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Called to Blessings

“I will not pick up hammer and nails and
participate in this crucifixion.”

— Ruth Meyers, Hodges-Haynes Professor of
Liturgics, Church Divinity School of the
Pacific and GTU Core Doctoral Faculty

Ruth Meyers

At the 2006 General Convention of the Episcopal Church, Ruth Meyers, a deputy to the convention, was dismayed by legislation that asked, in effect, for a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate living in a same-gender union as well as on authorizing rites for homosexual unions. “I will not pick up hammer and nails and participate in this crucifixion,” she said in her testimony against the legislation.

“I had a blank paper and pen in my hand,” recalls Meyers, a GTU Core Doctoral Faculty Member and professor of Liturgics at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. “As I listened to the legislation, I moved up the queue to the microphone and began writing. It was the Holy Spirit giving me the words to speak.” Her voice, soon after broadcast on National Public Radio and the BBC, was one of many voices speaking for and against the resolution. The legislation was voted down, but before the Convention ended, another piece of legislation enacted the moratorium Meyers was seeking to block.

Disappointed but undeterred, in 2007, Meyers co-founded the Chicago Consultation — a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people. The group uses a community organizing model to create strategies for advancing the inclusion on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender people in the sacramental life of the Church while resisting further discrimination. “We knew there had to be more than one way to view this,” Meyers says. “We were looking for a way for the Episcopal Church to maintain our relationships in the Anglican Communion while also embracing same-gender unions.”

The work of the Chicago Consultation helped to influence an overwhelming majority of deputies and bishops in the 2009 General Convention to vote for legislation that called for the development of resources for blessing same-gender relationships. Meyers now chairs the current Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. Its overall charge is renewing the music and liturgy of the Church; within that mandate, the Convention directed the Commission to develop resources for blessing same-gender relationships. “It’s going great,” Meyers says. “We’ve collected hundreds of liturgies, and we’re looking forward to reporting our resources and a new rite for consideration by the General Convention in 2012.”

Meyers will be teaching about these issues with Jay Johnson, Senior Director, Academic Research & Resources for Pacific School of Religion’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry and GTU Core Doctoral Faculty Member. She also has consulted with GTU Alumna Jenny Te Paa, 2010 Alumna of the Year and head of Te Rau Kahikatea, one of three constituent societies that comprise the College of St. John the Evangelist in Auckland, New Zealand.

To learn more about Ruth Meyers’ work, visit the blog of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music: