“What we are doing is blessing a commitment, not conferring legal or civil rights,” he said. “This is not a wedding.”
The publication of the documents follows a nine-month study by a committee Konieczny had formed to respond to Resolution A049. At the 2012 general convention, the Episcopal Church USA, or ECUSA, approved the resolution authorizing dioceses nationwide to produce liturgical materials for the purpose of blessing same-sex unions.
Episcopal churches in Oklahoma will decide independently whether to make these resources available to parishioners. If a couple wants the blessing, a petition — along with a report from the clergy and church leadership — is sent to the bishop, who then determines if the church may conduct the service.
One local couple, however, didn’t wait for such approval. Mary Reynolds and her partner, who is not Episcopalian, had a private blessing service with friends.
“We didn’t want to wait for the Episcopal Church to take this extraordinary step, partly because we didn’t think it would be so soon,” she said. “We held a ceremony … with our friends and called that our blessing.”
Reynolds. who attends St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Oklahoma City — a congregation known to be open and affirming of lesbians and gays — said she is pleased with the speed at which the ECUSA is moving.
She added, however, that other steps need to be taken.
“I think it’s a positive step for lesbians and gays,” she said. “Bisexual and transgendered is another challenge that awaits. In that this is a move in the right direction of inclusion, I hope it would be a positive step toward fuller inclusion for bisexual and transgendered people.”
Neither A049 nor the recently released materials directly address bisexual and transgender parishioners, but churches around the country are beginning to speak out about the issues.
The ECUSA is one of the denominations leading the way in inclusion of LGBT people, and its moves have made some members uncomfortable. Churches are leaving it every year over the controversy, and legal battles over property and money have arisen.
“Of course, some people aren’t going to want to take this step, and they’re going to want to get off the boat before it sails,” Reynolds said. “But for those of us still in the boat … we’ve arrived at this day.”
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