At the 2015 General Convention of the Episcopal Church, liturgies for same-sex marriage and the blessings of same-sex unions were approved.
However, Resolution 2015-A054 included the provision that the liturgies had to be used with the permission of the Diocesan Bishop.
In November 2015, Bishop John Bauerschmidt of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee issued a Pastoral Directive that the liturgies were not to be used in his diocese, not to be used on any Episcopal owned property, and not to be used anywhere by any priest canonically resident or licensed to officiate in the Diocese of Tennessee.
ASAP was formed in December 2015 by concerned Episcopalians seeking full inclusion for LGBT Episcopalians.
At the 2018 convention of the Diocese of Tennessee, five congregations working with ASAP brought forth a resolution to send a Memorial to the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church (July 2018) asking that the terms and conditions for the Trial Use liturgies for same-sex marriage and the blessings of same-sex unions be updated in such a way that the liturgies be made available to every priest. After two hearings and long hours in deliberation, the General Resolutions committee put forth this substitute resolution which sends a Memorial to General Convention expressing the pain and separation caused by the current terms and conditions. For many reasons, not the least of which that we believed that the substitute resolution could pass and that some step is far better than none, ASAP supported the substitute, and it passed with nearly unanimous approval. You can read more about this convention in two articles published in The Tennessean on Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21 and in this article published in The Living Church on February 1.
The Episcopal Church Task Force on the Study of Marriage Report to the 79th General Convention is available to download here. This report includes the Task Force’s proposed resolutions including “A085 Trial Use of Marriage Liturgies” which the Task Force says “presents a road map for General Convention to fulfill forty (40) years of promises of full inclusion in the life of The Episcopal Church.” The resolution itself states that “bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority or, where appropriate, ecclesiastical supervision, will make provision for all couples asking to be married in this Church to have reasonable and convenient access to these trial liturgies.” The Task Force also published this helpful Q&A document. The answers on the bottom of page 3 and top of page 4 are of particular interest to ASAP.
The Episcopal News Service published a story about the report, including information about ASAP and about other dioceses where the rites have not been available during this triennium.
We will discuss ASAP’s next steps at our meeting on April 29 where Bruce Garner, President of Integrity USA will join us. (Please visit the Act page for all the details on that gathering.)
Visit the National Church website to read the September 14 2017 Progress Report from the Task Force on the Study of Marriage from which the statistics quoted in the video were taken.