WBEZ | baptists http://www.wbez.org/tags/baptists Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Clergy who support same-sex marriage in Illinois might not perform ceremonies http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-11/clergy-who-support-same-sex-marriage-illinois-might-not-perform <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7323_DOMARallySmall%20%2818%20of%2024%29-scr.jpg" style="float: left; height: 267px; width: 400px;" title="Illinois clergy rally for marriage equality (WBEZ/Shawn Allee)" />Clergy of different faiths support same-sex marriage in Illinois.</p><p>In fact, over 300 <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/acrobat/2012-12/158835580-23185637.pdf">signed a letter</a> asking members of the Illinois House to support The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.</p><p>And the House did, this week, by a vote of 61-54.</p><p>Of course, supporting the Act doesn&rsquo;t mean clergy have to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies.</p><p>The bill passed this week does not require any <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/23072883-452/gay-marriage-bill-preserves-religious-freedom.html">religious organization or leader to</a> &ldquo;accommodate&rdquo; same sex marriages.</p><p>But state law doesn&rsquo;t mean much when it comes to church law.</p><p><a href="http://www.episcopalarchives.org/Afro-Anglican_history/exhibit/leadership/tolliver.php">Reverend Doctor Richard L. Tolliver</a> is Rector at St. Edmund&rsquo;s Episcopal Church in Washington Park.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re given authority from a secular point of view,&rdquo; said Reverend Tolliver. &ldquo;But from a religious dimension we are not.&rdquo;<br /><br />Instead Reverend Tolliver and his Episcopal peers are permitted, as of 2012,&nbsp; to &ldquo;witness a same-sex marriage and perform a rite of blessing.&rdquo;</p><p>The Reverend says that includes everything but the &ldquo;contractual parts,&rdquo; the &ldquo;do you takes&rdquo; and the &ldquo; I now pronounce you&hellip;.&rdquo;</p><p>For many, that&rsquo;s kind of the meat on the bone of a marriage ceremony. But Illinois Episcopalians will continue to follow their Book of Common Prayer, which still defines marriage as a rite between a man and a woman. Revered Tolliver says that situation is unlikely to change until 2015, when members hold their next general convention.</p><p>While the Episcopal Church has taken a one-size-fits-all approach, Larry Greenfield, the Executive Minister of the <a href="http://www.abcmc.org/contents/regionalStaff/regionalStaff.html">American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago</a>, says his organization leaves it up to individual churches.</p><p>&ldquo;I can advise, counsel, urge, even come close to twisting their arms,&rdquo; said Greenfield. &ldquo;But in the end, it&rsquo;s that local congregation&rsquo;s decision.&rdquo;</p><p>There are 64 churches in the ABCMC and Greenfield says they run the gamut, from &ldquo;highly supportive to fervently against, and then everything in the middle.&rdquo;</p><p>To Greenfield, that mix reflects both the mission of his church and democratic principles.</p><p>&ldquo;The imposition of state or religion on the freedom of a congregation to make that decision would be a violation of our position about the nature of Christian faith,&rdquo; said Greenfield.</p><p>If he were asked to perform a same-sex marriage, Greenfield says he would, &ldquo;absolutely.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I am member of a faith community that believes love is the supreme reality and responsibility of all human beings,&rdquo; says Greenfield. &ldquo;I&rsquo;d welcome the opportunity to bless that union.&rdquo;</p><p>The decision is a little more complex for <a href="http://www.wpmbc.org/senior-pastor/">Reverend Dr. L. Bernard Jakes</a>, senior pastor of West Point Baptist Church in Chicago&rsquo;s Bronzeville neighborhood.</p><p>He came out in support of gay marriage in 2011, a decision he says wasn&rsquo;t at all difficult.&nbsp; But he won&rsquo;t perform a same-sex ceremony in his church sanctuary anytime soon.</p><p>&ldquo;The church would have to come together as a body and say how they feel about it, how comfortable they are,&rdquo; said Reverend Jakes. &ldquo;Because it&rsquo;s not a dictatorship. I really do engage them in the process.&rdquo;</p><p>The Reverend says he hopes they come to terms through conversation. Right now though, he&rsquo;s more focused on keeping his flock together.</p><p>&ldquo;Character assassination is going to happen,&rdquo; said Reverend Jakes. &ldquo;We are to continue to pray for one another, because we will be bastardized and demonized based upon what we believe.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href=" http://www.wbez.org/users/acuddy-0" rel="author"> Alison Cuddy </a> is the Arts and Culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on <a href=" https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter </a>, <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison"> Facebook </a> and <a href=" http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram </a></em></p></p> Thu, 07 Nov 2013 14:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-11/clergy-who-support-same-sex-marriage-illinois-might-not-perform