Monday, June 30, 2008

Presiding Bishop responds to Gafcon

The following statement from the Presiding Bishop was issued today by ENS:

Much of the Anglican world must be lamenting the latest emission from GAFCON. Anglicanism has always been broader than some find comfortable. This statement does not represent the end of Anglicanism, merely another chapter in a centuries-old struggle for dominance by those who consider themselves the only true believers.

Anglicans will continue to worship God in their churches, serve the hungry and needy in their communities, and build missional relationships with others across the globe, despite the desire of a few leaders to narrow the influence of the gospel. We look forward to the opportunities of the Lambeth Conference for constructive conversation, inspired prayer, and relational encounters.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Gafcon Reality Check

Sundry reflections from Susan Russell on a Sunday evening

As the dust settles at the Gafcon gathering in Jerusalem, let's start with a reality check from Michael (no-relation) Russell from the Diocese of San Diego:

The number of Primates openly supporting this movement has gone down since 2006 not up. Within Gafcon itself there is a move to redirect leadership from ++Akinola to ++Jensen.

The number of American Dioceses active in the movement has dwindled and even the Windsor Compliant Bishops are now prepared to cut the jurisdiction jumpers out of the equation to raise their own influence.

There is no occasion since the fully public inception of this movement of them actually getting anything they wanted. Neither TEC nor the C of Canada have been sanctioned or side streamed, and the reasserters have not been proclaimed as the true Anglican presence by anyone with any actual authority to do that.

The promises made to parishioners that they would soon be the acknowledged by the Archbishop of Canterbury as the true presence has not and will not happen.

The Jerusalem Declaration has pinned its future to an arcane formulation of "authorities" that most Anglican provinces worldwide are not going to endorse: specifically the 39 Articles and the 1662 BCP as standards of the faith.

Nor will most of the Anglican provinces endorse their peculiar formulations and doctrine of Scripture as found in the Document.

So after a dozen years of planning and six years of bullying and threats, this movement has a smaller affiliation circle and less influence than five years ago.

And their position on the Archbishop of Canterbury will further reduce that.

Despite their assertions that they will not leave, they have simply defected in place and will now just function as an out of control irritant.

It is, in fact, what the Diocese of Washington's Jim Naughton described as "taking the status quo, tying it up in a bow and trying to make it a present." Or what Katie Sherrod of Fort Worth fame has describes as "all hat and no cattle."

Perhaps the greatest irony is that those who profess to be "protecting the historic faith" are declaring that Anglican identity "need not be determined through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury."

For anyone who forgot their Anglican Communion 101, here's a refresher:

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the Focus for Unity for the three Instruments of Communion of the Anglican Communion, and is therefore a unique focus for Anglican unity. He calls the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of Primates, and is President of the AnglicanConsultative Council.

Threatening to throw the Archbishop out with the bathwater is certainly "a" way to get attention but it hardly lends itself toward protecting the historic catholicity of the Anglican Communion we've been hearing so much about. Sadly, it reminds me most of all of the time one of my then-small boys pitched a fit in the cereal aisle of the supermarket stamping his foot and declaring "you are not the boss of me."

Actually, I was the "boss of him." And so is the Archbishop of Canterbury -- within the limits of his authority as "first among equals" of the primates of all Anglican primates worldwide and the focus of unity for the Communion.

The Gafcon Communique or Jerusalem Declaration or whatever they're calling it is nothing less than the last ditch effort of the dwindling schismatic fringe to declare as fait accompli that which they wish would be: an Anglican Communion created in their own image without the Archbishop of Canterbury to boss them around or those pesky bonds of affection that knit you to people you don't agree with.

Here's the Anglican Reality Check according to Dave Walker:

Here endeth the reality check.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Weekly Witness: June 28, 2008

The Ram in the thicket
My reflection this week is tied to the reading from Genesis that is part of our lectionary appointed for this coming Sunday. The text is Genesis 22:1-14 -- the story sometimes called "the sacrifice of Isaac."
We know, of course, that it turns out not to be the story of the sacrifice of Isaac at all but the "the ram in the thicket" that God provided. And what I'm wondering today is if this story -- disturbing as it is to our 21st century sensibilites in many ways -- doesn't offer an important teaching about the ways of God whose ways are not our ways, but whose quality is always to have mercy.
What I hear in the good news of "The Lord will provide" (which is the punchline of the story) is a call away from being cornered into the "either/or" messaging of the world around us and open ourselves up to the "both/and-ness" of God. We do NOT belong to a God who calls us to kill our children in order to "earn" God's love -- and we do NOT belong to a church that calls us to sacrifice ANY member of the Body of Christ in order to "earn" institutional unity.
The good news for me in Genesis 22 is -- if we're paying attention -- the same God who provided a ram in the thicket for Abraham will provide one for the Anglican Communion. If something needs to be "sacrificed" in order to "keep the communion together" then how about anything that keeps us from truly seeking and serving Christ in one another: racism, sexism, heterosexism, liturgical fundamentalism, etc., etc., etc. My prayer is that our witness at Lambeth Conference will be to point those rams in the thicket all around us and to refute the false premise that the LGBT baptized must be sacrificed on the altar of Anglican Unity.
For the convicting part of the story about Abraham and Isaac is that we can take ANYTHING that God has given us and turn it into an object of worship -- committing the sin of worshipping the gift rather than the giver which, as my OT professor used to remind us almost daily, is the most frequently committed sin of all. Even our beloved Communion -- intended to knit us together in bonds of affection -- can become an idol itself if we allow it to be knit into a straight-jacket of doctrinal conformity.
And the VERY good news in Genesis 22 is our God (whose quality IS always to have mercy) is always working to move us beyond that error into all truth -- always pointing to the ram in the thicket if we will but pay attention.
So let's pay attention. Let's pray for our bishops as they prepare to journey to Cantebury to meet for study, prayer and reflection. Let's pray for the cloud of LGBT witnesses who will surround that gathering with support, prayer and invitation to conversation. And most of all, let's give thanks that we belong to the God of infinite mercy, love, justice and peace whose will it is that we make known that love to all people.
All for now. Amen.
In the News:
The Presbyterians General Assembly: We rejoice with our Presbyterian sisters and brothers at the news of the 218th Presbyterian General Assembly's vote to end LGBT discrimination
Voices of Witness: Africa: We are thrilled to be partners in making a new video project, Voices of Witness: Africa available to the whole communion.
Marriage Equality: We continue to add resources to our "Marriage Equality 101" page as the developing story on marriage equality in California develops. Note that PBS Religion & Ethics Weekly will run a segment this week featuring one of the first gay weddings at All Saints Church, Pasadena.
Canterbury Campaign: It's not too late to join those contributing to make our witness at Lambeth Conference possible through the Canterbury Campaign. Thanks to all who have supported this important work so far!

Upcoming Events:
Lambeth Team: Our Lambeth team starts leaving for Canterbury early next month. Please keep us all in your prayers as we undertake that important work.
The London Premiere of "For the Bible Tells Me So" will be Monday night, July 14th. More details here.
Midwest Regional Conference: An Integrity regional conference will be held August 15-16 at St. Luke's in Evanston, Il. More detail here.

