In a letter dated Nov. 26, 2012, the Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright wrote to diocesan clergy regarding his policy on the provisional use of liturgies for the blessing of same-gender relationships.
He refers to liturgical resources that are available from Church Publishing as well at the Cathedral Book Store titled I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing: Resources for the Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant in a Same-Sex Blessing.
Here is a summary of the key points in the letter; the original letter can be found here.
- He commends the use of these resources by all priests, canonically resident and in good standing in the Diocese of Atlanta. He asks clergy to bear in mind that in the state of Georgia the blessing of a same-sex union is neither marriage nor does it have any legal standing at this time.
- No priest is or should obligated to perform a liturgy of blessing; clergy can decline to preside at a blessing liturgy without fear of coercion, penalty, or canonical disability for objecting to the action of the 77th General Convention.
- If a priest does discern a call to perform a blessing, our bishop requires the following:
- One of the couple will be a baptized member of the parish where the blessing is to be performed. Offering baptism to the unbaptized person is expected.
- The priest will explore with each of those seeking blessing whether they are legally, morally and spiritually free to enter into such a commitment, ensuring that neither of the parties is still partnered or married.
- The couple is to be instructed by the priest as to the nature and graces of a Christian, lifelong relationship of love lived out in the community of believers.
- As a matter of pastoral care for the parish and as an opportunity for ongoing spiritual formation, the priest will engage the vestry in conversation about the church's theology of blessing. (Performing a blessing does not require a vote by the vestry or parish.)
- An assistant or an associate priest in a parish may perform a blessing at the parish only with the consent of their rector or priest in charge.
- In the event a couple's desire to have their union blessed at the parish of their membership is vehemently opposed, the diocesan bishop will be consulted so that a generous pastoral response might be agreed upon and offered.
- Legislation passed by the 102nd Council of the Diocese of Atlanta, November 2008
- Bishop Rob Wright blessed the marriage of the Rev. Cynthia Hizer and Margaret Putnam during a Sept. 21, 2014, liturgy at Church of the Epiphany, Atlanta, with Rector Benno Pattison. The couple was married the previous August in New Mexico. | Photos by Bill Monk here »