The letter of the Revs. John Barr III, Marcus Kaiser and Thomas Allen ("Episcopal Church on errant path," Sept. 8) demands a response. They write, among several incorrect statements, that the Episcopal Church has redefined marriage. This is not true.
The General Convention, composed of some 1,200 bishops, clergy and laity - the governing body of the Episcopal Church - has not in any way changed the church's teaching regarding Christian marriage. No change was made in the Book of Common Prayer, which on page 422 states: "Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God." On page 423, "The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage," the priest reads to the man, woman and assembled congregation: "The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee."
What the General Convention did was to open the possibility to bless the committed relationship of persons of the same sex. In no way is this to be considered a marriage. This action is taken out of pastoral love, as was done some years ago when the Episcopal Church found its way to the re-marriage of divorced persons, who in the words of the Lord Christ were committing adultery (Matthew 19:9).
St. Paul admonishes women to be still in church and not speak (1 Corinthians 14:24). Yet some years ago the church, in exercising pastoral loving concern, found its way to bring women into the full life of the church, including admission to holy orders. God moves to His purposes in mysterious ways.
I devoted 20 years of ministry in the Diocese of South Carolina, 17 of those years in Charleston, 11 as canon to the ordinary to the Right Rev. Gray Temple, an outstanding bishop in the Diocese of South Carolina (1960-1982). During the tumultuous years of the '60s and '70's, his one constant admonition to the clergy and laity was to keep focused on Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, and on Jesus' concern for the well-being of people, and to uphold the worth and dignity of human life. That is what the Episcopal Church is about.
REV. CANON GEORGE I. CHASSEY
Canon administrator (retired)
Diocese of Upper South Carolina