Kenya Anglican Gays Send a Strong Message to Lambeth Conference

NAIROBI, June 26, 2008. By Rev. John Makokha, Other Sheep Coordinator/ United Methodist Minister.
Kenyan Anglican clergy, gays and allies sent a strong message of affirmation and inclusiveness to the bishops at the forthcoming Lambeth conference in July-August, 2008. This was unanimously agreed on at the ceremony organized by Integrity USA, a pro Anglican US based organization, in partnership with the Other Sheep organization in Kenya. The function took place in one of the hotels in Nairobi, Kenya on June, 19.

Rev. Cynthia Black and Katie Sherrod from Integrity USA carried out the personal interview of the participants using video recording. The objective of this program was to take the voices and faces of gays, lesbians and allies to the Lambeth conference for the Anglican bishops to see and hear from the horse's own mouth.

Kimindu sitting at poolRev. Michael Kimindu, an Anglican priest and Other Sheep East Africa Coordinator said that it is hard for young people to discover that they are gay in Kenya. They come to fear God and hate themselves. And society and religious condemnation causes young gay people to live in isolation, depression and subsequently commit suicide in schools, colleges and homes.

"Religious teachings are against homosexuality, and for us allies we are looked at as people promoting a gay movement in Africa," said Kimindu. You cannot discourage or promote what you cannot change. It is not a choice, it is inborn.

(Above photo: Rev. Michael Kimindu, Anglican Priest)

His message to the bishops was that they should be bishops and not judges. They should appreciate the diversity of God's gifts in relation to the clergy and laity in the church without being dictators. The bishops should commission well educated people to conduct a research on homosexuality. The findings can help remove grey hairs in their approach.

Kimindu said that the church in Kenya has lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons who have questions and are seeking answers. They are living in the closet due to fear of stigma and condemnation propagated by religious homophobia.

He said the bishops should stop thinking that homosexuality is unAfrican. The truth of the matter is homosexuality is part of human history and since civilization started in Africa, therefore homosexuality started from Africa. We should not blame the West for introducing homosexuality.

Friday, June 27, 2008

CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA: Convention reaffirms full-inclusion resolution

[Episcopal News Service] At its 138th annual convention, the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania reiterated a previous convention's resolution supporting the full inclusion all people in the church.

The new resolution stated that the diocese, "being guided by the Holy Spirit, reaffirms its commitment to celebrate the richness of our church communities to insure that all persons regardless of sex or sexual orientation are full and equal participants in the Life of Christ's Church."

Diocesan Communications Officer David Shively said in a news release after the convention that the resolution passed only after lengthy discussion during which it was acknowledged that the upcoming Lambeth Conference of Bishops makes it important that dioceses "support and encourage a continuing dialogue on issues of sexuality."

"This resolution was offered in that spirit of encouragement," Shivley said.

He also said that the resolution "does not seek to influence any specific group or entity, but rather to reaffirm the willingness of the clergy and laity of this diocese to enter into productive discussions on issues of human sexuality," adding that the resolution anticipates that the 76th General Convention in 2009 will also debate sexuality issues.

During his address, Bishop Nathan Baxter told the convention that he believes that there are "sound grounds" for the full inclusion of all in the church, regardless of sexual orientation.

"But such decision must be intentional, not precipitous," Baxter said. "I also believe that such decisions must be made through the theological and spiritual discernment of whole Church and not just the political work of the fearful uncertain or the angry certain."

Baxter said he will establish a “Bishop’s Commission on Full Inclusion” to continue that discernment.

"I will respect and support gay and lesbian laity and clergy of this diocese as Christian sisters and brothers," he continued. "However, I reiterate my position as of last convention, that there will not be permission for same-sex blessings nor will I give my consent for the consecration of a bishop in a same-sex relationship until the Episcopal Church has granted such permission."

The complete text of Baxter's address is available here.

The convention took place June 6-7 at Bucknell University, in Lewisburg.

Convention delegates also approved two resolutions dealing with the establishment of disaster preparedness plans at the parish and diocesan level, and approved a resolution encouraging the planning, development, and expansion of ministries for youth, according to the diocesan news release.

-- The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is Episcopal Life Media correspondent for Episcopal Church governance, structure, and trends, as well as news of the dioceses of Province II. She is based in Neptune, New Jersey, and New York City


Good News from San Jose!

218th Presbyterian GA votes 54% to 46% to end LGBT discrimination

More Light Presbyterians & friends ---

San Jose: This is an amazing moment in history. I give thanks to God for
all of you who have been praying, believing and working for the Presbyterian
Church (USA) to end discrimination against its own lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender daughters and sons, sisters and brothers in Christ.

Today, the 218th General Assembly of the PCUSA voted 54% to 46% to end
discrimination against LGBT members of our Church; and to provide spiritual
and ordination equality for LGBT Presbyterians.

The Assembly approved the Boston Ordination Equality Overture which called
for a deletion of the "fidelity in marriage, chastity in singleness"
requirement and lifted up our historic Constitutional questions for
ordination and installation. This part of the overture requires
ratification by the presbyteries in the next year.

The second part of the overture provides a new Authoritative Interpretation
struck down the anti-gay policy statements beginning with the 1978
Definitive Guidance and the subsequent 1979 ruling that homosexuality is not
compatible with service in the Church, sinful and not part of God's design.
These profoundly informed and homophobic statements from the past of our
Church have no further force or effect with the approval of this Boston
Ordination Overture.

More Light Presbyterians gives thanks to God for all of the Commissioners,
Youth Advisory Delegates and other delegates who are serving faithfully this
week. There is clearly a sea-change in our Church, society and world as
more people are letting go of the old beliefs and prejudice about
homosexuality, same-gender loving persons and embracing what it means to
recognize Christ and the divine image within all of God children, no

Our work of witness, education, truth-telling, sharing our stories within
our local churches, on our college and seminary campuses has just begun! We
have one year to pray and work so that this Boston Ordination Equality
Overture will be thoughtfully and prayerfully considered, heard and ratified
by our presbyteries. You can count on More Light Presbyterians having
"every hand on deck" working 24/7 by providing educational resources and
empowering local leaders so that we can honor the good work of faith,
justice and love done today.

The joyous work of being the Church and sharing our faith to achieve the
ratification of the Boston Ordination Equality Overture will begin on June
28 at the close of this Assembly. For this moment, on this day, we rejoice
in the fact that this Assembly has provided a way forward for our beloved

Together we are building a Church for all God's people!

with hope and grace,

Michael J. Adee, M.Div., Ph.D., Executive Director & Field Organizer
More Light Presbyterians, 369 Montezuma Avenue # 447, Santa Fe, New Mexico
87501 (505) 577-0086 mobile, (505) 820-7082 office,
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More Light Presbyterians Applaud General Assembly Action

PCUSA Welcomes All to Service in the Church

SAN JOSE, CA - June 27, 2008 - More Light Presbyterians said a decision
today by the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to lift
its ban on ordination for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons is
good news for Presbyterians and Christians across the country and world.

