Same-Sex Blessings Authorised for Trial Use

Through the wonders of the internet, I was watching last night as the US based Episcopal Church General Convention voted to allow a formal liturgy for Same-Sex Blessings to be authorised for trial use in such dioceses and congregations which chose to allow them.

It was an undramatic moment, it has to be said – they managed to get themselves into a mire of procedural motions before the vote which was clearly testing everyone’s patience.

No-one who has followed the goings on of the US church will be at all surprised by this development though I suppose it might well be a moment when some of the shrill grumpy voices pipe up.

Here in Scotland, interestingly, we don’t seem to be going down the line of producing a special liturgy for same-sex couples to be blessed with. The gay community in Scotland owes a great debt to my ecclesiastical neighbour the Rev David McCarthy for suggesting some years ago in a Synod debate that if one simply chooses option A at each stage of the Scottish Episcopal Marriage Liturgy you get a service which curiously does not mention gender much at all. A little massaging of words like wife, husband and marriage and you have a liturgy ideally suited for blessing same-sex couples.

Certainly, I’ve known a couple of couples recently who are indebted to Fr David for having made this suggestion. It is ingenious and has meant that there is no great pressure building up in our church to produce a formal liturgy of blessing separate to the marriage liturgy. I’m not sure that they actually toast “The McCarthy Liturgy” at their wedding breakfasts, but perhaps they should do.

I think that it is all to the good that we are not going down the line right now of producing a separate liturgy, particularly in the light of current conversations about equal marriage which are taking place in the political sphere and with which many people from the churches are engaged.

I have to confess to thinking that the actual liturgy that the US based church has authorized is a little unexciting. Maybe though, that is the point. If you devise a dazzling liturgy for blessing gay couples, everyone else will want one too.

You can find the blessing service online. (Go to page 67 to find the liturgy). Strictly speaking, that is the version that went to General Convention – it has been modified a little since then. I can’t find a clean version of the newly authorized liturgy, but no doubt one will appear soon. If you know of a link to such a file, do please post it below.

So, what do you think?


  1. Have to agree with you that the US liturgy is incredibly naff. I’ve seen MUCH MUCH better. Even the Boston liturgy used 18 months ago was better.

  2. Bro David says

    Some of us would rather not have a service that is just Holy Matrimony with the nouns and pronouns corrected as applicable. Some of us lean more to the ancient services brought to light by John Boswell. Some of us guys would prefer a service of Holy Fratrimony, if you will.

    Also, approving a new service may prove easier in TEC than all the legislation that would be required to change the rubrics in the current prayerbook regarding marriage being between a man and a woman, as well as the canon(s) defining such.

    But who knows, this may get us all a new prayerbook before its over! (My church uses the Spanish translation of the TEC BCP.)

  3. Bro David says

    Father Kelvin, I have been taught all of my life that I should marry my best friend. In fact, that is what I did and we shared a wonderful life together from birth (delivered a day apart by the same village midwives) until he dropped dead of an undiagnosed congenital heart condition. Indeed, we were both physical and spiritual friends, brothers, life’s companions. We shared a service in JAN 1984, attended by our families and many friends, as we prepared to journey to the US where I attended graduate seminary, uncannily similar to those published by Dr Boswell, Holy Fratrimony. Self-loathing detractors aside, I wonder how many gay men and women used those services in just the form suggested by Dr Boswell? We shall never know in this life. But I anticipate they will be gathered around my beloved Roberto as he patiently awaits my own arrive at the gates to that Blessed City.

  4. Bro David says

    It is my firm belief that I am having a conversation with my man K.

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