Friday, July 10, 2015

What’s Next Integrity-- Are We Done? Are You Kidding?


What’s Next Integrity-- Are We Done?  Are You Kidding?

By:  Matt Haines, President

“When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”  Jesus of Nazareth  (LK 12:48)

We celebrate great gains these past several weeks!  We had many great successes at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City.  The Sacrament of Marriage is now a reality for same-sex couples in our Church and will be available in most of our dioceses!  Our Church has condemned the evil torture of so called “Reparative (Conversion) Therapy”.  Transgender Episcopalians have asserted that their names are sacred and are to be recognized as holy within liturgy and church records; the Church concurred overwhelmingly.  The Episcopal Church has also voted to show solidarity with LGBTQ people in Africa and will lobby on their behalf.  Some might wonder—is Integrity is now finished with its mission.  Are we done?  Are you kidding me? 

·         Transgender people are being slaughtered on our streets weekly; suicide kills even more.

·         Gender-queer and Trans Christians often find our churches less than welcoming.  We must change this together.

·         Over 40% of all homeless youth are LGBTQ; most of them rejected by “Christian Homes”.

·         Over 70% of lesbians and gays tell the people they love about their orientation; bisexuals 28%.  This must improve if we are ever going to live in Integrity.  As a church and a movement we can no longer ignore the “B” in LGBTQ.  

·         All Dioceses must be held to the Gospel of Inclusion proclaimed by this Church.  We can no longer allow LGBTQ people, or children raised by LGBTQ couples, to be excluded from Holy Baptism!  Access to Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Unction, Penance, must be available to all the baptized.  All who feel called to vocations in Holy Orders and/or Marriage must be taken seriously and be given the opportunity to live those vocations out.

·         We must still lead the Anglican Communion and offer special help to LGBTQ people in the many provinces where our people face prison or execution!

·         Racism and sexism still plague our nation, church, and our movement.  Together we need to engage in understanding how male privilege and institutional racism work against true equality.

We are now ready to begin to work even harder, with God’s help and yours!  The Supreme Court has recognized our right to marry and the Episcopal Church recognizes our marriages as sacramental.  Rights are nothing if not exercised and sacraments are meant to empower us to serve this broken world in Christ’s name. 

Are we in the Promised Land after 40 years in the desert?  Maybe—some of us are.  If you find yourself there, rejoice and start building up Zion for those still on the way.  If you are still in the desert, look for one another and keep an eye out for Jesus.  Jesus knows the way!  We have been given so much, thus we are required to give even more back in return.  Please join in our efforts to live into this gospel call.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Integrity Supports Rebuild the Churches Fund

Standing in solidarity with the victims of the outbreak of the burning of Black Churches, Integrity USA has pledged 25% of the offering from the General Convention Integrity Eucharist to the "Rebuild The Churches Fund," announced treasurer Elisabeth Jacobs.

Held on June 29, 2015 at the Salt Palace Salt Lake City, Utah the triennial celebration of God's inclusive love for absolutely everybody inspired a tremendous outpouring of generosity from those in attendance.

Our bookkeeper will be sending $1,038.66 to the fund this week. Integrity encourages its members and friends to "go and do likewise" by donating to this important work here. As Lester MacKenzie -- chaplain to the House of Deputies -- reminded us over and over "we are all together ... yo, yo, yo!"
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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Election Results for 2015-2018 Board of Directors and Provincial Coordinators

The election for the next Board of Directors and set of Provincial Coordinators has been completed. The following positions have been filled and the terms will run from October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2018.

President: Election deferred.
Vice-President of National Affairs: Rev. Gwen Fry
Vice-President of Local Affairs: S Wayne Mathis
Treasurer: DeAnna Bosch
Secretary/Director of Communications: Mel Soriano
Chairperson of the Stakeholders' Council: Rev. Carolyn Woodall

Province 1 Coordinator: No candidate
Province 2 Coordinator: Tod Roulette
Province 3 Coordinator: April I Fredericks
Province 4 Coordinator: Kay Smith Riggle
Province 5 Coordinator: David Fleer
Province 6 Coordinator: No candidate
Province 7 Coordinator: Doug Davis
Province 8 Coordinator: Vivian Varela

The position of the President has not yet been filled. We ask for your prayers as we continue to seek candidates for this central role.

Integrity's Board of Directors offers its congratulations to the new board and provincial coordinators. We thank all who ran or considered running for their willingness to serve and hope that they shall be interested in contributing in other ways. The current board and provincial coordinators look forward to working and assisting in the transition during the next three months.


Mel Soriano
Secretary, Board of Directors, Integrity 

Integrity Celebrates Marriage Equality in The Episcopal Church

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Press Release: Salt Lake City, UT - July 2, 2015

Integrity USA celebrated the passing of two significant pieces of legislation at the General Convention of The Episcopal Church on June 30, 2015. The House of Deputies voted to concur with the House of Bishops to pass Resolution A054 (87% yes, 11% no, 2% divided), a measure to offer gender neutral marriage rites and urge bishops to provide ways for couples to get married when in dioceses or churches with marriage equality restrictions. Later, the House voted to concur to pass Resolution A036 (82% yes, 13% no, 5% divided), a measure to alter the church canon.

