St. Paul’s, K Street, now welcomes ordained women as eucharistic celebrants, will introduce a provisional liturgy for blessing same-sex couples, and will soon elect its 10th rector.

The decisions on ordained women and the provisional liturgy follow a period of discernment described in August 2014 by the Rt. Rev. James Jelinek, interim rector.

The vestry of the Anglo-Catholic parish, long known by the nickname of “smoky St. Paul’s,” announced its decision about the provisional liturgy in a message [PDF] to parishioners:

Although the Vestry has discerned a path that would involve the sensitive and careful introduction of the Provisional Liturgy, we note that the Vestry’s discernment hardly will be or should be the last word on this subject. As our Patron, St. Paul, tells us: members cannot say one to another “I have no need of you” 
(1 Corinthians 12:21). Our community is enriched by the diversity of views on a variety of subjects. By introducing the use of the Provisional Liturgy, St. Paul’s Parish actively engages with the Episcopal Church in its continuing discernment. Indeed, canonical, liturgical, and pastoral issues relating to same-sex relationships and marriage again will be among the prominent issues before the General Convention of the Episcopal Church when it meets this summer.

Finally, in terms of the imminence of the election of the Tenth Rector of St. Paul’s Parish, some have inquired whether the discernment process should have been delayed. The Vestry believes that it would have been neither wise nor realistic to have artificially delayed a process of this importance that has seriously engaged the entire Parish community for more than a year. Also, particularly given the canonical, pastoral, and practical involvement of the next rector of the Parish in such matters, the Vestry believes it will be very helpful for candidates for election as our Tenth Rector to have the benefit of its discernment.

The April issue of The Epistle [PDF], the parish’s newsletter, lists four ordained women who now serve St. Paul’s as honorary assistants:

  • The Rev. Catriona Laing, who moved to Washington with her husband, who is U.S. economics editor for Financial Times.
  • The Rev. Elizabeth Locher, assistant to the rector for parish life and family ministries at Grace Church, Alexandria. She will celebrate the Sung Mass for the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25.
  • The Rev. Elizabeth Orens, who preached at the Feast of the Annunciation in 2014.
  • The Rev. Katherine Sonderegger, who holds the William Meade Chair of Systematic Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary.

“With their help,” the newsletter says, “St. Paul’s is able to continue offering Mass 365 days a year.”

Image of the nave at St. Paul’s K Street by Stpaulkstreetphotos (own work). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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