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Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies and Celebrations Paperback – January 1, 1995

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Editorial Reviews


"A very welcome addition to the growing body of worship materials that give voice to the genuine religious faith of many gay and lesbian persons... One strength of this important work is the large number of contributors (more than 30), all with unique spiritual experiences and insights.... An excellent public and personal worship and devotional book." -- Second Stone

"The quality of this collection is high. Several pieces are remarkable for the beauty of the language... To those who are looking for liturgical resources that are inclusive and those who seek to learn something about lesbian and gay Christian spirituality, I enthusiastically recommend this book." -- The Christian Ministry

From the Author

"Equal Rites" gathers 50 liturgies by a diverse group of 30 leaders from a wide variety of Protestant and Catholic traditions.  The  
Table of Contents shows the diversity of themes and voices:

1.  Rites to Mark Spiritual Beginnings
Coming out: coming home / Diann L. Neu --
A coming-out liturgy / Malcolm Boyd --
Coming-out rite: I acknowledge my queer identity / Zalmon Sherwood --
Rite of welcome / D.B. Gregory Flaherty --
Christian baptismal covenant liturgy: a celebration of the feminine divine / Stephen J. Moore --
Rebaptism: a transforming time / Jane Adams Spahr and Kittredge Cherry --
Baptismal liturgy / James Lancaster --
The mixing of our earth: a ritual for creating community / Sylvia Perez --

2.  Rites of Healing
Invocation of remembrance, healing, and empowerment in a time of AIDS / Elias Farajaje-Jonez --
A healing service / A. Stephen Pieters --
Rite of healing from life-threatening disease / Zalmon Sherwood --
A litany for dialogue among people with different sexual orientations / Eric H.F. Law --
Rite of healing from lesbian/gay bashing / Zalmon Sherwood --
Rite of healing from rape / Zalmon Sherwood --
Litany of affirmation / Colleen Darraugh --
Ceremony of dissolution / James Lancaster --

3.  Funerals and Memorial Services
Telling love's story: remembering and responding to AIDS / Diann L. Neu --
Litany for the AIDS crisis / Paul A. Tucker --
Community memorial service / A. Stephen Pieters --
Graveside service for a gay man who has died young / Zalmon Sherwood --
Funeral for a lesbian activist: celebrating the life of N. / Zalmon Sherwood and Kittredge Cherry --
Yom HaShoah: day of remembering the Holocaust / Steve Carson --

4.  Rites of Blessing
Home blessing / James Lancaster --
Animal blessing service / Kittredge Cherry --
Rite of blessing: for the dedication of new hymnals / Nancy Wilson --
Motorcycle blessing: the blessing of the bikes / Steve Carson --

5.  Seasonal and Holiday Rites
Thanksgiving rite / Zalmon Sherwood --
Rite for Advent / Chris R. Glaser --
Rite for Lent / Chris R. Glaser --
Rediscovering God as father / Louis F. Kavar --
Maundy Thursday service of foot washing / Troy D. Perry --

6.  Covenant Rites for Couples
A celebration of love and commitment / Chris R. Glaser --
A sample service of holy union based on the tradition of Kwanzaa / Darlene Garner --
Celebration and blessing of a covenanted union / Eleanor L. McLaughlin --
Covenant rite / Zalmon Sherwood --
The Wedding: a demonstration for the rights of lesbian, gay, and bi couples / Troy D. Perry --

7.  Rites of Holy Communion
Eucharistic prayer for the powerless, the oppressed, the unusual / Marilyn McCord Adams --
The Great Thanksgiving: a rite based on the song of Mary / Carter Heywood --
Dignity/USA convention Eucharist 1991 / James E. Snight Jr., adapted by Kevin Calegari and Thomas Kaun --
The desert experience / Christine Nusse --
Earth communion / Sylvia Perez --

8.  Rites of Lesbian/Gay Pride and Empowerment
Invocation for All Saint's Day / James Lancaster --
A celebration of lesbian and gay pride / Michael S. Piazza, Carol A. West, and Paul A. Tucker --
A rite of commissioning for lesbian/gay pride celebrations / D.B. Gregory Flaherty --
Christian affirmations of lesbians and gay men: a service in the Taizé tradition / Kittredge Cherry and Nathan Meckley --
Litany of justice / Colleen Darraugh --
Litany for divine intervention / James Lancaster --
A service of worship for empowerment / Lindsay Louise Biddle, editor --
What is church? / The Cathedral Project --
A prayer / Malcolm Boyd

Product Details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; 1st edition (January 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664255353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664255350
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kittredge Cherry is a lesbian Christian author, art historian and minister. She founded JesusInLove.org in 2005 to support LGBT spirituality and the arts. It promotes artistic and religious freedom and teaches love for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. She was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches, an LGBT-affirming Christian denomination, and served as its National Ecumenical Officer. One of her primary duties was promoting dialogue on homosexuality and religion at the National Council of Churches (USA) and the World Council of Churches.

A native of Iowa, Cherry has degrees in journalism and art history from the University of Iowa, and a master of divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. Her books include Lambda Literary Award finalist "Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More," "The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision," "Jesus in Love: A Novel," and "Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies, and Celebrations," "Hide and Speak: A Coming Out Guide" and "Womansword: What Japanese Words Say About Women." She currently edits the Jesus in Love Newsletter on LGBT spirituality and the arts and blogs regularly at the Jesus in Love Blog.

The New York Times Book Review praised her "very graceful, erudite" writing style and her poetry has won several awards. Her books have been translated into German, Polish, Chinese and Japanese. She has also written for Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal. Cherry and her partner live in Los Angeles.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As it happens, Kittredge Cherry, one of the editors of this valuable liturgical compilation, suggested that it would be helpful for me to submit a review. When the book was originally published in 1995 I was unaware of its existence; however, it turns out that the previously owned copy which I just obtained via Amazon had originally been in the possession of an EXCEL retreat team. This is an interesting connection since I have in fact been participating in the EXCEL retreat ministry myself since 1992.

In any event, this book remains timely, although in the nearly 20 years since its publication, many churches have in fact become aware of the necessity to develop liturgies with special sensitivity to the LGBTQIA community. Although the book does not focus heavily on same-gender marriage or commitment ceremonies, it does offer some valuable patterns for these and other rituals.

Areas of special interest to the community for which "Equal Rites" was compiled are "Rites to Mark Spiritual Beginnings" with special emphasis on the process of "coming out"; "Rites of Healing" focused particularly on healing from AIDS and other diseases that have disproportionally affected this community; and "Funerals and Memorial Services". In the last case, the form of funeral or memorial service called "Celebration of Life" which has now become standard in many "mainline" churches was indeed often pioneered by the denominations for which this book was originally designed and whose members contributed to it.

Several of the contributors to this volume are individuals whom I know personally, and two of them, Kittredge Cherry (one of the editors) and Chris R. Glaser are authors whose books I've previously reviewed for Amazon.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Exactly what you need if you are planning, participating in, or officiating over a gay wedding, I found it very helpful to find the right wording.
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