Starting in December, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts will let clergy bless gay couples, a change announced after a national Episcopalian convention this month approved a new rite for same-sex relationships.
The diocese will continue to forbid clergy from performing gay marriages, something its Eastern Massachusetts counterpart allows. But in an interview last week, the incoming Western Massachusetts bishop said he plans on asking worshipers whether they want to revisit the prohibition.
By a wide margin, Episcopalians at this month’s national General Convention approved a new rite blessing same-sex relationships. Each diocese in the country can decide whether to perform the blessing.
Following the convention, the Diocese of Western Massachusetts announced it would give parishes the option to perform the same-sex blessing.
Bishop-elect Douglas John Fisher, who will succeed Bishop Gordon Paul Scruton in December, called the resolution “a big move in the right direction.”
“This is a great development for our gay brothers and sisters, and we hope to celebrate that with them starting in December,” Fisher said in an interview.
While the new ritual will not constitute nuptials, Fisher left open the possibility the diocese may ultimately approve gay marriage, following the lead of the Eastern Massachusetts diocese, which sanctioned such services in 2009.
“When I get there, I’ll certainly be having those conversations,” said Fisher, currently rector of Grace Church in Millbrook, N.Y. “We’ll see where all of that leads.”
– full report at The Boston Globe.
- Episcopalians Approve Rite to Bless Same-Sex Unions (nytimes.com)
- Episcopal Church approves same-sex blessing rite (kansascity.com)
- US church approves gay blessings (bbc.co.uk)