From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] New same-sex rites resolution emerges

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Sun, 3 Aug 2003 17:33:33 -0400

Blessing may appear in Enriching Our Worship

August 3, 2003

New same-sex rites resolution emerges
Blessing may appear in Enriching Our Worship

by Sharon Sheridan
Convention Daily 
[ENS] The cognate committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music offered a
compromise resolution  Sunday on preparing rites for same-sex blessings
that would allow for local option.  

The new resolution, which combines resolutions C005, B007, C022 and
C051, directs the Standing  Committee on Liturgy and Music to prepare
"rites for possible inclusion in Enriching Our Worship	by means of
which support and blessing may be expressed for same-sex relationships
with the  permission of the ecclesiastical authority." 

The resolution now goes to the House of Bishops for consideration.

The committee announced its decision less than an hour before deputies
began to debate the  election of the Rev. Canon Gene Robinson of New
Hampshire as the Episcopal Church's firstly  openly gay bishop. The new
resolution is intended to sanction developing rites for blessing
same-sex unions while allowing those opposing such rites to follow their
consciences. Committee	member the Rev. Kendall Harmon of the Diocese of
South Carolina will issue a minority report on	the resolution.

"We think we have a resolution that has the big-tent aspect of B007"
while including a provision  for developing the new rites, said the Rev.
Frank Wade of the Diocese of Washington, chair of the  deputies

Resolution B007, passed unanimously by the Province IV bishops and a
majority of its synod,	sought to allow those on both sides of divisive
issues to continue to minister within the church  and to avoid attempts
to resolve "either our diversity of opinion or diversity of pastoral
support" legislatively.

The committee voted to recommend the rites be developed for Enriching
Our Worship instead of the  Book for Occasional Services because each
bishop has the authority to authorize its use within  his or her
individual diocese, Wade explained.

The resolution notes that "differences exist among us about how best to
care pastorally for those  who intend to live in monogamous, noncelibate
unions; and what is, or should be, required,  permitted or prohibited by
the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church"
concerning their blessing.

It reaffirms previous conventions' resolutions affirming homosexuals'
"full and equal claim ...  upon the love, acceptance and pastoral
concern and care of the Church" and saying that their  monogamous,
noncelibate unions are expected to be "characterized by fidelity,
monogamy, mutual  affection and respect, careful, honest communication
and the holy love which enables those in  such relationships to see in
each other the image of God." The resolution also "recognizes that  such
relationships exist throughout the church" and says that "local faith
communities are  operating within the bounds of our common life as they
explore and experience liturgies  celebrating and blessing same-sex

The resolution states that "our baptism into Jesus Christ is inseparable
from our communion with  one another, and we commit ourselves to that
communion despite our diversity of opinion and,  among dioceses, a
diversity of pastoral practice with homosexual persons."

The committee met and voted in executive session, which is not open to
the public, but a loud	"aye" and a chorus of the doxology audible in
the hall outside signaled the committee's decision. 

"The attempt is to work on both sides of the aisle," said Bishop Henry
Louttit, Jr., chair of the  bishops committee and a member of the
Province IV bishops who originally endorsed B007. The goal  is to "allow
both sides space to live" and keep either side from feeling they had
"beat the hell"  out of the other side - or had it beaten out of them,
he said.

The vote was unanimous among those attending - the majority of the
committee - with one  abstention, Wade said. 

Louttit said the near unanimity of the vote surprised him. "I thought we
might get a sort of  consensus."

"Neither side is going to be real comfortable," Louttit predicted.

Wade said he was pleased with the substitute resolution and expected to
support it as a deputy.  The committee aimed "to make a very clear
statement as to what our choices are as a church" so  the convention can
make a clear decision, he said. "I think it's a good resolution because
it's  clear."

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