Clergy & Liturgy Resources: Same-Gender Relationships

rainbow ringsRevised edition of I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing Expanded marriage rites available now

NEW YORK, November 23, 2015 — Church Publishing Incorporated has released a revised and expanded edition of marriage rites for all couples who wish to be married in The Episcopal Church. Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing, which has been authorized for trial use in Episcopal Church congregations beginning on the First Sunday in Advent—November 29, 2015—is now available.

This new volume is the result of the 2012 General Convention of The Episcopal Church commendation of Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing for study and use throughout The Episcopal Church. In the 2013–2015 triennium, the materials were widely used in a number of dioceses, and the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) invited responses through several avenues.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, “The Court, in this decision, holds same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States. It follows that the Court must also hold—and it now does hold—that there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character.”

Heeding the concern that “separate but equal” rites are inherently unequal, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music developed and recommended to the 2015 General Convention an adaptation of the 2012 liturgy that can be used for marriage for any couple, as well as The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2, a gender-neutral adaptation of the marriage rite in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The Convention authorized these rites for trial use; that is, as a proposed revision of the Prayer Book. General Convention Resolution 2015-A054 directs that these liturgies be used under the direction and with the permission of the diocesan bishop, and stipulates that bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority or, where appropriate, ecclesiastical supervision, will make provision for all couples asking to be married in The Episcopal Church to have access to these liturgies.

The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, Chair of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music from 2009–2015, Dean of Academics and the Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, said, “I’m excited to have these resources for same-sex marriage available for use in The Episcopal Church. In preparing this material, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music listened carefully to responses to the resources for blessing same-sex relationships that were approved in 2012. An international and ecumenical consultation on same-sex marriage in June 2014 was especially helpful for the Commission’s understanding of the needs and concerns of many in our church.”

The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer of The Episcopal Church General Convention and Secretary of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, expressed his pleasure at the liturgies’ release, saying, “Discerning the movement of the Spirit is at the heart of what we do each General Convention. The prayer, experience, discussion, scholarship, and consultation embodied in I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing is an outstanding example of this discernment, and I believe it will bless not only our church, but add blessing throughout God’s world as the Spirit continues to move.”

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