Bishop of Louisiana Issues Instructions for Diocese to Embrace the Culture
Grace and Peace from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I write to you regarding the actions of the 2012 General Convention and particularly the action of A049, which commended for study and use “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant: Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships.” This resolution allows diocesan bishops the latitude to decide whether or not this liturgy will be offered in their diocese.
Many of you are aware that from the beginning I have openly supported the blessing of life-long, monogamous relationships between gay and lesbian couples. I am on record stating that if and when the General Convention allowed for such action, we would begin the conversation as to how the blessing would be carried out in this diocese. My friends, the time has come for such a conversation.
Over the past several months I have been in conversation with five priests from around the diocese who represent different points of views surrounding issues of sexuality. I am grateful for their frank but gracious exchange. They were instrumental in helping me articulate my own understanding. I have also had open conversations with our deacons and priests before General Convention and following. While the ordained have had opportunities to share with each other their own understanding, 1am well aware that many lay individuals may not have participated in such teachings. I urge the whole community to prayerfully and respectfully enter into such a dialogue.
At this time, congregations who are prepared may begin using the prescribed form for blessing same-sex relationships. What do I mean by being prepared?
I. I ask all Rectors and Priests-in-charge to lead their vestries and others who desire, in a conversation regarding the blessing rite and its implications for their congregation’s life.
2. Realizing it is the duty and responsibility of each Rector and Priest-in-charge for the carrying out of all liturgical acts, I ask that they share and teach with all gentle care and hospitality.
3. Upon an understanding between the Rector, Priest-in-charge and vestry, I ask that a statement be made to the local congregation regarding this action.
4. If this liturgy is to be a part of the local congregation, the prescribed liturgy, Liturgical Resources I: 1 will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing, will be used. You can contact my office for the prescribed liturgy.
5. The couple who wishes to have a union blessed must be prepared in the same manner in which we prepare heterosexual couples for Holy Matrimony.
6. Only parishioners active in the life of that particular congregation will be allowed to have their union blessed. I do not wish to be known as the local “wedding or blessing chapel.”
We have attached the customary that gives direction for the couple, priest and congregation. Like all new beginnings, what is presented is a work in progress. I’m sure there will be changes as we live more fully into this liturgy. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call my office.
As we enter this season of preparation, know that you remain in my prayers. I give thanks daily for your presence in this wonderful ministry we share. May God continue to hold us in the palm of His hand.
I am as always
Your servant in Christ,
The Rt. Rev’d Morris K. Thompson, D. D.
Bishop of Louisiana
My question is are all individuals who have elected an alternate lifestyle required to participate in this “liturgy” in order to hold positions of leadership? I ask this question because (unless it has changed) the diocese has a policy that does not allow heterosexual singles to live together outside of marriage and hold leadership positions.
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