US bishops seek to halt Prayer Book revision and deter leavers

Jul 5, 2018 by

by Madeleine Davies, Church Times;

A COMPROMISE that would avoid making changes to the Prayer Book’s references to marriage has been proposed by bishops in the Episcopal Church of the United States, in an effort to avoid the departure of members who hold a traditional view, including immigrant and non-US Episcopalians.

The resolution, prepared for discussion at the 79th General Convention, due to begin in Austin, Texas, yesterday, seeks to widen access to marriage in the eight dioceses where gender-neutral rites approved for trial use in 2015 have not been authorised by the bishop. It proposes that these bishops provide “delegated episcopal pastoral oversight” to their congregations, on request.

Unlike the resolution put forward by the Task Force on the Study of Marriage, however, it does not propose any changes to the Prayer Book (News, 25 August 2017).

“While the great majority of Episcopalians celebrate the gains that have been made in our Church for LGBTQ+ persons, many of us also regret the schism, division, and departure of members who have faithfully served our Church for many years,” the proposing Bishops, of Long Island, Pittsburgh and Rhode Island (all of whom have authorised use of the rites), wrote.

In a joint press release, issued last week, they argued that the proposed revision of the Prayer Book “would likely make the Episcopal Church untenable for many of our members outside the United States”, especially in Province IX (seven dioceses in Latin America and the Caribbean). In response to the Task Force’s proposals, six of the bishops in the Province warned that, if they were approved, “the Ninth Province will have to learn how to walk alone.”

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