Friday, February 27, 2009

Weekly Witness For 27 February 2009

Action Alerts!

General Convention Preparations In High Gear

With only 4 months left until General Convention, a host of staff, consultants, officers, and volunteers are preparing for our witness in Anaheim.

Jan Adams, Katie Sherrod, Cynthia Black, and Louise Brooks are producing a video intended to persuade bishops and deputies to move the Episcopal Church beyond B033 and forward on marriage equality.

Louise Brooks and Susan Russell are shooting another video regarding the Anaheim Appeal. We will soon be encouraging all chapters, networks, circles, and partners to use this video as the basis for small, local fundraising events.

Jan Adams is developing Episcopal Life ads. The March ad--focusing on marriage equality--will soon land in mailboxes. The April ad is being developed in partnership with TransEpiscopal and will focus on transgender issues.

Jan is also organizing a series of presentations for bishop and deputies regarding LGBT concerns that will be held as part of, or alongside, provincial synods this spring.

John Clinton Bradley is working with Douglas Gould and Company and Gus D'Angelo on a short graphic novel regarding LGBT issues in the Episcopal Church.

Michael Bell is managing a plethora of logistical issues. He convened a kick-off conference call yesterday for team leaders. During the next 2 weeks team leaders will select team members from a large pool of highly qualified volunteers.

Unblogged News

Asheville Citizen-Times, NC
Clergy members oppose ban on same-sex marriage

Daily Free Press, Boston University
Gender, sexuality perception has roots in religious history

Episcopal News Service
Advocacy group looks to General Convention

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Anaheim Appeal Status Report #1

Dear Integrity members:

On the Feast of the Epiphany we launched the Anaheim Appeal, a campaign to support Integrity's witness during General Convention in July. Our goal is to raise sufficient funds to underwrite 30 volunteers for 2 weeks. Based on prior experience, we estimate our expenses will total about $80,000. Click here for details.

As we observe Ash Wednesday and begin Lent, I am very pleased to inform you that we have received $13,000. We are a little more than 15% of the way there!

You can help Integrity reach its goal by clicking here and designating your gift for the "Anaheim Appeal." Making a secure, online donation using your debit or credit card will help us keep costs as low as possible.

If you prefer, you can donate by mailing a check--made payable to "Integrity" and with "Anaheim Appeal" in the memo line--to the address below.

Another way to help is to encourage your friends and fellow parishioners to support this crucial effort. [If you received this post via email, feel free to forward it].

As the campaign continues to move forward I will provide further updates. You are welcome to contact me with any questions you might have.

Thanks for helping make all the sacraments of the Episcopal Church available to all the baptized.


R. Bruce Colburn
Development Coordinator
Integrity USA Anaheim Appeal
274 N Goodman St #B267, Rochester NY 14607
800-462-9498 toll-free 585-486-6529 fax

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Help Choose The Next Board Of Directors!

As announced in the last Weekly Witness, the membership has overwhelmingly approved proposed amendments to the national bylaws.  The revised bylaws specify that a nominating committee--composed of 1 Integrity member from each of the 8 domestic provinces of the Episcopal Church--be appointed by the president to solicit and choose nominees for the next board of directors.  The nominating committee must finalize the slate by April 1st.

Please consider serving on the nominating committee. The committee will do its work by telephone and Internet.  If you feel called to help choose our national leadership for the next triennium please click here to complete a short application form.

New Justice & Education Resource for Clergy, Congregations

For Immediate Release
Contact: Tim Palmer, mobile 914.438.4127




Free Download; Complimentary Printed Copies Available for Limited Time


WESTPORT, CT, February 18, 2009 – The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing today announced the publication of a new resource to enable religious leaders and faith communities to preach, teach and advocate for sexual justice.  Copies are available for download or ordering from


A Time to Every Purpose: The Language of Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing is a compendium of progressive theological statements on a range of sexuality issues, including marriage for same-sex couples, assisted reproductive technologies, abortion, adolescent sexuality, sexuality education, and sexual and gender diversity.   The statements – the collaborative product of more than 60 theologians, clergy, ethicists and scholars from a range of faith traditions – were originally published as a series of Open Letters to Religious Leaders, beginning in 2002.  The new publication also includes the Religious Institute’s founding document, the Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing, first published in 1999.


