Wednesday, October 31, 2007

UMC pastor to keep his job

The Baltimore Sun reports that United Methodist pastor Drew Phoenix can keep his position as pastor of St. John's United Methodist Church.

The highest judicial body of the United Methodist Church announced Tuesday that a transgender man can remain pastor of a congregation in Charles Village.

The ruling by the Judicial Council affirms last spring's decision by Bishop John R. Schol to reappoint the Rev. Drew Phoenix -- formerly the Rev. Ann Gordon -- to St. John's United Methodist Church.

Schol's action had been appealed to the Judicial Council by several local clergy in the Baltimore-Washington Conference, who have raised questions about the proper role of transgender people within the church.

Phoenix, who learned of the decision early Tuesday morning, said he was elated.

Read it all here

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Two Words + Annotation

"....the need to regard the Bishop and the Diocese as the primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the 'national church'."

—Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams
In the following letter to Bishop Howe of the Diocese of Central Florida

14 October 2007

Dear John

I've just received your message, which weighs very heavily on my heart, as it must - though far more so - on yours. At this stage, I can say only two things. The first is that I have committed myself very clearly to awaiting the views of the Primates before making any statement purporting to settle the question of The Episcopal Church's status, and I can't easily short-circuit that procedure. The second is that your Rectors need to recognize that this process is currently in train and that a separatist decision from them at this point would be irresponsible and potentially confusing. However, without forestalling what the Primates might say, I would repeat what I've said several times before - that any Diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion, whatever may be the longer-term result for others in The Episcopal Church. The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such. Those who are rushing into separatist solutions are, I think, weakening that basic conviction of Catholic theology and in a sense treating the provincial structure of The Episcopal Church as if it were the most important thing - which is why I continue to hope and pray for the strengthening of the bonds of mutual support among those Episcopal Church Bishops who want to be clearly loyal to Windsor. Action that fragments their Dioceses will not help the consolidation of that all-important critical mass of ordinary faithful Anglicans in The Episcopal Church for whose nurture I am so much concerned. Breaking this up in favour of taking refuge in foreign jurisdictions complicates and embitters the future for this vision.

Do feel free to pass on these observations to your priests. I should feel a great deal happier, I must say, if those who are most eloquent for a traditionalist view in the United States showed a fuller understanding of the need to regard the Bishop and the Diocese as the primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the 'national church'. I think that if more thought in these terms there might be more understanding of why priests in a diocese such as yours ought to maintain their loyalty to their sacramental communion with you as Bishop. But at the emotional level I can understand something of the frustration they doubtless experience, just as you must.

With continuing prayers and love,


Lesbian couple on Amazing Race

Kate & Pat
Married Ministers

Kate: Thousand Oaks, CA
49, Episcopal Priest

Pat: Thousand Oaks, CA
65, Ordained Deacon

Kate and Pat dated for seven years before tying the knot three years ago. These well traveled Episcopal clergy are ready for the adventure of lifetime–but don’t let the collars fool you–they can play dirty too.

Kate is an Episcopal priest and has one grown son. She claims that the biggest difference between herself and Pat is that she avoids conflict while Pat dives right in. Kate describes herself as passionate and sarcastic while Pat says she is persistent and dependable.

Pat is a vocational deacon in the Episcopal Church and her ministry in the community is to people with disabilities. She is also the mother of two sons and grandmother of three. Pat’s biggest pet peeve about Kate is that she constantly misjudges her time, an issue that could surely cause problems on the Race.

Both are out to prove that they are not afraid to compete with anyone and they are extremely confident that their years of experience will help them combat the physical prowess of the younger Teams.

Read it all here

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Gay Christians receive anti-homophobia award from police

Ekklesia reports
Gay Christians have been presented with an award for their work in combating homophobia.

The award was given to the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) following their support for a controversial advert which appeared in the Independent newspaper, challenging faith-based homophobia.

Introducing the award Kevin Boyle a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Gay Police Association (GPA) said that Richard Kirker, chief executive of the LGCM, had first come to his attention in June 2000 when he was involved in a police investigation into homophobic attacks against the Rev Follett, the Vicar of Knightsbridge.

