DADT Implementation Guidance for Clergy of The Episcopal Church Serving as Chaplains Within the Armed Services and Federal Ministries Episcopacy
May 9, 2011
From the perspective of our ministry to the men and women of the Armed Services, I recognize that as the military components of the Department of Defense commence the repeal of existing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, there will be questions that relate to my expectations for the clergy of this episcopacy. I believe that some of these questions will have application to the other federal entities you serve: the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Therefore, I offer the following guidance in hope that it will assist you as you exercise the cure of souls within the context of your understanding of the Christian Gospel and of your ordination vows.
1. It is my expectation that all service members and their entitled family members will be treated with respect and dignity, and will be given excellent pastoral care by the clergy of this episcopacy. In any instance when for some reason a chaplain of this episcopacy cannot provide pastoral care for a service member and/or entitled members of the service member’s family, that chaplain is strongly encouraged to identify another chaplain or other appropriate resource to meet their needs.
2. At this time The Episcopal Church does not endorse or provide liturgical resources for marriage between persons of the same gender. However, should a chaplain of this episcopacy choose to bless the union of same gender persons, that liturgical action will be a matter of conscience for the chaplain. I neither expect our chaplains to bless nor refuse to bless a same gender union. Once again, that is a matter of the chaplain’s conscience. In those cases when out of conscience a chaplain of this episcopacy should choose not to offer such a blessing, I expect that chaplain will exercise reasonable effort to find a suitable alternative for the service member and/or entitled members of the service member’s family.
4. If a chaplain of this episcopacy at any time feels pressured to either perform or refuse to perform personal services for gay or lesbian service members and/or entitled members of the service member’s family, the chaplain should get in touch with me as soon as possible for pastoral advice.
I am committed to support and maintain your acts of conscience as you care for the men and women for whom you are responsible. My daily prayer for you is that the living Lord whom we worship will sustain you as we make this crucial transition to repeal DADT policy. Furthermore, I am assured that the contributions of your excellent spiritual leadership will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of the people you serve.
+ The Rt. Rev. James B. Magness, D.Min.
Bishop Suffragan for the Armed Services and Federal Ministries