Tuesday night Integrity President Susan Russell was presented with the Liberty Award by Lambda Legal. Here are her remarks...
Thank you – and what a great privilege it is to receive this Liberty Award from Lambda Legal this evening. In honoring me you are also honoring the organization I lead: Integrity USA – with a thirtysomething-year-old history of working to fully include LGBT people in the life and work of the Episcopal Church and the parish I serve: All Saints Church in Pasadena, committed to turning the human race into the human family one I.R.S. investigation at a time.
As we continue the work Sr. Joan Chittister has called "reclaiming the planet an inch at a time until the Garden of Eden grows green again" I give particular thanks tonight for my brother priest, Michael Hopkins: the past president of Integrity who has been my friend, my mentor, my partner in ministry and my partner in crime. I credit Michael with teaching me two great life lessons that have helped make my work and witness possible. Number one is "the truth will set you free" and number two is "don’t confuse God with the church."
I could not do the work I do or even dare to dream the dreams I dream for my church and for our country without Michael – and without the unfailing support of my rector, Ed Bacon, my clergy, staff and parish colleagues and, most importantly, my fearless, fabulous, faithful partner Louise. Time does not permit a longer list than that, but you must know that I stand here tonight on the shoulders of countless LGBT faithful who have for decades tilled the hard ground of the Episcopal Church to plant the fragile seeds of inclusion while tirelessly pulling the stubborn weeds of racism, sexism and homophobia.
God is not finished with us yet – and we Episcopalians are not finished with our bishops yet! – but in the days and weeks and months to come we’re gonna keep at it – an inch at a time – in partnership with Lambda Legal and our LGBT allies until the stubborn weeds of employment discrimination, hate crimes and marriage inequality are history in this country and the garden of liberty and justice for all grows green once and for all!
"Set audacious goals and celebrate incremental victories" was the advice I heard years ago from our former rector, George Regas. And if it is true – as Michael taught me – that the truth will set you free and it is true – as Janis taught me – that freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose – then tonight we have nothing to lose as we recommit ourselves to the audacious goal of becoming a nation where liberty and justice for all truly means ALL – one of the truths we hold self-evident as a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all people ARE created equal.
Thanks you again! God bless! Shanti. Salaam. Shalom.