Foundation donates $400K for Episcopal gay liturgies

(RNS) — A Michigan-based gay rights foundation has given more than $400,000 to the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, Calif., to help craft formal same-sex covenanting liturgies for the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church still officially considers marriage to be between a man and a woman, reflected in the marriage rite of its Book of Common Prayer. Many dioceses, however, unofficially allow priests to bless same-sex relationships and even marriages.

Because the church puts a high value on scripted liturgies, many same-sex couples want their own marriage/blessing rite since many bishops are reluctant to use the traditional husband-wife marriage liturgy for same-sex unions.

The church’s 2009 General Convention gave the green light to collecting “theological and liturgical resources” that would form the basis of an official same-sex rite that could be added to the list of approved ceremonies.

“Developing liturgical resources for blessing same-sex unions is a once-in-a-lifetime generation change, and we want to do it well,” said Ruth Myers, a professor of liturgy at the seminary.

— Kevin Eckstrom