Survey about resources for blessing same-sex relationships

Press release: from the Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs

Note: the following is presented in English and Spanish

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) is seeking information about people’s experiences with the resources that were prepared for the blessing of same-sex relationships.

In 2012, the General Convention passed Resolution A049 commending “Liturgical Resources 1:  I Will Bless You and You Will Be A Blessing” for study and use in congregation and dioceses, and approved the liturgical resource “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” for provisional use.

“This survey will gather data and feedback about the use of each section of the resources,” said the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, chair of the SCLM. “We would like to hear from people who have used any part of the resources, including those who have read the theological resource, used the discussion guide or the pastoral resource for preparing couples, or participated in a liturgy of the blessing of a relationship.”

The survey is located here.

The survey questions focus on the use of each of the various sections of the resources.

Deadline for submitted information is December 31.

Liturgical Resources I is available, in print and ebook form, from Church Publishing, Inc.:

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La Comisión Permanente de Liturgia y Música de la Iglesia Episcopal (SCLM) está buscando información acerca de las experiencias de la gente con los recursos que se prepararon para la bendición de parejas del mismo sexo.

En el 2012, la Convención General aprobó la Resolución A049 recomendando a “Recursos Litúrgicos 1: Yo te bendeciré, y serás una bendición” para que sea se estudie y utilice en la congregación y diócesis, y aprobó el recurso litúrgico “El testimonio y la bendición de un pacto de por vida” para uso provisional.

“Esta encuesta recogerá datos y opiniones sobre el uso de cada sección de los recursos”, dijo la Rda. Dr. Ruth Meyers, presidente de la SCLM. “Nos gustaría escuchar de personas que han utilizado alguna parte de los recursos, incluidos los que han leído el recurso teológico, han utilizado la guía de discusión o el recurso pastoral para la preparación de las parejas, o participado en una liturgia de la bendición de una relación. ”

La encuesta está ubicada aquí.

Las preguntas de la encuesta se centran en el uso de cada una de las diversas secciones de los recursos.

La fecha límite para presentar información es el 31 de diciembre

Easter Vigil readings: collect for Baruch or Proverbs reading

The 2006 General Convention resolved that “the Revised Common Lectionary shall be the Lectionary of this Church, amending the Lectionary on pp. 889-921 of the Book of Common Prayer,” but did not deal with the resultant inconsistencies of pages within the Book of Common Prayer itself. General Convention 2012 adopted Resolution A059 calling for the Book of Common Prayer to be revised to resolve the discrepancy between the current Lectionary (as adopted in 2006 and official as of Advent 1 2010) and the Proper Liturgies for Holy Days.

Many of the readings are similar, with just a slight difference in the verses selected. However, in the Easter Vigil, the Revised Common Lectionary includes Baruch 3:9-15,32—4:4 or Proverbs 8:1-8,19-21;9:4b-6, rather than Isaiah 4:2-6.

The SCLM envisions using the collect for “God’s Presence in a renewed Israel” for the Baruch or Proverbs reading. Although it doesn’t match either reading thematically, the commission decided not to try to propose a revision of a text in the BCP.

Here’s the full list of readings for the Vigil this year:

The story of Creation:
Genesis 1:1—2:4a
Psalm 136:1-9,23-26

The Flood:
Genesis 7:1-5,11-18;8:6-18,9:8-13
Psalm 46

Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac:
Genesis 22:1-18
Psalm 16

Israel’s deliverance at the Red Sea:
Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21
Canticle 8

God’s Presence in a renewed Israel:
Baruch 3:9-15,32—4:4 or
Proverbs 8:1-8,19-21;9:4b-6
Psalm 19

Salvation offered freely to all:
Isaiah 55:1-11
Canticle 9

A new heart and a new spirit:
Ezekiel 36:24-28
Psalms 42 and 43

The valley of dry bones:
Ezekiel 37:1-14
Psalm 143

The gathering of God’s people:
Zephaniah 3:14-20
Psalm 98

At the Eucharist:
Romans 6:3-11
Psalm 114
Luke 24:1-12

Episcopal Church same-sex blessing
resource excerpts available online

“I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing”

[November 27, 2012] The Episcopal Church’s liturgical rite for blessing same-sex relationships, authorized by General Convention for use in the Episcopal Church beginning the first Sunday in Advent, December 2, is now available online free of charge.

The rite and a short theological summary, both excerpted from the report of the Church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) titled “I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing,” are posted here.

The rite, which must be approved by each diocesan bishop before it is used in individual dioceses, is authorized by General Convention for provisional use until 2015.

