CLAIMING the BLESSING was convened in 2002 as an intentional collaborative ministry of leading Episcopal justice organizations (including Integrity, Oasis, Beyond Inclusion and the Episcopal Women's Caucus) in partnership with the Witness magazine and other individual leaders in the Episcopal Church focused on promoting wholeness in human relationships, abolishing prejudice and oppression, and healing the rift between sexuality and spirituality in the Church.
Our initial commitment was obtaining approval of a liturgical blessing of the faithful, monogamous relationship between two adults of any gender at General Convention 2003. Then on June 7, 2003 when Canon Gene Robinson was elected by the Diocese of New Hampshire to be their 9th bishop, our agenda expanded to include securing consents to his election.The results were history making.
Between November 2002 and July 2003 the CTB Theology Statement was distributed to every bishop and deputy to the 74th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in preparation for legislation moving forward to authorize the blessing of same-sex relationships when they met in Minneapolis.
We left Minneapolis having met both of those goals: a new bishop for New Hampshire and having taken another step forward on blessings in a resolution “recognizing that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions."
In preparation for the 2006 General Convention Claiming the Blessing continued to “tell our stories” by commissioning VOICES OF WITNESS as a video gift to the Episcopal Church. From the project summary: We believe that telling these stories, sharing these witnesses, is a gift we have to offer – and we believe that there has never been a more important time for us to commit ourselves to offering that gift in a way it can be the most widely received throughout the church and the communion.
At the 75th General Convention we succeeded in orchestrating a legislative strategy rejecting a raft of resolutions that would have turned the clock back on equality in response to something called “The Windsor Report.”
We were not able to fend off the now infamous “B033” – the resolution calling for a defacto moratorium on consents to the election as bishop of anyone "whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."
Claiming the Blessing was present at the Lambeth Conference 2008 as part of the Inclusive Communion Witness; produced and distributed "Voices of Witness: Africa" giving voice to the too-often invisible LGBT faithful in Africa and in 2009 worked with allies to reverse B033 and adopt Resolution C056 -- calling for the collection and development of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same-gender relationships.
And in 2012 we are working to finally cross “liturgies for the blessing of same-sex unions” off the list of achievable goals we set in 2002 while adding “amend the canons to secure marriage equality” to our “to do” list and producing the third in the Voices of Witness series "Out of the Box:" putting the T in LGBT by giving voice to transgender members of the Episcopal Church.