The Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church have named 12 people to serve on the church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage that will try to find a theological rationale for the church's recent change in doctrine on gay marriage.
In a statement released on 14 Feb 2013, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the group would help the church chart its way forward as it seeks to find a theological rationale for the changes introduced last year. At the July 2012 General Convention the Episcopal Church authorized temporary provisional rites for blessing same-sex unions and authorized a study group to examine the doctrine of marriage.
In a statement accompanying the announcement, the presiding bishop wrote: “The theology of marriage has evolved over time, with biblical examples including polygamy, concubinage, and other forms of relationship no longer sanctioned in The Episcopal Church.”
“We no longer expect that one partner promise to obey the other, that parents give away their children to be married, or that childbearing is the chief purpose of marriage. This task force is charged not only to take the pulse of our current theological understanding of the meaning of marriage, but to assist the faithful in conversation and discernment about marriage, in particular what the Church might hold up as “holy example” of the love between Christ and his Church.”
While the Episcopal Church has never sanctioned polygamy and concubinage, in the Twentieth century it modified its practices on divorce and remarriage. The aims of marriage as ordered in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer: procreation, remedy for sin, and mutual care, have been reordered in successive American prayer books and are currently given as mutual joy, mutual care and the procreation of children.
President Gay Jennings observed: “The Episcopal Church's theology and practice of marriage has changed significantly over the centuries, and we need to understand more clearly what we as a church mean when we use that word.”
The 12 member task force, whose members are drawn from the church’s liberal wing, are to deliver their report to the 2015 meeting of General Convention.
The members of the task force are:
The Rev. Brian C. Taylor, chairman, Rio Grande; Carolyn M. Chilton, Virginia; The Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely; Vermont Joan Geiszler-Ludlum, East Carolina; The Rev. Gail Greenwell, Kansas; The Rev. Tobias S. Haller, New York; The Rev. Canon W. H. Mebane, Jr., Ohio; The Rev. J. David Knight, Mississippi; The Rev. Dr. Cameron E. Partridge, Massachusetts; The Rev. Susan Russell, Los Angeles; The Very Rev. Dr. Sylvia A. Sweeney, Los Angeles; The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo, Upper South Carolina