The Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge, Bishop of West Texas, has granted permission to three congregations to bless same-sex couples.

Bishop Lillibridge writes about the decision in a letter to the diocese [PDF]:

I am requiring that both members of the couple seeking a same-sex blessing through the ministry of the Church be in fact members of the Episcopal Church in good standing, and that at least one be a member of the Diocese of West Texas. Since the congregations who are requesting permission state that these blessings are requested for “members of our congregation,” these requirements are consistent with that statement. The priest-in-charge retains the right and responsibility to determine whether any union shall be blessed on church property or under the auspices of the congregation.

For the blessing of a same-sex relationship, the bishop’s permission must be sought in writing by the couple’s priest, after a period of counseling and preparation as determined by their priest. It is understood that these blessings are intended for two persons who are making monogamous, faithful, life-long commitments to each other, and who are active members of the Church. It shall be within the discretion of any priest to decline to bless any union. Both persons seeking the union will have signed the “Pastoral Understanding” and “Pastoral Declaration.”

… Most people we know, on both sides of this issue, feel “weary” and “heavy laden” after so many years of considering these things. We believe Jesus has something to offer us in this regard as well: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11.28-29).

Biretta tip: Andrew Gerns of Episcopal Café.

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