Bishops Accept “Statement of Clarification” about Marriage

The 78th General Convention approved two marriage liturgies for trial use, along with a revision of the marriage canon, allowing same-sex couples to be married in The Episcopal Church beginning on First Sunday of Advent 2015, when both resolutions take effect.

Episcopal News Service and the House of Deputies News carried the story.

The trial-use marriage services are to be used “under the direction and with the permission of the diocesan bishop.” While bishops can decide not to authorize use of the liturgy in their diocese, all bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority must “make provision for all couples asking to be married in this Church to have access to these liturgies.”

On July 2, 2015, the House of Bishops accepted the following “Statement of Clarification Regarding Marriage and Blessing Liturgies in The Episcopal Church”:

“The 78th General Convention (2015) authorized three liturgies for use beginning Advent I 2015.

1. ‘The Witnessing and Blessing of a Life-long Covenant,’ authorized for use under the direction and with the permission of the bishop exercising ecclesiastical authority. This liturgy is only intended for use with same-sex couples in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is not legal.
2. ‘The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage,’ authorized for trial use (per Article X of the Constitution and Canon II.3.6) under the direction and with the permission of the Diocesan Bishop. This liturgy is intended for use by all couples asking to be married in this church.
3. ‘The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2,’ authorized for trial use (per Article X of the Constitution and Canon II.3.6) under the direction and with the permission of the Diocesan Bishop. This liturgy is intended for use by all couples asking to be married in this church.

“In addition, Resolution A054 states that ‘Bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority or, where appropriate, ecclesiastical supervision will make provision for all couples asking to be married in this Church to have access to these liturgies.’ How provision is made for this is left to the discretion of the Bishop. Suggestions mentioned for dioceses where the bishop does not grant permission for the trial use of these liturgies include making arrangements with a neighboring diocese for clergy to officiate using these liturgies in the neighboring diocese, and/or inviting clergy from another diocese to officiate in the diocese using these liturgies either in church buildings or other venues. Other ways in which provision is made might be shared among the bishops.

“Prior to Advent I 2015, ‘The Witnessing and Blessing of a Life-long Covenant,’ authorized for provisional use by the 77th General Convention (Resolution A049, 2012) under the direction and subject to the permission of the bishop exercising ecclesiastical authority remains in force, along with the other provisions of A049, including that:

1. ‘Bishops, particularly those is dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-sex marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.’ The Supreme Court expanded the number of dioceses in which this is now the case.
2. ‘Bishops may authorize adaptation of these materials to meet the needs of this church.’

“This is understood to mean that the liturgy authorized in 2012 for provisional use is still in effect until replaced by those authorized for use beginning Advent I, 2015, and that bishops may adapt that liturgy to meet the needs of this church, including adapting them for marriage, as many bishops have done during the past triennium. Some may wonder if the 2015 version ‘The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage’ can be considered an adaptation for marriage of the 2012 liturgy, and it would seem that the answer is yes. However, the 2015 liturgy ‘The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2′ would not be, since it is based on the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and not ‘The Witnessing and Blessing of a Life-long Covenant’ as authorized in 2012.

“The 1979 Book of Common Prayer ‘The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage,’ along with ‘The Blessing of a Civil Marriage‘ and ‘An Order for Marriage‘ from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer remain liturgies for use with different-sex couples.’The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2‘ as authorized for trial use by the 78th General Convention is available for use by all couples beginning Advent I, 2015.

“The House of Bishops received this document from Bishop Ely with appreciation and referred it to the members of the House of Bishops individually to be used by them in their respective dioceses with the provision that it may be used in its present form or modified as each determines is in the best pastoral interest of his or her diocese.”

Informe de Aclaración Concerniente al Matrimonio y las Liturgias para la Bendición en la Iglesia Episcopal

2 de julio de 2015

La 78.ª Convención General (2015) autorizó tres liturgias que se usarán a partir del Adviento I de 2015.

  1. “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” (Testimonio y bendición de un pacto de por vida) autorizado para usarse bajo la dirección y con el permiso del obispo que ejerce la autoridad eclesiástica. Esta liturgia está prevista para usarse solamente con parejas del mismo sexo en jurisdicciones donde el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo no es legal.
  2. “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage” (El testimonio y la bendición de un matrimonio) autorizada para usarse como ensayo (de conformidad con el artículo X de la Constitución y el Canon II.3.6.) bajo la dirección y con el permiso del Obispo Diocesano. Esta liturgia está prevista para usarse con todas las parejas que pidan casarse en esta iglesia.
  3. “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2” (La celebración y bendición de un matrimonio 2) autorizada para usarse como ensayo (de conformidad con el artículo X de la Constitución y el Canon II.3.6.) bajo la dirección y con el permiso del Obispo Diocesano. Esta liturgia está prevista para usarse con todas las parejas que pidan casarse en esta iglesia.

