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Resolution on same-sex blessings heads of House of Bishops

Resolution on same-sex blessings heads of House of Bishops

From the Office of Public Affairs of The Episcopal Church

[July 9, 2012] The following statement has been issued by Deputy Ruth Meyers of Chicago and Bishop Thomas Ely of Vermont, chairs of the Cognate Subcommittee on Blessings of the Committee 13, Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Church Music, meeting on July 9 at the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church.


The Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music at the General Convention has approved Resolution A049 (amended), which would authorize a provisional rite and accompanying resources for blessing same-sex relationships. The legislation moves next to the House of Bishops.

The resolution asks the General Convention to authorize the liturgy for provisional use and calls for a review process before the next General Convention in 2015. This is clearly a work in process, and there is a place in that process for all Episcopalians, whether or not they agree with the action we are taking today.

The committee’s resolution also asks the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) to undertake further study during the next three years on how the blessing of lifelong, committed same-sex relationships relates to Christian theology and scripture, and to reflect on the matter with our sisters and brothers throughout the Anglican Communion and with our ecumenical partners.

In response to testimony presented at a hearing on Saturday evening, the committee made several changes to the original draft, titled “Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing.”

As the theological resource says, “all of us have more to learn from Scripture and from each other.” The resolution proposes that bishops be able to authorize adaptation of the resources to meet the needs of the people in their dioceses, particularly in states with legal marriage equality or civil unions for same-sex couples. As we pray the liturgy in our own communities and contexts, we will understand more about where the Holy Spirit is leading our church.

The resolution proposes that the liturgy be authorized for provisional use in Episcopal churches beginning on December 2, 2012, which is the first Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the church’s liturgical year. Congregations and clergy that wish to use the liturgy must have the permission of their bishops.

Deputy Ruth Meyers of Chicago and Bishop Thomas Ely of Vermont, chairs of the Cognate Subcommittee on Blessings of the Committee 13, Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Church Music.

July 9, 2012

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Bill Dilworth

Oddly enough, I know one conservative Anglo-Catholic rector who approves of the rite because it doesn't pretend to be marriage. On the other hand, I personally have no use for it because I think it is a rather unimaginative aping of the Marriage Service (Declaration of consent/betrothal? Check. Vows? Check. Rings? Check? Declaration by officiant? Check. Heck, the couple can even arrange to have someone "give them away.") I would much prefer to see the adelphopoesis ceremony described by Boswell used instead.

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Clint Davis

I'm speaking just for me, JC, as I always do. If I choose to get married by the Church, I will use the ancient propers, collects, and blessings for same-sex couples, in careful consultation with whoever will celebrate. And "Fratrimony" is more descriptive of my estate than "Matrimony", as silly as that might sound.

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tgflux

I just want to say that, as a gay man, when I read the marriage liturgy in the Prayer Book, the prayers and blessings and propers and all the rest don't quite feel like they, well, they liturgically express the reality of my relationship and the way it blesses us and those around us.

That's fine, Clint...as long as you don't claim to speak for all those same-sex couples for whom it ('79 BCP Marriage Liturgy, adapted) does. [Whether more same-sex Episcopal couples feel like you do, or want an adapted '79, I have no idea]

JC Fisher

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Clint Davis

I just want to say that, as a gay man, when I read the marriage liturgy in the Prayer Book, the prayers and blessings and propers and all the rest don't quite feel like they, well, they liturgically express the reality of my relationship and the way it blesses us and those around us. When I read the liturgies that John Boswell unearthed in "Same-Sex Unions In Pre-Modern Europe", I find prayers and propers that really tell it and bless it like it is. Matrimony is not the state my partner and I live in, and never will; neither of us are equipped for the "matri-" part. I see disregard for research and more of a feel-good approach to assembling a rite when I see the kinds of things that the committee has proposed.

This is an impression, merely, not a grand statement. But so far, I'm not convinced that the liturgical crafters are getting this right. The Church, in our desire for justice, is not taking the time to figure this out. We're just throwing things out there that have no appearance of, well, an inner fire, I don't know how else to say it. Diversity isn't everyone doing the same thing, it is valuing what everyone is doing equally. Sometimes that looks like separate but equal. I'll take the Sacrament of Marriage, but you can have the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

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Cynthia Katsarelis

I'm really glad that the rite can be adapted for those states with legal marriage. Does this mean that TEC is solidly behind including LGBT people in the sacrament of marriage? And that the sacrament is contingent upon legal marriage? I find it confusing. I'm thrilled if this means that the Sacrament of Marriage is now available, because these blessings are definitely separate and unequal. I'm hopeful, but I'm also puzzled.

I'm also glad that the committee wants to develop ways of discourse with the wider world on this topic. There's a lot of ignorance on what scripture actually says, and definitely doesn't say.

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