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The Story of St. Paul's Process About Same-Gender Blessings

Our Congregational Pracess of Conversation and Discernment -- 2003-2006

St. Paul's engaged in a process, first to discuss whether we could discuss, and later to engage the entire congregation in an open conversation to discern whether we would offer rites of blessing for our committed same-gender loving couples. 
 
For many, the process was as important as the decisions we ultimately came to.  As an offering to other congregations, here is the story of our process.  We found it to be a fruitful exercise that has blessed us in many ways.
 
 
 

The Video about our process (7:43)

Click the link above for a brief, one-page calendar that outlines the path of our process.

 

Our Story in Narrative Form

Click the link above to read "Our Blessings Story."  (5 pages)  It gives a detailed narrative of our process, and tells how we used the resources that are listed and linked below.
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Resources
 

Probably the most helpful resource we used was a small booklet written by Bishop Stephen Charleston titled Good News: A Congregational Resource for Reconciliation.  It is a resource for safe, structured conversation about any contentious issue.  We highly recommend it. 

Thanks to the renewed interest in Good News, it has been re-published by Forward Movement. $4 per copy/ 10+ copies $3 each. We don't know if there is permission to reprint as was allowed with the older publication. Click the link below for the print version of Good News: A Scriptural Path to Reconciliation.

The video that goes with the written resource is still available (see link below).  It is an outstanding introduction to creating a safe environment for converation about difficult issues, oriented around the values of Justice, Compassion and Reconciliation.

"Good News: A Scriptural Path to Reconciliation" by Bishop Steven Charleston. Booklet available from Forward Movement. Click here.

"Good News" video DVD: introductions to each "Good News" session by Bp. Steven Charleston, $19.95 available from "Episcopal Marketplace"

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Fredrica Harris Thompsett's 2013 book from Morehouse includes an opening chapter about St. Paul's process as well as stories and resources from other congregations. "Encouraging Conversations: Resources for Talking about Same-Sex Blessings."

Click for "Encouraging Conversations" at Cokesbury's publishers site. Paperback or ePub available

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This was published after our process, but if we were doing it today, we would use Christian Holiness & Human Sexuality: A Study Guide for Episcopalians published by Church Publishing, $12

 
Other Links

Click for NWA Times newspaper article about our process

General Convention Resolutions addressing homosexuality

"For Fidelity", by Catherine Wallace - Amazon link

        (Our Lenten Study Book.)  A strong defense of sexual fidelity.

"To Set Our Hope On Christ" -- .pdf version

"To Set Our Hope on Christ" - Amazon book order

       The Episcopal Chruch's official response to the Windsor Report

"Without Form and Void" - by Kendall Harmon

       A theological essay arguing against same-gender blessings

"True Union in the Body?" by Archbishop Drexel Gomez

       .pdf download - A short book opposing same-gender blessings.  We don't know of availability for sale in book form.

"This Far by Grace" by Bishop Neil Alexander - Amazon page

       A short book favoring same-gender blessings

"Letter to Louise" by Bruce Lowe

       By a Baptist pastor from Arkansas - an affirming biblical study of homosexuality

"Crossing Lines" - sermon by St. Paul's Rector, the Rev. Lowell E. Grisham

"What Does it Mean 'To Bless'?" - an explanation, by Lowell Grisham

A Definition of "Consensus" - by Lowell Grisham

Text of the Vestry Resolution (with announcement to parish)

Parish Policy on Blessings, published 2006

"The Covenanting and Blessing of a Lifelong Union"

       the rite we studied and approved in 2005-06; we used this rite until 2008

"The Covenanting and Blessing of a Lifelong Union" (08)

       the adapted rite following Bishop Benfield's policies, 2008 -

The Blessing Rite passed by the 2012 General Convention

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