Monday, March 21, 2011

Next Steps on the SCLM "Blessings Project"

by the Reverend Canon Susan Russell
Past-president, Integrity USA
Co-chair of the SCLM Task Force on Teaching & Pastoral Care Resources

Readers of this blog will know that the SCLM (Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music) has just finished a Church-wide Consultation in Atlanta on the implementation of General Convention Resolution C056 calling "for an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships."

You can watch webcasts of the plenary sessions of the historic gathering of deputies from 98 dioceses for theological reflection and consultation here.

You can read ENS reports on the gathering here and here.

You can also review the Reverend Dr. Caro Hall's excellent overview and analysis of the consultation here and here.

And then you can be part of what the resolution describes as "an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals who are engaged in such theological work."

As members and friends of Integrity, you have an important role to play as the work of the SCLM Task Forces complete the process of creating their report, submitting it to the Commission and then having it sent on to General Convention for discussion, debate and -- ultimately -- as a resolution that will move the Episcopal Church another step closer to the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments.
The theme of the Atlanta Consultation was "Inform, Engage & Equip."

•To Inform the deputies about the history of the work we've been charged to do and about what we've done so far in response to that charge.
•To Engage the deputies in dialogue and discussion about not only the work we've been doing but the resources they need in their contexts.
•To Equip them to go back to their deputations and to their dioceses and bring their colleagues and constituents -- as fully as possible -- into this church wide process of discussion and discernment.
And your job is to help your deputies and bishops live up to the charge of C056 ... to make this truly an "open" process and to see to it that your dioceses and congregations RSVP to the invitation to participate in this historic opportunity for church-wide theological reflection in preparation for the deliberations those elected to represent you will undertake in Indianapolis.

It is an historic opportunity -- not only because the issue is the blessing of same-gender relationships but because the process offers a new vision for accountability and transparency in how we do the work of the Episcopal Church. Dean Nicholas Knisely put it this way in his reflection on Episcopal Cafe:
I don't think I'm alone in the Episcopal Church in feeling a sense of frustration over the disconnect between the process and the reception of the process' results. I think the disconnect has led to a feeling of alienation on the part of the large majority of Episcopalians who don't have a chance to participate in the process and subsequently have little buy-in to the decisions that are made by Conventions as the national, diocesan and parish levels.

The Atlanta Consultation was one important step in breaking those old patterns and establishing a new standard of the whole church being informed, engaged and equipped about the work we are doing together as the Episcopal Church.

So visit the links posted above and get informed. Contact your bishop(s) and deputies and get engaged. And together let's get equipped to finish the work of securing authorized rites for the blessing of same-gender relationships in Indianapolis in 2012!

The Reverend Canon Susan Russell is Integrity's immediate past-president and the co-chair of the SCLM Task Force on Teaching and Pastoral Care Resources. She serves as a Senior Associate at All Saints Church in Pasadena and chairs the Program Group for LGBT Ministry in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

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