CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A bishop granted permission Tuesday for priests to bless committed relationships of same-sex couples in the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, a spokesperson said.
The Right Rev. Charles G. vonRosenburg authorized the use of "The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant," giving permission to priests to respond to couples who are in committed relationships, including those who have been married in states where same-sex marriage is allowed, according to Holly Behre, Director of Communications for the Episcopal Church of South Carolina.
South Carolina does not permit same-sex marriage, and any such blessing offered by an Episcopal priest will not constitute a "marriage," Behre said.
No priest is required to offer the blessing, vonRosenburg said in a letter to clergy.
"I do want to be clear that the permission does not define an expectation for clergy," the letter states. "In your own life of prayer and within community, you will decide how to respond to this statement of permission."
Priests who wish to perform a blessing will not be required to receive further permission to do so from the Bishop, but priests who wish to perform the ceremony in a church building must first seek permission from the church's vestry or mission committee, Behre said.
The Episcopal Church authorized same-sex blessings for "provisional use" in 2012 in a resolution at the 77th General Convention, according to a release from the church. Since then, more than 60 of the 110 dioceses of The Episcopal Church have allowed some form of liturgy for blessings of same-sex relationships, the release states.