At the time the investigation attracted huge media interest. Kevin stated that whilst many in the church had condemned the victim because of his sexual orientation, Richard Kirker had gone on record to urge the Bishop of London not to tolerate the homophobic witch-hunt. Richard Kirker had also supported the police investigation and had supported the Rev Follett throughout the protracted enquiry.

Read it all here

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Diocese of California Resolution

The Diocese of California passed the following resolution by an overwhelming majority today at its 158th. Convention:

Response to the House of Bishops’ Statement

Resolved, That the 158th Diocesan Convention considers the statement made by the House of Bishops at their September 2007 New Orleans meeting to be non-binding on the Episcopal Church unless adopted by General Convention; and

Resolved, That the 158th Diocesan Convention affirms the unanimous decision of the Standing Committee to refuse to discriminate against partnered gay and lesbian bishops-elect in the consent process as called for in General Convention 2006 resolution B033; and

Resolved, That the 158th Diocesan Convention deplores the lack of access to adequate pastoral care and liturgical rites for the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in most dioceses of The Episcopal Church and the refusal of the majority of our bishops to make provision for it, and calls upon the House of Bishops to publish guidelines for such care; and

Resolved, That the 158th Diocesan Convention commends the House of Bishops for its call to increase implementation of the Communion-wide listening process as a process of real engagement, and calls upon the Presiding Bishop and her staff to develop such a process within the Episcopal Church, recognizing that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people continue to be marginalized in many parts of our Church; and

Resolved, That the 158th Diocesan Convention commends the House of Bishops for its call for the full participation of the Bishop of New Hampshire in the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and acknowledges the basic contradiction between support for Bishop Robinson and the implementation of B033; and

Resolved, That the 158th Diocesan Convention commends the House of Bishops for its support for the civil rights, safety, and dignity of gay and lesbian persons, and calls upon the General Convention to work to resolve speedily and justly the basic contradiction between such support in civil society and the absence of such support within the Church’s own pastoral and sacramental life.

Submitted by Sarah Lawton on behalf of the rector and vestry
of the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist, San Francisco

Dumbledore is gay

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, told fans at a Carnegie Hall appearance that Dumbledore is gay.

Potter readers on fan sites and elsewhere on the Internet have speculated on the sexuality of Dumbledore, noting that he has no close relationship with women and a mysterious, troubled past. And explicit scenes with Dumbledore already have appeared in fan fiction.

Rowling told the audience that while working on the planned sixth Potter film, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," she spotted a reference in the script to a girl who once was of interest to Dumbledore. A note was duly passed to director David Yates, revealing the truth about her character.

Rowling, finishing a brief "Open Book Tour" of the United States, her first tour here since 2000, also said that she regarded her Potter books as a "prolonged argument for tolerance" and urged her fans to "question authority."

Read it all here

Friday, October 19, 2007

Marriage and Blessings Report Published by Dio California

The Episcopal Diocese of California's Commission on Marriage and Blessing has released a 48-page report that proposes three possible rites for blessing same-sex couples .... the PDF for the report can be found on the following link:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Proposal for the Anglican Communion: Getting a divorce AND staying at the table

By the Rev. Clark West

Recently, in response to a post on the website of Canon Kendall Harmon, canon theologian to the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, and a leading voice against the ordination of gays and lesbians and blessings of same-sex couples, I wrote the following words:

" Canon Kendall has rightly pointed out in his comments on Bishop Robinson’s recent open letter following the New Orleans meeting of the house of bishops, many, including Bishop Robinson, are beginning to question the legitimacy of such a distinction between public and private. I myself share Bishop Robinson’s rejection of that distinction, and agree with him that it is unsustainable theologically and ecclesiologically.

"To that extent, I would agree with both Gene and Kendall, who, as odd as it may sound, actually seem to agree that a forward movement for all of us will involve more boldness on the part of ECUSA bishops and dioceses in affirming openly public rites of blessing for gay, lesbian, and transgendered persons. That this will put us on a path of separation from the Anglican Communion (I’m tempted to call it a divorce, a word which as an Anglican, and not a Roman Catholic, I do not fear, but can see as having its own blessings and grace) is a consequence I think we need to accept.

