"How might this work, that is, the provision of theological and liturgical resources for blessing same-gender relationships, advance the mission of the Episcopal Church?"The church – our Episcopal Church – has been at this work of discerning the Holy Spirit at work in the lives, vocations and relationships of its gay and lesbian baptized for a very long time. In my parish we are about to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first same-gender blessing of Mark & Phil in January 1992. Since then there have been more calls for us to “do the theology” than I can count – and it was a great privilege to be part of the task force collecting and developing the resources being presented by the SCLM to GC-2012. That said, I would like to offer a three-fold answer to Deputy Meyer’s question, framed by the definition of that mission from our Catechism:
Q. What is the mission of the Church?
A. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
(1) As we continue to live into that high calling to restore all people to unity with God and with each other in Christ, these theological and liturgical resources will equip and empower the Episcopal Church to more fully include all the baptized in the sacramental life of the Church as we to strive to make the “full and equal claim” promised to gay and lesbian members of this church in 1976 not just a resolution but a reality.
(2) In those jurisdictions where the bishop authorizes their use, these resources will not only inform and bless the congregations and couples participating in the theological work and liturgical blessings, they will be an outward and visible sign to those who are still standing as strangers at the gate that “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” sign really means it. They will, in short, be a means of proclaiming the Good News of God’s inclusive love –a means of evangelism.
(3) Finally, the provision of these resources for trial use will allow the Church to move beyond what I have come to call “the inclusion wars” and into a new era of mission and ministry focused on what binds us together as those who believe the Good News of God’s love, justice and compassion rather than on what divides us as those who disagree about theology, sexuality and natural law.
We carry within us the DNA of Anglicans who managed – against all odds -- to be a church both catholic and protestant in the 16th century. These resources will equip us to continue that good work into the 21st as a church committed to the mission of restoring all people – gay and straight – to unity with God and each other in Christ.
The Reverend Canon Susan Russell,
Deputy: Diocese of Los Angeles
If you're a Deputy to General Convention it's not too late to weigh in. And it is also not too late to encourage your diocesan deputies to step up and speak out.