Many dioceses in the Episcopal Church started using liturgical resources for blessing same gender relationships on December 2, the first Sunday of Advent. The provisional liturgy is authorized only with the permission of the diocesan bishop, and clergy can decline to preside at a blessing ceremony.
Louisa Hallas, 25, and kClare Kemock, 30 were among the first couples to have their relationship blessed at their home parish of Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Clarendon Hills, Illinois. Prior to the approval of the rite by the General Convention last year, Louisa’s brother Ian Hallas addressed the House of Deputies: “The love that she shares with her partner is unconditional and speaks to the ideal relationships all of us should strive to have. I often get asked by churchgoers and nonchurchgoers why I am a part of this body. The reason I return is for my sister. I seek to assure that she not only has the same rites as myself but also the same privileges.”
The provisional liturgy also functions to develop the theology of the Episcopal Church about same gender relationships. “Because we’re a church who learns as we pray and our theology develops through our experiences of worship, we’ll learn more about what it means to bless the relationships of same-sex couples through our experience of these liturgies,” writes Rev. Ruth Meyers, SCLM chair and Hodges-Haynes professor of liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California.
“The blessing rite is an incredible gift,” continues Hallas, “not only to the church and the LGBT community, but to persons everywhere. It truly respects the dignity of all persons and shows that God cares for and loves us all and that God’s love and care is not exclusive to a heterosexual marriage or relationship.”
Read the full article at the Episcopal News Service.
The Witness and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant
The rite blessing same gender relationships in the Episcopal Church can be downloaded from Church Publishing.
Here are the prayers for the couple from the rite. Each prayer is followed by, “Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”
For N. and N., seeking your blessing and the blessing of your holy people;
For a spirit of loving-kindness to shelter them all their days;
For friends to support them and communities to enfold them;
For peace in their home and love in their family;
For the grace, when they hurt each other,
to recognize and acknowledge their fault,
and to seek each other’s forgiveness and yours;
For the outpouring of your love through their work and witness;
For the wisdom to care for the children you may entrust (have entrusted) to them;
For the growth of their children from strength to strength;
For the strength to keep our vows and commitments;
Giver of every gift, source of all goodness,
hear the prayers we bring before you
for N. and N., who seek your blessing this day.
Give them a share in the saving work of Jesus,
who gave himself for us,
and bring about the fullness of life he promised,
who now lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
All the liturgical resources for blessing same gender couples is available from Church Publishing, Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing.