Friday, October 17, 2014

Requiescat in Pace: The Rt. Rev. Marvil Thomas Shaw III, SSJE

Integrity joins the church in mourning the death of the Right Rev. Marvil Thomas "Tom" Shaw III SSJE, recently retired bishop of Massachusetts.

Born in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1945, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1971 and joined the Society of St. John the Evangelist, an Anglican religious order for clergy and laity, in 1975. He served a term as its leader beginning in 1983.  He was consecrated a bishop in 1994 and assumed the diocesan seat the following year.

Bishop Shaw Visiting St. Paul's: Newburyport in January
PHOTO CREDIT: Ollie Jones (flickr.com/joebackward)
Used by Creative Commons License.  Some rights reserved
Bishop Shaw's advocacy for the LGBT community is significant.  He came out in 2012 and described his experience as a gay, celibate monk at the 2008 Lambeth Conference (a worldwide gathering of Anglican bishops that was fraught with controversy over the consecration of the Right Rev. Gene Robinson) in the documentary Love Free or Die.

The Rt. Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool, Bishop Suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles, met Shaw over thirty years ago while a student at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. "He committed himself when he became bishop, that he would make it a priority for LGBT families to feel safe, loved and included before his retirement."

"When I first came into the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts right out of college in 1995, Bishop Shaw was near the beginning of his episcopate. As I got to know this diocese, I was struck by the tone he set-- one of prayer, commitment, public advocacy and proclamation, innovation, discipline. LGBTQ people should remember his early, strong support for HIV/AIDS ministries, of openly gay and lesbian ecclesial leadership, and of marriage equality here in Massachusetts over two decades ago," said the Rev. Cameron Partridge, Co-Convener of TransEpiscopal and Chaplain at Boston University. "His support of transgender equality and leadership is particularly noteworthy, from his quiet support of my ordination process after I came out in 2001, to his public advocacy for trans non-discrimination legislation in MA and at the 2009 and 2012 General Conventions, to his memorable words of welcome at Boston's Trans Day of Remembrance observances from 2010-2013. All of this was so clearly the fruit of his ongoing conversion, of growth into the heart of God to which he always issued an open invitation. For me, that prayerful engagement of transformation -- including the opening of his own heart-- is +Tom's lasting legacy."

"In 2008 Bishop Shaw confirmed me into the Episcopal Church," said Vivian Taylor, executive director of Integrity USA. "His strong, wise leadership created an environment in the Diocese of Massachusetts where I could come out, where I could transition. He is a great leader and his work will live on both here in Massachusetts and throughout the Episcopal Church."

"Tom was a kind, contemplative man, and willing to learn and grow," added Marie Alford-Harkey, Integrity's Province I (New England) Coordinator, a graduate of Episcopal Divinity School and Deputy Director of the Religious Institute.

Bishop Shaw's advocacy did not start or end on human sexuality.  Bishop Glasspool cited his dedication to reforming the structures that lead to poverty, as well as immigration policy and gun laws. He also campaigned for peace in the Middle East and led numerous pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Africa, and South America, to bring about better understanding of global social issues.  Locally, he founded a middle school and other programs for disadvantaged Boston youth, and -- in 2003 -- helped launch the Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center, a facility in Greenfield, N.H. that is operated by the Diocese of Massachusetts.

Christian Paolino is the Chair of the Integrity Stakeholders' Council.  This is a revision of the original breaking story.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Expanding Welcome in Virginia Beach

Earlier this summer, as a service project in preparation for PrideFest, the Virginia Beach chapter of Integrity sent a mailing to each of the 105 churches in the Diocese of Southern Virginia asking if they would like to be identified as a Welcoming Congregation. A stamped postcard with yes, no and contact us was also included so the churches could easily return them. The chapter received 29 responses.


We took the positive responses and added them to our website, http://integritydiosova.blogspot.com/ and created the Welcoming Churches list. We also created a handout and placed the congregations on a map for use at the Integrity booth at our annual PrideFest celebration. The handout and map were well received at PrideFest by the folks who visited the booth.

We also received a couple of invitations from churches to come and help educate others on what it meant to be a welcoming congregation and why it was important. This past Sunday, Board Member, Tina Finnerty and Chapter Convener, Susan Pederson visited the Church of the Ascension in Norfolk and spoke to the Adult Forum class. The church vestry voted to be identified as a welcoming congregation but had questions about why it was important.

