Deputies Concur on Blessings

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UPDATED – 12 bishops sign dissenting statement – see Episcopal News Service

UPDATED with News links – see below:

The A049

House of Deputies concurs with House of Bishops

lay 86 yes 19 no 5 divided 5 78%

clergy 85 yes 22 no 4 divided 76%

motion carries in lay and clery orders


Statement from Integrity:

The Episcopal Church at its 77th General Convention, meeting in Indianapolis, decided today, by a large majority, to authorize a service for same-sex couples. Starting on December 2, 2012, Episcopal clergy, with the agreement of their bishop, will be able to bless same-sex unions using the provisional liturgy authorized today by the Convention, the Church’s governing body.

Integrity USA has been working for thirty five years towards the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the Church. Same-gender unions have been blessed in Episcopal churches all over the country for decades, but this is the first time a church-wide public service has been agreed. It is a milestone in the journey toward achieving full inclusion, and being able to truly declare that “all means all” in the worship life of the denomination. It will enable Integrity to reach out to LGBT persons who have been rejected by the churches they were raised in, as well as those who were raised without any connection to Christianity.

The new blessing liturgy is not a marriage service. It does not use the language of marriage, but emphasizes the lifelong, monogamous, committed nature of the relationship being blessed. Integrity will continue to work for full marriage equality in The Episcopal Church. The president of Integrity, The Rev. Dr. Caroline Hall, said “This is a hugely important moment in the history of this church. The Episcopal Church does not have statement of belief other than the ancient creeds. We say that if you want to know what we believe, you can look at the words of our worship. So a liturgy for blessing same-sex relationships brings gay and lesbian couples fully into the life of the Church and proclaims that the Episcopal Church considers that their lives can be holy and blessed by God.”

This permission for same-sex blessings follows the addition of “gender identity and expression” to the non-discrimination laws of The Episcopal Church yesterday. This change makes it unlawful for transgender persons to be excluded from leadership positions, either lay or ordained, based solely on their status as transgender.

UPDATE – news links

MSNBC

The U.S. Episcopal Church became the biggest church in the United States to approve a provisional rite for blessing gay unions after its House of Deputies gave its final approval Tuesday.

CNN

NPR:

Episcopalians approved a churchwide ceremony Tuesday to bless same-sex couples, the latest decisive step toward accepting homosexuality by a denomination that nine years ago elected the first openly gay bishop.

At the Episcopal General Convention, which is divided into two voting bodies, about 80 percent of the House of Deputies voted to authorize a provisional rite for same-sex unions for the next three years. A day earlier, the House of Bishops approved the rites 111-41 with three abstentions during the church meeting in Indianapolis.

Supporters of the same-sex blessings insisted it was not a marriage ceremony despite any similarities. Called “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant,” the ceremony includes prayers and an exchange of vows and rings. Same-sex couples must complete counseling before having their unions or civil marriages blessed by the church.

Washington Post

Episcopalians approved a churchwide ceremony Tuesday to bless same-sex couples, the latest decisive step toward accepting homosexuality by a denomination that nine years ago elected the first openly gay bishop.

Chicago Consultation News Release:

The Chicago Consultation issued this statement today from its co-convener, the Rev. Lowell Grisham:

“For 30 years, the Episcopal Church has prayed, studied and discerned and, in doing so, we have seen the evidence of God’s blessing in the lives of same-sex couples. Today we recognized the Holy Spirit at work in the committed, life-long unions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Across the Anglican Communion, there are Episcopalians and other Anglicans who have been drawn further into fidelity and service to the world by living in committed same-sex partnerships based on holy love and the gift of seeing Christ in one another.

“We learn as we pray, and this provisional rite for blessing same sex unions will benefit from the use and review of people across the church. We look forward to continuing prayerful conversations and study with our brothers and sisters in the Episcopal Church and across the Anglican Communion.”

contact: Rebecca Wilson, 330-524-2067, rebecca@canticlecommunications.com

see dissenting statement below:

“Therefore, we submit to this House the following Minority Report:”

The text of the Indianapolis Statement said:

The 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, in passing Resolution A049, has authorized the provisional use of a liturgy for blessing same-sex unions. The purpose of this statement is to record our dissent from this action.

1. At our ordination as bishops of the Church, we have all taken a solemn oath: “I solemnly declare that I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church.” We remain committed to that oath. Our commitment to the biblical witness includes its teaching on sexuality. We believe that the Scriptures clearly teach thatGod’s vision for sexual intimacy is that it be exercised only within the context of marriage between a man and a woman.

2. We serve in a Church whose Book of Common Prayer offers clear teaching on Holy Matrimony. The opening address in the marriage rite (BCP, p. 423) summarizes that teaching and affirms that marriage is a “union of husband and wife”; that God established marriage in creation; that our Lord “adorned this manner of life” during his earthly ministry; and that marriage points beyond itself to the “mystery of the union of Christ and his Church.”

3. The liturgy entitled “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” is for all practical purposes same-sex marriage. It includes all of the essential elements found in a marriage rite: vows, an exchange of rings, a pronouncement, and a blessing. We believe that the rite subverts the teaching of the Book of Common Prayer, places The Episcopal Church outside the mainstream of Christian faith and practice, and creates further distance between this Church and the Anglican Communion along with other Christian churches.

4. Our dissent from this action of the 77th General Convention is thus rooted in the teachings of our own Church; in the historic biblical and theological witness upon which those teachings rest; and in the wider context of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church and our conviction that no part of the Church is free on its own to alter basic Christian teaching.

5. We are grateful that the rite, as approved by General Convention, contains provisions that protect diocesan bishops and parishpriests who cannot for the sake of conscience authorize or use the liturgy.

6. We are committed to the gay and lesbian Christians who are members of our dioceses. Our Baptismal Covenant pledges us to “respect the dignity of every human being” (BCP, p. 305), and we will continue to journey with them as together we seek to follow Jesus.

7. We reaffirm our commitment to the Anglican Communion of which The Episcopal Church is a constituent member, and to the historic See of Canterbury with whom we are in communion. We will honor the three moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and will do all in our power to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

We invite all bishops who share these commitments to join us in this Statement, as we seek to affirm our loyalty to our beloved Church even as we dissent from this action.

+John Bauerschmidt, Diocese of Tennessee

+Gregory Brewer, Diocese of Central Florida

+Dan Herzog, Diocese of Albany (resigned)

+Paul Lambert, Diocese of Dallas Suffragan

+Ed Little, Diocese of Northern Indiana

+Bill Love, Diocese of Albany

+Daniel Martins, Diocese of Springfield

+Ed Salmon, Diocese of South Carolina (resigned)

+Michael G. Smith, Diocese of North Dakota

+James Stanton, Diocese of Dallas

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12 Responses to "Deputies Concur on Blessings"
  1. Hallelujah! But I'm wondering why I'm finding zero reporting about this on Epi Life, General Convention site, not even on the page that on the GC site that claims to report updates on individual legislation. We don't want to be rude to those in opposition, of course; but do we really need to apologize?!

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  2. A weak step in the right direction. Too bad the Episcopal Church still denies the liturgy of holy matrimony to same sex couples...even after these votes.

    I love your nasty commentary Nicole...always a good laugh to be had!

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  3. Thanks to TEC! You are helping the rest of us in the A.C. to affirm Gay people in the Church. If only the Church of England had been willing to do this - Blessing Same-Sex Unions - they would not be in the mess they are in now.

    Ron Smith (added by ed.) - please sign your name next time Thanks.

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  4. If the CoE took the actions that GC did yesterday, they'd be in worse shape than we are now.

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