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The First Same-Sex “Blessing” (sic) in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio

12 April 2010

From the Columbus Dispatch, where there is more. 

Warren MacPherson and Mike Harbin joined hands at the front of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and vowed to love and care for each other always.

MacPherson and Harbin’s relationship was the first same-sex union blessed by the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio since Bishop Thomas E. Breidenthal lifted the ban on such ceremonies a week ago.

The men, who live in German Village and started dating in 1975, cannot be legally married in Ohio. And the Episcopal Church does not marry same-sex couples.

MacPherson, 59, and Harbin, 56, would like the civil benefit of marriage someday, they said. But yesterday, they sought their church’s blessing, that their relationship is holy and of God.

Theirs has been a “covenant relationship” – unbreakable – since 1979, in their estimation. But they never had a ceremony with loved ones to mark the relationship. They wanted to do that with a congregation that made them feel welcome when they weren’t sure church could be a haven for gay people. St. Stephen’s, on Ohio State University’s campus, was.

“Both of us are just feeling so blessed,” MacPherson said, taking Harbin’s hand after the ceremony. “We thought this day would happen eventually, but I was beginning to wonder as I near 60 …”

Breidenthal has long supported the blessing of same-sex unions but didn’t want to force them on the diocese. After the national church’s General Convention passed a resolution in July allowing bishops latitude on the subject, he thought it was time.

The requirements for a same-sex blessing are more restrictive than for a marriage. Breidenthal’s approval is needed for each one, as is the case when couples pursue a second marriage.

“It’s not about lowering the moral bar,” Breidenthal said. “It’s about keeping it high and inviting same-gender couples into the same accountability and support we offer married people.”

MacPherson and Harbin didn’t see the event as a wedding, because that implies a beginning, they said.


also, a participant writes about the event here

…actually, given that I sang with the choir, maybe it’s more accurate to say that I took part in history. Yesterday, April 10, beginning at 4:30 in the afternoon, the first blessing of a same-sex union to take place in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio took place. At my church, which is kind of cool–but not surprising, given that the clergy and congregation were on board for this sort of thing years before it became a possibility.


UPDATE:  From the Integrity / Central Ohio Website (note dates for their meeting minutes), it appears that Mr. Harbin served at one time as president, and Mr. MacPherson as secretary for this Integrity chapter.  St. Stephen’s parish appears to have facilitated the chapter.

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