Testimony on A049 Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships

I am Tom Jackson,  and I speak in support of Resolution A049 as President of Oasis California, the LGBT Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of California. 

I also speak in the name of LGBT people and their allies across the Bay Area, for LGBT people who have been wounded by their church, and for my husband. And I must tell you We are not willing to be sacrificed agin in the name of Anglican unity or reunification with the Pope. 

A049 will give us in Oasis California and the Diocese of California the liturgical resources we need to minister to our people. With our Bishop’s help, we will be able to offer all of the church’s sacraments to all of the church’s members. 

The people of God deserve no less than full equality of every person who lives as the God’s continuing incarnation, those who are the Body of Christ. 

Our ability to do this, to live with equity for all – and not the size of our annual budget or the structure of our church - will determine the future of this church.   Thank you for bringing this important resolution forward. 

My husband and I were married in San Francisco City Hall in 2008 and On the day set aside to honor St. Valentine, our civil marriage was blessed in St. Bede’s Episcopal Church of Menlo Park, CA. 

We weren’t sure what to expect: we were the first same gender couple to be blessed in that parish. 

Then some of the ladies of the parish offered to decorate the hall and coordinate the refreshments. Both of my daughters came and joined in the celebration.  And one parishioner I had never met asked if she could attend: her son had just come out and she wanted to see what his wedding might be like. 

We invited our family, friends and all of the parish. My husband and I made the traditional pledge to love and care for each other. The people assembled promised to support us in our life together. And we had a great party (see one of our guests above).

This is what this is about:  the church’s blessing of forming a family from two people God has brought together. It is about a public promise of partnership between two people who love and intend to live as family through life’s peaks and valleys. It is about the people of God promising to support this couple in their new life. And it is about celebration of a new beginning. We might have fewer divorces if more couples could approach Christian marriage in this context. 

What is at issue here is how we read the Bible and how we live out our Anglican heritage of understanding our faith as balancing scripture, reason and tradition. That is the foundation of our faith, our prayer book, and A049.

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Here is the text of the proposed resolution:

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 77th General Convention

commend "Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing"

for study and use in congregations and dioceses of The Episcopal Church; and be

it further

Resolved, That the 77th General Convention authorize for trial use "The

Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant" from "Liturgical Resources I: I

Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing" beginning the First Sunday of Advent

2012, under the direction of a bishop exercising ecclesiastical authority; and be it

further

Resolved, That bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions

where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal,

may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this

Church, including adaptation of the liturgy and declaration of intention contained

in "I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing"; and be it further

Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music develop an open

process to review "I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing," inviting

responses from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals from

throughout The Episcopal Church and from throughout the Anglican

Communion, and report to the 78th General Convention.