Home > General info > Same-Sex Blessing Passes in House of Bishops

Same-Sex Blessing Passes in House of Bishops

On Monday, July 9, the House of Bishops voted in favor of Resolution A049, Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships.  The resolution, which allows but does not mandate use of these blessings, must now go to the House of Deputies for consideration. Under the terms of the resolution, each diocese – under the direction of the bishop – has the authority to make their own decisions about these matters.

Bishop Ely of the Diocese of Vermont, who served on the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music which brought the resolution forward, said at the beginning of the discussion, “All of us have more to learn from Scripture and each other.” Ely said he hoped that the next three years would serve as a time for bishops, clergy, and laity to read the liturgy, reflect on it, help the committee evaluate it, but to please not ignore it.

There was standing room only in the visitor area as the bishops began to debate and discuss the issue. Bishop Gary Lillibridge addressed the bishops saying that he was going to vote against the resolution and yet was deeply appreciative of the committee listening to all perspectives, pro and con, in the crafting of the resolution which carefully addresses the concerns of all. He noted that a discussion among the bishops of this difficulty and magnitude could not have occurred just a few years ago with the grace that was accompanying this conversation. He further stated that he appreciated the statements contained in the resolution that reinforced a “generous pastoral response” to all.

Bishop David Reed, suffragan of West Texas, said that he honestly believes many people within our Church will see the passing of this resolution as the approval of same-sex “marriages” which it is not. Several bishops noted the confusion this was likely to cause in people’s understanding of what was actually being stated in A049. Several noted the affect this resolution would have on our relationship with Anglicans worldwide as well as our ecumenical partners.

Bishop Stacy Sauls, who serves as the Church’s chief operating officer, said he appreciates the pastoral care of this resolution in reaching out to his gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Bishop Nathan Baxter, bishop of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, said we have struggled around this conversation for almost 40 years. “Unless we take a certain movement, the conversation will stop… this provisional liturgy allows us to continue the conversation and our journey, to learn from each other and make mistakes.”

After over an hour of debate, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori called for a roll call vote. Before the vote a chaplain offered a prayer, asking God to guide the Church as a whole on how to be the Church, saying our human processes are nothing without God. A roll call vote followed, with Lillibridge and Reed voting against; as did Bishops Doyle and Harrison from the Diocese of Texas. The resolution passed with 111 in favor, 41 against, and 3 abstained.

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