Click here to read the rest.

Love must prevail

Proposed covenant unworkable if it abandons justice for all
By Charles V. Willie, October 16, 2007

[Episcopal Life] The contentious relationship between the Episcopal Church based in the United States and the worldwide Anglican Communion is appropriately called a "civil war over homosexuality" by The New York Times. I, also, think it is an event of civil stress about love and justice. In 1966, Joseph Fletcher, an Episcopal priest on the faculty of the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, wrote a book titled Situation Ethics in which he declared that "love is the boss principle of life" and "justice is love distributed."

"God is love" is a fact of life some of us learned in Sunday school. We also learned that covenants, creeds, doctrines and traditions may pass away, but love endures. How, then, can a church with a responsibility of promoting love and justice adopt a policy of discrimination that prohibits homosexual people from being elected and consecrated as bishops? There is no evidence that such people cannot "love and be loved in return." If love is the boss principle of life, arbitrary and capricious acts of discrimination against all sorts and conditions of people, including male and female people, heterosexual and homosexual people, is unjust and should cease and desist.

Click here to read the rest.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

TransFaith on-line updated

This site has been updated:
TransFaith On-Line seeks to be inclusive of all spiritual traditions and orientation -- while placing a particular emphasis on support and education within the Christian tradition and Christian communities....

Sui Generous: The PB Turns 1

A Look at the ‘Outcast’ Webcast

Yesterday’s webcast with +Katharine Jefferts Schori almost coincided with the first anniversary of her installation as the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. Was she thinking, wow that was fast? Or, one down, eight more to go?

I came to the webcast with a fistful of questions designed to put serious rhetorical heat under +Katharine, but over the therapist’s hour I was disarmed by the generosity of her answers. Maybe she should be monitored by the Integrity member who, unable to get the webcast online, texted me to ask, “Is she doing her usual, sounding great but saying nothing?”

I texted back: “Yep, but lots less.” For instance, +Katharine talked about the delay in achieving “the full sacramental inclusion” of the lesbian and gay baptized. Sacramental. That was new. And she said it at least twice. Maybe she’s starting to get that what the church is doing, while mightily painful to LGBT folks, is something that pains the heart of Christ, as Integrity’s president Susan Russell has been reminding us for some time now.

It was also important to hear how central “our baptismal ministry” has become to the Presiding Bishop. In +Katharine’s mouth, the B word feels like a replacement for that worn out American differentiator, “polity.” Well, you heard it here at Integrity first. (Actually, you heard it first at your own baptisms, though living up to those vows has been a pillar of Integrity’s message for many a year now.)

But it’s not all sweetness and enlightenment at 815. I run through a few less comforting +Katharinisms in an annotated glossary below.

But first, let’s roll the tape one more time. See the face? Open, thrust up, sincere, in a word, welcoming. But suddenly it goes dark. Our moderator Jan Nunley is reading the very worrying stats from the new Barna Group study on the attitudes of young Americans toward Christianity. “Present-day Christianity is anti-homosexual: 91% of young non-Christians and 80% of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. They believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians.” Where on earth did they get that idea?

Pastor Katharine is stumped. She says we “focus on what divides us,” so that’s what people see. But clearly she’s moved into a murkier place and the smooth interview gets bumpy—and interesting.

When +Katharine is asked to explain how she has been put in a sacrificial place personally by the struggles over gay folks, there’s no retreat into canned language. She confesses, “I suffer the crucifixion of not being able to include the fullness of the gifts of my gay & lesbian brothers and sisters, that they are not yet able to live those gifts out in all orders of ministry of this church and that their unions are in most places unable to be blessed in this church. We as a body lose the witness of that commitment.” She means it; you can see it in her face. Still, future hope and present pain are tucked into her answer with two little words, “…not yet…”

I was the only “press” on hand. After New Orleans it was downright lonely. The upside was I got to have a short one-on-one with the Presiding Bishop. Like I said, my gotcha questions were already on the cutting room floor. What I needed to hear were some predictions about the fate of B033.