“While it is great to be welcoming, unless others know, LGBT folks won’t know where it is safe for them to worship,” shared Tina who told her story of her own search for a welcoming congregation for her and her wife a couple years ago. “When I found a congregation nearby, I sent an email to the rector and asked if we would be welcome because there was nothing specific on their website, though there was a link to Rev. Susan Russell’s blog. I received an affirmative answer and we started attending that parish. Six months later we were both confirmed. Since that time, we have made changes to our website and now it is clearly posted that we are a welcoming congregation and we are presently waiting the official designation from Believe Out Loud.”

“The Virginia Beach Chapter of Integrity has a responsibility to our community, the Diocese and the LGBT folks in our area. We want to let everyone know that they are unconditionally loved by God, and that everyone can find a safe place to worship in an Episcopal Church in our Diocese,” Susan told the audience. “We’re here to help you on your journey to see just how that looks for Ascension.”

Tina Finnerty is a Board Member of the Virginia Beach Chapter of Integrity

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Integrity Idaho Celebrates Ten Years!

A number of years ago, the now-Rev. Deborah Graham approached both LGBT and ally members of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Boise, ID about developing a chapter of Integrity in the Diocese of Idaho.  With a tremendous amount of hard work, and determination, the Idaho chapter of Integrity USA was chartered in October of 2004.

As we venture into our second decade of service to the Diocese of Idaho and her LGBT parishioners, we take time to reflect on what we have accomplished.

  • The first item of importance was to create a safe place for LGBT members and their allies to gather and enjoy fellowship.  We have now established a tradition of monthly gatherings.  We enjoy a potluck meal, followed by some sort of activity or simply just converse.   Activities have included game nights, movie nights, and even dance lessons (we have wedding receptions to get ready for!).
  • Established a presence at Boise Pride celebration.  We have made ourselves available to the general public, so that we could let them know that there are welcoming congregations in the area.
  • Being part of the community-at-large, we found ourselves in the unique position to advise congregations and the general public on LGBT issues.  Concurrently, we were able to help our LGBT faithful to be more outspoken and identifiable in their parishes and communities, while creating a safe haven for worship.
  • As part of our monthly gatherings, we led a series of discussions based on Candace Chellew-Hodge’s book Bulletproof Faith:  A Spiritual Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians.  This gave us the opportunities to share our own journeys of faith and learn how to be more compassionate with others that did not share our views. 
  • To reach out to our host congregation, St. Michael’s Cathedral, we organized what became known as 'legendary coffee hours'.  One such fell on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, so it was a Mardi Gras theme, complete with fresh beignets!  While we don’t do these on quite the same scale, we do still offer the occasional coffee hour as a thank you to our congregations.
  • In 2011, we created a membership survey to see how we are doing and what we can do better.  This gave us a good idea as to what our members were thinking about Integrity Idaho and allowed us to set new goals to help fulfill our mission. 
  • We have been sponsors for the Lions Pride Cubs (an LGBT youth group in Idaho) annual winter dance.  This gave us an opportunity to reach out to LGBT youth in our area and give them a safe and welcoming place to gather.
  • We created our own Facebook page!  This gives us more access to the public by having a presence on social media.  Go ahead and give us a like!  Find us at www.facebook.com/integrityidaho 

So here we are a decade later, so where do we go from here?  Thankfully, we have a loving, caring Bishop that is very supportive of our mission.  With his blessing, we are working hard to further our presence in the Diocese of Idaho.  Here is what we are currently working on and watching out for:

  • We are launching a new web page!  What makes this exciting for us is that we have never had real presence on the web.  We are certainly mentioned, but there has not been anything that gives people a direct resource or contact to us.  We hope to launch our new page by November 1.  Be sure to check us out on the web at http://integrity.episcopalidaho.org 
  • Currently in Idaho, there are several political issues on the horizon that we are keeping a very close eye on and speaking out when necessary.  The first being the issue regarding Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban.  This ban was recently struck down and is currently working its way through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  As you may be aware, the 9th Circuit did issue their ruling, stating that the Idaho ban was illegal.  However, a stay from SCOTUS has been issued therefore; marriages in Idaho are on hold.  We are certainly hopeful for a positive outcome, and continue to pray that these justices will see just how important this is for Idaho and her citizens.  In response to the Governor and Attorney General’s continuing to defend the ban, Integrity Idaho did publish an open letter on October 8.  This letter will be made available on our web page upon its launch.

