Thinking Anglicans

General Convention approves Same Sex Blessings

Updated again Sunday morning
Episcopal News Service reports: Blessing rite authorized for provisional use from First Advent

Same-gender couples soon can have their lifelong relationships blessed using a rite approved by General Convention July 10.

In a vote by orders, the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops to pass Resolution A049, which authorizes provisional use of the rite “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” starting Dec. 2 (the first Sunday of Advent). Clergy will need the permission of their bishop under the terms of the resolution.

The motion in the House of Deputies carried by 78 percent in the clergy order, with the clergy in 85 deputations voting yes, 22 no and four divided; and 76 percent in the lay order, with laity in 86 deputations voting yes, 19 no and five divided. The bishops had approved the resolution on July 9 with a roll call vote of 111 to 41 with three abstentions…

The text of the resolution, as amended, is here as a PDF.

The Diocese of South Carolina released a statement in opposition to this action.

Some other statements in reaction to this, and some press coverage can be found here.

Updates

Anglican Ink reports
12 bishops say no to gay blessings

A coalition of conservative and moderate bishops attending the 77th General Convention has released a statement denouncing the passage of Resolution A059: “Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships.”

The “Indianapolis Statement” joins declarations by the bishops and deputations of South Carolina and Central Florida in rejecting the authorization of provisional local rites for gay blessings as being contrary to Scripture, the Prayer Book, the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and the undivided theological, pastoral and moral witness of the universal church for the past 2000 years…

and South Carolina walks out of General Convention

“Due to the actions of General Convention, the South Carolina Deputation has concluded that we cannot continue with business as usual. We all agree that we cannot and will not remain on the floor of the House and act as if all is normal. John Burwell and Lonnie Hamilton have agreed to remain at Convention to monitor further developments and by their presence demonstrate that our action is not to be construed as a departure from the Episcopal Church. Please pray for those of us who will be traveling early and for those who remain.”

and South Carolina not seceding from the Episcopal Church

Sunday Updates
Statement from Diocese of Central Florida
Statement from Diocese of Albany (PDF)

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Father Ron Smith
Guest

Bravo to the Episcopal Church in the USA! If only the Church of England had looked with favour on such a matter – the blessing of same-Sex Unions – there may not have been the same pressure for Civil Marriage Legislation for Same-Sex Christian couples.

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

A religion that promises a new heaven and a new earth can’t call itself conservative.

“Behold! I am making all things new.”

The Episcopal Church just moved the world a little closer to Isaiah’s vision of God’s Holy Mountain.

And one day, even Rome, Geneva, and Constantinople will catch up.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

It appears that TEC has made provision for something called a ‘provisional rite.’ Article X of TEC’s constitution has no rite so-called. It does have provision for what it calls a ‘trial rite’ and this new rite was called that until at last minute a change was proposed to ‘provisional.’ A ‘trial rite’ requires a supermajority of Bishops to approve and people saw that was not going to happen. Rites like this one called ‘provisional’ must according to Article X conform to the rubrics of the BCP. The BCP is after all a constitutional document, not a loose leaf binder… Read more »

Old Father William
Guest
Old Father William

The large majorities by which this was passed among laity, clergy, and bishops (what might be called a “landslide” in the political realm)leaves no doubt that this is indeed the will of The Episcopal Church.

leonardo ricardo
Guest

The oppressed, the abused the sneared at (by selective Scriptural chest pounders and back slappers) are inching closer to becoming the authentic Christian human beings that God created us to be…thanks to TEC. May the grumblers shake fear and prejudice from their souls before religious excluding leaves more outcasts demeaned or in Uganda, Nigeria, Jamaica and beyond…the great foam of hate will dry and fall away…truth has begun to be graced.

Mike P-J
Guest
Mike P-J

Will this lead to a fresh round of accusations from other member churches in the Communion?

David Shepherd
Guest

Far from the zenith of heavenly Zion, this ‘liturgy’ represents the nadir of contempt for Holy Writ.

