Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Marriage Equality In New York

I rejoice with our New York neighbors on the passage of a state law that will make it legal for gay and lesbian couples to marry. I ache for gay and lesbian couples in New Jersey, which came very close two years ago to passing similar legislation. By a close vote New Jersey chose to stick with civil unions -- which is a separate but unequal provision if there ever was one.

What the country is learning, slowly but inexorably, is that marriage for gay and lesbian couples and families strengthens marriage for all couples and families. Relationships marked by fidelity and life-long commitment, and which are protected by law -- as well as blessed by the church, weaves yet another important and necessary thread of support into the social fabric.

Same-gender marriage also exposes the inequity of so-called "traditional" marriage, in which a wedding ceremony was in large measure a contract between two men -- the groom and the father of the bride. When the father of the bride "gave away" his daughter, she surrendered her name, her property and her legal status -- to her husband. With the evolution of marriage -- and particularly with the advent of same-gender marriage, the only surrendering is that of two people giving their love and commitment to each other.

My hope and prayer is that the action in New York will serve as a catalyst for providing the same outcome in New Jersey. Many in the Garden State will redouble their efforts to promote marriage equality. I will join them.

I am reminded by an insight made some sixty years ago by Reinhold Niebuhr, a remarkable theologian who in many ways served as our culture's post-war conscience: the human capacity for justice makes democracy possible; and the human capacity for injustice makes democracy necessary.

I hope and pray for the continued unfolding of democracy, the evolution of marriage -- and the freedom and equality that are the hallmarks of each.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

An Alleluia Season Message From Bishop Beckwith

Easter is the liturgical season set aside for the purpose of celebrating new life in the risen Christ. For centuries, “Alleluia” has been the verbal response to this extraordinary gift. The Easter season ends on Pentecost Sunday, June 12; but the “Alleluias” continue, because new life continues to be offered. The challenge to us is to receive this new life – however it comes to us; as we receive it in the Eucharist, as we gather with the people we love – and in the transfiguring beauty of creation which takes our breath away at this time of the year.

As we are challenged to receive this new life, we are also expected to share it. When we give from what we have, we become co-creators with the Divine Creator.

The Alleluia Fund is an opportunity to express our alleluias in a tangible way. The Alleluia Fund is designed around the fundamentals of Christian stewardship: people’s need to give as opposed to an institution’s need to receive. The Alleluia Fund gives individuals and families across the diocese the opportunity to give into a large pool of funds – and therefore make a significant and collective impact and witness in areas of human need. Last year the diocese raised over $100,000. This year we hope to do the same. All of the monies go to outreach – and where it goes is determined by a diocesan committee that reviews grant applications from ministries in the diocese – or international ministries connected to the diocese or the wider church. The international portion of the Alleluia Fund will go to Nets for Life (, a remarkable initiative sponsored by Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) in which $12 buys not only a malaria-preventing net, but also a community education component that has made the ERD’s ministry in this area the international model for malaria prevention.

You can contribute online by going to and clicking the yellow “Donate” button on the right, or by mailing a check payable to the Diocese of Newark with “Alleluia Fund” in the memo line to: The Alleluia Fund, c/o Diocese of Newark, 31 Mulberry Street, Newark, NJ 07102. Say “Alleluia” in a tangible way.

In the spirit of alleluia,
+Mark M. Beckwith