The Same Sex Marriage discussion concluded on March 13th with the topic of how Same Sex Marriage relates to the Church’s Mission.
The Prayer Book states on page 855 that the Mission of the Church “is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”
St Thomas of Canterbury’s Mission Statement says “We welcome all people to Jesus Christ, forming disciples, equipping them for work in today’s world, and sending them out in Jesus’ name”
Many people believe the word “All” in both mission statements is all that needs said.
We discussed whether or not the forums had been helpful, if they had sparked conversations in our everyday lives, and if people had learned things. People expressed frustration with the pace of the forums as being slow, but others thought it was too fast. Lisa expressed that she talked about it with her sister, who is an Episcopal Priest, who is also going through this process and found it helpful to hear different perspectives. The Crams discussed it with their daughter and her wife, who expressed frustration that it’s not just treated as any other marriage.
A question was raised about whether this will attract new people to the parish, or if it will cause people to leave. It was clarified that the purpose of the forums and a vote for same sex marriages is not about attracting new members or keeping old ones- as it’s expected that members will leave if it is passed by Vestry, and others will leave if it is not. The purpose of Vestry is to do God’s work and what they believe is the right thing, and not what may or may not attract new members.
It was suggested that Vestry postpone the vote, but Fr Mark pointed out that decision is up to Vestry to decide. The rest of the forum time devolved into sometimes heated discussions about the governing structure of both the Episcopal Church as a whole and St Thomas of Canterbury specifically, rather than Same Sex Marriage. Some people disagree with the way things are decided, but STOC and its Vestry will comply with both Church Canon and the By-laws of St. Thomas of Canterbury, as legally required.
The Agenda for the meeting on March 20th calls for a vote on Same Sex Marriage at St. Thomas of Canterbury. It must pass by 2/3 in order for same sex marriages to be officiated here.