UPDATE:  On Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at 10AM MST – MARRIAGE EQUALITY COMES TO IDAHO!  All stays have been lifted, and the Governor and Attorney General, while still opposed to lifting the ban on same-sex marriage, have dropped their legal maneuvers to continue this unconstitutional mandate.

  • Another issue that is taking precedence here in Idaho, is the 'Add the Words' movement.  The goal of this movement is to add the words ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ to the current Idaho Civil Rights Statute.  These four simple words would offer protections for GLBT persons so that they could not be fired from their jobs, be discriminated against for housing, among many other protections.  The problem is that for the last nine years, the Idaho Legislature has refused to even hold a hearing on the bill.  In January of this year, Integrity Idaho sent an open letter to all Idaho Legislators including Governor C. L. "Butch" Otter.  While our letter was welcomed by those law makers that are in favor of this legislation, we received a rather cold response from Idaho’s Republican majority.  That does not mean that we are giving up!  We are working to foster a conversation with law makers on both sides of the aisle.  This also came on the heels of Idaho’s so-called 'Religious Freedom' bills, that if passed would have allowed hate and discrimination in the name of 'personally held religious beliefs'.  When these bills came up in committee, over 500 people turned out to speak in opposition of this legislation.  Among those to testify to the committee were our own Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Brian Thom, and Integrity Idaho co-director, Susan Bolen.
  • We recognize that due to the current political climate within our state, it is now more important than ever to identify welcoming and affirming congregations, regardless of denomination.  We are currently working on a plan to identify these congregations in conjunction with the Believe Out Loud program. We will start by working with our own Diocese, and then we will broaden our scope to identify other faiths that are welcoming and affirming by working with the Interfaith Equality Coalition (based in Boise, ID).  While goals for this have not yet been set, we anticipate having our plan defined and in place by the first of the year.

We give thanks to God for our 10th anniversary, working for inclusion and acceptance of all of God’s children in the Diocese of Idaho.  We pray for another successful ten years to come.

Nik Dumas and Susan Bolen are the Co-Directors / Co-Conveners of Integrity Idaho

Friday, October 10, 2014

Renewal in Grace and Communion - A Reflection by Matt Haines


Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only,
and not for strength; 
for pardon only, 
and not for renewal. 
Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one  body, 
one spirit in Christ, 
that we may worthily serve the  world in his name. 
Eucharistic Prayer C, BCP 371

For forty years we have brought solace to many LGBTQ people and their families as we have welcomed them into our organization and eventually into our congregations. Through years of hard work within the polity of our beloved Episcopal Church we have been able to realize our own strength as LGBTQ people of faith. Our justice work has brought the Church to a practice of pardon for the role we all have played in the oppression of LGBTQ Christians. Integrity USA and The Episcopal Church are now in a time great of renewal.

Renewal is a spiritual word. It is not the same as replace. Not one of us can ever be replaced. We are made in the image of God and are baptized as Christ’s own forever. Instead, renewal connotes improving a relationship already begun. That is why we renew our common Baptismal Covenant at baptisms, confirmations, and of course in Easter-time. Our relationships resurrect through the process of renewing.

Our renewal will not replace our other efforts; only enhance them. We will still bring solace to those rejected by Church, society and family. These people will bring us a new look at God’s diversity as we meet people we would not normally seek out.

Our strength will increase as new leaders join those already serving to build power through relationship and witness in our parishes, dioceses and of course General Convention. Harvey Milk often said that coming out of the closet was a political act. Justice requires dedication and interaction within the political processes of both Church and State. Let us continue to come out!

We will continue to seek pardon. After all, we as an organization have not always “served with our whole hearts”. Sometimes we have hurt one other and have failed to recognize the hurts each of us personally bear. Integrity still joins in our common work of the Consultation and other allies to do our part to bring justice to all parts of the Church and the world it touches.

We will seek renewal as one Body of Christ’s own Spirit. Integrity will serve the world in that Holy Name with Grace. Let us joyfully rejoice in renewal!