"This is a great moment affirming God's love for all people. We are
thankful to the Commissioners at this Assembly who upheld standards for
leadership and service in our Church, and at the same time eliminated
categorical discrimination that has denied ordination to LGBT persons based
simply on who they are and who they fall in love with," said Michael J.
Adee, Executive Director and Field Organizer for the organization.

The action by the General Assembly removes G.60106b from its Book of Order,
the Constitution which governs the Church and replaces it with new language.
Formerly, it required fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman or
chastity in singleness to be eligible for ordination as deacons, elders or

"The intent of this standard, passed over a decade ago, was to bar LGBT
persons from full membership and service in our Church since marriage
equality is not yet available to most in our country," Adee said.

New language passed by the General Assembly reaffirms historic standards of
the Church that focus on faith and character which has withstood the test of
time, and did not exclude anyone based on sexual orientation, gender
identity or marital status.

Looking to the Future

"A new spirit of acceptance and the recognition that we have many different
kinds of families in our churches has taken hold," said Vikki Dearing,
Co-Moderator. "This reflects the hearts and spirits of people in the pews.
We rejoice with the many that will now be able to answer God's call to serve
in our Church."

We believe that God is doing a new thing in our Church. We believe that a
more loving and welcoming Church is where the Spirit is taking us. We
invite everyone who wants to know how to become a more welcoming and
affirming place for all God's children to contact us. Together we are
building a Church for all God's people!

Denise Ray Mueller Ordained Episcopal Deacon

Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio
412 Sycamore Street . Cincinnati, Ohio 45202-4179
513/421-0311 800/582-1712

For Immediate Release

Denise Ray Mueller of Columbus was ordained as a deacon in the Episcopal
Church on June 14 by the Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal, bishop of the
Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio. Ms Mueller was among 10 men and women
ordained as deacons at Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati.

The Rev Deacon Deniray Mueller will continue her outreach to the community
through interfaith and ecumenical organizations as well as working with
battered women and teens who have been victims of violence. A member of the
Central Ohio Chapter of Integrity, she is currently assigned to Trinity
Episcopal Church on Capitol Square in Columbus.

Vocational deacons are men and women called to carry the ministry of the
church into the world - and the world into the church. They are called
specifically to serve the poor, the weak, the sick and the lonely. They have
undergone three years of theological training in the diocese.

Congratulations, Deniray!

Chicago Consultation Unveils New Web site

The Chicago Consultation's new web site went live on Wednesday. Check it out! It includes the first of several videos about the group, and resources to help visitors "make the case" for the full inclusion of all baptized Anglicans in the life and leadership of the Communion.

IntegrityUSA is proud to be in partnership with the Chicago Consultation and to have a voice on its steering committee.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Integrity Midwestern Regional Conference

Integrity Midwestern Regional Conference, open to all interested across the country, to be held at St. Luke's Evanston August 15th-16th, 2008

Robert Bennett, Midwestern Vice President, Integirty
740-427-3620 (home), 740-398-2617 (cell)

Integrity Midwest is sponsoring a conference at St. Luke's, Evanston, Illinois, August 15th-16th, 2008. Louie Crew, the founder of Integrity, will speak, and there will be a report from Lambeth. There will be time for group discussion about chapters and about Integrity's work after Lambeth and before General Convention. Elizabeth Steadman, the Episcopal chaplain at Northwestern, and Kelby Harrison, a graduate student from Northwestern, will discuss, "What if LGBTQ people preached what they know in practice? Insights with Integrity for Christian Sexual Ethics."

Please plan to attend and register early.

To register, please mail a check for $50 made out to Robert Bennett, with the signature line, "Integrity Midwest Conference," to Robert E. Bennett, Box 567, Gambier, OH 43022. Registration helps fund the speakers and facility costs and covers the cost of breakfast and lunch Saturday. The group will eat dinner together at local restaurants both evenings, and participants will pay for their own dinners.

Rooms are available at a conference rate at the nearby Best Western University Plaza, 1501 Sherman Avenue, Evanston, Illinois, 60201-4416. Phone 874-491-6400, and ask for the block reserved for "Robert Bennett". The conference rate is available only through July 15th. Rooms may be reserved from Thursday through Sunday nights, August 14th through 17th. If you would like to be housed with local people, let Robert Bennett know with your registration, and we will try to accommodate you.

New essays continue church's discernment on human sexuality

a c c w e b n e w s
The Anglican Church of Canada

New essays on human sexuality, written by Canadian Anglican theologians, are
now available for your consideration, as part of the Anglican Church of
Canada's ongoing discernment about the blessing of same-sex unions. Read
the essays on human sexuality at

At the last national meeting, General Synod 2007, the church decided that
same-sex blessings were not in conflict with core doctrine but still did not
allow individual parishes to bless these unions. The church also
acknowledged that deep theological reflection on the topic was needed.
Specifically, the Primate's Theological Commission, a group of 12 Canadian
Anglican theologians, was mandated to consider these topics:

1. The theological question of whether the blessing of same-sex unions is a
faithful, Spirit-led development of Christian doctrine

2. Scripture's witness to the integrity of every human person and the
question of the sanctity of human relationships

The commission was asked to consult with the wider Canadian Anglican church
as it prepares responses, which is where these new essays, as well as your
response, fit in.

If you are interested in submitting your own essay on one of the above
questions, or in commenting on one of the other essays, please email your
contribution to the Rev. Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Director of Faith,
Worship, and Ministry, at

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The framing of mutual joy

Running in tomorrow's Guardian is this op-ed by +John Chane, Bishop of Washington -- a great summary of the evolution of the institution of marriage.

The framing of mutual joy

Archbishop Rowan Williams has tried to take the issue of gay marriage off the table at the Lambeth Conference, which begins in three weeks. But the celebration of a gay relationship at one of London's oldest churches last month, and the well-publicised gathering of anti-gay Anglicans in Jerusalem this week, suggest the controversy must eventually be faced squarely.

Conservative Christians say opening marriage to gay couples would undermine an immutable institution founded on divine revelation. Archbishop Henry Orombi, the primate of the Church of Uganda, calls it blasphemy. But, theologically, support for same-sex marriage is not a dramatic break with tradition, but a recognition that the church's understanding of marriage has changed dramatically over 2,000 years.

Christians have always argued about marriage. Jesus criticised the Mosaic law on divorce, saying "What God has joined together let no man separate", but even that dictum appears in different versions in the Gospels, and was modified in the letters of Peter and Paul. Christians had to square the ecstatic sensuality of the Song of Songs with Paul's teaching that marriage was a fallen estate, useful primarily in saving those who could not be celibate from fornication.

This tension is indicative of the church's long struggle to reconcile the notion that sexuality is a gift from God with its deep suspicion of the pleasure of sex. As the historian Stephanie Coontz points out, the church did not bless marriages until the third century, or define marriage as a sacrament until 1215.

The church embraced many of the assumptions of the patriarchal culture, in which women and marriageable children were assets to be controlled and exploited to the advantage of the man who headed their household.

The theology of marriage was heavily influenced by economic and legal considerations; it emphasised procreation, and spoke only secondarily of the "mutual consolation of the spouses". In the 19th and 20th centuries, however, the relationship of the spouses assumed new importance, as the church came to understand that marriage was a profoundly spiritual relationship in which partners experienced, through mutual affection and self-sacrifice, the unconditional love of God.

