Episcopal Church bishops approve new same-sex liturgy

Timothy Kincaid

July 9th, 2012

National Cathedral in Washington, DC

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.

An excerpt:

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.


July 9th, 2012

It’s stories like this that really make me wish we had an Episcopal church here… or at least that the Methodists were further along than they are.


July 10th, 2012

Please fix the spelling of “liturgy” in the title. It looks very unprofessional.


Timothy Kincaid

July 10th, 2012

Thanks, mispelled,

Although my phone aggressively “corrects” what it perceives to be a spelling error, if I write from my PC there is no spellcheck in the header.

Russ Manley

July 10th, 2012



July 10th, 2012

Wake my up when the Catholics do the same thing.


July 10th, 2012

In some ways a step forward, kind of like when my granddad actually started using the word “negro” in the 1980s (not 60s), but it’s still “separate but equal” and I have a hard time getting to excited about that.


July 10th, 2012

sigh: read too for to in mine


July 10th, 2012

What is all this hysteria bout gittin’ everythin’ spelled, right. It just ain’t right. Its the content and subject matter that counts.


July 11th, 2012

My Catholic heart loves a good liturgy. This is beautiful. Thanks for excerpting.

But my cynic-atheist soul hates it when people try to one-up the guys who do all the work by pointing out spelling errors via the comments section. Are you really too busy to send an e-mail? Or do you just want the whole world to know that you can spell in the era of spellcheck?

Why do you insist on publicly humiliating rather than discretely informing? You speak of professionalism but a part of professionalism is tact and decorum & you wouldn’t know decorum if it came up and bit you. & now you’ve got Timothy up there making excuses for himself: as if he needs to after all the work he’s done!

Well I for one am DONE. Done making a mountain out of this molehill. I’ve expressed my displeasure two or three times with such tactics. It’s tacky, it’s disrespectful, it’s pompous, it’s lazy. But clearly others don’t agree. I’m just going to shut-up. Rant over.

Reed Boyer

July 12th, 2012

The exercept is lovely an’ all – proper formal with calls-and-response. I’ll be interested to see what’s declared in the into material and declarationw sections prior.

Timothy Kincaid

July 12th, 2012

The liturgy along with lots and lots of commentary are here

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