The 77th General Convention was careful to specify that this liturgy is not to be misunderstood as a marriage rite, that it is a provisional liturgy while more theological work is being done. It is a pastoral response to those in committed same sex relationships who seek the blessing of the church.
As a provisional liturgy, Resolution A049 calls for three years of careful review and a report to the 2015 General Convention, to include diverse theological perspectives, “further engagement with scripture and the relevant categories and sources of systematic theology (e.g., creation, sin, grace, salvation, redemption, human nature)” and an open process to review the liturgy through responses from dioceses, congregations, individuals, the Anglican Communion, and our ecumenical partners.
A049 also specifies that the liturgy will not be authorized for use until the first Sunday in Advent 2012, which is December 2nd of this year. Due to
Bishop Elect Nicholas Knisely did not have vote at this year’s General Convention, but during his election process this past May he spoke in support of authorizing a blessing of same-sex relationships while at the same time honoring the diversity of opinion on this subject in Rhode Island Episcopal Parishes.
Bishop Elect Knisely reminds Rhode Island Episcopalians of Roger William’s legacy of religious tolerance. He said this week “How do we live into a world where people disagree? We are Episcopalians. We understand and fully expect that we won’t agree. That would be a “pure” church – and we have historically rejected that understanding of how to live as God’s people in the world. We find our unity in common prayer.”
In the time between now and December 2nd the Bishop Elect will be working with diocesan bodies to craft a process of mutual discernment between parishes, clergy, and congregations for whom offering a blessing liturgy would be appropriate in their context.