The Episcopal Church's 1979 Book of Common Prayer puts it this way: "We believe that the union of husband and wife, in heart, body and mind, is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God's will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord."

Our evolving understanding of what marriage is leads, of necessity, to a re-examination of who it is for. Most Christian denominations no longer teach that all sex acts must be open to the possibility of procreation (hence, contraception is permitted). Nor do they hold that infertility precludes marriage. The church has deepened its understanding of the way in which faithful couples experience and embody the love of the creator for creation. In so doing, it has put itself in a position to consider whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

Opponents of gay marriage may raise other objections - that it is unsuitable, for instance, to raise children with two mothers or two fathers. I believe these arguments are easily refuted, but they are arguments about effective social policy, not sound theology. Christians who want to deny others the blessings they claim for themselves should not assume they speak for the Almighty.

· John Bryson Chane is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington DC, and a member of the Chicago Consultation, which works towards the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the Anglican church

UK Premier Of "For The Bible Tells Me So"

Will you be in London the Monday before the Lambeth Conference starts? If so, buy your tickets NOW for this event...

Queen Elizabeth Hall
Monday, 14 July, 7pm

Join Bishop Gene Robinson and Ian McKellen for the UK premiere of The Bible Tells Me So, a provocative documentary about the chasm that separates gay life and Christianity today. Gene Robinson is the openly gay Bishop of the Episcopalian Church in New Hampshire; when he was ordained he had to wear a bullet-proof vest. The film charts the experiences of five very different people caught in the crossfire of scriptural and sexual identity. After the screening, Gene Robinson is in conversation with Ian McKellen.

Prices: £12

Click here to book now!

The Economist analysis of the future of marriage equality in California

You may have missed this story in The Economist last month (Gay marriage -- The guys next door -- May 22nd 2008).

They conclude that the right wing may have a hard time trying to get any traction for their referendum to turn back the clock on equality:

James Dobson, the head of Focus on the Family, a conservative Protestant group, spluttered that the ruling was “judicial tyranny”. He called on Californians to ban same-sex marriage, as 26 other states have done. They should get the chance: next month an initiative that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman will almost certainly be approved for November's ballot. A similar measure will appear in Florida. Both sides are preparing for a nasty fight. Yet there are several reasons to think that the dispute will play out differently this time.

The first is that Mr Dobson is wrong. The drive for gay marriage in California has not been led by judges. The state legislature has twice passed bills recognising same-sex marriages; both bills were vetoed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor, who argued that the issue ought to be resolved by the courts. Although California has plenty of Christian conservatives, they are less tightly bound to the Republican Party than in other states. Rick Warren, by far California's most influential pastor, strives to appear non-partisan.

And Republicans are hardly presenting a united front against gay marriage this year. Although John McCain opposes it, he says the issue ought to be left to the states. Mr Schwarzenegger promises to uphold the decision of the state Supreme Court (which is, incidentally, dominated by Republicans). Last summer Jerry Sanders, the Republican mayor of San Diego, tearfully announced that his daughter was a lesbian and that he could no longer oppose same-sex marriage.

Another big difference is that, assuming the court does not suspend its own ruling, gay weddings will begin next month in places like Palm Springs. The town, which is represented by a Republican congresswoman, a Republican state senator and a Republican assemblywoman, is not easily caricatured as a liberal enclave. It is also increasingly typical of gay America.

The last full census, in 2000, revealed that Palm Springs had a higher proportion of same-sex couples than San Francisco. In California it was second only to West Hollywood, in Los Angeles. Since then it has become a lot more gay. Yet it feels utterly unlike ghettos such as West Hollywood or the Castro, in San Francisco.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thomas J. Fehr ordained Episcopal deacon

For Immediate Release

Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio
412 Sycamore Street • Cincinnati, Ohio 45202-4179
513/421-0311 800/582-1712

Thomas J. Fehr of Cincinnati was ordained as a transitional deacon in the Episcopal Church on June 14, 2008, by the Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio. Fehr is a member of Integrity Greater Cincinnati and will be completing his seminary studies at Bexley Hall in Columbus, Ohio during the 2008/2009 academic year.

Congratulations, Tom!

Gay bishops have changed my mind

By A N Wilson
23 June 2008

The Telegraph

As the question of homosexuality and the Anglican Communion seems to be in the air, I read two books to enlighten me. They have had the disconcerting effect of making me revise my judgment about the whole matter.

I used to think that it was intolerable for anti-gay bigots to use their repellent prejudices to blackmail the harmless Anglican homosexuals, many of whom have enriched the Church with their many gifts. But these two American books have made doubt shimmer through me.

First, a memoir which I consider a masterpiece. Honor Moore's The Bishop's Daughter, published by W. W. Norton in America...

Then I turned to Bishop Gene Robinson's In the Eye of the Storm (Canterbury Press). This is the famous Bishop of New Hampshire, who is not being asked to the Lambeth Conference for fear of upsetting the bigots. Whereas I felt that the tormented Bishop Moore's life was marked with the sign of the cross, Bishop Gene's ministry appeared to come marked with one of those smiley faces with which some soppy girls dot their i's.

Click here to read the entire editorial. Both books are available thru Integrity's Amazon portal by clicking the links above.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Integrity President Banned from GAFCON

I woke up this morning to an email from a friend which cryptically said:

Dear Susan, Congratulations - good company! love Jenny

Hmmm ... I wondered. What's THIS about?

Well, pretty soon the email inbox starting "pinging" and I found out.

It was "about" what Episcopal Cafe is labeling "The GAFCON Eight" ... a list of eight folks pictured on a "watch list" described by Ruth Gledhill as "The eight men and women pictured here are on the official list of those to be denied entry to Gafcon should they try to show up."

In case you can't make out the pictures, the list includes Colorado Bishop Robert O’Neill, Nigerian gay activist Davis MacIyalla, Louie Crew, Colin Coward, Scott Gunn and Deborah and Robert Edmunds.

Honored, I'm sure, to be in such august company! (And I'm going to email Ruth and see if there's any chance of getting a copy of this for my scrapbook!)

And, just for the record, Integrity never had any intention of "showing up" for GAFCON ... in fact, we haven't even bothered to send a member of our media team to this one. There are indeed times and places and gatherings about the Anglican Communion where Integrity has felt called to show up -- but this isn't one of them.

The gathering in Jerusalem which at one point painted itself as a alternative Lambeth Conference (which makes as much sense as the bishops of Fort Worth and Pittsburgh having a conference and calling it an alternative to General Convention!) is so busy back-pedaling it's hard to keep track of the spin du jour.

Jim Naughton does his usual excellent job of helping keep it all straight (so to speak:)

GAFCON’s high profile leaders don’t have the strength to force the schism they yearn for. Too few provinces are on board, and not all of those provinces are united in their desire to leave the Communion. Indeed, the people I have spoken to at the conference suggest a wide range of opinion on the issue of schism, even among those devoted enough to fly to Jerusalem to talk about it.

