriages, which allows couples to get married in their home churches. The new measure, known as Resolution B012, entered into force in early December.

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Bauerschmidt, who had yet to receive the group’s letter on Tuesday morning, told USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee in an email that his advice on how the new measure will be implemented locally will arrive soon.

“The guidelines will be available later in January,” said Bauerschmidt. “I have been very clear since July 2018 that B012 will be implemented.”

But those pushing for homosexual ceremonies in the diocese say the delay further delays long-awaited religious marriages.

Indie Pereira, left, and his wife Pari Bhatt, right, at their Nashville home on Thursday, June 28, 2018. The couple attend St. Philip's Episcopal Church, but opted for a civil ceremony because their bishop does not will not allow the clergy within their diocese to marry same-sex couples.

Indie Pereira, who is also a member of the All Sacraments for All Steering Committee, and his wife Pari Bhatt are still awaiting the ceremony at their Episcopal Church. She called the five-week deadline disappointing and somewhat surprising.

“We were supposed to have access to the liturgies from December 2nd, and we still don’t have access and don’t know what the policy will be and it seems like everyone in the diocese is waiting to see what happens here” , said Pereira, who also signed the letter.

Pereira and his wife chose to get married in a civil ceremony in 2016 for the legal protections marriage offers couples, but they still want a religious ceremony.

She and his wife had been waiting to get married in their own church since the denomination gave way to same-sex couples in July 2015. In November of the same year, Bauerschmidt announced that he would not allow marriages in the Diocese of Tennessee and directed same-sex couples who wanted a church ceremony in a Kentucky diocese.

At the time, the General Convention, recognizing the differing views on marriage within the denomination, left it to each bishop to decide whether the clergy could perform religious same-sex marriages in their geographic regions of the Church. episcopal. Ninety-three bishops authorized marriages, but eight, including Bauerschmidt, did not.

Local group hopes letters will motivate bishop to issue guidelines on same-sex marriages

This summer, the General Convention passed resolution B012, which essentially overturned those local decisions and gave same-sex couples the option to marry where they pray.

Of the eight bishops who had previously blocked marriages, one refused to comply with the resolution and another has already implemented it, according to one. Report of the episcopal press service.

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All Sacraments for All members say the Diocese of Tennessee is still waiting for Bauerschmidt to explain how the resolution will be implemented. Initially, the bishop said he would release the guidelines before Thanksgiving, but that did not happen, according to the group’s Jan. 7 letter to Curry.

“Questions about episcopal supervision, prenuptial counseling, acceptable venues for weddings, and the ability of retired priests, vicars and chaplains to use the liturgies are just a few of the issues that need to be addressed,” says the letter to Curry. “At least one couple and their priest contacted the bishop directly for advice. They were asked to wait.”

Davies Penley hopes that the letters to Bauerschmidt and Curry, which the group also sent to other leaders of the Episcopal Church, will inspire the Bishop of Tennessee to take action and remind the Church at large that it is is not a settled issue in Middle Tennessee.

“The ideal outcome is to get the guidelines as quickly as possible so that people who are waiting for their marriages to be celebrated and / or blessed in the church can move forward with developing those plans,” said Davies Penley. “We just don’t want the rest of the church to forget about us.”

Contact Holly Meyer at [email protected] or 615-259-8241 and on Twitter @HollyAMeyer.

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