The Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem

Same Gender Blessings Resolution



I was present in the gallery of the House of Deputies today as the final vote was taken on a rite for same-sex blessings. The Deputies voted to concur with the Bishops in approving the rite.

As you know, over the past three years I have exercised the authority given me by the 2009 General Convention to allow the blessing of same-sex couples, and have stipulated  the use of the rite developed in the Diocese of Washington, D.C. In the intervening years a number of our parishes have used this pastoral provision to minister to same-sex couples, and some are planning to do so in the near future.

What has happened now is that General Convention has issued its own rite that will be published shortly, and as of its effective date, that is the service that will be used by those parishes in our diocese who wish to bless unions. One one hand there is for us, then, very little new in action of General Convention today in the sense of what may happen. There is something very new in the Church publicly adopting a single rite for use wherever blessings are celebrated--in a church as liturgically centered as ours it, this makes blessing more official, more ritually "real," theologically substantive. 

For those of us who feel and think as I do in this matter, this is a time of affirmation. Very many people today feel that their prayers have been at long last answered.  Very many people today perceive themselves to be recognized as fully part of a Christian community that honors who they are and celebrates the commitments they make. Many of us share their joy and thanksgiving and see the welcoming ministry of the church broadening. The Episcopal Church welcomes all--no exceptions.

It is equally important  for those people who for any reason do not desire these rites to be celebrated to know that nobody is or can be required to perform these rites (somewhat similarly to the rule that no priest may be forced to marry any couple). I hope that after the last three episcopates in our Diocese all and sundry know that in this community we have not the slightest investment in marginalizing any disciple of Jesus. The Episcopal Church welcomes all--no exceptions.

The requirement remains that at least one party to the blessing be a baptized Christian, and that counseling precede the celebration. 

Two members of this diocese, Canon Patrick Malloy (SCLM) and Fr. Scott Allen (Committee 13) have put great energy and skill into the crafting of this resolution, and I believe that we are indebted to them.

I assume that the deputation will have its own report about the entire convention, and I am sure that their reflections on the discussion in their House will be of great interest to us all.


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