The Rt. Rev’d John Bauerschmidt, the Diocese of Tennessee, January 18, 2019
A) General Convention determines the conditions for Trial Use of any liturgical rite. Trial Use is a process established by the Constitution of the Episcopal Church.
B) Resolution B012 establishes the conditions for the continued Trial Use of the liturgies “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage” and “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2,” as well as the Trial Use of “The Blessing of a Civil Marriage 2” and “An Order for Marriage 2.”
C) Under the conditions established for Trial Use by the Convention, these liturgies are available for use by all clergy of the Episcopal Church with no further permission required.
D) As noted by Resolution B012, and in accord with Canon I.18.7 cited in the Resolution, “It shall be within the discretion of any Member of the Clergy of this Church to decline to solemnize or bless any marriage.”
E) As noted by Resolution B012, and in accord with Canon III.9.6a cited in the Resolution, “nothing [in the provisions of B012] narrows the authority of the Rector or Priest in charge” in regard to the “full authority and responsibility for the conduct of the worship and the spiritual jurisdiction of the Parish” and “the use and control of the Church and Parish buildings.”
F) Resolution B012 establishes a procedure to be followed where there is a desire on the part of couples, clergy, and congregations to use the Trial Rites, in a diocese where “the bishop holds a theological position that does not embrace marriage for same-sex couples.” The bishop is required to “invite, as necessary, another bishop of this Church to provide pastoral support to the couple, the Member of the Clergy involved and the congregation or worshipping community.”
1) In the Diocese of Tennessee, the Bishop has primary charge of Missions and Chaplaincies as Rector and Bishop. In accord with Canon III.9.6a, cited in Resolution B012, the Bishop does not allow use of the Trial Rites in mission and chaplaincy churches and facilities for which he is directly responsible. This does not restrict any member of the clergy from using the Trial Rites elsewhere in or outside the Diocese, under the other provisions of this implementation.
2) The Bishop requires notification of any use of the Trial Rites by a member of the clergy canonically resident in Tennessee, prior to the event.
3) In the Diocese of Tennessee, in accord with Resolution B012, use of the Trial Rites assumes agreement between clergy and congregations to use the Rites. The Bishop will seek assurance that such agreement exists.
4) Where there is disagreement in teaching about the sacramental rite of marriage between bishop and clergy there can be no effective oversight of marriage by the Diocesan Bishop. In the Diocese of Tennessee, the Bishop has determined that it is necessary for another bishop to provide pastoral support in congregations that desire to use the Trial Rites.
5) In light of this disagreement, in all matters pertaining to marriage in these congregations, whether use of the Trial Rites or not, another bishop designated by the Bishop will provide whatever episcopal support is needed for couples and clergy preparing for marriage.
6) The Bishop will inform the cleric desiring to use the Trial Rites of the bishop providing pastoral support.
7) In marriages requiring episcopal permission for the clergy to officiate at the wedding of a person whose previous husband or wife is living, under Canon I.19.3c, the bishop providing episcopal support will also provide the needed permission. In these congregations, requests for permission to officiate will come first to the Bishop of Tennessee, and then be turned over to the bishop providing pastoral support, for action under the Canon.
8) The Bishop reminds all clergy of the Diocese of the obligations undertaken at ordination, and the role of the Bishop as chief pastor, and commends to them the teaching summarized in the document “Pastoral Teaching on Marriage.”