Episcopal Church's General Convention to elect new US Primate

19 June 2015

iSTOCK

Destination: Salt Lake City, Utah 

Destination: Salt Lake City, Utah 

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 sphere."

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