Saturday, October 20, 2007

California Approves Rites for Blessings

From Susan Russell:

...This just in from a colleague in the Diocese of California: "CA Diocesan Convention OK's Same Gender Blessing Rites by an overwhelming margin -- details to follow ..."
The proposed resolution and the Report of the Commission on Marriage and Blessings can be found here.

The original resolution was as follows:

The Liturgical Covenanting, Blessing, and Sending Forth of Couples in Committed Same-Gender Relationships:

Resolved, That the 158th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of California commends to the Bishop of California the lectionary, rubric entitled “Concerning the Service,” and three rites endorsed by the Commission on Marriage and Blessing, and urges the Bishop to approve the trial use of these forms as resources in the Diocese of California for formalizing the blessing of same-gender unions.
No word as to if this resolution was amended.

The Report from the Commission on Marriage and Blessings includes the following explanation for the above resolution:

The Commission on Marriage and Blessing, in response to a resolution passed at the 156th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of California, has adapted three extant rites for use in the liturgical blessing of same-gender unions in this diocese. The rites are adapted from:

• The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage (as well as The Blessing of a Civil Marriage and An Order for Marriage) in The Book of Common Prayer

• A Rite for the Celebration of Gay and Lesbian Covenants, commonly referred to as The New Westminster Rite, from the Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada

• Marriage Liturgy, Second Form, in A New Zealand Prayer Book

In endorsing these rites/resources, the Commission celebrates the intention of the Episcopal Diocese of California to support and bless both same-gender and ‘straight’ couples in godly relationships, while hoping for the day when ‘marriage equality’ will be the reality in our Church and State.

The Commission calls particular attention to the part of the rubric ‘Concerning the Service’ which sets forth, in addition to the familiar material adapted from the Book of Common Prayer, the expectation that the use of liturgies of blessing for marriage and union occur in the context of Christian community and with the community’s understanding of its role in fostering godly relationships.

The rites and other materials referred to in the Resolution may be found in the Commission’s Report to the 158th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of California and on the Commission’s website ( along with other materials such as a bibliography for use in pre-marital/pre-union counseling and examples of particular rites drafted or used over the years which are offered, without endorsement, for informational purposes.


UPDATE: John Kirkley has informed us that the above resolution passed without amendment. A resolution was also overwhelmingly passed that responded to the most recent House of Bishop's statement. John has provided us with the text of that resolution here. Here's part of it:

Resolved, That the 158th Diocesan Convention considers the statement made by the House of Bishops at their September 2007 New Orleans meeting to be non-binding on the Episcopal Church unless adopted by General Convention; and

Resolved, That the 158th Diocesan Convention affirms the unanimous decision of the Standing Committee to refuse to discriminate against partnered gay and lesbian bishops-elect in the consent process as called for in General Convention 2006 resolution B033; and

Resolved, That the 158th Diocesan Convention deplores the lack of access to adequate pastoral care and liturgical rites for the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in most dioceses of The Episcopal Church and the refusal of the majority of our bishops to make provision for it, and calls upon the House of Bishops to publish guidelines for such care...

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