August 3, 2012
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Ordained Ministry:
We are writing as a follow-up to our May 2012 “Episcopal Epistle” and Clergy Conference “indaba” with respect to the pastoral needs of gay and lesbian couples seeking to be married in The Episcopal Church in Connecticut.
As expected, the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church engaged deeply with questions related to the blessing for same-sex couples. Holy listening and a generosity of spirit characterized the discussions and decisions of the Convention related to such blessings. In Resolutions A049 and A050 the General Convention provided for a rite of blessing for same-sex couples and called the church to study canonical and liturgical limitations related to marriage equality. ….
As your bishops we commend the entire report of The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music known as “Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You will be a Blessing,” which can be found on our diocesan website. In the resource you will find both the rite as adopted by the General Convention as well as valuable theological, and legal and canonical discussions related to the blessing of same-sex relationships. We particularly commend the pastoral resources for preparing same-sex couples for a liturgy of blessing.
In keeping with Resolution A049 we authorize priests seeking to provide blessing rites for same-sex couples to use, and adapt as appropriate: “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” from “Liturgical Resources I” beginning the First Sunday of Advent2012. We encourage priests to work closely with their lay leadership if their parishes anticipate offering blessing rites for same-sex couples.
In addition, and in keeping with the report of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (page 220), beginning the First Sunday in Advent 2012 priests in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut may also officiate at the civil marriage of a same-sex couple as a “generous pastoral response” to lesbian and gay couples seeking to be married. Priests officiating at such a civil marriage must take care to conform to the specific laws of the State of Connecticut.
We give thanks that The Episcopal Church through the decisions of our General Convention has recognized the love and holiness manifested in life-long committed relationships of lesbian and gay sisters and brothers in Christ and has begun to offer rites of blessing for such relationships. We are pleased that the church’s discipline has also begun to change so that priests may offer a generous pastoral response consistent with Connecticut’s embrace of marriage equality.
Finally, we are very appreciative of the pastoral care and concern that you provide to the people of the Diocese of Connecticut. And we thank God for the privilege of working alongside each and every one of you in service to God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Ian, Jim and Laura
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas
The Rt. Rev. James E. Curry
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens
Posted by Ann Fontaine on August 7, 2012
From the web-site of ‘Episcopal Cafe’, Ann Fontaine gives us access to the recent Pastoral determination of the Bishops of the TEC Diocese of Connecticut – headed by Bishop Ian Douglas, who is a member of the Anglican Communion Standing Committee, to allow the Blessing of Same-Sex Partnerships in parish churches of that Diocese.
Advising parishes who wish to avail themselves of Same-Sex Blessings to “use, and adapt as appropriate: ‘The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant’ from ‘Liturgical Resources I’ – beginning the First Sunday of Advent2012″, the Bishops “encourage priests to work closely with their lay leadership, if their parishes anticipate offering blessing rites for same-sex couples.”
This enablement of the use of General Conventionally-authorised Same-Sex Blessings liturgical resources places the Connecticut Diocese as one of the first in TEC to approve the material available to that Province since the last meeting of General Covention, which authorised this material.
With the Bishops’ openness to Same-Sex Civil Marriage – as well as Same-Sex Blessings in Church; this seems to be a real movement towards the equal acceptance of Same-Sex relationships in North America. A most welcome initiative for all who believe that God will not withhold God’s Blessing from monogamous, loving, Same-Sex life-partnerships.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand