Episcopalians now have an officially approved way to do what some of them have been doing, informally and unofficially, for quite a while. In July the church’s General Convention gave its blessing to blessing. By a surprisingly large majority vote, it authorized for provisional use a liturgy that prescribes what is to be done and said at a service of blessing a same-sex union.
Like every liturgical text, this one is, among other things, an expression of theological convictions. Inasmuch as the Anglican tradition to which the Episcopal Church belongs has typically found its theological identity in appointed forms of common prayer as much as in confessional formulas, it is all the more appropriate to ask what beliefs will be enacted when the new liturgy comes into use in Advent. What does this service say, theologically, about the church that has produced and endorsed it?
Charles Hefling is an instructor in the diaconal formation program of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and an adjunct member of the faculty at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. He was formerly a professor of systematic theology at Boston College.