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Key Episcopal Church Committee Approves Same-Sex Marriage Liturgy

EpiscopalAs expected, the Episcopal Church's General Convention's central prayer committee today approved of a resolution that would construct a liturgy to bless same-sex marriages, though there are still provisions for individual priests who object to marriage equality.

"No bishop, priest, deacon or lay person should be coerced or penalized in any manner, nor suffer any canonical disabilities, as a result of his or her conscientious objection to or support for the 77th General Convention’s action with regard to the Blessing of Same-Sex Relationships," reads an amendment attached to the proposal, according to MSNBC.

According to the press release, leaders within the church are aware they will have to hammer out an agreement down the road. "This is clearly a work in process, and there is a place in that process for all Episcopalians, whether or not they agree with the action we are taking today," it said.

More from MSNBC:

In the proposed rites, each person would make a vow to the other, exchange rings and be declared "bound to one another in a holy covenant, as long as they both shall live." The resolution also asks that the liturgy be approved for provisional use starting the first week of Advent -- beginning on Dec. 2, 2012 -- and calls for a review process before the next General Convention in 2015. Congregations and clergy wishing to use the liturgy would need the permission of their bishops.

In states that currently allow same-sex civil marriage, such as Maryland and New York, Episcopalians may already bless same-sex marriages, but there is no formal church-wide liturgy. Commitment ceremonies for gay couples are allowed elsewhere in the church at the discretion of the local bishop.

The vote will now go to the House of Bishops and then the House of Deputies, a body that is open to lay people as well as clergy.

On a related note, the House of Bishops approved a resolution this weekend allowing transgender men and women to become ministers. That too goes forward for a final vote.


Episcopals For Marriage Equality In Washington

Picture 21As the Washington State Senate voted in favor of marriage equality on Wednesday, it had the vocal support of a senior member of the Episcopal clergy.

Earlier this week, the Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, VIII Bishop of Olympia, posted the following to his blog:

It is expected that our Washington state legislators will very soon, perhaps even tomorrow begin floor deliberations on HB2516 & SB6239 with the Senate to begin.  Passage of these bills or a version of them would make same sex marriage law in our state.   Our Episcopal Church, after a long discussion about this over the years is poised to do roughly the same this summer at our General Convention.

While I am careful about wading into our legislator’s business, I would say this is the church’s business too.  I have a asked by many about my feelings on it, and I have decided to share them.  The ideas are not new,  I have shared them openly in the walk-abouts before becoming your bishop and in many venues before and since.

Christianity has held, when considering relationships of all sorts, but especially in relation to two people in marriage, fidelity to be our value.   Fidelity is the value in most all our sacraments and also in our life as Christians.

It seems to me we have held our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in a “catch-22″.  We say they cannot live up to our value because they cannot be married, or even blessed in their union.  While many of them have begged for this, it is still not possible.    What they ask of us, the church and the government, is to put boundaries around their relationship, to hold them in the same regard and with the same respect, which would also mean that we expect the same from them.  They are not asking for special treatment.  They are asking for equal treatment.   They are asking to be accountable, as a couple, in community.  To me, this is a conservative proposal.  I am for it, and I hope we will finally make way for this to happen, not only in our society, but also in our church.

Faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Gregory H. Rickel

As SeattlePi points out, allowing gay clergy to serve and straight clergy give voice to such opinions has cost the Episcopals buildings, lands, membership and money in the last decade. And it's still costing them -- one irate commentator on the Bishop's blog promises to ditch the church if marriage equality is enshrined in Washington law, as now looks likely.

As Andy reported, many Washington clerics are already plotting to reverse equality, should equality come. It's good to know the Rt. Rev.'s around to balance the scale.


Gay Bishop Gene Robinson's Message is 'Love Free or Die': VIDEOS

Robinson

Check out these extremely moving clips from Love Free or Die, the new documentary about gay New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson which is premiering this week at Sundance.

LovefreeordieIn one clip, he gives a sermon to fellow clergy and volunteers on Gay Pride day before handing out water to marchers in the parade.

Says Robinson in the clip: "...it is a very holy thing that you do when you offer that cup of water. You are representing the community of Christians, and Jews, and Muslims who are 95% the source of all the oppression we LGBT people have experienced in our lives. And so when you offer a cup of water bearing the name of Christ as it says in our gospel today, you are the oppressor offering a cup of water to the oppressed. They get it. They get the act of compassion. My question is, do you get it? Do you realize the important thing that you do by giving a cup of water to those people out there who have been hurt by us, and continue to be hurt by us?"

