The rectors of Falls Church’s two Protestant congregations that have been at odds with each other, the Falls Church Anglican, the bulk of whose members defected from the historic Falls Church in 2006, and the “continuing Episcopalians” who endured a seven year legal battle to for the Anglicans out and to reclaim the historic church site for themselves, differed sharply on the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Friday that established marriage equality (including between same-sex couples) as the law of the land.
A statement by the Rev. John Ohmer of the Falls Church Episcopal, which is now solidly established at the historic church, issued the following statement, sent to the News-Press Sunday:
“I’ve never understood why conservatives, of all people, would be opposed to people lining up and fighting for the opportunity to join the inherently conservative institution of marriage,” the Rev. John Ohmer, Rector of The Falls Church Episcopal said. “Couples want to marry – to make lifelong promises to be exclusively loyal to one another, to be faithful to each other as long as they both shall live. And some people oppose that? Couples want – to paraphrase the United Methodist pastor and author Adam Hamilton – to share their lives together as one another’s helpers and companions, hold hands, share dreams, help one another when one is struggling, share memories, companionship, and a warm embrace, commit to love one another ‘for better and for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish until they are parted by death’ — and some people are somehow against that? On moral grounds?!? Committed, unconditional, mutual, exclusive, faithful, and lifelong covenant love is what couples sign on for when they marry each other. None of us keep those promises and vows perfectly. But the Supreme Court has said that that now, gay couples — no matter what state they happen to live in — can at least legally try. I say thanks be to God. And if couples – straight or gay – are looking for a faith community in which to make, and then try to honor those lifelong commitments, well, The Episcopal Church welcomes them.”
A statement by the Rev. John Yates of the breakaway Anglican congregation (which this last week announced plans to build a new church on Arlington Blvd. less than a mile from the historic church, made the following statement in a written missive to his congregants:
“The U.S. Supreme Court made a decision Friday that made many Americans very happy, but those who hold to biblical values cannot share in that joy. Jesus taught us that God made man male and female, that marriage is only between a man and woman, and that those who don’t marry are to live pure and chaste lives. Whenever our government endorses a way of living that God has condemned, it cannot be good for our country, and so we are grieved. When people are so confused about their own identity, it is grievous to us as well. And when there is such a huge outpouring of support for practices that God has condemned, it causes us to fear for our country.
…Even as we see our nation embracing shameful practices, let us not be so focused on sexual sins that we forget God’s other warnings against, for instance, greed, envy, pride, and the callous disregard of the poor.”