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A respectful international discussion of same-sex blessings

A respectful international discussion of same-sex blessings

The International Anglican Liturgical Consultation (IALC) was asked by the Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) for input as they develop theological and liturgical principals to guide the formation of rites for same-sex blessings.

Simon Sarmiento reports in the Church Times:

In addition to the regular sessions, there was a separate presentation by members of the Standing Commis­sion on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) of the Episcopal Church in the United States on their development of a theological rationale and litur­gical principles for same-sex bless­ings. Those who attended were asked to give feed­back by consider­ing specific ques­tions in small work­ing groups.

The chair of the IALC, Dr Eileen Scully, from Canada, said on Thurs­day of last week that the purpose of the IALC meeting was to work on rites related to heterosexual couples only. In countries where civil-marriage laws were changing, how­ever, to allow either civil unions or same-sex marriage, Churches faced challenges. They needed to reflect on the parallels with traditional marriage.

The Professor of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, the Revd Dr Ruth Meyers, said on Saturday that the 2009 General Convention had directed the SCLM both to inform, and to invite reflections from, the rest of the Communion. The IALC meeting was an ideal opportunity to discuss the matter.

The Episcopal Church’s request for such a session was made accord­ing to existing IALC norms, she said, and had been unanimously approved in advance by the IALC steering committee. It was a co­incidence that marriage was the main topic this year; the request would have been made in any event.

Dr Meyers also noted that the Episcopal Church’s request con­formed to the Windsor report’s recommendation that “provinces engaged in discernment regarding the blessing of same-sex unions [should] engage the Communion in continuing study.”

The feedback was enormously helpful, and the delegates from the Episcopal Church felt honoured by the respectful hearing that they had received, she said.

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