THE Episcopal Church's triennial General Convention will gather
in Salt Lake City next week; and among their business will be the
election of a new Presiding Bishop to succeed Dr Katharine Jefferts
Schori, the first female Primate in the Anglican Communion. Her
nine-year term of office concludes on 31 October.
The four nominees to be considered by the Convention are: the
Bishop of Southern Ohio, the Rt Revd Thomas Breidenthal; the Bishop
of North Carolina, the Rt Revd Michael Curry; the Bishop of
Connecticut, Dr Ian Douglas; and the Bishop of Southwest Florida,
the Rt Revd Dabney Smith.
The four candidates will be presented to the General
Convention next week, on Wednesday afternoon, and the vote
itself will take place on 27 June, by the House of Bishops, at St
Mark's Cathedral in Salt Lake City, before being confirmed by the
House of Deputies.
Other items on the agenda include a report by the task force on
the study of marriage. The group was set up in 2012 to "identify
and explore biblical, theological, historical, liturgical, and
canonical dimensions of marriage".
The group recommends that the Episcopal Church's marriage canon
be rewritten, "using gender-neutral language" to "address the
pastoral need for priests to officiate at a civil marriage of a
same-sex couple in states that authorize such".
Explaining its proposed revision to the canon, the task force
says that the new canon "focuses on the commitments actually made
by the particular couple who come to be married rather than on the
causes or purposes of marriage in general.
"The present canon casts these causes in literally creedal form,
as it requires the couple to declare that they 'believe' a set of
statements about marriage. This is to some extent problematical
when one member of the couple may not be a 'believer' at all or may
come from a tradition with a different theology of marriage.
"It should be sufficient that the couple be instructed in, and
understand the rights, duties, and responsibilities of marriage . .
. and attest to that understanding as well as to their legal
competence to marry."
The General Convention will also debate structural changes
suggested by the task force for re-imagining the Episcopal Church,
which warns that "while the Episcopal Church once held a place of
cultural privilege in American society, it must now earn a hearing
as one small voice among many competing for influence in the public