So the leaders of GAFCON are attempting to dress up strategic failure as the dawning of a new phase of their march toward victory, hoping that the media will bite. After five years of schismatic maneuvering, they have said, in effect, that they will associate closely with some Anglicans while trying to make life miserable for others--a state of affairs in no way different today
than it was last month, last year or last decade.

And that, my friends, is why the GAFCON security guards can rest easy tonight.

I actually have a full-time job and it isn't lurking around other people's conferences "without portfolio." Sorry to disappoint!

Of course we will be at Lambeth Conference next month -- a very different kettle of fish altogether. Our extraordinarily gifted media team will be providing daily updates. Our national leadership team will be collaborating with allies from around the Anglican Communion to offer the opportunity for an LGBT witness to the Good News of God in Christ Jesus manifest in our lives, our relationships and our vocations. And we will be working with our bishops to support their witness to their brother and sister bishops during their time together as they strive to strengthen the bonds of affection that bind us together as part of the this Great Big Fat Anglican Family.

If you haven't yet contributed to the Canterbury Campaign making this witness possible, it's not too late. Click here to donate online ... or visit the Canterbury Campaign website for more information.

As for me, it's hi-ho, hi-ho and back to work I go. Eucharist at noon, a counseling session at 2, a communication meeting at 3 and then a Memorial Service. (See also: the full time job that isn't lurking about other people's conferences)

Blessings, all! Onward and upward!


The Church of England starts at home

The faithful in London should not allow foreign Anglican bishops to dictate how they should treat gay clergy and their civil partnerships

by Richard Haggis
From Times Online
June 20, 2008

Last weekend the news broke that a City of London priest had celebrated in his church a service of blessing for two gay clergymen who had previously entered a civil partnership.

Dr Martin Dudley, the officiating priest, has since been roundly condemned by both archbishops and more ominously, by the Bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres. There is nothing more the archbishops can do, but Chartres could revoke Dudley’s licence to preach and celebrate the sacraments in the diocese. He might even be able to depose him from his living — the secure tenure he enjoys at his church until he is 70 years old. The question would be, on what grounds?

The answer might take one of two directions. The only grounds for deposing an Anglican parish priest are bad behaviour, and wrong belief. Dudley could be accused of disobedience. He promised to obey his bishop (as parish priests are required to) “in all things lawful and honest”. The bishop colludes with the general Church of England rejection of blessings for gay relationships, but it might be asked whether this attitude is either “lawful or honest”. As is well known, the Diocese of London is awash with gay clergy, many of them appointed by Bishop Chartres, including some quite senior figures. When I was working in London, of the five parishes which abutted our own, three had gay incumbents (senior, tenured, priests), and all but one had gay curates. As did our own.

Click here to read the rest.

Are You Guys Brothers?

Are You Guys Brothers?, a question asked of male couples throughout the world, is a timely, candid, and very personal look at intimacy and marriage through the lens of an immensely happy and very successful 32-year relationship.

Brian McNaught and Ray Struble, both Irish Catholic, Midwestern children of seven, met in Boston in their twenties as one was beginning a career as a "gay activist" and the other was entering the world of commercial banking. Their love became the envy of their families and friends, marked by open communication, good humor, patience, and spirituality. They would need all four to navigate the mine-filled waters of childhood sexual abuse, alcoholism, intense religious and political opposition, dramatically-disparate incomes, a sexually-open relationship, aging, erectile dysfunction, and an often unsupportive and frequently dysfunctional gay community.

This book is funny, deeply moving, and highly instructive, of particular interest to gay men and women who seek guidance in building and maintaining their relationships, and to heterosexual men and women worldwide who want to better understand not only gay people but also how to get past the roadblocks to intimacy in their own relationships.

Click here to order your copy thru Integrity's Amazon portal!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Gay Marriage Is Good for America

In 2008, denying gay Americans the opportunity to marry is not only inhumane, it is unsustainable. History has turned a corner.

In today's Wall Street Journal

June 21, 2008

By order of its state Supreme Court, California began legally marrying same-sex couples this week. The first to be wed in San Francisco were Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, pioneering gay-rights activists who have been a couple for more than 50 years.

More ceremonies will follow, at least until November, when gay marriage will go before California's voters. They should choose to keep it. To understand why, imagine your life without marriage. Meaning, not merely your life if you didn't happen to get married. What I am asking you to imagine is life without even the possibility of marriage.

Read it all here.

Good for San Diego!

Episcopal Diocese ordains its first openly gay deacon

By Jenifer Goodwin
June 21, 2008

The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego took another step toward the full acceptance of gays with the ordination of its first openly gay deacon.

San Diego Episcopal Bishop James Mathes downplayed the sexual orientation of a newly ordained deacon. During a month in which thousands of same-sex couples were able to marry in California, Thomas Wilson was ordained to the transitional diaconate by San Diego Bishop James Mathes at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral. Wilson, who moved to San Diego eight years ago with his partner of 20 years, is expected to serve as a deacon for six months to a year before becoming a priest, Mathes said.

Yet the bishop downplayed the significance of Wilson's sexual orientation. “The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego calls and ordains gifted people,” Mathes said. “That's all this is.”

Gay Episcopalians hailed Wilson's ordination as an important step in the full inclusion of all of the church's faithful and likened opposition to the outcry that accompanied the ordination of the first female priests in the 1970s.

“This is a step forward not just for gay and lesbian people but for all of those who want to be part of a church where we focus on bringing people to the table, not keeping people away from it,” said Russell, who was busy performing same-sex marriages this week.


You can read it all here ... but I'd like to add that in my interview with the reporter, she added a comment of her own that I thought was worth passing on. "I'm going to file this one away for future reference," she said. "Because years from now I'm sure I'm going to look back and say 'can you believe this was even a story in 2008?'"

"The arc of history is long,
but it bends towards justice.”
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bishop Bruno Reiterates Policy for Diocese of Los Angeles

A message from the Bishop of Los Angeles

Dear Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Los Angeles,

In my last note to you regarding the recent State Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage, I noted that there are canonical, prayer book, and pastoral questions which are raised by the decision.

I continue to be in dialogue with the other bishops throughout California on these issues. In addition, I have established this past week a panel of advice comprised of 18 clergy and laity of the diocese to prayerfully join with me in addressing the effect of the Supreme Court's decision on our diocese and the ramifications pastorally, canonically and on our prayer book. Within the next few weeks this group will have its first meeting and I anticipate that we will meet for at least five two-hour sessions.

I stress that clergy of this diocese are expected to pastorally support all members of their congregations. I remind you that pastoral acts are personal decisions between clergy and members of their congregations. Thank you for your prayers and the care you provide to all God's people.

Yours in Christ,
J. Jon Bruno
Bishop of Los Angeles

+Gene In GQ


Five years ago, Gene Robinson was elected the first openly gay Christian bishop, causing the greatest crisis the modern Protestant community has ever faced. Will his love for another man rip the church in two? We’re about to find out

By Andrew Corsello; Photograph by Gillian Laub

EVEN BEFORE HE COULD SPEAK, he knew it and felt it: knew he would never be separated from it; felt it in the form of light and heat. actually, light and heat belittled what he felt. They were just words, and words were small, man’s way of knowing; words could point and suggest, but never apprehend. When he was old enough to search for better ways to convey what he felt when the love of God came upon him, he would tell his mother and father and minister and anyone else in Nicholasville, Kentucky, that it was like butter, liquid-warm, luminous, drizzled atop his head and descending over and through him in a seamless golden coat to his feet.

