Episcopal Church bishops approve new same-sex liturgy
July 9th, 2012
After two years of study, input, discussion and careful consideration, the Episcopal Church had crafted the language of liturgy for uniting same-sex couples. The church has in the meanwhile allowed the blessing of marriage in states where it is legal and the blessing of other forms of unions elsewhere, with or without legal standing, but it has not had formal language across the church.
The new liturgy, The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant, closely follows the church’s marriage liturgy but does not use the word “marriage”. (Though, undoubtedly it will be referred to as marriage and will likely adopt that language in the future). Combined with the ability of a bishop to authorize civil pronouncement of marriage in equality states, this subtle distinction will likely be lost on all but the technical minded.
The Episcopal Church is bicameral in it’s legislature, with liturgical rites requiring the approval of both Bishops and Lay bodies. Today the first step was accomplished. (msnbc)
Episcopal bishops approved a resolution to create a liturgy for same-sex unions Monday during the Church’s 77th General Convention in Indianapolis, with 111 votes in favor and 41 opposing.
The proposal was amended to disallow coercion or penalty to any bishop, priest, deacon or lay person who either supports or opposes the change, thus giving some comfort to more conservative Episcopalians (and to more supportive members of conservative dioceses).
This new liturgy give formal Episcopal blessing – whether in Massachusetts or Alabama – to same-sex couples with all of the pomp and formality that a stain-glassed, hundred-year-old, wood pewed, Episcopal church can bring. And believe me, that is saying quite a lot. Aunt Thelma can’t help but shed a tear or two.
In the name of God,
I, N., give myself to you, N.
I will support and care for you:
enduring all things, bearing all things.
I will hold and cherish you:
in times of plenty, in times of want.
I will honor and keep you:
forsaking all others,
as long as we both shall live.
This is my solemn vow.
If rings are to be exchanged, they are brought before the Presider, who prays
using the following words
Let us pray.
Bless, O God, these rings
as enduring signs of the covenant
N. and N. have made with each other,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The two people place the rings on the fingers of one another, first the one, then
the other, saying
N., receive this ring as a symbol of my abiding love.
If the two have previously given and worn rings as a symbol of their commitment,
the rings may be blessed on the hands of the couple, the Presider saying
Let us pray.
By these rings N. and N. have shown to one another and the world
their love and faithfulness.
Bless these rings, Holy God,
that they may now be signs of the covenant
N. and N. have made this day,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Presider says
Inasmuch as N. and N. have exchanged vows of love and fidelity
in the presence of God and the Church,
I now pronounce that they are bound to one another
in a holy covenant,
as long as they both shall live. Amen.