Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music subcommittee statement on blessings

Posted Jul 9, 2012

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] 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,

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.


Comments (7)

  1. Sheila Hays says:

    It grieves me that we propose a provisional liturgy BEFORE we”undertake further study during the next three years on how the blessing of lifelong, committed same-sex relationships relates to Christian theology and scripture”

    1. Michael Coffey says:

      I left the ECUSA in 2001. Two years later I completely changed religions. One of the reasons was because I could not go to my parish/cathedral priests and ask for a marriage ceremony. It is so sad that there needs to be more study and thought put into something that should have already been a liturgical staple of the church for many years. In my new faith tradition, we have had full LGBT inclusion and the ability to marry in our community centers since 1995. Our national council, which is equivalent to the House of Bishops, deliberated the matter for thirty minutes before deciding it was the right thing to do. The test of an institution’s heart and philosophy can be seen in its behaviour. I look back at the ECUSA with great fondness, but it saddens me that it is so far from the correct path still.

  2. Jim Stockton says:

    Beware. The illusion that we have arrived at the pinnacle of revelation or reason is a primary tool of the devil. Similarly, the claim that further study is necessary before the Church makes a decision, even a provisional one, is based on a false premise. We will do well to note that the phrase ‘further study’ presumes the fact that much study has already been done on the proposition of blessing same-sex unions. Calling for further study is a well-worn tactic of those who desire neither further study nor consequent change to their established prejudices and biases. We all have them. We all have to remain open to uncomfortable change and on-going further study as essential to living and lived relationship with God.

  3. Dianne Lowe says:

    I heartily support the adoption the proposed document “I will bless you and you will be a blessing”. I am hard pressed to understand the rancor around this document. The Church has blessed animals, objects, land, and people always. This is just another way in which the gathered community blesses on another. And yes, as jurisdictions permit marriage, the marriage blessing should be offered by the church– with all reckless abandonment and joy. Thanks to the subcommittee for the wonderful work done thus far.

  4. I support the resolution. I am a happily married heterosexual male. I am want all people to have happy marriages regardless of their orientation. My wife and I were married in 1996 at St. Michael’s Anaheim. We had a Nuptial Mass. So should everyone.

  5. Nancy & John Cox says:

    We have been studying this issue too long. It is time we accept all and bless all relationships in our congregations! Would Christ do? He wouldn’t have waited so long.

    We are a anglo couple in our 70’s who believe that the arms of Christ are large enough to encircle and accept everyone.

  6. Stephen P. Hayes, Ph.D. says:

    Please see the following citation concerning “product” and “process”. From my perspective as a heterosexual male, husband, father and a committed Christian who takes Communion from a “Common Cup”, I remain concerned about the moral, spiritual, and physical health of our beloved Church.

    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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