Both these measures passed within days of the Supreme Court decision to recognize marriage equality throughout the USA.

Integrity President Matt Haines said, "I am overjoyed that our relationships and marriages as same-sex couples are finally recognized by both church and state.  The Episcopal Church spoke to this justice overwhelmingly, beyond our expectations, affirming the equality of our love.  Integrity has joined with allies for 40 years, proclaiming the blessing and holiness of our lives, which we offer to the church. We celebrate God's grace!"

Haines, recognizing that there are still faithful Episcopalians who live and engage in ministry in dioceses where their bishops will not permit full marriage equality, said that the Board of Directors will continue to work on making the rites available to everyone. Rev. Jon M. Richardson, Integrity Vice-President of National Affairs, pointed out, "While we are overjoyed at the strides we've made toward having all of our marriages recognized and blessed in the Episcopal Church, we are also acutely aware of the reality that this does not mean that the work of striving for equality is now finished in the Episcopal Church or in our society at large. LGBTQ people remain particularly vulnerable to discrimination in employment and in housing in many places in the country. LGBTQ teens remain significantly more likely than their heterosexual peers to be homeless, to commit suicide, or to endure the humiliations associated with bullying. Transgender people continue to face threats to their very survival each time they go out in public. The church continues to have a responsibility to speak to these injustices and to be agents of change, not just within our own halls, but in the hearts and minds of all people whom we encounter. We have taken great strides, but there remain many miles to go."

"In this spirit," Haines added, "we must continue to seek out those on the margins and join them as they too seek the love and support of the Episcopal Church.  We are obligated to work hard until all in this church and the world it serves are open to the grace and beauty of God's creation of humanity.  We are all one body in Christ Jesus, we must never forget our interdependence."





Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Integrity Election Ends Wednesday

The Integrity election ends Wednesday night at 8pm EDT, July 1. If you are a current member or stakeholder, you should have received a ballot by mail. Please vote using the link included.

If you did not receive an email ballot, please contact laura@integrityusa.org before Wednesday 2pm EDT.

Election results will be announced by noon on Thursday, July 2.

Legislative Update: Day 6

On Monday June 29, the fifth legislative day of the 78th General Convention, the House of Bishops adopted (by an overwhelming majority) two resolutions moving us closer to ending discrimination against same-sex couples desiring to be married in the Episcopal Church.

The first (A054) adopted two new marriage liturgies for trial use and the second (A036) included a canonical change to remove references to marriage as being between a man and a woman. The resolutions now move to the House of Deputies for approval. They will be heard as part of a special order of business on Wednesday, July 1st at 11:30 a.m.

These resolutions have been carefully and prayerfully crafted to provide as wide a tent as possible for the broad diversity of perspectives that is the hallmark of our heritage as Anglicans whilst making what the Supreme Court ruled last week as a “fundamental right” for all Americans equally available for all Episcopalians.

While the resolution stipulates: “Trial use is only to be available under the discretion and with the permission of the diocesan bishop” it also stipulates “Bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority or, where appropriate, ecclesiastical supervision, will make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies.” This compromise creates a “bridge too far” for some and a “bridge not far enough” for others.

We are hopeful that both A054 and A036 will be quickly concurred – without amendment -- by the House of Deputies so that we can then shift into implementation throughout the Church.

Integrity will partner with members, allies and bishops to make sure that “will make provision for all couples asking to be married” is a reality – not just a resolution. And we look forward to celebrating with great joy the marriages throughout the church that will be outward and visible signs of the inward and spiritual grace of present in the lives of same-sex couples called to the vocation of marriage.

Marriage equality is not the only issue on the floor at this 78th General Convention. Resolution D028 -- "Oppose Conversion Therapy" -- was today concurred by the House of Bishops ... putting the Episcopal Church on record supporting legislation banning conversion therapy that tries "to change a person's sexual orientation or force them to deny their gender identity."

A051 -- Supporting LGBT African Advocacy -- has made it through Deputies and is headed to Bishops along with D036 -- Adding Name Change Services to the Book of Occasional Services.

More to come. (Watch this space!)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Open Letter to the House of Bishops

Dear Bishops,

Today is the day. On your legislative calendar for this, the fifth day of the 78th General Convention, are the resolutions from Committee 20 (the Special Legislative Committee on Marriage) authorizing canonical changes and liturgical resources to make marriage equally available to all couples desiring marriage in the Episcopal Church.

These resolutions have been carefully and prayerfully crafted to provide as wide a tent as possible for the broad diversity of perspectives that is the hallmark of our heritage as Anglicans whilst making what the Supreme Court ruled last week as a “fundamental right” for all Americans equally available for all Episcopalians.