Además, la Resolución A054 dispone que “todos los obispos que ejerzan su autoridad eclesiástica o, cuando corresponda, su supervisión eclesiástica, dispondrán que todas las parejas que pidan casarse en esta Iglesia tengan acceso a estas liturgias”. Queda a discreción del Obispo la manera en que se ejecutará esta disposición. Entre las sugerencias que se han hecho sobre las diócesis en las que el obispo no otorgue permiso para el uso de ensayo de estas liturgias se incluye: hacer arreglos con una diócesis vecina para que los clérigos oficien estas liturgias en la diócesis vecina, y/o invitar a clérigos de otra diócesis para que oficien con estas liturgias ya sea en espacios religiosos o en otros recintos. Los obispos pueden intercambiar ideas de otras maneras en que pueda ejecutarse esta disposición.

Antes del Adviento I de 2015, The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” (Testimonio y bendición de un pacto de por vida), autorizada para uso provisional por la 77.ª Convención General (Resolución A049, 2012) bajo la dirección y sujeta al permiso del obispo que ejerza la autoridad eclesiástica permanece vigente, así como las demás disposiciones de la A049, lo que incluye:

  1. “Los obispos, en particular los que se encuentran en diócesis dentro de jurisdicciones civiles en las que el matrimonio, unión civil o arreglo doméstico entre personas del mismo sexo es lícito, que ofrezcan una respuesta pastoral abundante para satisfacer las necesidades de los miembros de esta Iglesia.” La Corte Suprema amplió la cantidad de diócesis en las que ahora esto aplica.
  2. “Los obispos pueden autorizar la adaptación de estos materiales para satisfacer las necesidades de esta iglesia.”

Se entiende que esto implica que la liturgia autorizada en 2012 para uso provisional sigue vigente hasta que sea reemplazada por las nuevas liturgias autorizadas para su uso a partir del Adviento I de 2015, y que los obispos pueden adaptar dicha liturgia para satisfacer las necesidades de esta iglesia, lo que abarca adaptarlas para el matrimonio, tal como lo han hecho muchos obispos en el último trienio. Algunos se han preguntado si la versión de 2015 de “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage” (El testimonio y la bendición de un matrimonio)puede considerarse como una adaptación para el matrimonio de la liturgia de 2012, y todo parece indicar que en efecto sería así. Sin embargo, la liturgia de 2015 “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2” (La celebración y la bendición de un matrimonio 2) no lo sería, puesto que está basada en el Libro de Oración Común 1979 y no en “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Life-long Covenant” (Testimonio y bendición de un pacto de por vida) como fue autorizada en 2012.

“The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage” (La celebración y la bendición de un matrimonio) del Libro de Oración Común de 1979, junto con “The Blessing of a Civil Marriage” (La bendición de un matrimonio civil) y “An Order for Marriage” (Una orden de matrimonio) del Libro de Oración Común de 1979 siguen siendo las liturgias que deben usarse con parejas de sexo diferente.“The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2” (La Celebración y la Bendición de un Matrimonio 2), según quedó autorizada para uso de ensayo por la 78.ª Convención General se puede usar con todas las parejas a partir del Adviento I de 2015.

*La Cámara de Obispos recibió este documento de la Obispo Ely con aprecio y lo remitió a los miembros de la Cámara de Obispos individualmente para que lo usen en sus respectivas diócesis con la disposición de que lo usen en su forma actual o lo modifiquen según lo consideren necesario en aras del interés pastoral de su diócesis.

SCLM Report to General Convention Published

The commission’s report to the 2015 General Convention is now published online, on the General Convention website. Still to come are the appendices, which include a proposed revision and expansion of Liturgical Resources 1, the resources for blessing same-sex relationships that the 2012 General Convention approved; a proposed new resource for commemorations, replacing Holy Women, Holy Men; and  liturgical materials for honoring God in creation.

SCLM Hosts Consultation on Same-Sex Marriage

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SLCM) of The Episcopal Church recently held a two-and-a-half-day Indaba-style conversation on same-sex marriage June 3-5 at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, MO.

The conversation included leaders from 6 other provinces of the Anglican Communion, 5 of The Episcopal Church’s ecumenical partners, and lay and clergy representatives from 25 Episcopal dioceses where civil same-sex marriage is legal.

“The overwhelming feel of the entire gathering was one of openness, love, trust, and joy,” said Kathleen Moore, Diocese of Vermont. “Over the course of just three days, many participants who hailed from different states, countries, and denominations shared the profound closeness they now feel toward one another, and an intent to remain in touch.”