Matt Haines is the President of the Board of Directors at Integrity USA

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Special Election Results : President, Board of Directors of Integrity USA

The Board of Directors of Integrity wishes to congratulate and thank both candidates Matt Haines and Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton for prayerfully offering to serve out the term of Integrity President that ends October 1, 2015.

After this week's vote by the Stakeholders of Integrity (Lifetime Members, Diocesan Organizers, Proud Parish Partners, Parish Partners, Chapter Conveners), we would like to congratulate the new President of Integrity USA: Matt Haines

Thank you to the Stakeholders for guiding Integrity during the next year. Your care, commitment, and thoughtfulness has been much appreciated.

The next planned election will be next year when the full membership of Integrity elects the board of directors.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Marriage Equality Takes A Giant Leap Forward

Integrity USA is thrilled to see marriage equality make significant strides these past two days.  Five state petitioned the Supreme Court to review the cases that overturned their bans but were denied: Wisconsin, Indiana, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia . Other states in the circuits affected by Monday's denial should be seeing marriage equality soon as well because they are in the same court circuit: Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Colorado, West Virginia, and Wyoming.  And on Tuesday, the 9th Circuit confirmed that the bans in Nevada and Idaho were unconstitutional, and given Monday's news, may choose to not appeal. This court decision implies that Alaska, Montana, and Arizona may soon see marriage equality.

Within months or even weeks then, 64% of the US population will live in states with marriage equality in 35 states. The eleven states directly affected by the Monday's Supreme Court action involve several southern states, including Virginia, South Carolina, and my own ancestral home of North Carolina. This is an incredible an time for LGBTQ people across the nation. 

64%! It seemed incredible to think that there was going to be legal same gender marriage anywhere in the United States as recently as 12 years ago, and now a clear majority of our population will have access to the right. 

It is easy for us to celebrate, and we should celebrate vigorously. But let us not allow our excitement to become complacency, not allow our joy to lead to apathy for the needs of that other 36% of the population that still faces homophobic, flagrantly unconstitutional laws that limit their basic human rights. 

We must continue forward until gay and lesbian people everywhere have full protection and just treatment under law. 

For today, we thank you God for Your mercy and love, and for Your guidance of our nation as we continue towards freedom for all people.


Sarah Vivian Gathright Taylor is the Executive Director of Integrity USA

Friday, October 3, 2014

Special Election for President of the Board of Directors

A special election for the office of President of the Board of Directors for Integrity USA will be held 8am EDT Monday October 6 - 11pm EDT Wednesday October 8. This position as President of the Board of Directors will serve out the current term, which concludes on October 1, 2015. All eligible to vote in this special election, as described in the bylaws, will be contacted directly on how to vote.

As described in Integrity's Bylaws, Chapter 3, Article 1, Section 1, members of the Stakeholders’ Council with seat, voice, and vote are eligible to participate in the special election. These include:

  • Chapter Conveners (chapter must be active and up-to-date with requirements)
  • Diocesan Organizers
  • Congregational Circle Moderators (up-to-date with requirements)
  • Partner Representatives (P2 Organizational Partners & P3 Congregational Partners) (up-to-date with requirements)
  • Lifetime Members
If you are eligible to vote, you will shortly receive an email with a link to vote for the candidate of your choice. Each voter receives one vote.

The two candidates offered to serve and have shared their statements to the voters. Clicking on the candidate name will take you to their statement.
We thank the candidates for their prayerful consideration. We especially thank you for supporting Integrity USA in its efforts to advise, guide, and inspire the hearts and minds of our church. Our first 40 years has seen tremendous changes; our next 40 years will build upon our rich history.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Integrity USA Election - Statement of Candidate Elizabeth Kaeton

A special election for the office of President of the Board of Directors for Integrity USA will be held 8am EDT Monday October 6 - 11pm EDT Wednesday October 8. This position as President of the Board of Directors will serve out the current term, which concludes on October 1, 2015. All eligible to vote in this special election, as described in the bylaws, will be contacted directly on how to vote.

The following is the statement and qualifications of Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton, candidate for the Presidency of the Board of Directors for Integrity USA.



After prayerful thought and consideration, I hereby submit my name for nomination as President of IntegrityUSA for a one-year term, beginning October 15, 2014 and ending October 15, 2015.

