St. Paul in the Desert has been “Welcoming, Empowering, and Supporting” people in Palm Springs for 75 years. That is a big claim and I make it with guarded reservations. We have done this for some people for the entirety of our presence as a community of faith, though not for all. The reality is that we have been growing in our welcome and inclusiveness over the life of the parish. The leadership of St. Paul’s is committed to moving in the direction where all are truly welcome.
My hope is that we will be a community of blessing to the Palm Springs area as we live out God’s mission, to welcome, empower and support those who seek God.
As a Church, we have a ministry of blessing. We have a ministry of blessing marriage from the context of a Christian community. This is nothing new for St. Paul’s. This is how we have connected with people who have looked to be married for years.
What IS new is that Proposition 8 has been overturned and the General Convention of the Episcopal Church has permitted our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. James Mathes, to respond in a way that extends the ministry of blessing to the LGBT community. Bp. Mathes has defined a policy that allows congregations and their clergy to welcome same-sex couples to be married in the church. The ministry and community of blessing will grow in response.
The Vestry (board of directors) and I have been working on this process for years. Our parish has conducted a congregational study using our Diocesan Report. We have made interim steps to promote equality.
Here is the process that St. Paul’s will follow for all couples, LGBT and straight, as we live within the rules of the Episcopal Church, follow Diocesan Policy, and honor the civil law.
1. Weddings are an offering for our community of faith. Normally at least one member of a couple who desire to be married in the church would be a part of the Parish. If they are not when they contact the Parish, they are invited to “come and see.” There are a number of ways that we honor the “community” aspect for couples who do not live here. Contact the parish for more information at email@example.com or call 760-320-7488 and ask for Fr. Andrew or Fr. Jonathan.
2. All couples receive appropriate preparation for marriage.
3. At some point the priest officiating will share statements from the couple about the meaning of their marriage with Bp. Mathes. These may be written letters or may be done as a video or recorded message. Bp. Mathes wants to support this sacramental process with his prayers.
4. Normally, the ceremony is conducted in the Sanctuary of the Church, by Parish Clergy, with the Parish Organist.
5. The ceremonies are in accordance with the official liturgies of the Episcopal Church.
6. Fees for weddings are not a significant issue in the planning process. They represent minimal compensation and coverage of costs.
If you are a couple who wish to celebrate your marriage with a “welcoming, empowering, and supportive” community of faith, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 760-320-7488 and ask for Fr. Andrew or Fr. Jonathan.