New SCLM resources offer information on proposed blessing rites

December 8, 2011

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music has released educational materials and other information surrounding its plan to ask General Convention to authorize a three-year trial use of its proposed rite for blessing same-gender unions.

The downloadable materials are available in English and Spanish here.

They are part of the commission’s 18 months of work in response to General Convention’s mandate (via Resolution C056) that it work with the House of Bishops to collect and develop theological resources and liturgies for blessing same-gender relationships, and report to the 77th General Convention July 5- 12, 2012 in Indianapolis.

The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, SCLM chair, said in an Office of Public Affairs press release that the materials now available are meant to inform people about the work of the commission, in advance of the release next spring of the resources it has collected and developed.

The materials available now “are designed particularly for deputies and diocesan conventions, but could be used in other contexts,” Meyers said in the release.

Among the items are: educational materials about the commission’s response to C056 for diocesan conventions and diocesan meetings of deputies; a summary of the liturgical principles used by the commission; an overview for deputies of the commission’s work between now and General Convention; theological reflection materials and a piece called “Understanding Resolution C056.”

According to the overview for deputies, the commission has requested that the General Convention Office make the blessings resources themselves available by March 1, 2012.

In October the SCLM said that it would propose to General Convention that the church spend three years using a rite for same-gender blessings and studying its application.

The resolution also will ask for the continuation of the “generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church,” called for in C056, Meyers said, including allowing for adaptation of the rite for local use. And, the resolution would have the commission report to the 2015 meeting of convention on how all the materials are used.

During that same triennium the church also would reflect on its understanding of marriage in light of changes in both societal norms and civil law if convention agrees to a related resolution the commission will propose, according to Meyers.

The blessing resources to be released in the spring are due to include the rite for blessing same-gender relationships, a theological essay on the issues involved in blessing such relationships, a pastoral resource to guide clergy and trained lay people who would prepare same-gender couples to receive a blessing (the church requires heterosexual couples to engage in pre-marital counseling as well) and a discussion guide for helping congregations and other groups to discuss the rite and other materials.

The commission will encourage feedback from people using all of the material available now as well as that released in the spring. People can respond via the SCLM’s blog here.