A Pastoral Letter from Ottawa Bishop John Chapman to his Clergy

2. The same-gendered couple, civilly married, must be in an existing pastoral relationship with the clergy and parish.

3. At least one of the couple must be baptised.

4. Consistent with the moratorium and reflecting gracious restraint, no formal liturgy will be outlined or sanctioned by the Episcopal Office. However, the following guidelines must be observed:
a. The act of worship, prayer and blessing will be entered in the Vestry Book only.
b. The service of Blessing may not occur at the same occasion or day as a civil marriage so as to allow each event to be distinct and clearly understood.
c. Introductory remarks must be made that reflect the theological difference between the act of blessing and the sacrament of marriage.
d. The blessing of the commitment may include a statement of commitment and symbolic expressions of that commitment but these may not resemble those typically used in a marriage liturgy.
e. Celebration of the Eucharist is encouraged but optional.
f. In order to distinguish the act of blessing from marriage, it is not appropriate to ask for an exchange of consents. As well, blessings typically used in a marriage liturgy will not be used nor will a declaration of union be made. The act of blessing consecrates before God the partnership that already exists between the couple; mutual love and lifelong commitment one to the other in Christ.

Read it all (another from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material) and please take the time to note what is said about the communion of the unbaptized, not only in the letter but also in the appendix by the Canon Theologian of Ottawa.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Instruments of Unity, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Windsor Report / Process

7 comments on “A Pastoral Letter from Ottawa Bishop John Chapman to his Clergy

  1. Ian+ says:

    So we’re gonna treat it like a real marriage in every other way– we’re even gonna call it a marriage– but just on on the day of the event and not in the official record books of the church. It’s kind of like how we view veggieburgers– all dressed up and looking like real hamburgers, but fake nonetheless. And of course we have to add the disclaimer when we serve them.

  2. Br. Michael says:

    We are going to have gay marriage, but we are not going to call it that so that the AC can continue to ignore what we are doing. We are going to practice “gracious restraint” by not doing “officially” (no official liturgy) what we are officially (using an unofficial liturgy) doing.

    Of course the AC would ignore it anyway.

  3. driver8 says:

    Reminds me of the misunderstanding of small children, in which they believe if they cover their eyes, you can’t see them.

  4. Ian+ says:

    #3, that’s exactly it. (Oh, and sorry if I offended any veggieburger lovers with my comment above.)

  5. tired says:

    Wow, he can make up pretty good guidelines on how to violate scripture and Christian teaching.


  6. Undergroundpewster says:

    So the initial trial run was a “test of the Spirit.” There is no follow up on the response of the Spirit to the test, but I assume that since no one was struck down by bolt of lightning or even a cough from Canterbury, the bishop is taking that as a “yes” and is “moving on.”

  7. MomVictoria says:

    On the issue of communion offered to the unbaptized: If the Episcopal church feels that it is being inhospitable in not offering communion to the unbaptized, then perhaps the church should take a tip from the Eastern Orthodox church. When visiting an Orthodox church with a friend, I was offered a blessed bread (not communion bread) as a sign of hospitality and fellowship. Since the Orthodox church practices closed communion, the blessed bread was offered to all non-Orthodox visitors. It is distributed at the close of the communion service, or alternatively, I could have gone forward and asked for a blessing from the priest, and received the blessed bread after the priest’s blessing. TEC could do the same for unbaptized persons. Problem solved! The unbaptized person is blessed and welcomed.