 "Progressive religious leaders are called to be pastors for sexual health and prophets for sexual justice, "  said Rev. Debra W. Haffner, director of the Religious Institute.   " To do both roles effectively, they need language to counter the conservative voices that no longer own the conversation about sexuality.  A Time to Every Purpose offers theologically informed, scientifically grounded arguments that reflect how faith can embrace the holiness of our sexuality. "  


A Time to Every Purpose includes historical information and statistical data to establish the social and economic contexts for each of the sexuality issues addressed.  It also provides responsive readings for use in congregational worship, as well as study group questions and lists of resources. 


 "We hope that the language, data and other information in this publication will inform sermons, inspire public witness and promote congregational action, "  Rev. Haffner said. 


Complimentary printed copies of A Time to Every Purpose are available to religious professionals for a limited time.  Please send name, congregation and mailing address to Additional print copies are available for $19.95 each (bulk rates available)  from Lifequest Publications.  To order, call (419) 872-7448.


The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing, based in Westport, CT, is a nonprofit, multifaith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education and justice in faith communities and society.  More than 4,400 clergy, seminary presidents and deans, religious scholars and other religious leaders representing more than 50 faith traditions are part of the Religious Institute’s national network.


Monday, February 23, 2009


Fort Worth Episcopalian, Producer, and Human Rights Advocate Katie Sherrod will speak about the recently produced documentary "Voices of Witness: Africa" on Saturday, March 7, at 10 a.m. in the parish hall of Trinity Episcopal Church, 3401 Bellaire Drive South in Fort Worth.
The documentary features how members of the gay and lesbian community in Africa are treated (which can be brutal and sometimes lead to death) and gives light to the Christian on what social justice is truly about. Interviewed in this documentary are gay and lesbian Anglicans who have the opportunity to tell their stories. At the 2008Lambeth Conference, a preview of this documentary was shown and received rave reviews.

More information here ... and stay tuned for more news on Voices of Witness: Africa -- coming soon!

FILM: Faith unites Mormon filmmaker and lesbian priest

[photo: Jack LeVan]

[Episcopal News Service] Filmmaker Douglas Hunter didn't set out to befriend or even to film the Rev. Susan Russell when researching same-sex marriage for a new documentary, he told an audience at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, on February 22. Rather, the 40-year-old father of three wanted to explore "the dynamic between religion and sexuality" and to engage those outside his own Mormon faith.

Read the rest of the ENS article here

Watch the All Saints Forum here

Monday, February 16, 2009

Weekly Witness For 17 February 2009

This issue is a doubleheader, covering last week and this week...

Action Alerts!

Proposed Amendments To Bylaws Pass By Wide Margin

The membership of Integrity has overwhelmingly approved sweeping changes to the national bylaws. In an electronic vote that closed yesterday, the percentage of YES votes for all proposed amendments ranged from 96% to 100%. Slightly over 16% of eligible voters cast ballots. Click here to see the results as a Google Spreadsheet.

Under the new bylaws...

  • The president will immediately appoint a nominating committee composed of 1 member from each of the 8 domestic provinces of the Episcopal Church.
  • The nominating committee will solicit and process a slate of nominees by April 1.
  • The membership will electronically vote on candidates during May.
  • Election results will be announced after General Convention.
  • The new board will take office on October 1st.

