Marriage and Same Sex Blessings

This page is a resource for clergy celebrating and blessing marriage. Information on remarriage petitions, as well as policies and liturgies on same-sex marriage can be found here.

Clergy not resident in the Diocese of Olympia must seek permission from Bishop Rickel before performing rites in the diocese. A request should be made in writing no less than 60 days before the rites are to take place.

If you are seeking to officiate in a congregation in which you do not hold a cure, you must first seek permission, in writing, from the clergy person in charge of the congregation before seeking permission to officiate from Office of the Bishop.

Remarriage Petitions

Clergy seeking to celebrate and bless marriages for which one, or both parties have been previously married must follow the Remarriage Petition guidelines and must submit their petition at least 60 days prior to the proposed wedding date.

Same Sex Blessings

With the passage of Referendum 74 in the State of Washington on November 6, 2012 and the approval A049 at 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in July, 2012, Bishop Rickel has issued a pastoral letter on same sex marriage on January 18, 2013, and issued resources for clergy that wish to bless such union. Resources and liturgies can be found below.

Approved Liturgies

I Will Bless You and You Will Be A Blessing

Authorized for provisional use
by the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church
(July 2012)

A Rite for the Celebration and Blessing of a Holy Union (Option 1)

The Celebration and Blessing of a Covenant Relationship (Option 2)

This both rites were adopted from the Diocese of Vermont Rites, the St. Thomas Washington D.C. Rite, the Diocese of Washington D.C. Rite and the Scottish Marriage Liturgy, and then created as above by the Diocese of Northern California. We are indebted to Bishop Barry Beisner and his diocese for their work.

Bishop Rickel has three authorized liturgies for the blessing of same-sex unions (found above). Three rites are provided for use in the Diocese of Olympia for the Blessing of a Holy Union/Covenant Relationship. The priest/pastor has the responsibility for the liturgy and for the selection of the rite; this is best done in consultation with the couple.

A priest or bishop presides at the service because such ministers alone have the function of pronouncing blessing and of celebrating the Holy Eucharist.

When both a bishop and a priest are present and officiating, the bishop should pronounce the blessing and preside at the Eucharist. A deacon, or an assisting priest, may deliver the opening exhortation, ask for the declaration of consent, read the Gospel, and perform other assisting functions at the Eucharist.

It is desirable that the lessons from the Old Testament and the Epistles (or readings from non-biblical sources) be read by lay persons.

In the opening exhortation (at the symbol of N. and N.), the full names of the persons to be blessed are declared. Subsequently, only their commonly used names are used.

Both rites provide the option of a presentation by sponsors. Although this is an option, the question asking the support of the witnessing congregation is not optional.

These rites may be used with any authorized liturgy for the Holy Eucharist. The rite then replaces the Ministry of the Word, and the Eucharist begins with the Offertory.

For the Ministry of the Word it is fitting that the couple remain where they may conveniently hear the reading of the lessons. They may approach the Altar, either for the exchange of vows, or for the Blessing.

It is appropriate that all remain standing until the conclusion of the Collect. Seating may be provided for the altar party, so that all may be seated for the readings and the homily.

When desired some other suitable symbol of the vows may be used in place of a ring.

Suitable hymns and music may be included in the service.

At the end of the service, it is appropriate that the couple and the altar party leave the church first, followed by the presider and the congregation.

Other Resources

The Rev. Kathleen Kingslight, Rector of St. Paul, Bremeron, has developed this marriage agreement which she asks all couples to sign before entering into marriage in the church. We share it with you as a resource.