“We learn as we pray,” explained the Rev. Ruth Meyers, Ph.D, Dean of Academic Affairs and Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics at Church Divinity School of the Pacific and SCLM Chair. “During the next three years, the rite will be reviewed by clergy who use it and the couples whose unions it blesses. The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music will compile those reviews and make a report to General Convention 2015.”

Resource
The online excerpt includes the liturgy and a summary that includes themes for theological reflection and spiritual practice. “Our covenantal life with God is expressed in relationships of commitment and faithfulness, including those of same-sex couples,” the report reads. “It is the Church’s joy to celebrate these relationships as signs of God’s love, to pray for God’s grace to support couples in their life together, and to join with these couples in our shared witness to the gospel in the world.”

The full text of “I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing,” available for purchase from Church Publishing, Inc., includes:
Introduction
Faith, Hope, and Love: Theological Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships:

  •      Preface
  •      Overview: Theological Reflection on Same-Sex Relationships
  •      1. The Church’s Call: A Focus on Mission
  •      2. The Church’s Joy: A Theology of Blessing
  •      3. The Church’s Life: Covenantal Relationship
  •      4. The Church’s Challenge: Christian Unity and Biblical Interpretation

The Church’s Canon Law and Laws of the States
Hearing, Seeing, and Declaring New Things: Preparing Same-Sex Couples for a Liturgy of Blessing
The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant: Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships
Discussion Guide to I Will Bless You, and You Will Be a Blessing
Appendices:

  •      A Review of General Convention Legislation
  •      Glossary

The print and eBook versions containing the full resources are available from Church Publishing here.

Some Words about the Anti-Judaism Resolution

At the General Convention of 2009, it was resolved that the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music be directed “to collect, develop and disseminate materials that assist members of the Church to address Christian anti-Judaism expressed in and stirred by portions of Christian scriptures and liturgical texts.”  It was further resolved that the Commission in union with the Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations should prepare “a statement defining anti-Judaism and why it demands our attention.”  [Resolution 2009-A089]  On several occasions during this triennium, the SCLM members have discussed how we might best fulfill this Resolution.  I had offered to chair this project because of my particular commitment to this subject.

From the occasion of our first meeting, I found myself with questions and doubts about how this work might be accomplished most effectively.  Although the 2009 Convention had suggested the preparation of a pamphlet as well as age-appropriate educational materials for children, I acknowledged my doubts about the long term effectiveness of such materials.  It is too easy for such materials, of a type often produced in the past by the national Church, simply to be pushed aside as new concerns and issues arise.

In our meeting late in 2011, the members of the SCLM supported my suggestion that the most appropriate place in which to focus our proposals on this important issue would be in the context of our public worship, and more specifically in the context of liturgical preaching on those occasions when the most problematic texts arise during the course of the liturgical year.  To accomplish this, we believe that commentary should be made available for our clergy as a resource for those times when the lectionary will call them to preach on what are seen as “the difficult texts.”  Many such resources already exist, but often written by Christian authors who are quite committed to this concern but for whom the normative context for preaching is not with reference to an authorized lectionary.

Given that we are now quite near the time of the next General Convention, we have asked that this Convention authorize the extension of this project into the coming triennium (2013—2015), and that during that period, as an aid to preaching on the texts generally viewed as central to this issue, the SCLM would make available in its BLOG, appropriate commentary which would, it is hoped, cast a stronger light upon these texts and aid our clergy in a common effort to address the problem of anti-Judaism in their preaching.

Many of the most difficult texts occur, not surprisingly, during Holy Week, especially on Good Friday, and also during Eastertide.  It is our plan that appropriate commentary would be made available well in advance so that it could be used as a substantial resource in our liturgical preaching.

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A CONCLUDING NOTE:

ANTI-JUDAISM OR ANTI-SEMITISM

At the request of the SCLM, Professor Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski prepared a study document which he presented at a meeting of the Commission at its meeting in October 2010, in Concord, NH.  In this paper, Professor Joslyn-Siemiatkoski noted that the focus on this issue in the Episcopal Church has been on liturgical language, and that the more fundamental issue which needs to be addressed is our theology of covenant.  He comments that the concern must lie with anti-Judaism rather than anti-Semitism because the prejudice “is not aimed at a race but at religious and theological categories that denigrate Judaism.”

He notes further that liturgical language is the symptom “of the underlying theological problem of supersessionism and its expression in Christian life and thought.  Only once the problem of supersessionism has been addressed and resolved can the specific issue of liturgical language be fully remedied.”

With his permission, I wish to quote part of Professor Joslyn-Siemiatkoski’s essay.  He has summed up the issue which faces the church, and offers an excellent point of departure for the plan of the SCLM to offer commentary on the problematic passages in Scripture as they come up in the lectionary in the course of the liturgical year.

