This issue covers what's been happening during the past 2 weeks...
Bishop Singh Lobbies For Marriage Equality
The Bishop of Rochester, Prince Singh, and a number of Integrity members participated in the Empire State Pride Agenda's Equality & Justice Day in Albany, NY, on April 28th. Neil Houghton, Integrity's Northeast Regional Vice President, was one for the local organizers. Governor David Paterson recently introduced a bill that could make New York the 6th marriage equality state if Senate reticence can be overcome.
Bishop Singh spoke at an outdoor rally. You can see the video here.
Susan Russell Reports From Philadelphia and Washington, DC
This week I had the extraordinary opportunity to represent Integrity USA in two historic venues--in the pulpit at Christ Church, Philadelphia and in the hall of Congress on Capitol Hill.
In Philadelphia, I had the honor of being the preacher at the interfaith service concluding the Equality Forum 2009--a national gathering of LGBT activists that included San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom as a keynote speaker.
There was a deep sense of being part of history in that place--not only of the history that seeps out of the pours of Christ Church where the first General Convention met in 1789 and where Bishop William White is buried--not only the history of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell we all learned about in grade school--but the history we are living in 2009 as we see "liberty and justice for all" come closer to really meaning "all" with this week's gains on marriage equality.
After the truly awesome experience of preaching from the pulpit where generations of Episcopal preachers have stood (a sermon entitled "Patience isn't all it's cracked up to be" and posted on the Christ Church website) I took a late train to Washington DC in order to be part of the "Clergy Call for Justice" sponsored by the HRC (Human Rights Campaign).
Hundreds of clergy from every state and many denominations and faiths stood together on the Washington Mall and called for Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill and to end employment discrimination by supporting a fully inclusive ENDA bill. What an honor to stand with Rabbis Steven Jacobs and Denise Eger, with Tony and Peggy Campolo, with Pastor Erin Swenson ... well, it was a FABULOUS Cloud of Witnesses! (Read an AP report on the gathering here.)
After the press conference (pictured above) we split up into state delegations and called on our senate and house representatives for one-on-one lobbying conversations about moving this legislation forward. (Here's a photo of just some of the Episcopal clergy who participated:)
It was--to say the least--a full week! But it was one full not only with events, meetings and travel but with the abundant blessing of taking our gospel message of God's inclusive love to both allies and decision makers as we continue to call both our church and our nation to live up to their high calling to embrace all members--to empower all citizens--equally.
Provincial Synod Road Show Continues
Three more presentations have been given to General Convention deputies on LGBT issues:
- Fred Ellis, a past president of Integrity, spoke at the Province VII Synod on May 2nd in Dallas. About 16 people attended.
- Cynthia Black spoke at the Province V Synod on May 4th in Detroit. About 25 people attended.
- John Clinton Bradley, Integrity's acting executive director, spoke at the Province II Synod on May 7th in Albany. About 30 people attended.
Voices of Witness Africa Completed
The final version of the Voices of Witness Africa video is done. A DVD and study guide will be mailed to all active bishops and General Convention deputies next week by the Chicago Consultation with the logistical assistance of Integrity. If you are interested in screening this 30-minute documentary in your parish, please contact Rebecca Wilson of the Chicago Consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your membership is current, you should have received by mail a paper ballot to elect Integrity USA's next Board of Directors and provincial coordinators. Members of the Stakeholders' Council should have received a separate ballot to elect their chair and vice-chair. You can read brief bios of each candidate at www.integrityusa.org/candidates. ALL BALLOTS MUST BE POSTMARKED BY MAY 30TH!
Two New Resources From IWR
The Institute for Welcoming Resources--of which Integrity is a proud affiliate--recently released two new resources related to welcoming and affirming congregations:
Building an Inclusive Church: A Welcoming Toolkit
Drawing upon twenty five years of experience within a variety of Christian denominations, this Toolkit is a step-by-step guide to help facilitate a Welcoming Process in your local congregation. Biblically and theologically based, it uses tools of relational organizing, congregational assessment, conflict management and change theory.
Click here to download Building an Inclusive Church: A Welcoming Toolkit (pdf)
To Do Justice: A Study of Welcoming Congregations
In order to both highlight the vibrancy, faithfulness and power of the Welcoming Movement and to counter the “false witness” of those who seek to quash this movement of hospitality and justice, the Institute for Welcoming Resources surveyed pastors and leaders of 1,200 Welcoming congregations to ask them about their work and witness. Two areas emerged that warrant particular focus and celebration: 1) Successfully completing a Welcoming Process makes a congregation more likely to work and witness on other justice issues. 2) Congregations that directly engage the question of welcoming LGBT persons have low levels of conflict.
Click here to download To Do Justice (pdf)
Episcopal News Service
ACC affirms Windsor Continuation Group recommendations
Episcopal News Service
Phil Groves addresses media on the Listening Process
Episcopal News Service
Listening Process ready to move to next phase
Maine becomes 5th state to allow same-sex marriage