The U.S. Episcopal Church became the biggest church in the United States to approve a provisional rite for blessing gay unions after its House of Deputies gave its final approval Tuesday.
The resolution passed with 78 percent approval in the lay order and 76 percent in the clergy order. The House of Deputies is made up of both clergy and lay people.
In the lay order, 86 deputations voted in favor, 19 against; five were divided. In the clergy order, 85 deputations voted in favor, 22 opposed the resolution and four were divided.
The proposed blessing liturgy was initially approved by the Church’s House of Bishops Monday during the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis, with 111 votes in favor to 41 opposed and three abstentions.
Deputies of opposite views spoke in alternate succession Tuesday afternoon, with those against the proposal urging more time to consider a decision of such magnitude.
The Rev. Sharon Lewis, alternate deputy of the Diocese of Southwest Florida, said the liturgy is more than a “pastoral provision.”
“Let us move together in the heart of Christ, not turn this great big old church that I love so much on a dime,” Lewis said.
Speaking in favor of the blessings, Deputy Jenna Guy from Iowa said the resolution is important to the younger generation of Episcopalians, adding that passing the resolution would bring more people into the Church.
“It’s always with great pride that I tell [people] of the inclusive nature of this Church,” Guy said.
A deputy from Alaska added, “There is never anything wrong with celebrating love.”
The new Episcopal same-sex liturgy is called “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant.”
In the proposed rite, each person would make a vow to the other, exchange rings and be declared “bound to one another in a holy covenant, as long as they both shall live.” The liturgy is expected to go into effect for provisional use starting the first week of Advent — beginning on Dec. 2, 2012 — and will undergo a review process before
This article originally appeared on: http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/10/12666645-episcopal-church-becomes-biggest-us-church-to-bless-gay-unions