In another clip, an incident (which I covered here in 2008) in which Robinson is heckled because he is gay by a man at an alternative service Robinson was giving at the Anglican Lambeth conference, is captured on film.

Very, very powerful stuff.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Bishop Gene Robinson's Message is 'Love Free or Die': VIDEOS" »


Bishop Walter Righter, Who Opened Doors to Gay Ordination in Episcopal Church, Dies at 87

Episcopal Bishop Walter Righter, who opened the door to gay ordination in the Church, died on Sunday at 87 after a long illness.

Righter The Post-Gazette reports:

"Raised and ordained a priest in Pittsburgh, he had retired as bishop of Iowa and was assisting in the Newark diocese when he ordained the deacon in 1990. Conservatives in the Episcopal Church charged him with heresy, but the church's highest court ruled in 1996 that gay ordination did not violate core doctrines of the church. The decision eventually led to a split in the Episcopal Church. He returned to this region about eight years ago, and lived in Export with his wife, Nancy."

Adds the Washington Post:

Bishop Righter was bishop of Iowa from 1972 to 1988, during which time he ordained the first female deacon in Iowa. From 1989 to 1991, he served as assistant bishop in the Diocese of Newark, N.J.

In 1990, Bishop Righter ordained Barry Lee Stopfel, a non-celibate gay man, as a deacon. Ten bishops brought charges against Bishop Righter, alleging that he violated the doctrine of the church and his ordination vows by ordaining Stopfel.

Then came the verdict described above by the Post-Gazette.

The WaPo adds:

A member of the court, Bishop Cabell Tennis, told the New York Times that the verdict offered neither an opinion “on the morality of same-gender relationships” nor guidance on whether a bishop “should or should not” ordain sexually active gays and lesbians.

When asked after the trial to speculate on the future of homosexuality in the church, Bishop Righter told the Times, “I think we’re making too much out of the bedroom.”

Righter is survived by his wife Nancy, a brother, four children and four grandchildren.


Former NJ Governor Jim McGreevey Rejected in Initial Bid for Priesthood 'for Being a Jackass'

Former NJ Governor Jim "I am a gay American" McGreevey has had his initial bid for the priesthood rejected by church leaders, the NY Post reports:

Mcgreevey Church leaders, who have long embraced gay parishioners and clergy, were bothered by McGreevey's bitter divorce, sources told The Post.

"It was not being gay but for being a jackass -- [McGreevey] didn't come out of the whole divorce looking good," said a source with the Episcopal Diocese of Newark.

Some leaders also were wary of McGreevey's sudden embrace of their faith after his scandal and feared the church was being used, the source added.

After resigning as governor, "he was sort of looking for every angle to make a complete redo of his professional life," said another church source. "He ran to the church for some kind of cover, which isn't fully appropriate. Even if he's a good guy, he should wait five to 10 years to get over his issues."

McGreevey was apparently told that he needs to go back to the books and study harder or do more charitable work.

It was first reported that McGreevey was looking into the priesthood in May 2007.

*Note: image is Photoshop illustration.


High-Ranking Lesbian Episcopal Priests Marry in Massachusetts

Priests
(image jo nevinslong - patriot ledger)

On New Year's Day, some history was being made in Massachusetts, the Patriot Ledger reports:

In a wedding that appears to be the first of its kind in the U.S. – at least in the Episcopal Church – former Plymouth priest the Rev. Mally Lloyd married the Rev. Katherine Ragsdale, dean and president of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, on New Year’s Day. The Rev. Lloyd, a former pastor at Christ Church in Plymouth, is now a ranking official of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

The Rev. Lloyd and the Rev. Ragsdale were married in a ceremony at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston, with about 400 guests attending. Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, the state’s highest ranking Episcopal official, presided.

So far there has been no response from the conservative portion of the Anglican church.

A press release from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge said the two women were introduced by a mutual friend in the summer of 2008.

That was a few months before the Rev. Lloyd was appointed canon to the ordinary – the diocese’s chief operating officer – and about a year before the Rev. Ragsdale became the divinity school’s dean and president.

During their New Year’s Day ceremony, Bishop Shaw said: “God always rejoices when two people who love each other make a lifelong commitment in marriage to go deeper into the heart of God through each other. It’s a profound pleasure for me to celebrate with God and my friends Katherine and Mally their marriage today.”

Congrats to the couple.

Marriage of 2 lesbian Episcopal priests adds new twist to gay issues [patriot ledger]


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