|Christ Church Episcopal, Alexandria, VA|
Alexandria, VA, April 21, 2013 – Historic Christ Church celebrated its first same-gender blessing on Sunday, April 21. The Rev. Ann Gillespie, Christ Church Senior Associate Rector, officiated at the service,
“As an Episcopal faith community, we witnessed and asked God's blessings upon the lifelong commitment Melissa Capers and Brunilda Hernandez have made to one another. This is a significant and joyful event, not just in the life of Melissa and Bruni, but in the life of our church: as a congregation, we are taking a historic and faithful step closer to the inclusive, abundant, generous outpouring of God's kingdom.”
Melissa and Bruni have been together as a couple since 1999 and have previously had several events to mark their commitment. On October 12, 2002, they had a Commitment Ceremony, approved of by Bishop Lee at St. Clement's, Alexandria, but the ceremony was not allowed to take place in the sanctuary of the church and any kind of blessing was explicitly prohibited. Four days later, on October 16, 2002, they had a Civil Union in Plainfield, VT. In October 2008, they had a Civil Marriage in Northampton, MA. The public commitment of their lifelong relationship has been made in the ways that were open to them. Now their church can offer a blessing. Christ Church celebrated the Holy Union as part of a regular 5:00 p.m. Eucharist service on Sunday, April 21.
The Rev. Heather VanDeventer, Associate Rector for Faith Formation and Evangelism, knows the couple through their volunteer work at the church, “We recognize Melissa and Bruni’s special role in helping to bring a broader welcome to Christ Church.” This is considered an important event for Christ Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. When Bishop Shannon Johnston granted permission for this specific blessing, he offered his “thanksgiving for Christ Church’s leadership in our diocese as we continue to move forward in this new aspect of our liturgical life … I am no less thankful for Melissa and Bruni.”
To schedule a same-gender blessing, call Cindy Wright, Administrative Assistant for Worship, at 703-778-4936, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The parish home of George Washington and many other government and legislative leaders since, Christ Church has long been at the center of the religious and public life of the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. Nearly all the Presidents have attended Christ Church during their term of office. Other visitors include British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Senator Elizabeth Dole, former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, Rosa Parks, Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Togo West, former Chief of Staff of the Army Gordon Sullivan, former White House Press Secretary Ron Nessen, and former Assistant Secretary of State Hodding Carter.