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Anglican Liturgical group rejects American push for gay blessings: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 17, 2011 p 5. August 18, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Communion, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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The Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

A push by the Episcopal Church to bring same-sex marriage into the theological mainstream was repulsed last week by delegates attending the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation (IALC) in Canterbury.

The IALC was not persuaded by the theological or liturgical arguments—including a mock same-sex blessing ceremony–offered by the Episcopal Church delegation on the merits of same-sex blessings and declined to include the US’s views in its final report on marriage.

Gathered at the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge 56 delegates representing 19 of the Anglican Communion’s provinces met from Aug 1-6 to continue work on “Rites Relating to Marriage: A Working Interim Document”.

According to a statement released on behalf of the IALC by the Anglican Communion News Service, the marriage studies examined the “theology of marriage,” the “cultural contexts of marriage,” and the “shape and elements of the ritual.”

The ACNS reported that “one session was set aside from the regular work of the IALC in response to a formal request from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of The Episcopal Church (USA) – TEC – so that representatives from that Standing Commission could hear from IALC members in response to that Province’s exploratory theological rationale and liturgical principles for the development of rites for the blessing of committed same gender relationships.”

Members of the IALC present at the meeting told The Church of England Newspaper the US delegation led by Prof. Ruth Meyers of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific and Bishop Thomas Ely of Vermont offered a theological rationale for same-sex blessings and offered a sample of one rite, with two female members of the US delegation serving as the spouses.  After the ceremony the American team solicited comments from the gathered IALC, but asked for the return of the service leaflet as the rite remained a work in process and was not ready for publication.

While some members of the IALC, including its new chairman, Canadian-member the Rev. Dr. Eileen Scully, were generally supportive of the US view, the majority were not.  One participant told CEN the objections fell in two general groups: those who believed the concept of same-sex blessings was un-Biblical, and those who were perturbed by the “aggressive” push by the US team to seize control of a study process on rites for traditional marriage to include their own agenda.

The Bishop of Bolivia, the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons explained the “theme of blessings for same sex partners was not in the purview of the IALC which is preparing a forthcoming study based upon marriage between a man and a woman.”

He added the current marriage rite project was an “an excellent work that raises important questions for local development of rites for marriage and also a range of other moments important to the sustaining of this estate.  It would be a shame to dismiss it out of hand based on misinformation,” he said in a statement given to CEN.

He noted that it was “impossible to deal with TEC’s theological rationale because they have already reached their conclusions on this and removed it from discussion a priori.  As there is no biblical warrant for it, only controversial discussion could take place in an Anglican setting anyway.  When the issue came up in plenary it was dealt with as cultural innovation, not a theological issue.”

“With the theological rationale dismissed, the task presented to the working group by TEC was to evaluate the rite as liturgy.  This elicited a mountain of criticism and important suggestions in various small groups, such as comments concerning the rite’s basic purpose and its structural presentation,” Bishop Lyons said.

The bishop told CEN it was “good to have the demonstration.  It clarified exactly what [the US was] doing and how they were going about it.”

“It needs to be clear that this was not an approval of what they were doing either,” he said, adding that “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it must be a duck …so the close relationship to a marriage was not lost on anyone, despite protestations to the contrary.”

However, Prof. Meyers told CEN the “conversation about the work in TEC was separate from the overall focus of the Consultation. Hence the theological principles that are undergirding the work in TEC are not part of the IALC report on marriage.”

The Inter Anglican Liturgical Consultation is a “self-organising body within the Communion, interested in matters of liturgy,” a spokesman from the Anglican Consultative Council explained.

“As such it is akin to a network of the Communion in that while it reports to the Instruments and to the Standing Committee on occasion, it doesn’t receive a mandate from the Instruments, nor does it receive financial support. It appoints its own steering committee, and can invite whoever it wishes to participate in its conferences and meetings,” ACC spokesman Jan Butters said.


1. Sam Fatoyinbo - August 18, 2011

We need to emphasise this: both Gay relationship and Adultery are unbiblical and condemnable. We can’t resist one and romance the other. I see hypocricy in the fight against Gay. Some of the strongest figures in the fight in Africa can’t deny being adulterers.

Mel - August 20, 2011

I do agreed with you that both need to be deal with on equal footing. But I agreed with MichaelV (August 19, 2011), that the adultery normally will want to be quiet about the case, and non will want to get their ‘relationship’ blessed by the church.

Just like robber, thief and other offender and/or are all welcome to the church, but the same message is, ‘go and sin no more’. Can we imagine if one day, the adultery couples goes to the priest to get them to bless their relationship? Or thief goes to the priest to have their stolen goods blessed?

2. R T Norris - August 19, 2011

Nor can we use one to justify the other. Our positions should always be compared to the highest standards and not the worst examples. To justify our sin by another sin is just pathetic. This tactic is often used by children and problem employees who point to someone else’s missteps as a defense for their own actions.

In either case one should cooperate with the Holy Spirit to lead them into an amended life. Why cling to the old life of sin and death when we are born into a new life? Sin is serious and deadly and denial does not change the eternal consequences. Both the adulterer and the homosexual should be warned to go and sin no more.

3. MichaelV - August 19, 2011

Excuse me, but I don’t believe I have heard of adulterers demanding that the Church bless their activities…

4. mcadey - August 20, 2011

It is all nonsense.The bible mandated holy matrimony,to be between a man and a woman,no more no less.Woe to those who call good to be bad,and what is bad to be good.

5. Samuel Oluwadare Oluwagbemiro Ojowuro - August 30, 2011

It is sad and unfortunate that while Satan wanted a fertile land to establish an antichrist practice,he found a place among Anglicans.Biblical precepts are clear on marriage matters; it was ordain to take place between a man and a woman.Anything short or more is unbiblical whether it is gay,polygyny,adultery,fornication or any other perversion.Blessed are you all who would resist the devil and his antics no matter where they are found.God will not compromise His standard for any reason or because of anyone.

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