Grumpy High Church Woman
Guest
Grumpy High Church Woman

It will be interesting to hear the reaction from ‘the Church of England’ since we have now declared ourselves such supporters of civil partnerships when faced by the prospect of same-sex marriage.

Bob McCloskey
Guest
Bob McCloskey

I have not read the rite nor background info on this. However, I regret that it has been solely described in the media as a same-sex rite. At least in the developmental stages such a rite was intended for ‘straight’ relationships as well, where legal marriage would have resulted in economic difficulties for elderly and widowed couples who could not afford to reduce their retirement income, or a host of other scenarios of a truly pastoral nature. Having served in South Florida I witnessed such difficulties all too often. If the original intention has been maintained, then this is a… Read more »

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

The revolutionary spirit at the heart of the Christian faith is finally starting to crack open the hard amber of doctrinalism.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

cseitz:

The vote in the House of Bishops was 111 to 41 with 3 abstentions. That comes to a majority of 73% by my reckoning. How large a supermajority is required for your “trial” rite?

And once again, I am amazed that you appear to claim a greater knowledge and authority about the church’s rules than those making decisions about such in GC.

A suggestion, sir: If you are so unhappy with the way the Episcopal Church is doing its business, why do you stay?

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Post Covenant, the C of E’s own consultation can save itself a lot of work by drawing on the TEC liturgy for a template – it’s probably the only useful thing they could recommend apart from a general commitment to equality. As the legal status of gay unions varies widely across the United States, the liturgy is readily adaptable to England now that we have a Church divided, pace the most ideologically opposed, between supporters of civil partnerships (belatedly!) and gay marriage.

JCF
Guest
JCF

Contempt for the same Holy Writ always preached at this liturgy, DavidS? [C’mon, scare quotes? That’s beneath you.]

While TEC has yet to catch up (and admittedly, never will) w/ the Holy Spirit, even in this step (full equality of ALL the Children of God), it’s certainly a Big Step in the Spirit’s direction. TBTG & Alleluia! 😀

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Pat–a supermajority according to Art. X would be a majority of all bishops — there are 305 total.

Kindly inform yourself before you write.

Art. X is quite clear and in this case the Bishops themselves knew they did not have the votes for a ‘trial rite.’ So they invented the category ‘provisional rite.’

If you need any further help understanding this, I am afraid I can make it no clearer.

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
Guest
Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

The numbers game is of more interest to cseitz when it relates to CoE’s “Covenant” vote, Pat O’Neil.

Chris Smith
Guest
Chris Smith

I believe this to be the work of The Holy Spirit. The time has come for full inclusion of the glbt communities. The blessing of same-sex unions would seem quite in keeping to the inclusive love that Jesus tried to teach His disciples. Ugly words have been used to hurt and devalue those voices who yearn for marriage equality. These words are acts of violence against a hated group by ignorant and fearful minds. It is time for full inclusion and the provisional rite for blessing their unions is an act of love and fellowship with our glbt brothers and… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

cseitz:

Perhaps you can make it clearer: Does the article in question say “all bishops” or “all bishops voting”? How has the phrase been interpreted in the past? If only 155 bishops (just barely a majority of all 305) attended GC, how could a majority of the whole number be expected at all?

Nat
Guest
Nat

it strikes me as odd that so many appear to believe that the Holy Ghost cannot act through the democratic process. Perhaps a more biblical drawing of straws would be more convincing for the dissenters?

andrewdb
Guest
andrewdb

Art X of The Constitution of The Episcopal Church (2009) provides: The Book of Common Prayer, as now established or hereafter amended by the authority of this Church, shall be in use in all the Dioceses of this Church. No alteration thereof or addition thereto shall be made unless the same shall be first proposed in one regular meeting of the General Convention and by a resolve thereof be sent within six months to the Secretary of the Convention of every Diocese, to be made known to the Diocesan Convention at its next meeting, and be adopted by the General… Read more »

andrewdb
Guest
andrewdb

My understanding, from a distance as I am not at General Convention, is the SSB liturgy is not (and never was intended as) a revision of the BCP. Indeed, by its terms the resolution A049 says use of this liturgy is subject to the local Ordinary’s approval and so does not meet the requirement that the BCP “shall be in use in all the Diocese of this Church.” The change in the resolution was thus made to ensure there was no confusion that this was a BCP change.