I have served two previous terms on the board of Integrity, representing it on the Steering Committee of The Consultation as well as Legislative Floor Whip at two General Conventions where I was deputy. I have served on the board for one term and then served for five years as Canon Missioner of The OasisNJ and attended two Lambeth Conferences. I have served on the Board of ECPC (Episcopal Church Publishing Company) and as President for two years. I have served 10 years as President and then Convener of The Episcopal Women’s Caucus. I was a member of ACT-UP, Baltimore Chapter, and served on the board of AIDS Action, Baltimore.

My doctoral dissertation is entitled, “Coming Out Christian” on developing a model of pastoral care and evangelism for the whole church. It is based on the spiritual steps of the coming out process that I learned from PLWAs and AIDS activism during the early years of the pandemic.

Part of my postdoctoral work as Proctor Scholar at EDS was with Dr. Patrick Cheng on Christology, including how Jesus is seen and known to queer people.

I am canonically resident in the Diocese of Newark and live on Rehoboth Bay in Delaware, where I am “officially” retired (I collect a pension). I presently serve and am a member of All Saints, Rehoboth Beach, on the Board of The OasisNJ and The Episcopal Women’s Caucus, and represent TEC on the national board of RCRC (Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice). I work part time as a Hospice Chaplain, covering Sussex County, DE.

I believe I am qualified by life experience and years of activism and leadership in The Episcopal Church to help lead IntegrityUSA through this time of transition, especially as we prepare for General Convention in Salt Lake City and what we hope and pray will be a triumph of 40 years of the prophetic mission and pastoral ministry of IntegrityUSA.

The challenge facing the Board will be how to re-envision and restructure ourselves not only in response to the re-visioning and restructuring which will be proposed by TREC – especially as it finds application to the legislative process of General Convention – but also to preserve the legacy and ‘brand” of IntegrityUSA even as we consider how we are part of the very early stages of an emerging network of justice activism in the church and in the world.

“Intersectionality” and “Hybridity” are not just words used in Queer Studies; they are realities to be embraced as we enter into yet another cycle of organizational and personal death and resurrection. I look forward to the opportunity of working with you to face that challenge.

Integrity USA Election - Statement of Candidate Matt Haines

A special election for the office of President of the Board of Directors for Integrity USA will be held 8am EDT Monday October 6 - 11pm EDT Wednesday October 8. This position as President of the Board of Directors will serve out the current term, which concludes on October 1, 2015. All eligible to vote in this special election, as described in the bylaws, will be contacted directly on how to vote.

The following is the statement by Matt Haines, candidate for the Presidency of the Board of Directors for Integrity USA.



We are called to strive for full inclusion with renewed focus. Forty years after our founding, our mandate is still just as valid. Marriage rites still need to be made equal canonically. We have passed  many resolutions preventing discrimination; however some dioceses are ‘late adopters’ and need our help. While many of our congregations welcome openly gay and lesbian parishioners, transgender seekers may not yet experience the same hospitality. Bisexual Christians still wait in the wings as this Church works slowly toward true inclusion. We have so much work to do!

Integrity is in a time of great renewal and facing exciting opportunities. Integrity is poised to fully enact its updated strategic plan which was the fruit of membership collaboration. I have been blessed to be part of that process and would value a chance to help lead it forward!

Integrity needs your grassroots efforts and further collaboration! Let’s work together as servant-leaders to update and renew our valuable ministry. This is a crucial time for the Board of Directors. We have bylaws to update, a dynamic Development Plan to activate, a General Convention presence to plan, and other engaging efforts to lead.

I can continue that work without a steep learning curve. I am ready to serve now!

As a lay person, Integrity is my primary ministry. While my career as a construction field manager is rewarding, nothing gives me more joy than serving The Episcopal Church in this way. The legacy of Integrity’s constant work created a Church which was able to welcome me. I am very grateful and want to make sure others receive such radical hospitality.

Our common work brings me joy and a sense of grateful wonder! Below are some of the exciting ways I have been able to serve Integrity, the Church and our community.

