Christ Church Celebrates First Same-Gender Blessing

Church volunteers and members Melissa Capers and Brunilda Hernandez were blessed April 21.

Christ Church, the parish home of George Washington, celebrated its first same-gender blessing April 21.

“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,” said the Rev. Ann Gillespie, Christ Church senior associate rector who officiated at the service. “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 a couple since 1999 and have previously had several events to mark their commitment. On Oct. 12, 2002, they had a commitment ceremony, approved of by Bishop Lee at St. Clement’s in Alexandria, but the ceremony was not allowed to take place in the sanctuary of the church and any blessing was prohibited.

Four days later, they had a civil union in Plainfield, Vt. In October 2008, they had a civil marriage in Northampton, Mass. Christ Church celebrated the Holy Union as part of a regular 5 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,” she said.

This is considered an important event for Christ Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, said a church spokeswoman. When Bishop Shannon Johnston granted permission for this specific blessing, according to Christ Church, 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

Related Topics: Christ Church and same-gender blessing

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