As a child, he prayed the way he breathed, and for the same reason. His Sunday-school attendance record was unblemished, from toddlerhood to the time he left for college. One Sunday morning, he woke feeling that his insides were being dry-baked. “Nothing’s wrong,” he told his mother when she saw the color of his face. “Let’s go to church!” So off they went, where he passed his measles on to every student in his Sunday-school class. Weighed against the prospect of not getting his Sunday fill of Jesus, the reprobation that came from being a Patient Zero was a small price to pay.

Click here to read the rest!

Website Facelift

Have you visited recently? The IntegrityUSA website received a facelift this weekend. Check it out!

Lost In Cyberspace?

In the June issue of the Integrity InfoLetter, we announced that IntegrityUSA's headquarters recently moved out of John Clinton Bradley's home office into a public office. With the move, all Integrity e-mail for John should be sent to rather than his personal eddress []. Please update your address book.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


The Reverend Dr. Giles Fraser

BBC Thought for Day -- June 18, 2008

A few weeks ago, two Anglican clergymen celebrated their civil partnership at a service in a famous London church. Newspapers last weekend called it a gay wedding. A number of friends of mine were at the service and told of a happy and wonderful occasion. But there are those who have been deeply upset; people who would quote scripture to argue that it threatens the very fabric of marriage itself.

So what, then, is the Church of England's theology of marriage?

Back in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as the Book of Common Prayer was being put together, marriage was said to be for three purposes:

First, It was ordained for the procreation of children ...

Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication ..

Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.

How do these three concerns relate to the prospect of gay marriage?

The third priority insists that marriage is designed to bring human beings into loving and supportive relationships. Surely no one can deny that homosexual men and women are in as much need of loving and supportive relationships as anybody else. And equally deserving of them too. This one seems pretty clear.

The second priority relates to the encouragement of monogamy. The Archbishop of Canterbury himself has rightly recognised that celibacy is a vocation to which many gay people are simply not called. Which is why, it strikes me, the church ought to be offering gay people a basis for monogamous relationships that are permanent, faithful and stable.

So that leaves the whole question of procreation. And clearly a gay couple cannot make babies biologically. But then neither can those who marry much later in life. Many couples, for a whole range of reasons, find they cannot conceive children - or, simply, don't choose to. Is marriage to be denied them? Of course not.

For these reasons - and also after contraception became fully accepted in the Church of England - the modern marriage service shifted the emphasis away from procreation. The weight in today's wedding liturgy is on the creation of loving and stable relationships. For me, this is something in which gay Christians have a perfect right to participate.

I know many people of good will are bound to disagree with me on this.

But gay marriage isn't about culture wars or church politics; it's fundamentally about one person loving another. The fact that two gay men have proclaimed this love in the presence of God, before friends and family and in the context of prayerful reflection is something I believe the church should welcome.

It's not as if there's so much real love in the world that we can afford to be dismissive of what little we do find.Which is why my view is we ought to celebrate real love however andwherever we find it.

Reactions to Gay Wedding in CofE

Late last week we reported that the first same-gender marriage had been performed in the Chuch of England.

Here's what +Rowan and +John had to say about it...

Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York condemn gay marriage service

And here is what the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement [LGCM] had to say about what they said...

LGBT Christian group describe Archbishops condemnation as "indefensible"

Clergy Affected By Same-Sex Ceremonies

Susan Russell talks to Los Angeles' Channel 4 News about same-gender marriages at All Saints Pasadena...
[Note: The reporter inaccurately states that Susan is the "pastor" of All Saints. Ed Bacon is the rector of the parish. Susan is the Senior Associate for Parish Life.]

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Worth 1000 Words

Del is 87 and Phyllis is 84
As our friend Malcolm Boyd
said at his and Mark's blessing a few years ago,
"At our age the words
'til death do you part'
take on a whole new meaning!
May God grant them all...
Del & Phyllis,
Diane and Robin,
Mel & Gary,
Susan & Bear
... a lifetime of love, joy and celebration
of the mystery of love and miracle of relationship!
(And I hold in my heart today a special place for those whose partners did not live long enough to see this historic day. I pray that the joy of those who today and in the days and weeks to come commit themselves to each other in marriage will be a comfort and solace to those who still grieve "what might have been" ... and that we remember to give thanks for all those on whose shoulders we stand as we rejoice at this inch reclaimed on the planet growing green with love and joy and celebration!)

Why I blessed gay clergymen's relationship

Martin Dudley writes in the New Statesman why he performed the blessing for the two gay priests and why they used a rite that was essentially the rite from the Book of Common Prayer.
For today’s Church of England it is as if the 1970s never existed; the lessons have been forgotten. There has been a retreat from exploring the depths, pushing the boundaries to the point where words strain, crack and sometimes break as we struggle to express in a suffering world the foolishness of God and the all-embracing love found in Jesus Christ.
There has been a return to uncritical fundamentalist use of biblical “proof texts”, ripping verses from their theological and literary contexts. There has been a flight to the safety of rigid law and inflexible dogma and a consequent desire to unchurch those who will not conform.
So on a day late in 2007 when my friend and colleague Peter Cowell asked me to bless the civil partnership that he was to contract with David Lord in May this year I was ready to answer “yes”. I did so not to provoke the so-called traditionalists and to deliberately disregard the guidelines published by the English House of Bishops, not to defy the Bishop of London, whose sagacity I respect, or Archbishop Rowan, who I have known and admired for 25 years, but because to respond in any other way would have been a negation of everything I believe, of everything that makes me who I am, as a man and as a priest.
We were in unchartered territory, seeking to find the words that would express the love of Peter and David and their commitment to each other. New words could not carry the burden and we turned to the old, to words shaped by centuries of use, redolent with meaning.

Read more here

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lambeth Conference LGBT Anglican Portal

IntegrityUSA has created a "one-stop" online gateway for news and other information related to the witness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Anglicans in Canterbury, England, this summer:

On the portal you will find...

  • Official Conference Information
  • Anglican & Other Christian LGBT Organizations Present At Lambeth
  • LGBT & Allied Blogs Covering Lambeth
  • LGBT Events Before & During Lambeth
  • Documentaries Being Shown During Lambeth
  • Books Being Discussed During Lambeth
  • LGBT Stalls At Lambeth Marketplace
  • News Feeds
  • Lambeth Projects

More content will be posted before and during the conference.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Some churches open their doors to same-sex weddings

By AMANDA FEHD, Associated Press Writer
Saturday, June 14, 2008

San Jose, CA--Dozens of churches throughout the state have endorsed a November ballot initiative to ban gay marriage. But when same-sex couples begin leaving municipal offices next week with marriage licenses in hand, some clergy will be meeting them at the altar.

Episcopalians, Unitarian Universalists, rabbis, a Methodist and even a Catholic priest are planning to bless some same-sex marriages when they are set to become legal in California on Monday.