Geoff
Guest

“Far from the zenith of heavenly Zion, this ‘liturgy’ represents the nadir of contempt for Holy Writ.” Had David been arguing here all, with the Bishop of Milwaukee, that marriage is the only appropriate rite for the blessing of monogamous, exclusive conjugal relationships in the Christian church, I might be able to take it seriously. As it is, the notion that same-sex blessings engender promiscuity more than _un_blessed unions is something I can only see as being neither flesh nor fowl. If you think that same-gender unions fall short of God’s design, fair enough. If you think not blessing them… Read more »

Randal Oulton
Guest
Randal Oulton

@ cseitz >> Conservative also means ‘in a fellowship of saints’ who have gone before and who have helped order our life of Common Prayer and Worship, where we await the Coming of our Lord in love and hope.

And the southern Methodist church split off in 1844 because they were conservative and believed in slavery, and *awaited* 95 years to reunite with the Methodist church in the north. And to kinda admit they mighta be wrong.

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

I note that not one of the dissenting bishops is a woman.

Jon
Guest
Jon

cseitz, and what sort of majority was required to authorize the supplemental liturgical materials like the “Enriching Our Worship” series? The majority of all bishops that you describe? I doubt it, since they were last authorized in 2009, unless, of course, you wish us to believe that none of those liturgical supplements can legitimately be used in TEC. If you look, I think you’ll find that the provisions for trial-use liturgies refers to liturgies created as part of a prayer book revision (or at least has only been used in the prayer book revision process), while supplemental liturgical material (which… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

The usual suspects raise the usual dire warnings and spin, because, when you get down to it, they hate gays. That’s still what it’s about, wrapped in pretty words pretending to be pastoral concern. The whinging cry of “How can you be so cruel to your *brethren*!” never concerns them when it is their cruelty.

Hollow, sad, pointless conversing with them. Let the dead bury the dead.

John Bowles
Guest
John Bowles

Heaven above, the Holy Spirit is being banded about as if it is something bought from an off- licence. The result of this decision of the American Episcopal Church will be more significent defections to other denominations, not necessarily Rome, and many of them young married people. Already the TEC is a ghost of itself and it will soon be a wraith. But the reality is that for some time a significant number of Episcopalian parishes (some with openly lesbian incumbents) have been performing same-sex marriages without let or hindrance. For example, Google Emmanuel, Boston, and read its website in… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

So, as I understand it then, the provisional rite is not a revision (even a trial revision) of the BCP, but merely a supplement to it, on the order of the “Enriching Our Worship” materials.

MarkBrunson
Guest

Many of the comments here demonstrate why we should cut ties with the CofE and establish a TEC mission to provide for those who are not pastorally-supported by their church. Again, let the dead bury the dead.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

Thanks for the good news John Bowles. So encouraging to know that Jewish couples have been included – and why ever not. Same as Jesus.

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

@ David Shepherd: Perhaps our contempt for “holy writ” would be mitigated if we resumed the wholesome practices of stoning adulterers (the implicated females only, of course) and killing children who smart-mouth their fathers. Then we could move on to genocide of nations and peoples whose religion disagrees with ours – just as the god of the book of Numbers commanded Israel to do. The whole Christian church could be edified by the Episcopal Church’s witness to the entire catalog of BronzeAge morality–not just that pertaining to condemnation of persons of the same sex who fall in love and build… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I find it sad that ‘Christians’ should be so against the blessing of loving, stable, monogamous couple relationships. are they not preferable to serial and promiscuous relationships? The Bible seems – at least in the New Testament – to tell us that Love casts out fear. Now who exactly is afraid here?