The first half of the gathering featured Indaba-style discussion that sought to develop an understanding of civil marriage and the church’s response in different contexts. Indaba is a method of having purposeful conversation, especially about issues that may invite disagreement or diverse viewpoints, that is common in some African cultures.

The second half focused specifically on discussing and hearing responses to “I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing,” the rite and related resources for blessing same-sex relationships approved at the 77th General Convention in 2012.

The SCLM held the meeting to fulfill, in part, Resolution A049’s directive to invite responses “from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals from throughout The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, and from our ecumenical partners,” in order to report back to the 78th General Convention in 2015.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori encouraged openness. “We are here to encounter a diverse sample of God’s creation and consider how we might effectively support and nurture that journey in community for all without resort to rigidity or anarchy,” she said. “Neither is Anglican. So enjoy the discovery and don’t jump to conclusions.  Be open to God’s still-and ever-unfolding creative spirit.”

As an introduction to the Indaba-style conversation, each participant was asked to introduce himself or herself and an object that represents what he or she brings to the conversation. The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music Chair, opened by introducing her object, a photograph of two women at whose blessing she officiated. Meyers explained, “I have heard so many stories. This photo reminds me of the couples whose hopes and dreams are expressed in this process.”

Ulysses Dietz, Diocese of Newark, brought his wedding ring. He recounted his journey through the years that began when he and his husband Gary entered into a private covenant in 1975, followed by a civil union, and finally a marriage. They were married by the mayor of Maplewood, NJ. Dietz explained: “When the mayor asked about rings, I said, ‘forget the rings.’ What we got was the word ‘husband.’ Words are important.”

Echoing that sentiment, Jeff Diehl, Diocese of El Camino Real, brought the liturgy from his upcoming marriage. Diehl told participants, “It is incredible that our names are written under the words ‘The Witnessing and Blessing of Marriage.’ We belong to a church that acknowledges us for who we are, that blesses our family, that loves our family.”

The Rev. Jacynthia Murphy of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia brought with her a dress with the Maori symbol koru to remind participants that “we are all joined.” She also taught the Maori greeting of hongi – rubbing noses and exchanging breath – to remind all present that “you belong to each other and to all of creation.”

A highlight of the gathering was enacting the “Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” liturgy. Meyers served as “Presider,” while the Rev. Jane Stewart and Linda Kroon, Diocese of Iowa, who happened to be celebrating their 15th anniversary that day, served as “the couple.” Though it was only a reading of the text and not an actual use of the liturgy, several of those present were moved to tears. The Rev. Marinez R. S. Bassotto from Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil observed that this liturgy sounded very much like the Holy Matrimony liturgy in Brazil. “What I heard was a marriage,” she said.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, preached at the meeting’s closing Eucharist. “If every person is of equal value, a beloved child of God, then every baptized member of this Church has equal claim on everything the Church offers,” she said. “Equal value.  Equal claim. It’s not rocket science…It’s an amazing privilege to work so that all may claim their rightful inheritance. Talk about a love story.”

At the meeting’s end, a number of Episcopal participants said that while the church has come a long way in its effort to treat all of its members as equals, the difference between the church offering same-sex couples a blessing and other couples a marriage was of great concern.

“Speaking from the perspective of the clergy group at the gathering, I would say that we felt that as priests we are in a particularly difficult position,” said the Rev. Amy Welin, Diocese of Connecticut. “The distinction between a blessing and holy matrimony is not insignificant. As we have vowed both to obey our bishops and to care for all our people, this puts parish clergy in a pastorally tenuous role.”

Bishop Thomas C. Ely of Vermont, who serves on the Task Force on the Study of Marriage as well as the SCLM, said this gathering gave “much to be able to take back into our work based on conversation with people living this reality on the ground, and hearing the pastoral challenges local clergy are facing.”

Meyers described the experience as “amazing,” adding, “You hope and you pray – and when you stand back and give the Holy Spirit room to do her work, it’s astonishing.”

 

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.:

++++

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

PowerPoint Presentation on SCLM Same-Sex Blessing work

Thad Bennett has updated the PowerPoint presentation that the SCLM used this past spring at Synod meetings so that now it can be used to explain how the SCLM did its work after GC 2009 and through GC 2012.  The presentation covers what C056 (GC2009) asked the SCLM to do, what they did, what they presented to GC2012 and what GC2012 passed.  (NOTE:  The presentation should NOT be used for congregations considering whether or not to make same-sex blessings part of their liturgical life.  That material is in the Report’s educational section.)

The presentation is designed to:

  • be used by someone who is familiar with the whole report  
  • be given as a one session presentation in a congregation. 
  • give a history and a brief overview of each section of the report. 

It is available as an attachment to this blog or you can email Thad at thadinvt@svcable.net for a copy.

SCLM Presentation Congregation one Session without Liturgy PPT Presentation

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.