The journey to this day has been long and the challenges have been great. We have worked, prayed, argued, debated and compromised to this moment. And it is the moment to “let our yes be yes.” (Matthew 5:37) It is time to let our yes be yes – and not only to the LGBT members of this church who have been waiting since 1976 for the promise of “full and equal claim” to become a reality and not just a resolution.

It is time to let our yes be yes for the whole church. It is time to put behind us our forty years of wrangling in the wilderness over the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments. And it is time to journey together into God’s future – a diverse people united in our commitment to the Jesus Movement our Presiding Bishop-elect has called us to claim and to proclaim a world hungry for love, justice and compassion.

Today is the day. Let your yes be yes.

Susan Russell is an Integrity past-president, the convener of Claiming the Blessing and on staff at All Saints Church in Pasadena CA.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Live from Salt Lake City: An Anniversary Agenda

by Susan Russell

A year ago today I married my wife Lori at All Saints Church in Pasadena. Surrounded by friends and family and using the iconic liturgical language of our faith tradition we pledged to love, honor and cherish each other until death do we part. Then Ed Bacon pronounced that we were spouses for life.

We went to the parish hall for a party, sent off the marriage license to the county registrar and launched into the first year of our "happily ever after" marriage. Not our happily ever after "gay marriage" -- our happily ever after marriage. As I've noted before, we don't pay gay taxes or fold gay laundry or take out gay trash to the curb -- so we're not gay married.

And oh, how my heart soared to hear these words from Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry at his first press conference: "It's marriage. It's not gay marriage. It's not straight marriage. It's marriage." 

This morning we woke up together in a Salt Lake City hotel room. Our anniversary present came two days early when the Supreme Court ruled that every other American couple was as entitled to the fundamental right of marriage as we were. Our anniversary agenda includes a very early wake up call to participate in a march with the Bishops For the Elimination of Gun Violence, corporate worship with 5000 or so members of our Big Fat Episcopalian Family in the massive convention hall worship space and then an afternoon of legislative process which -- we hope -- will include the House of Bishops debating ... and adopting ... Resolution A036 from Committee #20 -- amending the canons of the Episcopal Church to make the sacrament of marriage equally available to same and opposite couples.

 It will not be without debate. It will not be without compromise. It will not be without some folks feeling we've taken the bridge too far and others that we've fallen short. But it will move us closer to the long dreamed of, worked for, aspired to dream of a church where all the baptized are fully included in all the sacraments.

And let me be clear -- this struggle has never been about inclusion for inclusion's sake. It has been about inclusion for the Gospel's sake -- so that we might become more fully the Body of Christ God created and calls us to be. And that means marching to end gun violence, working to challenge marginalization and dismantle oppression in all its forms, recognizing that because all lives matter it matters that we say #blacklivesmatter until we make that resolve a reality.

But hey -- if I can wake up in a Salt Lake City hotel room with my wife on the first anniversary of our marriage in a country with full stop marriage equality, in a church with Michael Curry as the Presiding Bishop-elect then anything is possible.

As Rachel Maddow would say: Watch this space.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Congratulations to the Presiding Bishop-Elect Rt. Rev. Michael Curry

IntegrityUSA applauds the wisdom of the House of Bishops in their election of the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry as the Presiding Bishop-elect of the Episcopal Church, and the House of Deputies in their wisdom in confirming the election.  Bishop Curry has a long-standing history of supporting LGBT Episcopalians, and specifically of supporting IntegrityUSA in our efforts at making the Episcopal Church a beacon of love, justice, and compassion, where ALL people are equally embraced and empowered.  Most recently IntegrityUSA has collaborated with Bishop Curry as we began our 40th anniversary celebration in the Diocese of North Carolina last November with the now-Presiding Bishop-elect preaching a rousing and inspiring sermon renewing us all in our call to compassion and mission.  We are eager to continue working with Presiding Bishop-elect Curry as he answers this call to renewed ministry serving the wider church.  The Episcopal Church now has a record going back to Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning of electing talented and thoughtful leaders who have joined IntegrityUSA in our mission and ministry.  We are delighted that we will have in the 27th Presiding Bishop another advocate as strong, as faithful, and as steadfast as Presiding Bishop-elect Curry.

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Day to Remember

The members and leaders of Integrity - both LGBT and not - can hardly contain our emotion on this day of jubilee throughout the nation.  We are thrilled that LGBT Episcopalians can know full civil marriage equality everywhere and we continue in our fervent hope that the church will answer the call to equality with the same prophetic witness as the U.S. Supreme Court has.  Even in the midst of our joy, however, we remember the mourning of our brothers and sisters in South Carolina right now, and moreover we remember the pain and violence experienced by our transgender members and friends every day throughout the nation.  It remains true that #BlackLivesMatter and #TransLivesMatter, and Integrity remains equally committed to seeking the justice to which Christ has been calling the church.  Though we celebrate, we remember that there is much work left to do.


The Rev. Jon M. Richardson
Vice President of National Affairs - Integrity USA