Is it true that B033 expires with General Convention 2009? She answered, “We don’t actually know.” And if the PB don’t know, kids, who does? Then I asked about something that the bishops’ recent actions put into doubt for me, “Will B033 be repealed at General Convention 2009?” BIG smile: “I expect there will be many resolutions dealing with that.”

And with that (really big) smile +Katharine Jefferts Schori lit out for the next stop on her journey…just eight years to go.


“End of the spectrum.” This is one of the expressions used to paint us as the far end of some small fringe. Yet if that’s so, then who is this “wide” group, this “we,” +Katharine says have “no willingness to go backward,” who believe “our vocation is to keep moving forward”? The truth is that the people who truly want full inclusion—coupled with the folks who just want to get inclusion done and out of the way—represent the true mind of the church. It’s time for us to stop marginalizing the majority.

“Civil rights.” When I first read the House of Bishops statement there was something anachronistic about “civil rights.” Plus, why separate our full “civil” from our ecclesiastical dignity? Because there’s an underbelly. It is part of the gospel, preached in the highest places in the Anglican Communion, that calls for justice outside the church but not within it. Be on the lookout also for “legal.” It’s all code for NIMC: “not in my church.”

“Sexual ethics.”
Another High Anglican phrase. “Changing our view of sexual ethics” seems to be the big stumbling block for otherwise liberal folk. But the implication is that we gays and lesbians lead inherently less ethical sexual lives than straights do. This is part of what, I think, Susan Russell (again!) means when she talks about the price we all pay for entrenched heterosexism. I don’t think anyone’s calling for a change in what constitutes ethical behavior, sexual or otherwise. LGBT folks are just asking that the church stop using it as a polite cover for implying that we are intrinsically unethical—unless that’s what they really think?

“Some have compared [the bishops’ reaffirmation of B033] with the compromise of Elizabeth I.”
Ah, music to the anglophiliac ears of the Episcopal Church. Lest we forget, the Elizabethan compromise was crafted to stabilize a shaky elite and did nothing to stop the incineration of papists and puritans throughout the Virgin Queen’s reign. B033 is a ‘compromise’ designed to comfort a foreign elite and is doing nothing to move gay and lesbian people out of the sacrificial place in The Episcopal Church.

“I wish we could stop focusing on what divides us.” One wonders, wouldn’t the simplest way to do this be to stop authoring,“reaffirming” and enforcing divisions—like B033 for instance? Brothers and sisters, I’d warn you against letting anyone shame you into silence but I know that’s unnecessary.

I hope such glossaries outlive their usefulness soon. After all:

“WE understand that our vocation is to keep moving forward.”
—Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, October 16, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Conversation with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori talks with the Episcopal Church via this live webcast from Trinity Wall Street.

Click here to watch the video archive.

AP: Study Seeks DNA Clues on Homosexuality

Oct 15, 8:56 PM EDT

AP Medical Writer

CHICAGO (AP) -- Julio and Mauricio Cabrera are gay brothers who are convinced their sexual orientation is as deeply rooted as their Mexican ancestry. They are among 1,000 pairs of gay brothers taking part in the largest study to date seeking genes that may influence whether people are gay.

The Cabreras hope the findings will help silence critics who say homosexuality is an immoral choice.

If fresh evidence is found suggesting genes are involved, perhaps homosexuality will be viewed as no different than other genetic traits like height and hair color, said Julio, a student at DePaul University in Chicago.

Adds his brother, "I think it would help a lot of folks understand us better."

Read it all here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Philly Missioner: GLBT Episcopalians 'sold down the river'


....We feel we have been sold down the river for the sake of Anglican unity. The bishops pledge once again to "listen" to the stories of gay and lesbian Christians. But since this was called for in 1998, nobody has paid much attention. Who gets to listen? We the GLBT Episcopalians do. We are told constantly to be patient and not to expect much, while the conservative voices are heard everywhere.

GLBT people are disappointed. Being forced into the depths of the closet by our own church is unacceptable....

