So, let me get this right…

Let me be sure I’ve understood this.

From sometime next year or the year after, a gay couple will be able to get a Civil Partnership, then come to a Scottish Episcopal Church for a blessing from a Scottish Episcopal priest, make promises to one another, exchange rings, have them blessed, sing hymns and have a Eucharist celebrating their union. And then they will be able to convert it to a marriage soon after (what a day later?) by filling in a form and paying a small fee. Or maybe they will not even need to go through the Civil Partnership bit and just be able to come for the whole blessing thing after getting married.

And that’s going to be OK with just about everyone. Admittedly not absolutely everyone but not far off.

And we are now currently insisting in submissions to the Scottish Government that the same Scottish Episcopal Church is opposed by virtue of our doctrine to same-sex couples getting married.

And we expect government (and the general population) to take us seriously.

Have I understood that correctly?

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?