Cathedral Wedding for Senior Lesbian Clerics

When Massachusetts introduced same sex marriage in 2003, it as alone among American states. Since then, a steady trickle of others have followed, either with meaningful civil unions or with full marriage equality. More will follow this year, and is increasingly obvious, as VP Biden has observed, that full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is now “inevitable” across the country. It is now only a matter of time.  Although the opponents of same-sex marriage claim theirs is a principled stand based in religion, it is also becoming obvious that religious opposition too is crumbling. As with so much else that was previously prohibited on the pretext of religious belief, the religious objections to homoerotic relationships will in time be recognised as without religious validity for the modern world.

One recent Boston wedding was just one more among many – but it carries with it strong symbolic importance, and is an important signpost to a future without religious discrimination. Two lesbian Episcopalian clerics, each holding an office of some seniority and importance in their diocese, were married in the Cathedral Church of St Paul in Boston, in a wedding service solemnized by the Episcopalian bishop of Massachusetts, the Right Reverend M Thomas Shaw SSJE.  What could be more respectable than that?

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Gay Marriage – in Church: Sweden

It’s been a long time coming, but has been expected ever since same – sex marriage was approved by the Swedish parliament back in May this year – immediately before the news from Iowa.  As I predicted at the time, the Swedish Lutheran Church has now approved church weddings for gay and lesbian couples.   The interesting part of this to me is that although individual pastors are not obliged to perform same sex ceremonies, local churches do not have the same opt-out:  all churches must be available to all couples.  If the resident pastor won’t do it, a substitute must be brought in from elsewhere.

Bridegrooms on Church Steps

Once again, this advance has come after discussion that began much earlier, before the church approved “blessing of homosexual partnerships years ago.”  In so doing, the majority of the church discounted the traditional view that such partnerships were somehow “against Scripture”.  This is another very welcome step in the defanging of that fallacious argument. (See “Countering the Clobber Texts”)

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Same-Sex Church Weddings Inch Closer in Finland

Last year, the Swedish government and the state church, the Swedish Lutheran church, between them approved legal recognition for same sex marriage including church weddings – the first country in the world where this has happened. At the time and since, I have noted that other Scandinavian countries were likely to follow suit: I know that the subject has been discussed (out of the public eye) by church authorities in all of them. Now the Finnish Lutherans have taken a public step in that direction.

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Yet Another Woman Bishop: Ho, Hum.

While the Vatican wrings its hands over the “grievous sin” of the attempted ordination of women, yet another woman, Rev. Teresa Snorton, has been ordained bishop, this time in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, in Mobile, Alabama. She is just the latest among many women formally recognized as bishop in modern times, including at least two lesbians:  Eva Brunne of the Swedish Lutheran Church, and Mary Glasspool, Episcopalian bishop in LA.

The Anglican communion has been ordaining women as bishop for over twenty years (the first was Barbara Clementine Harris, in Massachusetts, back in 1989). Since then there have been 17 more, including Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is now the first female primate of an Anglican region. There are also Anglican bishops in New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Cuba (yes, really!).  The Church of England has approved the principle of women bishops, to tale effect from 2012. Female bishops have also been approved, but not yet appointed, by Anglican churches in Bangladesh, Brazil, Central America,  Ireland,  Japan,  Mexico,  North India,  Philippines,  Scotland, Southern Africa,  and Sudan.

The United Methodist Church in the US was the first mainline Protestant denomination to appoint a woman as bishop, Marjorie Matthews in 1980. There have been 2o more since. In Germany, Rosemarie Wenner has been the leading bishop in the United Methodist Church since 2005. The Lutheran church in Germany also  has women bishops, as they do across Europe. In the UK, the Lutheran Church ordained their first woman bishop, Jana Jeruma-Grinberga, in January 2009.

Don’t forget either the bishops of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement, South African Patricia Fresen, Austrian Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger and German Gisela Forster, or the powerful abbesses of the medieval church, whose authority in some instances exceeded that of their local bishops.

So, without any disrespect to Rev. Snorton, her selection as a female bishop, is of consequence primarily to her local community, her denomination, and her family and friends.  The ordination of female bishops, let alone priests, is now old news. Will someone please tell the Vatican?

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Kentucky native becomes first woman bishop of her denomination

The Rev. Teresa Snorton, a Hopkinsville, Ky., native who earned degrees at both of Louisville’s seminaries and started her ministry here, has become the first woman bishop in the 140-year history of her denomination. Read the rest of this entry »