Liturgy for blessing of same sex couples begins use

Episcopal News Service has the news on the first days of use of the liturgy for blessing same-sex couples’ relationships:

In the final debate before General Convention approved a provisional church liturgy to bless the lifelong relationships of same-gender couples, Episcopal Diocese of Chicago Deputy Ian Hallas, 22, spoke about his sister, Louisa, and her civil union.

ens_120312_TS_blessings-500x400.jpg“The love that she shares with her partner is unconditional and speaks to the ideal relationships all of us should strive to have,” he told the House of Deputies on July 10 in Indianapolis. “I often get asked by churchgoers and nonchurchgoers why I am a part of this body. The reason I return is for my sister. I seek to assure that she not only has the same rites as myself but also the same privileges.”

The new rite, “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant,” was authorized for use with diocesan episcopal permission beginning Dec. 2, the first Sunday of Advent.

The blessing liturgy is authorized only with the permission of the diocesan bishop, and clergy can decline to preside at a blessing ceremony. Resolution A049 specified that bishops, particularly in dioceses located in civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal, could provide a “generous pastoral response” and that bishops could adapt the liturgical materials to meet church members’ needs.

In the months since General Convention approved use of the liturgy, bishops throughout the church have issued pastoral letters outlining the policies for their dioceses. (more here)

From Facebook re: The Rt. Rev. Douglas John Fisher, newly consecrated bishop of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts:

Ordained on Saturday and on Sunday, officiated at his first blessing of a same-sex marriage with Rev Tanya R. Wallace at All Saints Church, South Hadley, MA. The blessing was one of three services that were celebrated in the Diocese on Sunday!

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  1. Erik Campano

    Wow. A *very* landmark moment in liturgical history!

    Erik Campano

  2. Hunter Carter

    It is a major step forward, but it is unacceptable nevertheless, as it does not offer the “same rites” and “same privileges” for all. There is simply no foundation in Jesus’s universal love for second class status. The Church and the opposition to same sex couples just need time, apparently, for this to come into focus. That time is painful, perhaps for all concerned, but I hold hope for rapid conversion to a unified rite just as I hold hope for any reluctant person, once they share in the joy and bliss of a wedding they previous thought unthinkable, to come around to it. It will be one of the greatest reconciliations in human history and we will pull it off in the ever-loving name of Jesus.

  3. Cynthia Katsarelis

    I know people worked on this for years, but in the meantime, time passed us by. It is way past time to simply offer the Sacrament of Marriage to all. This is separate and unequal.

    We need legal marriage for the legal rights. And the Sacrament of Marriage for our spiritual lives. It doesn’t really feel that great to be treated as second class human beings. It’s only nice in comparison to less tolerant denominations. That’s not really a great standard…

  4. Well said, Cynthia.

    Adelaide Kent

  5. Eric Bonetti

    I’ve vacillated on this, and finally settled (I hope!) on an ardent hope that TEC at all levels will advocate for marriage equality.

    At the same time, particularly in areas where we are far from marriage equality in the eyes of the law, it is a wonderful step forward for the church to bless same-gender unions. If nothing else, the church’s blessing moves couples from where they were 20 years ago, in which they were relegated to the shadowy backwaters of parish life, towards a full and loving role in the larger church. So, I’m all for blessing same-gender relationships, and hope that this will be a path towards greater inclusion and acceptance of all persons in the church.

    And as I stated in an earlier posting, I truly believe that, as we become more welcoming of all persons, we will see TEC experience growth, both spiritually and in terms of size and resources. Let’s keep going, shake off the dusty vestiges of being a quasi-state church, and make a difference in the lives of others!

    Eric Bonetti

  6. Bobedgar3

    Until the Federal Goverment allows tax breaks and other benifits equal to “married couples” we’re still falling a bit short of the mark: “… Love your neighbor as yourself …” It is however a step in the “Rite” direction.

    Bob Edgar (added by ~ed.)

  7. Susan S. Loomis

    I think the same sex marriage rite is far more beautiful and moving than the traditional marriage rite. I’d gladly use this service to bless my civil marriage. My personal preference would be to use this service for all marriages.

  8. Eric Bonetti

    Hi Susan. I am very happy to see your comments, as I had a rather different reaction to the provisional liturgy for blessing same-gender relationships–and I say that in all sincerity, as one of the wonderful things about TEC is our willingness to embrace different experiences. My great hope for the church is that we will move away from the issues of the past few years and towards the decency, pluralism, and mutual support and encouragement that we have offered for so many years to so many persons.

    – Eric Bonetti

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