"I believe the family is a cornerstone for a strong society, and I'm all in favor of everything we can do to build up the values that make strong families," said the Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, which has been blessing same-sex unions for 16 years.

"I think the values matter more than the gender of the people making up the heads of those families," Russell said.

Click here to read the rest!

It's about family

A wonderful Father's Day story. This is what it's all about, not showing people the door for their wrong headedness but showing the way with love.

Happy Father's Day all.
Katherine Patrick walked into the kitchen, told her parents to stop what they were doing, and asked her aunt to leave the room....

"I'm a lesbian," she told them.

Her mother, expecting terrible news, nearly burst out laughing, a sense of relief coming over her.

Her father wrapped her in a bear hug and said, "Well, we love you no matter what."


Katherine Patrick, 18, said she told her father [Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick] and her mother, Diane Patrick, of her sexual orientation July 3, 2007 -- about three weeks after the Legislature rejected an anti-gay-marriage amendment to the state constitution. Patrick, who supports gay marriage, lobbied lawmakers to block the amendment from reaching the ballot.

"For someone so publicly to fight for something that doesn't even affect him was just like, 'That's my dad,' you know?"

Wedding Bells Across the Pond

Episcopal Cafe is reporting:

In what is apparently the first public same-sex wedding in the Church of England, two gay priests were married at one of London's oldest church, using a ritual taken substantially from the Book of Common Prayer . The ceremony included marriage vows, exchanging rings, and the Eucharist. The language was slightly edited for use by two men.

The ceremony for The Rev. Peter Cowell, Priest Vicar at Westminster Abbey, and the Rev. Dr. David Lord was held at The Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great in London.

See bulletin from the Liturgy here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

MSOV Registation Now Open!

You donʼt want to miss out on this important gathering of the Welcoming Church Movement. So donʼt delay! Visit today and register. Click on REGISTRATION on the left menu. The deadline for making hotel reservations is Monday, July 28.
Integrity USA has set a goal of at least 20 Episcopalians attending this event. In fact, the board of directors is holding its autumn meeting in conjunction with MSOV!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Canterbury Campaign Update #6

Dear Friends:

We are nearing the finish line of our Canterbury Campaign. Next month the Lambeth Conference will begin and, with your support, our volunteer team will be there too--fully equipped to do their critically important work.

One of the ways you can help us widen the circle of support is by providing the name and address of individuals you know who would likely want to support our efforts but have not received information about it. Reply to me at with names and addresses and we will send them a letter with information about Integrity’s ministry at the Lambeth Conference and an invitation to support it. The letter will include your name as the referral source. Rest assured that they will not be solicited by repeat letters and they will receive no phone calls or e-mails.

Your help in this way will make a significant difference. It will expand Integrity’s base of support during this very critical moment in our common life. Please respond today.


Bruce Colburn
Development Coordinator

PS: If you have not contributed to the Canterbury Campaign yourself at this point, do so on-line today at!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

California bishop urges all couples to seek civil union first, then church blessing

Andrus views proposal as 'a way forward' to support gay marriage rights
By Pat McCaughan, June 11, 2008

[Episcopal News Service] Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California is encouraging all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, to obtain secular marriages before seeking the church's blessing, as a way to support same-gender couples and "our continued witness to God's inclusive love."

"For too long the onus has fallen on marginalized people to bear the burden of inequalities that exist within the Church, and the decision by our state's Supreme Court has given us the opportunity to level the playing field," Andrus wrote in a recent pastoral letter to clergy and lay leaders of the San Francisco-based diocese.

Andrus also said he intends to serve as a deputy marriage commissioner, and urged clergy and lay Episcopalians also to "be deputized" and volunteer to preside at same-gender marriages, which are slated to begin June 17.

"There are over 4,000 civil same-sex marriages planned in a short period of time in the city of San Francisco alone and the city is asking for help in meeting demand," according to Andrus' letter, which was posted on the diocesan website June 9.

"The Diocese of California seeks to provide, by advocacy and example, a way forward for The Episcopal Church (TEC) so that the marriage of same-sex couples will be a part of our official marriage rites, without distinction," he wrote. "Although TEC does not have canonical rites for same-sex marriage, it is our goal that all couples be treated equally by the Church, as they are equally loved by God."

The Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity, an organization of Episcopalians committed to full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender [LGBT] persons, called Andrus's proposal "a creative response … a generous orthodoxy."

It was unclear if bishops in the California dioceses of El Camino Real, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Joaquin and Northern California, would follow Andrus's lead.

Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles has said he is establishing a task force with other bishops as well as within the diocese to help clarify how the court decision will affect local congregations and to work through "policies and procedures with reference to upholding the laws of the state of California and the canons and constitution of the church.

In a May 21 letter Bruno reminded clergy and laity "that pastoral acts are personal decisions between clergy and members of your congregation. In the meantime, please remain patient and prayerful."

Creation of a 'holiness in relationships' task force is underway in the Diocese of San Diego. Bishop James Mathes had said earlier that he is supportive of the rights of gays and lesbians yet "mindful that our church has not yet made the decision to bless same-sex unions. We are in the midst of a challenging but vital conversation about holy relationships in this diocese and indeed across the (Anglican) Communion."

Bishop Barry Beisner of Northern California said that bishops in the six California dioceses have been talking to each other and cooperating with one another. In a letter to clergy posted May 25 on the diocesan website, Beisner wrote, "[T]his change in civil law does not change our policy or practice in the Church, or the Church's definition of marriage."

In November 2007 the Northern California diocese passed a resolution asking General Convention 2009 in Anaheim to develop rites for blessing of same-sex unions. "Until General Convention makes an official change regarding these matters, our current policy continues," Beisner wrote.

Bishop Mary Gray Reeves of El Camino Real was away on vacation and unavailable for comment.

In California's Central Valley, where the Stockton-based Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is rebuilding after splintering last December over such issues as the ordination of women and gays, Bishop Jerry Lamb said he is focused on restoring the diocese. "We have many, many other issues to deal with," Lamb said in a telephone interview late Tuesday.

'Prophetic opportunity'
Andrus called the May 15 California Supreme Court decision a "prophetic opportunity" and noted that the church has worked for full inclusion and to further the rights of LGBT people for 40 years.

Continuing those efforts will include "bringing the witness of our LGBT sisters and brothers to this summer's Lambeth conference," the July 16-August 3 decennial gathering of bishops from across the Anglican Communion at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, Andrus said.

Andrus also said he opposes a November 4 ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to limit marriage to a man and a woman. If passed, it would overrule the Supreme Court decision, which struck down an eight-year-old ban on gay marriage. The court on June 6 refused to stay its decision, paving the way for same-sex couples to legally marry starting June 17.

"The Diocese of California will publish advertising around June 17 celebrating the Supreme Court ruling and inviting same-sex couples to our churches for pre-marital counseling and nourishment in communities of faith," Andrus said.

Full inclusion will also mean "providing leadership at next summer's General Convention to bring our marriage practices and theology in line with our fundamental baptismal theology," Andrus added.