Read it all here.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

BBC: Vatican bars prelate in gay row

The Vatican has confirmed local newspaper reports that a high-ranking Catholic priest has been suspended.

The man, who works in the department in charge of clergy around the world, appeared on Italian TV earlier this month admitting that he was gay.

The unnamed prelate or monsignor was suspended pending further investigations, said chief Vatican spokesman Father Frederico Lombari.

Read it all here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

When Dear Abby Is Braver than the Episcopal Church....

`Dear Abby' Says She's for Gay Marriage

Oct 10, 7:53 AM EDT

Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- For years, rumblings have surfaced on the Internet, conjecture about her casual references to "sexual orientation" and "respect."

Now, Dear Abby is ready to say it flatly: She supports same-sex marriage.

"Accepting the status quo is not always the best thing to do," she wrote. "Women were once considered chattel, and slavery was regarded as sanctioned in the Bible. However, western society grew to recognize that neither was just. Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain have recognized gay marriage, and one day, perhaps, our country will, too."

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Open Letter from +Gene Robinson

Received via email this morning from the Bishop of New Hampshire: (Thanks, +Gene!!! Onward and upward!)


An Open Letter to the LGBT Community
from Bishop Gene Robinson
October 9, 2007

Now that the Church has had some time to absorb and consider the recent meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans and its response to the Anglican Communion, I’d like to share with you what I experienced at the recent House of Bishops meeting, and where I think we are as a result.

There is NO “mind of the House” nor a “mind of the Episcopal Church.” In fact, we are a House and a Church of many different minds. We are in transition from the Church we have been called to be in the past, to the Church we are called to be now and in the future. We are not there yet.

I value highly the thoughts and needs of my brother and sister conservative bishops, who have no intention of leading their flocks out of the Episcopal Church, but come out of dioceses which, for the most part, find the Episcopal Church’s actions of the last four years troublesome and alarming. I listened to them when they voiced the fears of their people that changing our views on homosexuality is a precursor to moving on to denying important tenets of our orthodox faith, from the Trinity to the Resurrection. We worked for a statement which would reflect the diversity we recognize and value as a strength of our Episcopal communion. It was our goal to describe the Church as it currently is: NOT of one mind, but struggling to be of one heart.

My own goal – and that of many bishops – was to do NOTHING at this meeting. That is, our goal, in response to the Primates, was simply to state where we are as an Episcopal Church, not to move us forward or backward. Sometimes, “progress” is to be found in holding the ground we’ve already achieved, when “moving forward” is either untimely or not politically possible. And, doing nothing substantive respects the rightful reminder to us from many in the Senior House that the House of Bishops cannot speak for the whole Church, but rather must wait until all orders of ministry are gathered for its joint deliberations at General Convention.

While many of us worked hard to block B033 and voted against it at General Convention, it IS the most recent declaration of all orders of ministry gathered as a Church. The Bishops merely restated what is, as of the last General Convention.

Yes, we did identify gay and lesbian people as among the group included in those who ‘present a challenge” to the Communion. That comes as a surprise to no one. It is a statement of who we are at the moment. Sad, but true.

Many bishops spoke on behalf of their lgbt members and worked hard to prevent our movement backwards. We fought hard over certain words, certain language. We sidelined some things that truly would have represented a movement backwards.

I want to tell you what I said to the Archbishop of Canterbury. In the course of his comments, it seemed to me that the Archbishop was drawing a line between fidelity to our gay and lesbian members, and fidelity to the “process of common discernment,” which he had offered as a prime function of a bishop. I heard him saying that gay and lesbian members of our Church would simply have to wait until there was a consensus in the Communion. When we were invited to respond, I said something like, “Your Grace, I have always respected you as a person and your office, and I always will. But I want you to know and hear, that to me, a gay man and faithful member of this Church, this is one of the most dehumanizing things I’ve heard in a long time, and I will not be party to it. It reminds me of Jesus question ‘Is the Sabbath made for man, or man for the Sabbath?’ Choosing a process over the lives of human beings and faithful members of this Church is simply unacceptable and unscriptural.” The next morning, the Archbishop tried to assure us that he meant both/and rather than either/or. I tried to speak my truth to him.

