New SCLM resources offer information on proposed blessing rites

By ENS staff
Posted Dec 9, 2011

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music has released educational materials and other information surrounding its plan to ask General Convention to authorize a three-year trial use of its proposed rite for blessing same-gender unions.

The downloadable materials are available in English and Spanish here.

They are part of the commission’s 18 months of work in response to General Convention’s mandate (via Resolution C056) that it work with the House of Bishops to collect and develop theological resources and liturgies for blessing same-gender relationships, and report to the 77th General Convention July 5- 12, 2012 in Indianapolis.

The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, SCLM chair, said in an Office of Public Affairs press release that the materials now available are meant to inform people about the work of the commission, in advance of the release next spring of the resources it has collected and developed.

The materials available now “are designed particularly for deputies and diocesan conventions, but could be used in other contexts,” Meyers said in the release.

Among the items are: educational materials about the commission’s response to C056 for diocesan conventions and diocesan meetings of deputies; a summary of the liturgical principles used by the commission; an overview for deputies of the commission’s work between now and General Convention; theological reflection materials and a piece called “Understanding Resolution C056.”

According to the overview for deputies, the commission has requested that the General Convention Office make the blessings resources themselves available by March 1, 2012.

In October the SCLM said that it would propose to General Convention that the church spend three years using a rite for same-gender blessings and studying its application.

The resolution also will ask for the continuation of the “generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church,” called for in C056, Meyers said, including allowing for adaptation of the rite for local use. And, the resolution would have the commission report to the 2015 meeting of convention on how all the materials are used.

During that same triennium the church also would reflect on its understanding of marriage in light of changes in both societal norms and civil law if convention agrees to a related resolution the commission will propose, according to Meyers.

The blessing resources to be released in the spring are due to include the rite for blessing same-gender relationships, a theological essay on the issues involved in blessing such relationships, a pastoral resource to guide clergy and trained lay people who would prepare same-gender couples to receive a blessing (the church requires heterosexual couples to engage in pre-marital counseling as well) and a discussion guide for helping congregations and other groups to discuss the rite and other materials.

The commission will encourage feedback from people using all of the material available now as well as that released in the spring. People can respond via the SCLM’s blog here.


Comments (8)

  1. The Rev. Teresa T. Bowden says:

    I believe this is way overdue. People in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have been denied the right to accept the blessing of the churh when they desire the same blessing and right to accept the responsibilits of marriage as heterosexuals. Having the service with music and proper ceremonial rites are are a blessing to that 10% of humanity. Thank you Teresa+

  2. The Reverend Canon Susan Russell says:

    It was an privilege to serve on one of the SCLM task forces collecting and developing these resources since C-056 was adopted in Anaheim and I am so very impressed with this great set of tools to take that work out to the wider church as we head toward Indianapolis. What a great model for engaging the whole church in discernment and deliberation!

  3. Grace Rogers says:

    Let’s get this going right away. We need to give spiritual support to our same sex couples who commit to each other. They are God’s people and are due the same kind of blessing given to couples of the opposite genders.

  4. Thom De Villiers says:

    Let’s be honest: these “resources” are not exactly weighty or theologically deep. The SCLM is obviously laboring to apply a veneer of spirituality to a political process with an essentially predetermined outcome. In fairness to its members, that’s what it was tasked with doing in ’09… but the whole enterprise is pretty embarrassing to watch.

  5. Sam Smith says:

    Which explains why I am leaving the Episcopal Church.

  6. Kathy Stevens says:

    I fear for the people who embrace sinful behavior as acceptable because culturally and socially “the world” says it’s ok. Homosexuality practiced is a sin. The Bible says so, which means God says so. I have stayed worshipping in a conservative Episcopal parish, but cannot remain if deception is required to be accepted. And that is what will happen when the three year trial period ensues to introduce and educate people that not only homosexuality practiced is ok, but that God is desiring the practice to be “blessed”. Loving someone who practices homosexuality is not accepting what they do as ok. How can there be confusion over the following Scripture-Romans l:24-27 and l Timoty 1:10, ll, and l Corinthians 6:9. I rest my case.

  7. Steve Marlow Macon-GA says:

    In order to rejoice with two people who have decided that they not only want to be lifelong friends, but want to live together for the rest of their lives, does not require me to understand their sense of belonging between them. This is true whether it is man and woman, man and man, woman and woman. What I can understand is the joyousness of the friendship and the desire to “forsake all others”, to set themselves up in a new “family” unit. It seems only fitting that the most important community for the two would celebrate their decision with a ceremony of blessing on their friendship. How this frienship (man and woman, man and man, woman and woman) is celebrated at home behind closed doors should not be a concern of the community as to whether their actions in private are community sanctioned, community censored. That should be between the two and the God of their understanding, and their understanding of how God celebrates their decision.

  8. Stephen P. Hayes, Ph.D (St. Martins Parishioner) says:

    The Lessons of History [1]

    Intellect is a vital force of history, but it can also be a dissolvent and destructive power. Out of every hundred new ideas, ninety-nine or more will probably be inferior to the traditional responses which they propose to replace. No one man or woman, however brilliant or well informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his or her society, for these are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history.

    Therefore, the conservative who resists change is as valuable as the radical who proposes it-perhaps as much more valuable as roots are more vital than grafts. It is good that new ideas should be heard, for the sake of the few that can be used; but it is also good that new ideas should be compelled to go through the mill of objection and opposition. This is the trial heat that innovations must survive before being allowed to enter the human race. It is good that the old should resist the young, and that the young should prod the old. Out of this tension, as out of the strife of the sexes and the classes, comes a creative tensile strength, a stimulated development, a secret and basic unity and movement of the whole.


    [1]Durant, W. and A. Durant. 1968. The Lessons of History, Simon and Schuster, New York, N.Y. 117p. (citation (pp.35-36) edited for continuity and inclusiveness without altering content).

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