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Episcopal Diocese of

San Joaquin
Friday Reflection
04/29/2011

Dear Friends,

This Friday Reflection contains the Authorization for the Blessing of Sacred Union which
becomes effective on June 12, 2016. I commend this to the Diocese of san Joaquin.

AUTHORIZATION FOR THE BLESSING OF HOLY UNIONS

Since its reorganization in March 2008, the Diocese of San Joaquin has made
incredible progress in recognizing a basic truth expressed in 1976 in Resolution
A069 of the 65th General Convention, which stated in part, “That it is the sense of
this General Convention that homosexual persons are children of God who have
a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and
pastoral concern and care of the Church.”

Since that time the Church has continued to examine what that full and
equal claim means. In 2009, the 76th General Convention passed Resolution
C056, which directed the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to “collect
and develop theological and liturgical resources” as they relate to the blessing of
same gender relationships. That task is in progress and the results are to be
reported to the 77th General Convention in 2012. In the interim, Resolution C056
stated 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.” With respect to the nature of the relationships being considered, they are
described in Resolution D025, a related resolution as, “lifelong committed
relationships ‘characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect,
careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such
relationships to see in each other the image of God’ (2000-D039).”

In 2009, at its Annual Convention, the Diocese of San Joaquin adopted a


resolution supporting C056. Further, following the Annual Convention in 2010, the
Commission on Equality, along with Bishop Lamb, hosted a forum on the issue of
blessing same sex unions. The forum was well attended and the sense of the
forum was that the Diocese is ready to take the next step in full inclusion and
support the blessing of these unions.

California currently finds itself in an odd position regarding same sex marriage
and unions in that for a short time in 2008, same sex marriages were lawful. The
passage of Proposition 8 in November 2008 added a provision to the California
Constitution which limited marriages to the union of a man and a woman. This
was swiftly challenged. The California Supreme Court, in the case Strauss v.
Horton, ruled that Proposition 8 was valid, but would not apply to those same sex
couples who were lawfully married prior to the November 2008 general election.
This constitutes approximately 18,000 couples whose marriages are legally
recognized despite Proposition 8.

California also permits the formation of Domestic Partnerships under state law for
same sex couples as well as opposite sex couples if one or both of the persons is
62 years of age or older. These Domestic Partnerships confer upon the couple all
[1]
of the rights and responsibilities which pertain to marriage under California law.

We must also recognized that there are same sex couples in relationships which
reflect the characteristics set forth above who have not entered in Domestic
Partnerships, perceiving them to be inferior to marriage, and who, for various
reasons, did not or could not marry during the brief time when same sex marriages
were legal.

Couples in such relationships are part of the Diocese of San Joaquin. They are in
our congregations and in positions of leadership at the Diocesan level. They are
our friends, neighbors, and brothers and sisters in Christ. It is now time, to the
extent permitted by California law and the Canons of The Episcopal Church, to
extend to these couples the “generous pastoral response” necessary to meet their
needs as members of this Church.

Effective immediately, clergy in the Diocese of San Joaquin may, at their


discretion and in accordance with the conscience of each priest, perform
blessings of same sex civil marriages, domestic partnerships, and relationships
which are lifelong committed relationships characterized by fidelity, monogamy,
mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love
which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God.
Said relationships shall be called Holy Unions for purposes of blessing these
relationships and purposes of recognition of said relationships. For those same
sex couples who are legally married, the blessing performed may be termed the
Blessing of a Civil Marriage.

It must also be recognized that the Canons of the Church currently limit marriages
[2]
to opposite sex couples , as does California law. Accordingly, until such time as
both the Canons and state law permit the solemnization of the marriage of a same
sex couple, and specific authorization of the bishop is given, no priest of this
Diocese shall attempt to solemnize a marriage between two persons of the same
sex.

Specific policies, as well as liturgies authorized for use within the Diocese, will be
published separately. Clergy are encouraged to engage in open discussion of this
matter, as well as the policies and liturgies, with members of their congregations,
particularly those who are members of Vestries or Bishop’s Committees.

[1]
Neither Domestic Partnerships nor same sex marriage is currently recognized under federal law.
Currently, both Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act are being litigated in federal
courts and, as a result, same sex marriage may be restored in California and same sex marriages
and unions may be recognized by the federal government in the near future.
2 Title I, Canon 18, Section 2(b).

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters,

+Chet

From the Diocesan office!


About the Women’s Retreat: Registration and refunds for the Women’s retreat are closed.
Everyone’s plans should be confirmed by now. Those who registered for the February date and
those who have joined the retreat for May 6-8 are looking forward to a great time at ECCO with
Barbara Crafton, the retreat leader.

Introducing RiteFormation: Morehouse Eduction Resources, a division of the Church


Publishing Company is offering a free, no-risk, complete 30-day trial of its online Christian
education resources. Part of the riteseries, right formation is a library of class-tested curriculum
from well-known curriculum publishers and programs. It includes thousands of theologically
sound activities: crafts, dramas, games, discussion guides, movement, and much more for
children, youth, and adults. You may try the complete content of riteformation by signing up at
www.riteseries.org/formation for a no-risk 30-day trial.

Safeguarding Workshop: If you would rather have a face-to-face training than take the online
course, it is available in the Diocese of Northern California. When: Saturday, June 4, 8:30am -
3:30pm Where: St. George's, Carmichael. Come to the Safeguarding God's People and
Safeguarding God's Children Workshop, presented by Monica Romano, Youth and Young Adult
Ministries Coordinator in the Office of the Bishop Bisner. The workshop covers prevention and
response to sexual exploitation, harassment and child abuse in communities of faith. Together
participants will explore and consider issues surrounding Safe Church practices by watching a
series of video presentations and engaging in group discussion. For information or to reserve
your place, contact Barbara Girard at St. George's Church: (916) 487-5600, or
barbara@sgec.us.

Mark your Calendars for the Lay Ministry Conference


Labor Day Weekend. Septtember 2, 3, & 4: The Diocese of San Joaquin will gather at ECCO
in Oakhurst to celebrate Lay Ministry at a weekend conference. Plan to attend and share in the
fun. Enjoy the beautiful autumn weather in the majestic Sierra Mountains. Musicians, Lectors,
Eucharistic Ministers, Altar Guild, Artists and other lay ministers will have the opportunity to learn
new skills in small group workshops and share their expertise with others. If you have an
interest in leading or attending a particular workshop, please contact the Diocesan office, 209-
576-0104 or emeyer@diosanjoaquin.org.

Bishop Chet is on Facebook: Join the conversation on Bishop Chet Talton’s Facebook page.
Follow this link to “Chet Talton.”

Northern Deanery Meeting:The Northern Deanery will meet Saturday, May 14 at 2:00 p.m. at