The next Board of Directors will be smaller than the current board, consisting of a President, Vice-President for National Affairs, Vice-President for Local Affairs, Treasurer, Secretary [who will also serve as Director of Communications]. A Stakeholders Council--composed of chapter conveners, diocesan network coordinators, congregational circle moderators, partner representatives, lifetime members--will elect a Moderator who will also serve on the board. The current 5 regional vice-presidents will be converted to 8 provincial coordinators under the Vice-President for Local Affairs. An Executive Director will be hired by the board to be the primary leader and public face of the organization.

New Transgender Education Resource For Churches

Last week the Institute for Welcoming Resources (IWR), a program of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, announced the release of transACTION, a new curriculum designed for churches and religious institutions to help congregants and members understand and welcome transgender persons into their congregations and faith settings.

"Too often transgender people looking for a place to worship can’t find one to call their spiritual home because most congregations and religious institutions are not ready to welcome them as their companions in faith," says the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Institute for Welcoming Resources and faith work director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "Yet, many transgender people of faith are searching for the same things that other believers want: a loving community where worship and working for equality and justice are the focus of their faith experience."

transACTION is designed to help churches and institutions address this issue of understanding and welcome by providing step-by-step training about the needs, apprehensions and fears of transgender people — as well as the wealth of gifts and graces they bring — while responding to the concerns of the church or religious institution.

The program can be used in three sessions: How Do We Get to Understanding, How Do We Get to Acceptance, and How Do We Get to Welcoming. All sessions include discussions and activities to go along with the information provided in the curriculum.

"We tried to make this a learning experience that would go beyond just the basics of gender identity and gender expression in order to give participants an understanding of the issues and concerns that transgender people have when trying to express their faith and spirituality in a church or any religious setting," says Barbara Satin, author of the curriculum and a transgender advocate around issues of faith and aging.

transACTION is available for download from the Institute of Welcoming Resources Web site at There are two versions of the program: a leader’s version and a participant’s version.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Divide and Conquer

Gene Robinson and Susan Russell are both quoted in the March issue of The Advocate...

"The Episcopal Church is risking its life for gay and lesbian people," Robinson says. "We could have run in the opposite direction on this issue and avoided this split, but the church is not willing to do that, which I’m very proud of." So far the church has refused to accede to demands by conservatives to renounce Robinson and the blessing of same-sex unions by clergy. Robinson’s importance to the church was underlined last month when President Obama chose the bishop to deliver the invocation for his inaugural concert.


"Just like the Federal Marriage Amendment was used as a wedge issue in presidential politics, gays have been used in Anglican politics," says the Reverend Susan Russell, a priest at All Saints Church in Pasadena, Calif., and president of Integrity USA, a group working for gay inclusion in the Episcopal Church. She expects the church to move forward on approving marriage rites for same-sex couples as early as this summer.

"A lot of other mainline denominations are watching us very carefully, to see if we’re going to move forward,” Robinson says. "What's happening with us is part of what's happening in the culture in terms of fuller LGBT inclusion in our common life."

Full article:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Charlotte area Presbyterians vote to end gay ban

From the Charlotte Observer:
In a close vote that reflected deep division, Presbyterian church leaders representing the Charlotte area signaled their support Saturday for ending their denomination's longstanding ban on gays and lesbians becoming pastors and elders.

In past years, the Charlotte Presbytery – the fourth largest in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – had backed the prohibition. But after a spirited, civil debate in the chapel at Johnson C. Smith University, the presbytery voted 133-124, with one abstention, to reverse itself.

For the amendment to go into effect, it will have to be endorsed by 87 of the denomination's 173 presbyteries by mid-May. Going into Saturday, the national tally was 32 presbyteries against the change and 18 for it.

Read more here.

A Valentines Day Message ...

... from the Fifth Chapter of the Gospel According to Mark:

[The Message] I am telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does.

He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."

