Still dithering in Wisconsin

An article in today’s Wisconsin State Journal profiles the responses of two of my Madison colleagues to last week’s court decision striking down Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage. Andy Jones, Rector of St. Andrew’s, had this to say:

The Rev. Andy Jones, pastor of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Madison, would like to perform same-sex marriages but his denomination does not allow it. The Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, of which Madison Episcopal churches are a part, also prohibits same-sex blessing ceremonies, although other Episcopal dioceses allow them.

“Longtime members of St. Andrew’s — faithful, committed couples — long to have their church community affirm who they are and to have their church bless their relationship,” Jones said. “It pains me that I can’t do that.”

The article also quotes Miranda Hassett, who showed her support at the City-County building last Friday: “It was really important for me to be there as a priest and as a progressive Christian,” she said.

I share their views and point out this from Bishop Miller’s letter of 2013 on same-sex blessings:
Furthermore, I stated my belief that the right to a civil marriage should be available to all people, regardless of sexual orientation and that I would support those seeking to overturn the ban on same-gender marriage in Wisconsin.
 You can read it all here:
Meanwhile, the Attorney General is threatening to prosecute County Clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. My friend, Scott McDonnell, Dane County Clerk, responds:

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said the possibility of prosecution “doesn’t keep me up at night.” McDonell, a Democrat andthe first clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Wisconsin, called Van Hollen’s claim of possible charges ridiculous.

“He needs to call off the dogs and turn off the fire hoses,” he said, invoking extreme police responses to some civil rights protests of the 1960s.

Same Sex Blessings in the Diocese of Milwaukee (and elsewhere)

An article in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel informs the wider community where the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Milwaukee, and our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Steven Miller, stand on allowing the use of rites for same-sex blessings by diocesan congregations. The article includes this from Andy Jones, Rector of St. Andrew’s Madison:

“I have people here in my parish – faithful, committed Christians – who are partners in same-sex relationships and long to have their re lationships recognized by the church they love. So I’m really anxious to be able to do that,” said the Rev. Andy Jones of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Madison, echoing the concerns of several pastors in the diocese.

“But the bishop is still struggling with this,” Jones said. “He’s still working it through, and that’s where we are.”

The article also points out that Bishop Miller has yet to announce publicly what he will permit.

Meanwhile, in the wider church the news was released last week that the National Cathedral (in Washington, DC) will perform same-sex weddings (a provision in the legislation authorizing same-sex blessings permitted the adaptation of the rite for marriage in those jurisdictions where same-sex weddings are legal). And Sewanee (The University of the South), owned by 28 Episcopal dioceses, has announced that same-sex blessings will be permitted at All Saints’ Chapel, with the approval of the couple’s bishop.

There’s some question about how many dioceses permit the rites. According to David Virtue, as of December 19, 2012, 69 dioceses allow them. The Journal Sentinel article, citing Integrity, says that 30% of Episcopal dioceses have permitted them.

Update on the Porchlight fire and the response from St. Francis House

Here’s today’s article from the Wisconsin State Journal.

Here’s the letter my colleague Andy Jones wrote to Madison’s Common Council yesterday.

In fact, it looks like we will be welcoming the Porchlight residents tomorrow. Porchlight, Madison Property Management, and our staff scrambled today to get the space ready and deal with security issues. The WSJ has info on how to donate money and items to those in need.

Whew! Another day in the life of a (well, two) priests

I woke up this morning looking forward to a leisure-filled day. I don’t have to prepare a sermon for tomorrow so I thought I might work on a couple of projects around the house, do some reading, and maybe watch some football or a movie.

Then I read about the fire at Porchlight’s facility on Brooks St. last night. I thought about calling Steve Schooler to see if there was anything I could do, but I figured he would be inundated with phone calls of all sorts and having to deal with the crisis. I thought of the woman who I had just written a check for downpayment for an apartment in one of Porchlight’s facilities, and wondered if she was affected. I thought about St. Francis House, the immediate neighbor to the north of the Brooks St. building and whether we could do anything. Then my attention turned elsewhere.

Around 11:00, I got a call from my colleague, Andy Jones. He had just received a call from Steve Silverberg of LZ Ventures who were scheduled to take over St. Francis House for the redevelopment project that I’ve mentioned before on this blog. They volunteered to delay the handover so that Porchlight could use St. Francis House to house residents displaced by the fire. Bishop Miller approved the offer, and the board was polled via email.

Meanwhile, I was deputized to contact Porchlight because of my working relationship with them. I phoned Steve Schooler and drove over to St. Francis to show them the building. We discussed logistics and what not. They have found space for six of the residents in Porchlight facilities, but ten were still homeless. All sixteen have lost all of their possessions. We’ve been working on vacating St. Francis House for the redevelopment and the move, so much of the lower level of the building is in a mess, to put it mildly. I also made a call to the pastor of Luther Memorial Church, another neighbor of ours, to let us know what we had in mind.

I went home, began planning those projects, and drove off to Home Depot to buy some things I needed. In the parking lot, I got another call from Andy, letting me know that Madison Property Management has volunteered to help in any way with getting the space ready for occupancy, including staff to clean, and furniture.

Now that’s ministry. I don’t get those projects done today, however.