The last time the Episcopal Church met as a whole, in 2015, the church assembly voted to bless same-sex unions, but dioceses that wanted to remain true to biblical teaching were allowed to refuse to conduct the ceremonies.
That changed last week when the church voted to force all Episcopal churches to allow gay and lesbian couples to “marry” in the church.
The edict had overwhelming support.
The majority of the American Episcopal Church (93 dioceses) already allows gay marriage in their churches. This vote affects eight dioceses that did not allow for religious ceremonies to be conducted inside their sanctuaries.
Individual priests may decide whether or not to religiously bless any particular marriage ceremony. But should a priest refuse to bless a ceremony, the higher clergy—the bishop, in this case—will be obligated to suggest another priest to do the job. Read More
Episcopal Church Dumps ‘Husband and Wife’ for ‘Two People’
With this vote General Convention further reduced the autonomy of Episcopal dioceses and narrowed the options of Episcopalians who object to same sex marriage on Biblical grounds. If the remaining conservative dioceses choose to leave the Episcopal Church would it become the tipping point for the collapse of that denomination or would it lead to another round of deprivations and litigation? A number of dioceses are suffering from a shortage of clergy and a growing number of small Episcopal churches have no priest of their own and must share a priest with several other churches. In a denomination that has made the Holy Eucharist the central act of worship on Sundays and other occasions, these churches feel like second class citizens.