Sunday, October 8, 2006

Bishop Defines Policy for Blessing Same Sex Unions

Bishop Marc Andrus has announced his policy regarding the blessing of same sex unions in a letter to clergy of the diocese of California. Unlike the previous bishop, whose policy was "not to have a policy," Bishop Marc has presented a clear, concise, and pastoral response to the needs of lesbian and gay couples in our churches, consistent with Resolution C051 of the 2003 General Convention.
  • Blessings are subject to the discretion of clergy in consultation with couples
  • Careful counseling and preparation should precede the rite
  • The bishop is to be informed of the blessing in advance and consulted regarding the rite, as part of the exercise of his pastoral responsibility
  • The Diocesan Commission on Marriage and Blessings will identify and/or develop rites of reference for use in the diocese (this will relieve couples and clergy of the onerous and unfair task of having to reinvent the liturgical wheel for every rite)
  • "The blessings of same-sex couples in our churches are celebrations of Christian love and vocation, and deserve the same expressions of joy and excitement that others enjoy." (in other words, such rites are not to be treated as a dirty secret, but as a public expression of the church's common life and ministry like any other sacramental rite)

Bishop Marc is demonstrating the kind of transparency that caused him to be elected bishop of California in the first place. This is a real step forward toward the full inclusion of lesbian and gay couples in the diocese of California, and Bishop Marc is to be commended for his leadership. It will, no doubt, result in some backlash across the wider church. Ultimately, however, it will be a gift for all Christians who care about the vocation of couples as icons of holy relationship.

It is an important next step on a journey that isn't over yet.


Anonymous said...

It will, no doubt, result in some backlash across the wider church.

No doubt. Maybe a lot of backlash.

It places added pressure on the new Presiding Bishop, who is probably still interested in the Episcopal Church continuing forward as a single entity.

It proves that statements and actions like Kigali are necessary for those who conscientiously object to same-sex blessings.

Toewalker said...

I think this is wonderful news. I am especially grateful to +Andrus and others who feel that consultation and preparation is necessary for all couples and that these services have been extended to same-sex couples. Marriage, whether for an opposite-sex or a same-sex couple should be given serious, prayerful consideration and should not be entered into lightly.

We (heterosexual and homosexual) would all do well to make every effort to support and celebrate the rare and blessed gift of marriage.

Thank you Bishop Andrus and all of the courageous clergy and individuals who view marriage as something worthy of blessing.

Susan Hedges said...

It is always good to see that we made the right decision in electing Bishop Marc. So far he's batting 1000!

And thanks again for including me in yours and Andrew's blessing ceremony! It seems long ago to me.

Susan Hedges

Anonymous said...

I rejoice in +Mark's clarity and pastoral vision--it's refreshing to read a clear,positive statement driven by energy "for" rather than "against" an important issue.IMHO we don't need more fences, we need more mountaintops to aim for!

Peggy Blanchard+
Dio. of E. Tenn.