It was lovely hearing the prophet Hosea at Mass this morning. God is Good! – forgiving and loving.

David Wilson
Guest
David Wilson

Daniel

I guess for some, what you descibe as bronze age morality, reflect the very real, immutable ways of the living God, reflecting His Holy character, rather than a cultural tradition – which changes with the ways of the world.

The New Testament – self-declared as inspired by God Himself – certainly doesnt endorse the stoning of adulterers, but rather calls for them to repent and live. However the New Testament still clearly teaches the ways of the flesh shall lead to death.

Counterlight
Guest

I actually agree with the 12 dissenting bishops at the convention. This IS marriage by another name. We should come clean as a church and embrace these rites for what they are instead of trying to distance ourselves from same sex marriage for the sake of political expediency. We certainly haven’t fooled or appeased the opponents of marriage equality, and we’ve not earned any credibility with the gay community. Half measures never work.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Pat — the Art. X is now before you. “by a majority of the whole number of the Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops” = 305. Insufficient numbers to pass a trial rite. A ‘provisional rite’ was proposed instead. Art. X makes clear that any rite must still conform to BCP rubrics. Supplemental rites included. Of course, this is what I already said in the first comment. BCP and Art. X clearly envision no rite that is not in conformity with the constitutional BCP. They may be supplemental. They cannot be sui generis. “I accept that those… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

Geoff: ‘the notion that same-sex blessings engender promiscuity more than _un_blessed unions is something I can only see as being neither flesh nor fowl.’ I agree. Minor issue, though, I didn’t actually claim that inordinately more promiscuity would result from same-sex liturgy. I merely declared the innovation to be the worst example of contempt for Holy Writ. In the end, contempt is, well, just contempt, no more and no less. (That’s hardly a scare tactic, JCF). ‘but that some people should, in essence, be left to make up sexual ethics on their own’. Therefore, the idea behind this move is… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Mr Randal: There is surely a distinction between saying that those who formulated constitutional order were wrong and the hard work is now before us to correct the constitution and its understanding (processes to undertake this exist); and saying, let’s ignore what was said, or say it doesn’t matter now that we believe something else. So, e.g., The House of Deputies appeared to have passed a resolution on Communion without Baptism that included an option for discretion manifestly at odds with the C/C. So the HOB, seeing that, eliminated the discretionary clause as out of order. The logic of the… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

cseitz:

Where in the rubrics of the BCP is it forbidden to bless a non-marital relationship? Is it forbidden to bless my relationship with my siblings? Or with my children? Or with my neighbors in a block association?

Surely, if the rubrics permit the blessings of pets, jewelry (wedding rings), and even military vessels, they permit the blessing of human relationships.

Nat
Guest
Nat

“Already the TEC is a ghost of itself and it will soon be a wraith.” The Episcopal church I attend in Seattle is growing, and the vigor, involvement and devoted donation of time by our Search Committee and our vestry are amazing and energizing – as is the quality of applicants we have had from all over the US. AND we are a very progressive community. I have spoken with a number of younger members who come to us because we have long been outspoken in acceptance and full inclusion of GLBT persons – and stance strongly supported by even… Read more »

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

Mr Shepherd, many many times in our history have reason (or you may call it obdurate rationalisation if you like) have been allowed to “trump scripture and tradition.” And it’s a damn good job for all of us that it has done so. Plenty can be found in both Scripture and Tradition that, I hope, horrifies the hearts of all decent people. In any event, the modern secular state has moved Western society away from much Bronze Age barbarities–no thanks to the Church or any other religious “scripture and tradition” I’m able to identify.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

I do not regard your writings as ‘holy writ’ David Shepherd. So sorry but there we are.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

This is the logical development of what happened at the 1930 lambeth Conference, when Anglicanism affirmed contraception, and stated that sex did not have to be open to the tansmission of life.

That is why some of us are grateful for the guiding hand of the Catholic Church and her Magisterium.

If you don’t like the Synodical democratic system of Anglicanism, please have the integrity to leave.Stop thinking of the endowments.

Dennis in Chicago
Guest
Dennis in Chicago

David Shepherd: a quick question that is quite relevant. You have avoided my questions in the past but please do answer this one. Have you ever donated or received blood transfusions, or eaten sausage? Very simple question. As an arbiter of what is and is not Christian have you done any of the above?

And I look forward to how you will spin the related passages in Acts to not apply to your literalist interpretation. But before that are you free of the above behaviors?

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Dear Ms O’Neill, Kindly look at Page 13 of the BCP where we are told what rites are permitted. What was passed at GC was an official rite of the church. I don’t believe GC has passed an official rite for blessing neighbours in a block association. You can correct me about that, as you seek to do previously with comments like those in your first response. I cannot see how Art. X’s regulatory concerns — which are so obvious — would anticipate the development of a rite which in every way imitates marriage except in name, and for which… Read more »

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

When opponents of same-sex blessings on the grounds of “holy writ” become equally adamant opponents of divorce after remarriage on the grounds of “holy writ,” I will listen to what they say. Otherwise, it’s just picking and choosing Bible verses with a dash of intellectual dishonesty and a smidgen of theological incoherence thrown in.

Counterlight
Guest

I always find it remarkable that the detractors of the Episcopal Church always fall back on the “might makes right” argument. Exxon-Mobil is the most powerful and most profitable corporation in all of history. It is far larger, more influential, wealthier, and affects more people than any church ever will. The governments of the United States, the UK, and several other countries are on its payroll. Heads of state and legislators around the world are eager to curry its favor. The Roman Catholic Church in all its power and glory is but an antique bauble in comparison. Our outfit was… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

Dennis: No need for spin when St. Paul speaks explicitly regarding ritual food prohibitions. This is an explicit progression from the Noahide prohibitions established by the Jerusalem council in Acts. Love sausages (with brown sauce, please!) ‘As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.’ (Roman 14:14) This specifically relates to Jewish food regulations, as does the following: ‘So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“However the New Testament still clearly teaches the ways of the flesh shall lead to death.” Posted by: David Wilson on Thursday, 12 July 2012 The reality is that all flesh shall die. That was the reason that even Jesus Had To Die, and be raised in a form that was different from his former body – so much so that he wasn’t recognised by his closest disciples, not even Mary Magdalene! The ways of the flesh are death – no dispute here. and there presumably will be no problem with bodily passions in the next world! It is only… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Cseitz: As I believe I have noted to you before, I am MR. O’Neill. And, no, there is no “official” rite for blessing block associations, or even for blessing pets. OTOH, there is no official rite for blessing a birthday, yet my rector weekly calls those who will be celebrating such events to the altar and blesses them. Is your objection to the idea of one rite for the entire church to use in this matter (as one who puts so much emphasis on “common prayer” I would think you would support such a measure), or to the idea of… Read more »

david rowett
Guest

I never like arguments e silencio, and David’s one tends a little that way. It’s hard to reconstruct the apostolic and sub-apostolic church, when all’s said and done, and one observation on David’s point about the food regulations may be worth making: that the issue of the observance or non-observance of Jewish ritual law affected each and every member of the fledgling Jesus movement. Some sort of accommodation had to be reached with great urgency. Sex wasn’t that important, bluntly. And perhaps it’s not surprising that sexual law doesn’t feature that greatly within the apostolic teaching: after all, the Pauline… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“No need for spin when St. Paul speaks explicitly regarding ritual food prohibitions. This is an explicit progression from the Noahide prohibitions established by the Jerusalem council in Acts. Love sausages (with brown sauce, please!)”

But wasn’t Paul then simply one man speaking for himself? And the Jerusalem council speaking for the church as a whole?