Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Newark Guidelines for Civil Unions by Clergy

Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 1:36 PM
Subject: An Open Letter to the Clergy of the Diocese of Newark from The Oasis

Bishop Beckwith has given The Oasis permission to create a list of clergy willing to perform civil unions as a resource for same sex couples who wish for their ceremonies to be performed by clergy. As civil agents of the state, clergy are legally permitted to perform civil unions and canonically there is nothing to prevent clergy from performing them and blessing the union.

Hard copies of this letter were sent to all diocesan clergy last month, but as response to the letter has been spotty we have been asked to re-send the letter via email.

The Bishop has a standard of expectations for any clergy performing civil union partnerships.

1. Civil Union ceremonies may be performed in church.

2. A record of the service may be recorded in the parish register.

3. It is the choice of the clergyperson, as in marriage, whether or not they will perform civil unions, and

4. The same requirements and expectations exist for civil unions – counseling, participation in the life of the church community and congregation, etc. – that the clergyperson and church require for marriage. If it is a second relationship, permission needs to be given by the bishop (as in a second marriage request).

5. Guidelines for the service may be obtained from the Civil Union Task Force.

As you probably know, the Bishop has established a Civil Union Task Force to help respond to this new legal opportunity, chaired by Ms. Barbara Conroy and the Rev. Phil Wilson. In the meantime, if you are looking for services of blessing The Oasis has on file several approved ceremonies of blessing which are available by e-mail to anyone in the diocese who requests them.

If you have not already done so please let The Oasis know if you would like to be included on the list of clergy willing to perform civil unions. You can send a note of your willingness to The Oasis by e-mail to chair at oasisnewark.org or to The Oasis, 31 Mulberry Street, Newark, NJ 07102.


John Simonelli, Commission Chair

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