Friday, September 18, 2009

Weekly Witness For 18 September 2009

After Anaheim: The Conference

By John Clinton Bradley [Acting Executive Director] & Louise Brooks [Director of Communications]. Photos by Susan Russell and John Clinton Bradley.

Almost 50 local and national leaders of Integrity gathered last week at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis for the After Anaheim conference.The core of the 4-day event was the Faith-Based Community Activism curriculum taught by Vicki Wunsch and David Lohman [shown in the photo] from the Institute for Welcoming Resources. Participants learned several tools for building our movement through graceful engagement…
  • Framing—How to identify a positive, effective, overarching message that resonates with those inside and outside the movement.
  • Story Telling—How to share a brief, personal story that includes a challenge, a choice, and an outcome. When speaking in public, how to tell the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now.
  • One-on-One—How to hold personal conversation to get to know another person.
  • Propositioning—How to ask another person to participate in the movement.

Click here to download a kit from IWR that explains these tools and others in detail.

Participants broke into small groups—national, provincial, and local--to discuss how they could use these tools as Integrity leaders. Participants also shared their hopes for Integrity over the next three years and identified their top three action items for Integrity's leadership to address in the strategic plan.

Faith-Based Community Activism is offered several times a year in cities across the country. Click here for a calendar. Integrity USA encourages all local leaders to attend a training event near them.

John Clinton Bradley presented a proposal for a welcoming parish program in the Episcopal Church similar to those operated by Integrity's sibling ministries in the other mainline denominations. The consensus of participants was that Integrity should make a few adjustments to the program and move forward with it.

Sung Park of Intersections gave participants a preview of Believe Out Loud—a multi-media campaign to be launched in early 2010. It will encourage clergy and laity in mainline Protestant denominations to publicly share their positions about LGBT equality.

After Anaheim also included the first annual Stakeholders' Council meeting. Outgoing President Susan Russell [shown in the photo] reviewed the progress Integrity has made over the past nine years she has been on the Board of directors. [A video of Susan's presentation will be available soon.] Incoming President David Norgard discussed recent changes made to the structure of the organization so that it can continue the forward movement of the Episcopal Church. Stakeholders Council Chairperson Joshua Blackwood explained the role of the council and brainstormed ideas for the work of the council. Josh announced that the next Stakeholders' Council meeting and leadership conference is tentatively scheduled for August 26-29, 2010, in Atlanta.

The outgoing and incoming national Board of Directors had a transitional meeting. They reflected on things done well, goals accomplished, and activities with better-than-expected results. They also reflected on things left undone, goals unmet, and activities with worse-than-expected results. They gave thanks for the ministry of the retiring members of the board and shared their hopes for the organization going forward.

The incoming board had a separate meeting to plan its work. This included discussions about the strategic plan, 2010 budget, communication protocols, ground rules for collaboration, position descriptions, and meeting schedules.

Finally, the new officers and provincial coordinators received training from Douglas Gould & Company on messaging and media relations.

Race, Faith, and Family

By John Clinton Bradley, Acting Executive Director

In late August I attended a 3-day meeting in Minneapolis with CEO's of Integrity's sibling organizations witnessing in the other major Protestant denominations. This gathering is held twice a year and is hosted by the Institute for Welcoming Resources [IWR].

The focus of this meeting was on the intersection of race, faith, and family and was led by consultant Beth Zemsky [shown in photo]. Based on the Intercultural Development Inventory that the CEO's took beforehand, all of our organizations are significantly less sensitive to intercultural differences than we perceive ourselves to be. We have few members and leaders of color because we minimize cultural differences rather than accept and adapt to them. IWR Program Director Rebecca Voelkel encouraged all of us to increase cultural sensitivity amongst our leadership and membership over the next 18-months. Integrity's incoming Board of Directors is discussing how to meet this challenge in its strategic plan.

Meanwhile, here are some actions YOU can take...
  • Attend Anti-Racism training workshops in your diocese or province.
  • Commit yourself to being a multiculturally competent person resisting racism
  • Challenge prejudice, intolerance, and racism in the church and the community wherever it exists
  • Join the Anti-Racism Committee in your diocese
  • Join with other denominations and faith traditions to dismantle institutional and systemic racism
  • See the connection between racism and other forms of oppression
  • Read and share articles, books and publications on racism and related oppressions to sustain you on your journey
Intercontinental Homophobia

By John Clinton Bradley, Acting Executive Director

Earlier this month I attended a small conference in Boston hosted by Political Research Associates to explore the links between anti-LGBT campaigns in mainline U.S. denominations and increasing homophobia on the African continent. Principal Investigator Kapya John Kaoma [an Anglican priest originally from Zambia but now active in the Diocese of Massachusetts shown in photo] presented a draft paper on this issue and sought our feedback. His research will be made public in the near future.

We also discussed what mainline denominations in the United States can do reduce homophobia in Africa. One concrete idea that emerged was to encourage welcoming and inclusive congregations in this country to form companion relationships with congregations in Africa. I am currently exploring how to design and implement such a program with my colleagues through the Institute for Welcoming Resources. Meanwhile, if your parish is LGBT-inclusive, consider initiating a companion relationship with a congregation in Africa. Chances are your bishop formed friendships with bishops in Africa during the Lambeth Conference and can help make connections.

Out in Scripture

HRC's Religion & Faith Program has released the completed "Out In Scripture" collection, which includes 175 conversations that span Bible readings organized according to the Revised Common Lectionary. For the past three years, week-by-week, the program provided conversations on Bible passages from more than 100 scholars and pastors representing 11 denominations. These conversations are now available in a complete collection online at

Progressive Clergy Overwhelming Support Same-Gender Marriage Or Civil Unions

On September 15th Public Religion Research released the 2009 Religious Progressive and Conservative Activist Surveys. Conducted by the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. The surveys show the divergent ways conservative and progressive religious activists understand their religious identity, engage in politics, and prioritize issues. On the issue of same-sex marriage, conservatives overwhelmingly oppose (82%) both same-sex marriage and civil unions, while nearly 6-in-10 (59%) progressives support same-sex marriage, and another third support civil unions. For more information about this study, click here.

Two New Books

In Jupiter's ShadowBy Gregory GerardSearching for self-truth, a religious, teenage detective confronts Heaven and Hell as he struggles to solve the mysteries of sexuality and faith within a family full of secrets.
Plato or Paul?: The Origins of Western HomophobiaBy Theodore W., Jennings Jr.Explores the notion that the origin of modern Western homophobia lies in Plato's philosophy rather the Bible.
Click here to purchase them through Integrity's Amazon portal!

Unblogged News

Bay Area Reporter
Episcopal Church adopts trans-inclusive policies

Kalamazoo Gazette, MI
Gay bishop urges open mind on gender identity

Hartford Courant, CT
Gay Clergy Bans Lifted, One By One

Pomeroy Daily Sentinel, OH
National decisions on gays affecting local churches?

Christian Today
Gay bishop Gene Robinson divides opinion at Greenbelt Festival

Episcopal News Service
Listening Process a 'gift' to church

Dispatch Online
First US lesbian mayor marries

Episcopal News Service
Cape Town diocese requests pastoral guidelines for gay members

Associated Press
Gay clergy: Where large Protestant churches stand

Salt Lake Tribune
Gay bishop sees faith as key to civil-rights struggle

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