V. The Word of the Lord

R. Happy Valentines Day!

Chicago Consultation Committed to Canons, Anglican Communion

President Susan Russell, Acting Executive Director John Clinton Bradley, and Field Organizer Jan Adams represented Integrity at this event...

contact: Rebecca S. Wilson, 330-524-2067,

Meeting of Church Leaders Looks Toward Episcopal Church’s General Convention

EVANSTON, IL—The Chicago Consultation met this week at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. The group of Episcopal and other Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

At its meeting, the group outlined its hopes for the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in July. “We call upon the deputies and bishops who will assemble in Anaheim to act so that all of God’s children in the Episcopal Church can realize the full promise of their baptism,” said Ruth Meyers, co-convener of the Chicago Consultation and professor of liturgics at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Il.

Based on rigorous study of theology and canon law, the Chicago Consultation’s participants agreed to support General Convention resolutions that will affirm the Episcopal Church’s current Title III canons on the election, consent or ordination of bishops, and exclude any outside restrictions on those canons.

The Episcopal Church’s canon law allows local dioceses to discern and elect the bishops who can best serve them,” said Meyers. “We believe that these canons have served us well and are essential to our common life. Moreover, we believe that the church would be ill-served by relinquishing its historic local initiative.”

The Chicago Consultation also supports General Convention resolutions that will lead the church to establish a rite for blessings of same-sex unions. “For 30 years, the Episcopal Church has prayed and studied about same-sex unions, and we have seen the evidence of God’s blessing in the lives of these couples,” said Meyers. “In many parishes blessings are already happening without a formal rite. Now it is time for our church of common prayer to establish a common rite of blessing.”

The leaders gathered in Chicago also indicated their strong support for The Episcopal Church’s role as a significant and committed member of the Anglican Communion. “Our relationships and experience show that it is possible both to participate in the mission of the worldwide Anglican communion and also to embrace the full participation of our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters,” said Meyers. “We choose to pursue this sometimes difficult but always fruitful path.”

The Chicago Consultation includes representatives from many advocacy groups in the Episcopal Church, including Integrity, the Episcopal Church’s oldest and largest advocacy organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community; and The Consultation, an alliance of groups within the church that has advocated for justice for more than 20 years.

“Integrity is proud to participate in the Chicago Consultation. Our goals are completely congruent with those of the Chicago Consultation. We look forward to working with this larger circle of allies as Integrity seeks to move the church beyond B033 and forward on marriage equality at General Convention,” said John Clinton Bradley, acting executive director of Integrity.

The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. We believe that our baptismal covenant requires this.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Constant Process

Integrity President Susan Russell was featured in a recent LA Times article on the new documentary The Constant Process by Mormon filmmaker Douglas Hunter. Susan plays the central role in the film's discussion of marriage equality and theology. Read the full article at the LA Times website. Also read HRC's blog posting about Susan and this film project. 

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Called to Life: Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth Reorganizes

Episcopal News Service
February 7, 2009

About 400 delegates and overflow visitors who filled the 116-year-old Trinity Church and its parish hall on Fort Worth's south side for a February 7 special organizing convention celebrated being "called to life" anew and getting back to the business of being the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

About 19 clergy and 62 lay delegates representing 31 congregations unanimously elected the Rt. Rev. Edwin "Ted" Gulick, bishop of Kentucky, as provisional bishop by a voice vote in clergy and lay orders. Gulick, who will serve as provisional bishop until at least mid-year while continuing to serve the Diocese of Kentucky, received a standing ovation and sustained applause.

"I cannot tell you how moved I am by your trust and how awed I am by this responsibility," Gulick told the gathering. He offered thanks to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, as well as to the people of the Diocese of Kentucky.

Jefferts Schori, in her first visit to the diocese as Presiding Bishop, convened the afternoon convention meeting after preaching at a rousing 10 a.m. Eucharist at All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Worth. Immediately after the vote, she installed and seated Gulick as provisional bishop and left the podium to a standing ovation and a long round of applause.

Despite difficult times, delegates look to future in hope.