Integrity Vice President for Local Affairs:
  • Collaborated on the new Strategic Plan
  • Worked on successful grants requests
  • Search committee for Executive Director
  • General Convention Core team leader for ally and member outreach 
  • Re-designed Believe Out Loud Curriculum
  • Supported and coached volunteers: local, diocesan, provincial and national Coordinators
  • P3 and Believe Out Loud recruitment and outreach
Integrity Province 8 Coordinator
  • Recruited, coached, and supported Diocesan Organizers
  • Development team for Believe Out Loud curriculum and support materials
  • Trained hundreds of members through Believe Out Loud program
  • General Convention core team tracking legislation
Integrity Diocesan Organizer
  • Rebuilt Portland Oregon Chapter and Recruited local leaders 
  • Organized Integrity sponsored convention efforts
  • Passed LGBTQ positive resolutions
  • Successfully engaged rural and suburban congregations
Lead Facilitator: Rainbow Youth, Salem Oregon (LGBTQ Youth Outreach)
  • Ex-officio member of Board of Directors
  • Mentored and supported LGBTQ youth for 8 years
  • Fundraising and community liaison
  • Provided youth leadership and volunteer training 
Diocesan and Parish level
  • LEM, Reader, choir, and liturgical co-planner
  • Volunteer Youth Minister
  • Stewardship Coordinator
  • Diocesan Convention delegate and Convocation Representative
  • Bishop Search Walkabout facilitator
Thank you for considering me as you discern who can best lead our beloved ministry forward.





Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rise & Shine: New Integrity Chapter Taking Shape in Tallahassee

Sunrise on Lake Jackson, Tallahassee, FL
PHOTO CREDIT: Stephen Nakatani
Used under Creative Commons License
Some rights reserved
On September 16, I had the privilege of meeting with the Chapter in Formation in Tallahassee, Florida. This meeting was somewhat of a culmination of several email "conversations" and telephone conversations with Jay Schleuning. There were nearly thirty people in the group representing a broad range of ages and ideas, as well as the full spectrum of sexual orientation. And they were enthusiastic about Integrity Tallahassee, LGBTQ issues in the church and society!

The "back story" on this endeavor is not a good one. The previous bishop of Florida forbade Integrity from meeting on any Episcopal property in the Diocese. Dear friends of mine met with him for over a year in an effort to help him understand the need for this ministry, but to no avail. They eventually gave up and ultimately moved away.

The Diocese of Florida is an old one, formed in 1838. The name is a bit misleading; it is mostly the northeastern part of the state, running from Jacksonville on the east to where it abuts the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast on its western end. Its southern boundary abuts the Diocese of Central Florida.  When it was founded, the diocese included the entire state. It remained a single diocese until 1923, when the Diocese of South Florida was created and was subsequently also carved up.

The current Diocese of Florida is in a more conservative area of the state and that is reflected in the church as well. It has taken time for folks to "warm up" to the idea of an Integrity chapter where people are open about their sexual orientation and gender expression/identity.

The present Bishop of Florida, the Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard, has given his blessing for the creation of an Integrity chapter in Tallahassee (I’m hoping for additional chapters in other parts of the state as well!!) That gives both credence and impetus for the work the new chapter will be doing.

I shared with this gathering a combination of the history of Integrity and my own faith journey within Integrity and The Episcopal Church. Our interaction was entertaining with both humor and seriousness to it. One of the points I made with them is that members of our churches feel they need "permission" to discuss some subjects. We learned this during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Once one of a parish’s clergy spoke about AIDS from the pulpit, it opened the door for the congregation to discuss what had often been very close and personal to them in the form of a child or grandchild or other relative who had AIDS. So when a priest speaks of LGBTQ issues in a positive manner from the pulpit, the entire conversation will change. This hopefully leads to a recognition that the full spectrum of God’s created humanity is included in the baptismal vows of "Will you respect the dignity of every human being? Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?"

Nearly half of those present were members (at large) of Integrity. Once they have been moved from "at large" into Integrity Tallahassee, there will most likely be enough to meet minimum requirements for becoming a full-fledged chapter. The group is already fast at work on getting their bylaws established, electing leadership and the other aspects of moving into chapter status. I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t get a formal petition to become an Integrity chapter within a month or two if that long.

Let us rejoice that another step has been taken toward the full and equal inclusion of LGBTQ children of God into God’s church.

Bruce Garner is Integrity's Province IV (Southeast) Coordinator.  He has served as our president in the past, and has been a member of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church.