Pastoral Response to Marriage

by Gillan Ritchie

In 2011, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia adopted a policy of generous pastoral response and invited churches to apply for authorization to perform blessings of same-gender unions. The terminology “generous pastoral response” came out of the 2009 General Convention, the triennial governance meeting of the Episcopal Church.

“In the Episcopal Church, there are various clauses and various diocese,” Susan Eaves, Reverend of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Richmond, said. “In our diocese, we have chosen to extend what’s called a ‘generous pastoral response’ to same-gender couples. What that means is that when you have a couple in your congregation who have been faithful during a period of time and have not had the benefit of celebrating that relationship, we provide a ceremony so that they can give thanks to the love that they share and make future promises about faithfulness.”

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