Dear Members of the Faculty and Staff,
Last week I wrote to you about a matter concerning the University policy on the blessing of same-sex relationships. Over the past week, the Chaplain and I, along with the Chancellor and Regent Bishops, have been in lengthy discussions about how to accommodate the request to allow the blessing of a same-sex relationship after the couple making the request has already had a civil marriage. This particular scenario, highly improbable in December 2012, when only six states (four in New England) plus the District of Columbia permitted same-sex marriage, will become increasingly likely, now that nineteen states permit same-sex marriage and in seven additional states the matter is currently in the courts. We have been assisted by Professor Jim Turrell, whose expertise in the field of liturgics has led to the crafting of a liturgy to be used specifically in those cases where a same-sex couple has already had a civil marriage. As a result, the request to confer a blessing in All Saints’ Chapel has been granted.
I extend my deepest appreciation to all of those involved in the resolution of this issue, which has been handled in the best tradition of our University, with civility, reason, and, above all, an open mind.
This from Kathyn Kendrick, one of the two women involved in this situation:
"Eva and I are grateful and humbled by Bishop Howard's grant of our appeal to have our relationship blessed at All Saints' Chapel and to each of you for your support not only for the two of us, but equality of all persons at Sewanee: University of the South.
We would like to thank Bishop Howard for his leadership throughout this process and for the fairness and spirit of truth with which he and others approached our dialogue.
This evening we are gathered with our closest family members as we prepare to celebrate our legal marriage tomorrow afternoon. This news has brought joy to our hearts and tears to our eyes as this decision has blessed us in more ways than we can name.
We are thankful for the opportunity to live our lives with integrity and to be part of the Sewanee community."
And we all shout, "Thanks be to God!" and Mazel Tov to Kathryn and Eva as they, and their many supporters, have helped to open the doors a little further for love to flourish on a mountain top in Tennessee.
May the Holy Spirit continue this good work begun in Tennessee to also exist in the home dioceses of the Chancellor and Regent Bishops.