Task Force on the Study of Marriage provides progress on actions, four working groups

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] The Episcopal Church Task Force on the Study of Marriage has issued the following progress report:

The Task Force on the Study of Marriage, meeting March 27-30 in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, continued its work as directed by the 2015 General Convention. The Task Force reviewed, refined and polished a number of pieces which will form its report to the 79th General Convention.

The Academic working group is finalizing a series of short essays on the church’s response to sexually intimate relationships, singleness, households, culture and marriage, and couples who seek a blessing for their relationship but not marriage.  These essays will be sent out for review and response from theologians, ethicists, pastors, liturgists, social scientists, and educators who are not members of the expanded Task Force, and whose perspectives represent the spectrum of understandings on these matters in the Church, as Resolution 2015-A037 asks.

The Pastoral working group continues to receive responses to the Task Force’s relationship survey which collects stories about committed relationships, both same gender and opposite gender, across a range of demographics.

Joan Geiszler-Ludlum, chair pro tem, commented, “In reviewing the narrative responses received to date, individual stories of a variety of committed relationships prove to be poignant, moving and expressive of the experience of such relationships.”

The Pastoral working group is seeking additional opportunities to broaden the demographics of the survey responses.  To access the survey go here for Spanish and here for English.

The Ecclesial working group, in consultation with the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, is collecting data from the dioceses to assess and monitor the impact of same-sex marriage and rites of blessing on the Church.  A survey seeking diocese-specific data on the implementation of the trial liturgies as authorized by the 2015 General Convention is available here. 

The Functional working group is at work outlining the historical role of the clergy in marriage and discussing the current debate around the clergy acting on behalf of both the church and the state.

Geiszler-Ludlum said, “The Task Force on the Study of Marriage reflects the diversity of this Church to the best of its ability, treating the variety of views represented with equal dignity and respect. Members are working diligently to accomplish the variety of tasks that General Convention mandated and we are deeply grateful for those who have contributed to our work by sharing their stories and experiences.  We continue to be blessed by the opportunity to do this work and hope that the wider Church will find our report helpful as we seek and serve Christ in each other and in the committed relationships we find in our congregations and communities.”

The Rev. Brian C. Taylor, Diocese of Chicago, Chair
Joan Geiszler-Ludlum, Diocese of East Carolina, Vice Chair/Chair Pro Tem
The Rev. Philip Dinwiddie, Diocese of Michigan, Secretary
The Rev. Stannard Baker, Diocese of Vermont
Bishop Thomas Ely, Diocese of Vermont
The Rev. Gianetta Hayes-Martin, Diocese of California
The Rev. Carlye Hughes, Diocese of Fort Worth
The Rev. Jordan Hylden, Diocese of Dallas
The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, Diocese of California
Bishop Steven Miller, Diocese of Milwaukee
The Rev. Humphrey Paulino, Diocese of Venezuela
The Rev. Susan Russell, Diocese of Los Angeles
Deborah Stokes, Diocese of Southern Ohio
Bishop Brian Thom, Diocese of Idaho
Melodie Woerman, Diocese of Kansas


  1. F William Thewalt says:

    It is probably not far off when the E’s will bless a marriage between a human and an animal. Of course it will have to be a “service” animal in order to gain any semblance of acceptance. How far off can the church go? I’m perfectly fine with same sex blessings etc. but that is probably not liberal enough for the current E crowd.

  2. Terry Tim Solon says:

    The present is not the way it has always been. There is a history of couples living together and choosing to do so long enough to establish a common law marriage. This was particularly acceptable in the frontier areas, such as what became West Virginia, due to absence of clergy and civil officials. The first part of the marriage service, more obvious in early Prayer Books, was held at the entrance to the church building. If the marriage “worked”, the couple would return a year or more later for the sacramental blessing. As with girls who have been sexually abused as children and who avoid a union with a male, so some couples fear the trauma of divorce and want some time to know they have a solid relationship.

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