He writes, “Central to Christian anti-Judaism is a theological position that marginalizes Judaism as a lived expression of belief and culture rooted in an eternal covenant between the people of Israel and God. (See also his essay, “ ‘Moses Received the Torah at Sinai and Handed It On’ [Mishnah Avot 1:10]:  The Relevance of the Written and Oral Torah for Christians,” Anglican Theological Review 91:3 [2009]:  pp. 444-5.) Supersessionism  is commonly defined as the belief that the church has replaced Israel as God’s chosen people.  Three core elements comprise supersessionist theology.  First is the understanding that Judaism is an obsolete, spiritually arid religion.  Second, the church has fulfilled the spiritual longings of Israel by entering into full relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ.  As a corollary, the historical people of the Israel of the Old Testament are no longer necessary for the implementation of God’s plan of salvation.  Third, since the Jews rejected Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah and were willing actors in the events leading to his crucifixion, God has ended the covenant with the historical people of Israel.  Evidence for the abrogation of the covenant by God is found in the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 C.E. by the Romans and the subsequent expulsion of the Jews from the land of Israel.”

Obviously all of these supersessionist ideas require intense reflection on the part of all Christians since often they have inherited such views, even in a subliminal way, through what they have heard from childhood in the anti-Jewish attitudes which are often  assimilated quite uncritically.

Growing up, as I did, as a Jewish kid in New Orleans, I experienced from the time I entered school the anti-Judaism which was bred into the bone of many of my classmates.  This became so serious that my parents decided to put me into a private school which had been founded early in the 20thcentury to offer a safe place for Jewish children to get an education.  The children who had persecuted me (and that is not too strong a word) all came from Christian families and had learned there, as one classmate said to me, that “you killed our Christ.”  Such anti-Judaism remains in American society, but it is our hope that in this project the Episcopal Church will confront its presence among our own members and begin to reclaim the important theological and spiritual ties which link our hope in God to that of our Jewish brothers and sisters.

Louis Weil
Hodges-Haynes Professor Emeritus of Liturgics at The Church Divinity School of the Pacific
Member, Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music

release of materials

Yesterday the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music released excerpts from the resources we’ve developed. As the article on Episcopal News Service notes, a series of meetings this spring will give us an opportunity to introduce these materials to Bishops and Deputies, who will consider them at General Convention this July. The Province IX Synod (dioceses in Latin America and the Caribbean) met this week and heard a presentation. The House of Bishops will discuss the materials at their meeting later this month, and Deputies will participate in a discussion in the Deputy Online Forum from March 16-23. Representatives of the Commission will make a presentation at each Provincial Synod in Provinces I-VIII later this spring.

The Deputy Online Forum site includes links to the resources in both English and Spanish. The discussion is live-streamed and publicly available; only those who are deputies will be able to post in the discussion.

Developing these materials has been a rich and rewarding process as the Commission has heard stories and reflected together on Scripture and tradition in light of our contemporary context. Here on the blog, we’ve been exploring different aspects of the resources as the Church prepares for General Convention. We’ll continue to post reflections throughout the spring.

The resources released now include a theological reflection, a proposed liturgy, and two resolutions the Commission is proposing to General Convention.  The full set of resources will include an introduction explaining the process the Commission has undertaken, a section on canons and legal issues, pastoral guidelines for preparing couples for a blessing liturgy, a discussion guide, and an appendix that compiles relevant General Convention legislation. These resources will be published in the Blue Book, the compilation of reports to the General Convention that General Convention Office will be issue in April

We invite you to read the excerpts and tell us what you think.

Ruth Meyers
Chair, Standing Commission on Lturgy and Music

Continued Use of Holy Women, Holy Men

It’s great to hear from people who have appreciated keeping the commemorations and reading the blog.

While the official period of trial use has concluded, you may continue to use the resource. Having gone through a full year, we have received comments on all of the commemorations and so have feedback that will inform the Calendar Committee and the Commission in our report to the July 2012 General Convention.

The online survey will be available until the end of August to receive additional comments on any commemoration. The survey is available in English and in Spanish.

Update, 9/15/11: The online survey is now closed.

You can purchase the book from Church Publishing. You can download the text in Spanish (Santas, Santos) and  in English from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music page on the General Convention website.

Update: 9/15/11: Santas, Santoscontinues to be available on the General Convention website. You can access the English version through the Archives on this blog  – the commemorations were posted from July 2010 through June 2011.

The SCLM continues to receive comments through this blog.

Ruth Meyers

Chair, Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music