Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Chapel of the Cross may bless unions

Same-sex unions might earn blessing
By Carolina Astigarraga, Staff Writer
The News and Observer

CHAPEL HILL - At a time when women were often denied positions of authority, the tattered book that chronicles the 1842 incorporation of The Chapel of the Cross bears the signatures of 12 women beside those of 12 men.
The book also lists the names of young slave children whose owner brought them to be baptized in the 1850s. Pauli Murray, the granddaughter of one of those slaves, became the first black woman ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. She returned to Chapel Hill and received her first Eucharist as an ordained priest in the church.

Now, The Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church is incorporating another minority community into its 1,200-member congregation by entering into a discernment process -- or active discussion -- about blessing same-sex unions.

"We have a number of gay couples in our parish that have been together 25, 30 years, some of whom would like the church's blessing on their private covenant," said Rector Stephen Elkins-Williams. "I think we've asked them to wait, those who want to, long enough."

The larger Episcopal Church does not recognize any rites for same-sex unions, although specific parishes are not penalized for offering such ceremonies or creating their own rites.

The Chapel of the Cross, 304 E. Franklin St., would join several other Triangle churches that have offered similar ceremonies for years.

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