"The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo
November 26, 2013
To clergy brothers and sisters and to all members of DEC,
Because we are approaching the time in early 2014 when my pastoral letter on same-sex blessings will be issued, together with the task force’s curriculum, and the process of receiving permission to bless unions will be specified, I write to give you an update.
First, a reminder that in South Carolina the subject is same-sex blessings by the Church and not same-sex marriage. South Carolina law prohibits both same-sex marriage and same-sex civil unions.
Second, members of the Task Force felt that, in addition to unity, the Task Force’s work has focused substantively and regularly on Christian faithfulness. To reflect that reality, one of task force’s traditionalist members proposed changing the name of the task force to the “Bishop’s Task Force on Unity and Faithfulness.” All agreed that this was an accurate reflection on our work, as did I. So, henceforth, that will be how we will refer to the task force.
Third, at our meeting on 17 November, we assessed the status of our progress. Our goal remains to release the materials the week of 27 January, to give you time to evaluate its use in your spring programming. However, we are not yet fully confident that our materials will be completed by that date. We believe we will know if they will be ready by the end of the first week of January. On 7 January, we will provide an update on the projected release date. Our first priority is for the materials to be fully completed and reflective of the work we have done.
Fourth, as I’ve noted at several meetings across the diocese, our work will have the following structure:
1. A Biblical, Theological and Pastoral Reflection (not a letter to be read in church) from me on same-sex blessings.
2. A six-week curriculum with 1-3 additional session options for deeper study and reflection, created by the Task Force. The goal of the Task Force is to produce a curriculum that balances perspectives and offers materials that ask us all to go more deeply into the biblical, theological, traditional, ethical and ritual issues involved. Each curriculum session will include specific topics within these categories, excerpts from resources, and discussion questions.
3. The process by which congregations seeking to offer same-sex blessings may receive permission.
Fifth, I reiterate that no priest or congregation will be required to offer blessings, nor be “punished” for refraining for reasons of conscience.
Thank you for your patience as we go about this complicated and yet important work. We have all been grateful for God’s presence as we’ve explored, debated, studied and prayed together.
Yours in Christ... "In other words, if you are sitting on a pew in your bunker thinking that the invasion will be at Pas de Calais and not at you sitting in peaceful Normandy, I hope you are studying up on how to say "I surrender" in Episcospeak.
"Bishop’s Task Force on Unity and Faithfulness" is quite an ironic name. You can't disguise false teaching with a mere change of title. The name is also part of the strategic plan. Anyone opposed to the efforts of the Bishop's Task Force will by default be considered someone who is opposed to unity and faithfulness. In reality, it is the Task Force which should bear the label of "Division and Faithlessness".
The only questions left are whether you will have these blessings in your particular church, and will folks wait until after Lent so they can do it during the Easter season?
I love spring "not-marriages".
I always cry at them too.