On the issue of same sex unions, I argued that our statement be reflective of what is true right now in the Episcopal Church: that while same sex blessings are not officially permitted in most dioceses, they are going on and will continue to go on as an appropriate pastoral response to our gay and lesbian members and their relationships. Earlier versions of our response contained both sides of this truth. I argued to keep both sides of that truth in the final version, providing the clarity asked for by the Primates.

Others made the argument that to state that “a majority of Bishops do not sanction such blessings” implied that a minority do in fact sanction such blessings, and many more take no actions to prevent them. All this without coming right out and saying so. That argument won the day. I think it was a mistake.

Another issue to which I spoke was this notion of “public” versus “private” rites. I pointed out on the floor that our very theology of marriage is based on the communal nature of such a rite. Presumably, the couple has already made commitments to one another privately, or else they would not be seeking Holy Matrimony. What happens in a wedding is that the COMMUNITY is drawn into the relationship – the vows are taken in the presence of that community and the community pledges itself to support the couple in the keeping of their vows. It is, by its very nature, a “public” event – no matter how many or how few people are in attendance. The same goes for our solemn commitments to one another as lgbt couples.

I suspect that these efforts to keep such rites “private” is just another version of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” If avoidance of further conflict is the goal, then I can understand it. But if speaking the truth in love is the standard by which we engage in our relationships with the Communion, then no.

Let me also state strongly that I believe that the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and Primates MISunderstood us when they stated that they understood that the HOB in fact “declared a ‘moratorium on all such public Rites.’” Neither in our discussions nor in our statement did we agree to or declare such a moratorium on permitting such rites to take place. That may be true in many or most dioceses, but that is certainly not the case in my own diocese and many others. The General Convention has stated that such rites are indeed to be considered within the bounds of the pastoral ministry of this Church to its gay and lesbian members, and that remains the policy of The Episcopal Church.

Lastly, let me respond to the very real pain in the knowledge that the change we long for takes time. This movement forward is going to take a long time. That doesn’t make it right. It certainly does not make it easy. Dr. King rightly said that “justice delayed is justice denied,” but that didn’t stop him from accepting and applauding incremental advances along the way.

We have every right to be impatient. We MUST keep pushing the Church to do the right thing. We must never let anyone believe that we will be satisfied with anything less than the full affirmation of us and our relationships as children of God.

BUT, I will continue to try to remain realistic in my approach. I work hard, and pray hard, to find the patience to stay at the table as long as it takes. And I hope we can refrain from attacking our ALLIES for not doing enough, soon enough. The bridges we are burning today may turn out to be the bridges we want to cross in the future. Let’s not destroy them.

We need to be in this for the long haul. For us to get overly discouraged when we don’t get all that we want, as fast as we want, seems counterproductive to me. We should never capitulate to less than all God wants for us, but to lose heart when we don’t move fast enough, and to attack the Church we are trying to help redeem, seems counterproductive.

The two days of listening to the Archbishop of Canterbury and some members of the ACC were the two hardest days I’ve had since my consecration. (It was a constant and holy reminder to me of the pain all of YOU continue to experience every day at the hands of a Church which is not yet what it is called to be. Ours is a difficult and transforming task: to continue serving a church that seems to love us less than we love it!) I was comforted by the support I DID receive from those straight bishops who spoke up for us, and especially by many of the Bishops of color, who implicitly “got” what I was trying to say and defied the majority with their support of me and of us. I was even encouraged by many conservative bishops’ willingness to work together to craft a statement we, liberal and conservative alike, could all live with.

I believe with my whole heart that the Spirit is alive and well and living in our Church – even in the House of Bishops. I believe Jesus when he told his disciples, on the night before he died for us, that they were not ready to hear and understand all that he had to teach them – and that he would send the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth. I believe that now is such a moment, when the Church, in its plodding and all-too-slow a way, is being guided into truth about its gay and lesbian members. It took ME 39 years to acknowledge who I was as a gay man and to affirm that I too am considered precious by God. Of course, the very next day after telling my parents, I expected them immediately to catch up to what had taken me 39 years to come to. Mercifully, it has not taken them the same 39 years to do so. The Church family is no different. It is going to take TIME.

