General Convention Actions

A few updates on actions of the 78th General Convention…

The House of Bishops and the House of Deputies have passed A054 – “Adopt Resources and Rites from ‘Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing, Revised and Expanded 2015′” This resolution mostly continues actions of the 77th General Convention held in 2012, but also encourages wider adoption and offering of these liturgies in all dioceses. The explanation of this resolution:

The 77th General Convention commended for study and use the resources contained in “Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing” and directed the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) to further develop the theological resource, review the entire resource, and invite responses. The revised and expanded edition reflects this process of review and development as detailed in the SCLM Report to the 78th General Convention. The liturgical rite, “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” has been well received and widely used, and the SCLM now recommends that the revised rite be widely available.

In addition, rapid changes in civil law concerning marriage in the United States, along with the responses received as part of the SCLM church-wide consultation process, indicate a need for equivalent proper liturgies in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is legal. Further, the SCLM consultation process indicated a pastoral need for equivalent marriage rites that could be used by any couple.

The House of Bishops and the House of Deputies also have passed A036 – “Amend Canon I.18 Marriage.” This revision of the Canons, or church laws, of The Episcopal Church that relate to the sacrament of marriage.  The explanation of this resolution:

This proposed rewriting of Canon I.18 is intended to reflect the theological and practical view expressed in the Report of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage to the 78th General Convention. In addition to streamlining and reordering (while preserving) the basic canonical requirements, it focuses on the commitments actually made by the particular couple who come to be married, rather than on the causes or purposes of marriage in general.

The present canon casts these causes in literally creedal form, as it requires the couple to declare that they “believe” a set of statements about marriage. This is to some extent problematical when one member of the couple may not be a “believer” at all or may come from a tradition with a different theology of marriage. It should be sufficient that the couple be instructed in, and understand the rights, duties, and responsibilities of, marriage as expressed in the marriage vows; and attest to that understanding as well as to their legal competence to marry.

This revision also recognizes that there are some jurisdictions (for example, parts of Europe) where clergy do not solemnize marriage; it also makes explicit provision for the blessing of civil marriage, which appears in the Book of Common Prayer but has no canonical reference at present. Section 1 also covers jurisdictions where a deacon may have the legal faculty to solemnize.

This revision recognizes that, in addition to the three rites in the Book of Common Prayer, there are (or may be) other marriage rites authorized by this Church, either for trial use throughout the Church or for provisional use under the direction of the local ecclesiastical authority.

Finally, the discretion of clergy to decline to solemnize any given marriage is preserved and extended to include the choice to decline offering a blessing on a marriage.

To see all resolutions under consideration at the 78th General Convention and their current status   you can visit the following site.

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