Statement by CP clergy in the Diocese of Texas pertaining to Diocesan Canon 43Feb 17
As clergy serving the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, we support the leadership of our Bishop, The Right Reverend C. Andrew Doyle, and we take seriously the necessity to work shoulder to shoulder with our fellow presbyters and all Episcopalians in our Diocese toward the cause of serving the mission and ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
While we do understand and affirm the need for a comprehensive revision of our Diocesan Canons, we must dissent from any change that excludes or deletes Canon 43, also known as the “Moral Canon.”
In a time of changing views on traditional marriage and sexual mores, we feel removing Canon 43 will send the message to those we are called to serve, that our Diocese is abandoning in part, or in full, the Biblical teaching on marriage; as traditionally understood by Christians, and as summed up in the words of the Book of Common Prayer:
“The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored by all people.
The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord” (BCP, p. 423)
The nature, purpose, and meaning of marriage are linked to the relationship of man and woman. The promises and vows of marriage presuppose husband and wife as the partners who are made one flesh in marriage. This understanding is a reasonable one, as well as in accord with Holy Scripture and Christian Tradition in their teaching about marriage.
When we were ordained as clergy in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, we vowed to “be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them” (BCP, p. 526). We renew that promise; and in light of the actions of the 78th General Convention sanctioning same-gender marriage, the 167th Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Texas which includes a proposal to remove Canon 43, and of our own deep pastoral and theological convictions, we pledge ourselves to:
- “Maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). The bonds created in baptism are indissoluble, and we share one bread and one cup in the Eucharist. We are committed to the Church’s unity, even in the midst of painful disagreement.
- “Speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). We are deeply disheartened that the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Texas have chosen to extend the sacramental rite of marriage to same-gender couples; however, when we disagree with the Church’s actions, we will do so openly and transparently and – with the Spirit’s help – charitably. We are grateful that Resolution A054 of the 78th General Convention which includes provision for bishops and priests to exercise their conscience regarding the sacraments of marriage without fear of discipline or penalty. We are grateful for the pastoral oversight of our Bishop who has affirmed the same. In this season in which the tensions over these difficult matters may grow within our Communion, we pray for the grace to be clear about our convictions and to love brothers and sisters with whom we disagree.
- “Welcome one another . . . just as Christ has welcomed [us]” (Rom. 15:7). Our commitment to the Church includes a commitment to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. We will continue to walk with them, pray with and for them, and seek ways to engage in pastoral conversation. We rejoice that Jesus’ embrace includes all of us.
We are mindful that the decisions of the 78th General Convention, or the actions of this Council, do not take place in isolation. The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion. We remain committed to that Communion and to the historic See of Canterbury, and we will continue to honor the parameters and principles of Lambeth 1.10 and those outlined the Windsor Report and affirmed by the Instruments of Communion.
The Rev. Howard Castleberry, Christ Church, Nacogdoches
The Rev. Stuart Bates, St. Frances, Houston
The Rev. Bob Wismer, St. Frances, Houston
The Rev. David Luckenbach, Christ Church, Tyler
The Rev. Clay Lein, St. John the Divine, Houston
The Rev. Doug Richnow, St. John the Divine, Houston
The Rev. Darrel Proffitt, Holy Apostles, Katy
The Rev. John Himes, Trinity, Marshall
The Rev. Russell Levenson, St. Martin’s, Houston
The Rev. Robert Wareing, St. Martin’s
The Rev. Nick Dyke, St. Martin’s
The Rev. Scott Thompson, Holy Cross, Sugar Land
The Rev. Bill Laucher, St. Alban’s, Houston
The Rev. Ted Smith, St. Stephen’s, Liberty
The Rev. David Browder, St. Thomas’, Houston
The Rev. Geoff Gwynne, Good Shepherd, Friendswood
The Rev. Stuart Shelby, St. Richards, Round Rock
The Rev. Ted Welty, St. Philip’s, Palestine
The Rev. Michael Wyckoff, St. Luke’s, Austin