I voted “yes” to the HOB statement. I believe it was the best we could do at this time. I am far less committed to being ideologically and unrelentingly pure, and far more interested in the “art of the possible.” Am I totally pleased with our statement? Of course not. Do I wish we could have done more? Absolutely. Can I live with it? Yes, I can. For right now. Until General Convention, which is the appropriate time for us to take up these issues again as a Church, with all orders of ministry present. I am taking to heart the old 60’s slogan, “Don’t whine, organize!”

I am always caught between the vision I believe God has for God’s Church, and the call to stay at the table, in communion with those who disagree with me about that vision – or, as is the case for most bishops, who disagree about the appropriate “timing” for reaching that vision of full inclusion. In this painful meantime, please pray for me as I seek to serve the people of my diocese and you, the community of which I am so honored to be a part.

Your brother in Christ,


Monday, October 8, 2007

Expanding Our Welcome -- in San Diego

The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) presents:
OutFront San Diego: Expanding Our Welcome
A Christian Conference Exploring LGBTQ Congregational Inclusion Worship, Workshops, and Fellowship

12-14 October 2007

Mission Hills United Church of Christ
4070 Jackdaw Street
San Diego, CA 92103

Conference Sponsors

The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS)
Mission Hills United Church of Christ
Disciples Center
The United Church of Christ
New Creation UCC
Southern California - Nevada Conference of the UCC
The San Diego Partnership Churches
Human Rights Campaign (HRC)


Chris Glaser, Keynote Speaker
Mary Ann Tolbert, Plenary Speaker
Workshops sponsored by CLGS, HRC and GLAAD

To register, or for more information, visit:

Saturday, October 6, 2007

AP: Gay Bomb Among Ig Nobel Honorees

Associated Press Writer


The U.S. Air Force won the Ig Nobel Peace Prize this year for its proposal to develop a "gay bomb" — a chemical weapon that would make enemy soldiers want to make love with each other, not war with the enemy.

[Integitorial: Just wondering, what about Friendly Fire?]

Abrahams talked to a number of retired and active Air Force personnel to try and get someone to accept the prize in person on behalf of the military. None would.

"Who in their right mind would turn something like this down?" Wansink said.

Read it all here.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Even in Knoxville: "Churches Should Not Shun Gays"

Here's a column that reminds us that the so-called conservative South is no monolith, from Ina Hughs in the Knoxville News (thanks to Nancy Mott for calling it to our attention):

The Anglican fellowship has, like every mainline denomination, come to theological blows over the issue of same-sex unions and the ordination of gay clergy. Those of us who favor the spiritual rights of gay Christians took in a breath of hope and admiration when American Episcopalians consecrated the first openly gay bishop in 2003; but the moment it happened, those opposed - and on God's behalf - marched "as to war" to rescind the ordination and make sure it never happens again.

So much of this is reminiscent of what happened the last time conservative and liberal Christians in mainline denominations couldn't see eye to eye, choosing to go tooth and nail rather than accept each other's differences. When women were finally deemed as worthy as men of ordination, many who couldn't go along with that decision picked up their Bibles and left the denomination to form their idea of a REAL church - and make no mistake about it: There is chapter-and-verse "proof" for a No-Girls-Allowed brand of Christianity.

Before that, people waved their Bibles and got all exercised over giving blacks the right hand of fellowship. Or not.

Read it all here.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

In The Life TV Covers Episcopal Church

In The Life, the LGBT tv news magazine, opens its 16th season with a story about the continuing strife in the Episcopal Church over full-inclusion.

In New York, the show will air on WNET Sunday, October 7, at 10:30 PM and on WLIW Tuesday, October 9, at midnight.

But because you're a savvy subscriber to this blog, you can see it now!

Here's a link to watch the show online and to the site which has the program schedule across the country.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Susan Russell Receives Lamba Legal Liberty Award

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.

