THE RT, REV. WLLIAM E. SMALLEY
TELEPHONE: (786) 235-9256 BISHOP
FAX: (785) 235-2449
June 13, 2002
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am authorizing the blessing of persons living in committed relationships other than Holy Matrimony on a limited basis in the Diocese of Kansas. I want to state clearly that this is NOT to be a substitute for Holy Matrimony, or even to resemble Holy Matrimony. It is simply extending the blessing of people's lives to those who have not been able to fully receive this.
The enclosed policy explains how this will be done. This policy was shared with the Council of Trustees this week, but comes solely from me as Bishop. The policy does not apply to my successor as Bishop of Kansas unless he or she wishes to continue it or amend it.
I suggest that this letter and policy be shared and discussed by the parish leadership prior to any parish-wide discussion.
The policy is stated in terms that are necessarily somewhat legalistic. I want to tell you of my journey to this decision in more personal terms.
I begin where the Church does, on the "sanctity of marriage." Carole and I have been married for almost 38 years, beginning our life together with the blessing of the Church on our new life together. The Church has continued to bless and feed us in our life together, offering us the prayerful support of loving community. We have honored the vows we made and have grown in our love and faith, in large part because of the Church's blessing and support.
I see the blessing of lives as a key part of the life of the Christian community, going back to our earliest roots. We like Abraham and Sarah are people blessed by God so that we might be a blessing to others. All of our lives are marked by blessings, with the liturgies of The Book of Common Prayer and The Book of Occasional Services filled with opportunities for blessing.
We have people in our parish communities who have not been able to fully enjoy the blessing of their lives. Among these persons are heterosexual couples for whom Holy Matrimony is not a possibility because it would mean financial loss, and even the inability to support themselves. This happens for many through, for example, loss of a deceased spouse's pension. Others are homosexual couples living in committed relationships but unable to receive the blessing of the Church on their lives and relationships.
I know many of these people, as you do, and have shared in their lives and the hospitality of their homes. I have also experienced their pain over the fact that they cannot receive the blessing of the Church on their relationships, and often not even share the joys and pains of their life with a Christian community. They do not have what Carole and I and so many others couples in the Church enjoy, the Church's full blessing of their lives.
I come to my decision in part out of pastoral care for these people, but also because of the example I see in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus in his Incarnation cared deeply for all people, and had a special care for those who were denied the fullness of life. Jesus taught that all persons were God's "beloved" children. The Church, the "Body of Christ," is called to continue the ministry of the Incarnation. Our "Baptismal Covenant" underlines this in our pledge to "seek and serve Christ in all persons." A part of this is the welcoming of all people fully into our life as a Church, affirming their human dignity, and sharing with them in the blessing of the Church on their lives.
The enclosed policy opens the possibility for this.
It should be noted, however, that while this policy is available for use in all Congregations of the Diocese of Kansas, it will only be applicable in Congregations where the leadership in the persons of the Rector and Vestry choose to submit a plan for my approval.
I am most willing to discuss this policy with any of you, your Vestries, or members of your parishes.
I ask for your prayers for me and for this Diocese and its Congregations.
William E. Smalley
As people called to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves, the mission of the Diocese of Kansas is to Equip, Send, and Nurture disciples of Jesus Christ.
DIOCESE OF KANSAS
835 S.W. POLK STREET
Tuesday, July 09, 2002
Letter from the Bishop of Kansas
Comment: ( A LETTER FROM THE EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF KANSAS USA ON HOW HE JUSTIFIES BLESSINGS OF SAME SEX PARTNERS....ONCE THE TRUTH IS ACCEPTED MERELY AS A TRUTH FOR ME THEN ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE FOR TRUTH IS FOR FOR ME IN MY SITUATION, IN MY SUBJECTIVITY) --Peter Toon
Posted by John at 7:40 PM