Integrity's Russell, an associate priest at All Saints Church in Pasadena, California, said Andrus' actions "go the extra mile" by shifting the burden for past inequities away from those who are marginalized and by "offering straight couples the opportunities to step up and share that inequity."

By "encouraging all couples to do the civil union separate from the blessing of the church … that's now what gay and lesbian couples have," said Russell, who said she'd just returned from preaching at the June 7 ceremony celebrating the civil union of Bishop V. Gene Robinson and his long-time partner, Mark Andrew, in New Hampshire.

Robinson and Andrew held two services—a secular service in which they became legal partners followed by a blessing of their relationship at St. Paul's Church.

Russell said that requests for weddings have increased at All Saints, Pasadena, which has included a "One-stop Shop for Marriage Equality in California" link on its website, with several same-gender weddings "coming up quickly," on or around June 17.

"We're not changing our policy (regarding weddings), but we are opening it up to comply with the laws of the state of California," she said. That policy require couples to receive mandatory premarital preparation and that at least one person belong to the church, with some exceptions.

California has an estimated 108,734 same-sex households, according to 2006 U.S. Census figures. The state offers same-sex couples registering as domestic partners some legal rights and responsibilities afforded to married couples, including the right to divorce and to sue for child support.

Proponents of the November 4 ballot initiative hope to add California to the list of 26 states that have approved constitutional amendments banning same-gender marriage. If passed, it is unclear how the measure would affect the status of marriages performed prior to November 4.

Russell called the court ruling "an unasked for, but extraordinary opportunity to examine what we mean by the sanctity of marriage.

All Saints has received support from its congregation and across the church, "from straight couples (who) … say how much they believe their marriage is strengthened by the example of other committed couples embracing the same values they do," she said. "I like to think this is a whole new chapter for the institution of marriage to be stronger."

-- The Rev. Pat McCaughan is Episcopal Life Media correspondent for the dioceses of Province VIII. She is based in Los Angeles.


Weekly Witness: The fast that I choose

The fast that I choose.

Fasting as a spiritual discipline has a long and illustrious history. In our Christian tradition, Lent is usually the season most identified with the spiritual discipline of fasting, and I have known plenty of people over the years who have given up things like gin or like chocolate for Lent. Never really worked for me – I’m more of a “take something on for Lent” kinda girl.

But this year I decided to give this fasting thing a try. And I’m not going to wait to give up chocolate for Lent. I’m going to jump right in and give up the bread of anxiety for Lambeth.

You remember the bread of anxiety, don’t you? It’s the thing the New Zealand prayer book tells us to stay away from in the service of Night Prayers: “It is but lost labour that we … eat the bread of anxiety.”

Busted, nailed and guilty as charged. Yes, it’s bad for you. Everybody knows that. But it’s hard to step away from! Like that famous potato chip they used to “bet you couldn’t eat just one” one minute you’ve had just a nibble of that bread of anxiety and the next minute the whole loaf is gone. One minute you’ve just peaked at a couple of gloom and doom emails, press releases or blogs and the next minute you’re ready to give up on the whole kit and caboodle.

“Unnamed sources inside Lambeth Palace report …”
“Anxiety mounts as Lambeth looms …”
“Final straw for Anglican Communion … film at eleven”

It’s addictive stuff ... and as we get closer and closer to Lambeth 2008 it gets to be dangerous stuff. It’s like the junk food we can nibble away unthinkingly that adds empty calories to our waistlines instead of life-giving nutrients to our bodies. The bread of anxiety is nothing less than junk food for the soul -- luring us out of the house of love into the house of fear, seducing us into anxiety rather than action; and replacing our worship with worry.

And here’s what Jesus had to say about that [Matthew 6:27]:

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

So this is the fast I choose: to step away from the bread of anxiety and fill up on the Good News of the God who loved us enough to become one of us in order to show us how to walk in love with God and with each other.

I’m going to refuse to give power to those who think we’re “too radical” because we’re going to go to Lambeth and offer our witness to the power of God’s transforming love manifest in our lives, our vocations and our relationships. AND I’m going to refuse to give power to those who think we’re not radical enough because we’re bothering with Lambeth and bishops and the Anglican Communion at all.

I’m going to reject the premise that the witness of the American Episcopal Church in its 30+ year struggle to live into its commitment to “full and equal claim” for the LGBT baptized has nothing to offer the rest of the Anglican Communion AND I’m going to reject the premise that we have nothing to learn from our Anglican sisters and brothers from around the globe who can teach us so much about so many other things we need so desperately to know and understand.

And I’m going to start now.

This is the fast I choose. Won’t you join me?

In Other News:
Marriage Equality: We continue to add resources to our "Marriage Equality 101" page as the developing story on marriage equality in California develops. Of particular note this week was +Marc Andrus' Pastoral Letter
Canterbury Campaign: It's not too late to join those contributing to make our witness at Lambeth Conference possible through the Canterbury Campaign. Thanks to all who have supported this important work so far!

Gay Unions Shed Light on Gender in Marriage

New York Times
HEALTH | June 10, 2008
Well: Gay Unions Shed Light on Gender in Marriage

A growing body of evidence shows that same-sex couples have a great deal to teach everyone else about marriage and relationships

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Convention passes canons banning same-gender marriages, blessings

By Mary Frances Schjonberg, June 10, 2008

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Diocese Albany, meeting June 6 in its 140th annual convention, passed new canons prohibiting same-gender blessings and ordaining and licensing only those clergy who are married to a member of the opposite sex or "celibate and abstinent."

In his address to the convention meeting at Camp of the Woods in Speculator, New York, Albany Bishop William Love said the canons "are consistent with past and current diocesan policy and are not in violation or contradiction" with the Episcopal Church's canons.

The new canons "are not intended to be divisive, although some have come to see them that way," he said. "But rather, they are intended to provide clarity, in a time where there is great confusion within the Episcopal Church as well as the Anglican Communion concerning marriage and sexual relations outside of the confines of marriage between a man and women."

He noted that the canons "apply to everyone, regardless of one’s sexual orientation. There is one standard concerning sexual relations by which we are all called to live. While recognizing that many heterosexual couples have chosen to engage in sexual relations outside of marriage, the Church will not bless such unions."

Love also placed the need to pass the canons in the light of recent executive order issued by the governor of New York state, ordering state agencies to recognize the legality of same-gender marriages of couples coming from other states and Canada where such marriages are legal.

In his address, Love disagreed with those who say that God created some people to be oriented towards people of the same gender "and therefore it is in accordance with His will that they live out their gift of sexuality in a same-sex relationship."

"To the best of my knowledge, there is no scientific study that proves that people are born homosexual," he said. "There is no genetic link that has been discovered. In regard to God creating people homosexual in orientation, Matthew 19 makes a strong case against such an argument. Jesus said, 'Haven’t you read, that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?" So they are no longer two but one.'"

The canon on blessing same-gender marriages also notes that "properties owned, controlled, managed, or operated by this Diocese, or any Parish of the Diocese, or any legal entity established by the Diocese or a parish of the Diocese, shall not be the site for any service, public or private, for the Celebration or Blessing of a Marriage or any other union except those between one man and one woman."

The new canons, as proposed, and all other proposed convention resolutions, are available here.