Integrity President Comments On Joint Standing Committee Report

620 Park Avenue #311 Rochester, NY 14607-2943

October 3, 2007


The Joint Standing Committee has pronounced the Response of our House of Bishops "sufficient unto the day" and now invites the Anglican Communion to move forward in faith in spite of our differences. Calling for a commitment to mutual listening and conversation, the report concludes, "It is only by living in communion what we live out our vocation to be a Communion."

"Our bishops told us their goal in New Orleans was to be 'clear' about where the church ‘is' in their response to the rest of the Communion," said Integrity President Susan Russell. "They said they were doing so in order to 'make room' for the conversations to continue and, based on today's report, they appear to have succeeded in that effort. It must be recognized, however, that this 'success' came at the cost of collateral damage to the lives and vocations of the LGBT baptized who continue to be cast as pawns in this game of global church politics."

"It is now time for our bishops to step up and put their miters where their mouths are and proactively advocate for the inclusion of LGBT voices in the 'mutual listening and conversation' the Communion has committed to continue," Russell continued. "Here's what we want to be 'clear' about: we're done being talked about and we're ready, willing and able to be talked 'to.'"

Integrity looks forward to being an integral part of that mutual listening and conversation and later this month in London will be working toward those goals with Anglican allies at planning meetings in advance of next year's Lambeth Conference.


The Rev. Susan Russell, President
714-356-5718 (mobile)

Mr. John Gibson, Director of Communications
917-518-1120 (mobile)

ACC - again

Okay - try this link - the pdf is linked from this website

ACC Joint Standing Committee on House of Bishops meeting - update

Here is a new link for the letter from the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglian Consultative Council.

Click here.

African bishops should repent

The Executive Director of the Kenyan Human Rights Commission thinks the bishops of Africa should repent of their statements on the role of gays and lesbians in the Anglican Communion. L. Muthoni Wanyeki writes:
My personal opinion, for what it is worth, is that the African Anglican hierarchy itself has something to repent. It has proceeded as though African gay men and lesbians do not exist, even though some are also members of its flock. It has endorsed the prejudice and stereotypes about African gay men and lesbians - namely that they are both "unAfrican" and "unholy."

The outcomes?

At the worst end of the scale, consider this. On July 7 this year, two black South African lesbians were executed in Soweto. It is believed that they were followed home after a party. They were removed from their car, taken to a field and gang-raped before being executed.

Their deaths were not isolated. Another woman, also known to be a lesbian, was killed in Cape Town around the same time. And, in line with the ignorant idea that lesbians can be "fixed," over 10 women known to be lesbians were raped. An atmosphere of fear has been created.

She concludes:
We all reacted with horror to the kind of human-rights violations seen during the genocide in Rwanda. We all asked ourselves: How could family, friends, neighbours turn on each other in such a devastatingly vicious manner. What we all should remember is that all it takes is sanction from authorities of any kind - the state, religious organisations and so on. We are all capable of being genocidal. We just need to believe that we are "right" in being so.

What the African Anglican bishops have essentially said is that African citizens are "right" in their prejudices and stereotypes about African gay communities. It is thus the African Anglican hierarchy that should "repent." If we do not stop and check ourselves, we can rest assured that the damage ultimately caused will not just be to the Anglican family worldwide. The damage will be to our own.

Read it all here

More on the author here

ACC Joint Standing Committee report on House of Bishops

The Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion have now submitted their Report on The Episcopal Church House of Bishops of Meeting in New Orleans. The Archbishop of Canterbury has sent the Report to all the Primates and to all members of the Anglican Consultative Council and asked them to consult in their Provinces on the Report, and respond to him by the end of October.

A PDF of the Report can be found here.

More discussion here

Canon Anderson connects the dots

Canon (and Nigerian Bishop-Elect) David Anderson speaks of New Orleans at
The real test for the orthodox in TEC is to NOT be pulled into a Vichy-type collaborationist relationship with a regime of corrupted faith and theology.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Republican Mayor of San Diego Stands Up for Equality

If you haven't already, you should take the time to see this unedited 5 minute video of the Mayor of San Diego talking about the journey he has taken on marriage equality.

Hope this link does it for you