"Officials with the Episcopal Church have enacted policies that the vast majority of Anglican Christians refute as contrary to both scripture and the tradition that has been passed down to us." -- Jeff Walton, IRD Anglican Program Director
Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639, jwalton@TheIRD.org
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 1, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ -- Bishops and Deputies at the Episcopal Church's 78th General Convention have authorized a gender-neutral marriage rite that officially brings same-sex marriage to the 1.8 million-member denomination.
In 2012, Episcopalians authorized a "provisional rite" for the blessing of same-sex unions. That rite included an option for bishops in states where same-sex marriage was permitted to exercise "generous pastoral response" and allow use of the rite for same-sex marriage.
The 2015 rite does not alter the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer, which still describes marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.
Incoming Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry of North Carolina has long been a proponent of same-sex blessings, allowing them in his Raleigh-based diocese beginning in 2004, long before most Episcopal Church dioceses did so. Curry was also a vocal opponent of the North Carolina referendum limiting marriage there to a union of one man and one woman.
Following the bishops' vote, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, titular leader of 80 million Christians in the global Anglican Communion voiced "deep concern" about how the decision "will cause distress for some and have ramifications for the Anglican Communion as a whole, as well as for its ecumenical and interfaith relationships."
IRD Anglican Program Director Jeff Walton commented:
"Officials with the Episcopal Church have enacted policies that the vast majority of Anglican Christians refute as contrary to both scripture and the tradition that has been passed down to us.
"Bishops making these changes have chosen to align themselves with culture rather than the Bible, which puts forth a model of marriage and family life upholding marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.
"The vast majority of global Christians affirm traditional marriage. Unsurprisingly, there are no bishops in an official capacity from the Church of England here at General Convention, let alone from Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches.
"In enacting this marriage rite, Episcopalians are unilaterally redefining marriage and further distancing themselves from Christendom."
Walton is on-hand at the convention in Salt Lake City and is available for interviews.