When I see things like this, I can't help but think of our Beloved Moderates.
Twenty-five years ago, if you had told them that the Episcopal Church would, in their lifetimes, allow rogue priests in faraway parishes to do same-sex blessings disguised as "home blessings," they would have scoffed at you. Yet it happened, and the practice grew.
Twenty years ago, if you had told these same Beloved Moderates that, the practice of disguising same-sex blessings as "home blessings" having grown by leaps and bounds, some priests in faraway parishes had taken to blessing same-sex unions in their churches, the reaction would have been more scoffing but, faced with the facts, a wave of the hand and some mumbling about "it could never happen in OUR diocese." Yet the number of diocese in which same-sex blessings were being allowed grew from zero, to now approaching two dozen.
Fifteen years ago, if you had told these same Beloved Moderates that, the practice of same-sex blessings being more openly accepted throughout the church, it was only a matter of time before an openly-gay, non-celibate bishop was consecrated, they would have laughed out loud. Yet along came Gene Robinson. "Well, I'm sure that's an anomaly that will rectified. besides, it won't happen anywhere else." And yet, we find out that Otis Charles, Bishop of Utah preceded Robinson by many years. And now we have Mary Glasspool consecrated in Los Angeles.
Ten years ago, if you had told these same Beloved Moderates that the Episcopal Church would, at its General Convention, officially declare that same-sex blessings were part of "the common life" of the church, and that bishops like the one in Mississippi would actually vote for it, the reaction would have been more scoffing: "Oh please - don't be ridiculous. that will never happen." And yet C051 easily passed in 2003, with the support of Bishops like the one from Mississippi.
Five years ago, if you had told these same Beloved Moderates that as a direct result of C051, only a few years later there would be formed a task force by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music "charged with leading the development of theological resources and liturgies for same-sex blessings," the result would have been more scoffing: "Oh please... liturgies for same-sex blessings? At thenational level? That will never happen!"
It's a source of frustration for me - and no doubt a source of joy for our Worthy Opponents - that no matter how brazen or successful or disruptive they are in advancing their agenda, there seems to be nothing that triggers any sort of pushback from the Beloved Moderates - on whom, like their counterparts in secular political elections, the ultimate outcome of changes such as these rest.
But there we are: In about 20 years, the Episcopal Church has gone from a few rogue priests doing gay "marriages" disguised as home blessings, to a task force that in two short years will develop and present for approval by General Convention, liturgies for same-sex blessings.
And today, I will say to our Beloved Moderates: "You know, the next step will be to change the Prayer Book to include these liturgies, and in a few short years we'll have a new Prayer Book, with a gay marriage liturgy right beside the traditional 'straight' marriage liturgy. This will be the Prayer Book you will open with your children during your church service. It will not matter whether your parish, or your diocese, approves of same-sex blessings. You will not have a choice as to which Prayer Book sits in the pew in front of you."
And they will scoff.
"Preposterous!" they will snort.
"But if it does happen," they will promise, "well that's it! That's where I draw the line!"
The Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music June 28 announced the names of task force leaders charged with leading the development of theological resources and liturgies for same-sex blessings, according to a news release.
The church's General Convention in 2009 passed Resolution C056, which authorized the House of Bishops, in conjunction with the SCLM, to devise an open process that would invite church-wide participation in collecting and developing the resources.
The members are pretty much the type of people you'd expect:
Liturgical resources task group, chair: The Rev. Patrick Malloy of the Diocese of Bethlehem. Malloy is the H. Boone Porter chair in liturgics at General Theological Seminary in New York and is a former member of the SCLM. The rector of Grace Church, Allentown, Pennsylvania, he is the author of Celebrating the Eucharist and a forthcoming second volume, Celebrating the Pastoral Rites and the Daily Office.
Pastoral/teaching resources group, co-chairs: The Rev. Canon Thaddeus A. Bennett of the Diocese of Vermont. Bennett is the part-time canon for transition ministry and part-time rector of St. Mary's-in-the-Mountains Church in Wilmington. Previously, he was the canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Los Angeles. He is one of the authors of the Episcopal Church's Fresh Start resource and serves as a vocational faculty for CREDO. He helped found three HIV/AIDS organizations, including the National Episcopal AIDS Coalition, and co-authored a number of resources for HIV/AIDS education and ministry.
The Rev. Canon Susan Russell of the Diocese of Los Angeles. Russell is the senior associate at All Saints Church in Pasadena and is chair of the Program Group on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) ministry for the Diocese of Los Angeles. In 2008 she convened the taskforce responsible for creating a diocesan pastoral response to both the May California Supreme Court decision on marriage equality and the November Proposition 8 ballot initiative.
Theological resources task group, chair The Rev. Jay Emerson Johnson of the Diocese of California. Johnson is a member of the core doctoral faculty in theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and coordinates the Certificate in Sexuality and Religion program at Pacific School of Religion, where he serves as senior director of academic research and resources at the school's Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry. Since 2006 he has been a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Theology and Sexuality and he is book review editor of the Anglican Theological Review. His first book, published in 2005, was Dancing with God: Anglican Christianity and the Practice of Hope. He serves as associate clergy at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Berkeley.
Oh but look - they're "facilitating communication":
To facilitate communication and to share ideas and resources, SCLM has set up a blog and an e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.