Thursday, July 29, 2010

SCLM work on blessings featured in the New York Times

Episcopal Committee Is Working on Gay Rite
By RICHARD PARKS

Armed with a new $400,000 grant and the support of the Episcopal Church, a Berkeley seminary is convening priests from across the country to craft the liturgical rite for same-sex couples to receive religious blessings.

The new rite, which will take years to complete, will most likely consist of a series of original prayers, Bible readings and two essays: one on the theological meaning of same-sex blessings, and one advising priests who administer the new rite. If approved, the new blessing would be just the third addition to Episcopal liturgy since 1979.

“This is very significant,” said the Rev. Ruth Meyers, chairwoman of the church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, who is heading the effort. “It does acknowledge a fuller participation of gays and lesbians in the life of the church.” read the rest here

11 comments:

W. Huber said...

"Original prayers"? Why can't the existing marriage rite be expanded with more language variables and a couple more choices for collects and suggested Bible readings? All this hoopla over needing "new rites" seems entirely counterproductive to me when we're trying to drive home the fact that we're not different, and not asking for anything special for ourselves, just equality. Instead we have some seminary spending $400,000 over multiple years to do create something separate-and-not-equal, special just for us.
I say, pay 10 liturgists $1000 each to collaboratively modify the existing marriage rite in a few months and use the rest of the grant money to start a foundation to house and spiritually support homeless LGBT youth.

Mark Andrews said...

Is this news? Haven't Episcopalians & Anglicans the world-over been using locally-developed rites for same-sex blessings for 20+ years now? With or without permission?

The Arcus Foundation would have made better use of that $400K in the "save gorillas and their habitat" part of their operation.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Because I have a sermon to write and funeral to plan, of course I'm taking time to reply to comments on my blog. :)

What the SCLM is doing is responding to what General Convention told us to do in resolution C056.

Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological and liturgical resources, and report to the 77th General Convention; and be it further

Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, devise an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals who are engaged in such theological work, and inviting theological reflection from throughout the Anglican Communion;

This is the work we have been charged to do on behalf of the whole church and I believe it's work worth doing ... as we engage the WHOLE church in conversations about the theology of relationships that will benefit not only same sex couples but ALL those who come together to live happily ever after, til death do them part.

And yes, $400,000 is a LOT of money ... but it takes a lot of money to create a representative process that brings the whole church together and that's what ARCUS is funding.

I'm honored and delighted to be part of this work and look forward to General Convention 2012 moving us another step closer to that "full and equal claim" the Episcopal Church promised its gay and lesbian baptized in 1976.

Matthew said...

I'm sorry but I don't know how it can be a "full and equal claim" if its called blessings rather than holy matrimony. Isn't "marriage" what the liberal document of the HoB committee on sexuality advocated for? We are certainly progressing one INCH at a time. I guess I've lost patience with this process and moved on spiritually. Personally, if my relationship cannot be called marriage in the church NOW, then I have no interest.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Matthew ... I can't speak for anyone but myself on this so this but here goes:

The language of C056 is carefully worded. Check out the whole thing here:

http://www.gc2009.org/ViewLegislation/view_leg_detail.aspx?id=898&type=Final

From my perspective, what we will be crafting will be rites and resources for the blessing of same sex relationships ... which in some places will be civil marriages. In others will be domestic partnerships. In others will be civil unions.

The church and the country are on a journey toward full inclusion and we're not going to get there over night. But what we are crafting and what I believe will be commended by General Convention in 2012 will be the pastoral, liturgical and theological resources that will bring us closer to that goal.

I understand losing patience with the process. And I am committed to being part of this process until there aren't any inches left to reclaim.

Thanks for taking time to comment.

JCF said...

I'm all for collecting resources (and blessings will continue/progress in various dioceses quite apart from this process: i.e., it's not going to cause any delay).

But ULTIMATELY, I want a UNIFIED Marriage Rite for BOTH same-sex/opposite-sex couples.

These resources should, therefore, be used to revise/expand the COMMON marriage rite for the next BCP...

...which brings up the concurrent CRITICAL question (I've been yammering on for about a decade now): WHEN is GC going to get on BCP revision??? 30+ years (from the '79) is ALREADY too long to persist with, and we haven't even BEGUN the process of revision!!!

This may seem a separate question from SSB/SSMs, but it's really not. The BCP is HOW the Episcopal Church expresses its theology regarding "the dignity of every human being". ONLY when we have a NEW BCP, w/ a common marriage rite, will that theology (of the Imago Dei: male, female, gay, straight) really be Realized.

God bless the SCLM's work, and let's get going already! Jesus leads us forward!

LGMarshall said...

Hope the new rites include language for 3-party marriages, and also we need special prayers for sibling marriages... and father/daughter unions too... I support EQUAL RIGHTS in the Church for all... but if that gets too complicated and/or too expensive, let's just drop the whole Marriage Thing altogether.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

LG -- thanks for stopping by -- but the fish aren't biting today.

Jim said...

Lg demonstrates why the commission is needed. 'nuff said.

Moving from where we are to where we want to be is always a process not a leap. And GC cannot move 50 States, several other jurisdictions and all of the other countries we serve in one giant step. So we need somethings to guide the process.

It is good work worth doing and it is good news that the grant will facilitate it.

FWIW
jimB

Matthew said...

JCF said everthing I wish I had said in my comment. Sorry mine was so snarky. I agree with everything JCF states. My worry, ultimately, with the inch at a time process we are engaged in, is that by the time we have a unified marriage liturgy, that some will have "moved on" and checked out and we will be irrelevant. Same goes for BCP reform. Already in my parish, we use the New Zealand prayer book more Sundays than we use the BCP. In fact, I would say we use the liturgical resources of the IONA community with more frequency than the BCP and its not even Anglican. If I could attach pdf attachments to these comments, I would include a copy of the Iona liturgy that can be used for marriage including same sex couples as well. And, there are others floating around too. Maybe I just disagree with BO56. I wish the SCLM would come up with a liturgy for all couples, not just same sex, that can be used for all couples. I don't really think what the state says matters. I wish we could get out of the business of performing legal marriages anyway and just decide what kinds of relationships the church can bless and bless those in the same fashion, same sex or opposite, legal or not, using the same liturgy.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Matthew ... I think that's where we're headed AND I think that's where we should go ... and at the moment, what the church has asked us to do in C056 is created the resources we're creating.

Meanwhile, if you (or anybody else, for that matter!) have resources you'd like to commend to the process (like the Iona liturgy you mention) I would love for you to email them to me and I'll make sure they get "loaded up" into the mix.

srussell@allsaints-pas.org

Blessings!!