Dr. Walt Cabe, a co-chair of the Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians, said the diocese is moving forward in hope despite a difficult legacy. "There was an incredible outpouring of joy and uniform enthusiasm," he said of the day's events. "For all of us on the steering committee it is very gratifying to see the breadth of involvement and support that has already taken hold here."

Delegates and visitors filled the 350-seat Trinity Church for the convention, themed "Called to Life: I am the Resurrection and the Life", the first such meeting since a November 15, 2008 gathering split the traditionally conservative diocese.

Read the full story here.

Weekly Witness For 7 February 2009

Integrity InfoLetter In The Mail

The next issue of the Integrity InfoLetter is in the mail. All members and partners whose dues are current should receive a paper copy via post within the next week. Click here for the PDF version. This issue contains...
First Edition Of Integrity Briefings

A brand-new publication--Integrity Briefings--will be mailed to all Proud Parish Partners [P3] and major donors next week. This edition reviews the recent past and previews the near future. It also includes a testimonial from the Rev. Elizabeth Maxwell about why here parish--Church of the Holy Apostles in New York City--has been a major contributor to Integrity for several years. And finally, it describes the front-line witness of Integrity/Pittsburgh as that diocese reorganizes.
Click here to read the PDF. Thanks to Volunteer Coordinator Neil Houghton for assembling this issue!

Episcopal Life Ad

The Feburary edition of Episcopal Life contains the first of six ads from Integrity laying the groundwork for General Convention. The ad explains why the Episcopal Church should move beyond the de facto moratorium on additional LGBT bishops enacted by General Convention 2006. The March ad will encourage the Episcopal Church to move forward on marriage equality.

Video Filming Starts

Production began this week on two short videos--about consecrating LGBT bishops and blessing same-gender couples. Our crew--which includes writer Katie Sherrod, videographer Cynthia Black, director Louise Brooks, and project manager Jan Adams--took advantage of the Episcopal Urban Caucus' annual assembly in Mobile, Alabama, to interview well-known and not-so-well known Episcopalians on these issues.
The videos will eventually be mailed to all bishops and deputies before General Convention. They will also be available on the Web so that our members and friends can promote it virally.
Filming continues next week in Chicago.
Photo: Videographer Cynthia Black wires Integrity Past President Michael Hopkins before inteviewing him about marriage equality. Credit: Jan Adams.
Last Chance To Vote On Bylaw Amendments!

On December 15th an electronic referendum began on proposed amendments to Integrity's national bylaws. If approved, these changes will significantly alter the structure of the board of directors and add a "stakeholders" council." Visit to learn more what what is being modified and why.

To date, only about 16% of eligible members have cast their ballot. We need your vote! Polls close on February 15th.

If your membership dues were current as of November 25th, you should have received voting instructions by email or postcard. If you believe you are eligible to vote but did not receive voting instructions, please contact John Clinton Bradley at

Don't divorce...

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Chicago Consultation Rejects False Choice of Primates' Communique

Faithful Mission and Inclusion Both Possible For Episcopal Church

contact: Rebecca Wilson, 330-524-2067,

CHICAGO, February 5, 2009—The Chicago Consultation issued this statement
from its co-convener, Ruth Meyers, in response to the communiqué of the
Anglican primates on the final day of their meeting in Egypt:

"Christ calls us to practice both compassion and justice. We reject the
false choice suggested by the Primates communiqué that God asks
Episcopalians to deny either faithful mission with the worldwide Anglican
Communion or full inclusion of our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered
sisters and brothers," said Meyers, who is professor of liturgics at
Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

"We look toward General Convention 2009, where we will work with a broad
coalition of allies to achieve full inclusion of all the baptized in The
Episcopal Church and to be a voice of witness with gay, lesbian, bisexual
and transgendered people across the Anglican Communion," continued Meyers.

"The Chicago Consultation believes that the Anglican Communion is, at its
best, a manifestation of the body of Christ in which the Holy Spirit blesses
members from different cultures and contexts with various gifts. As
Christians, we are called to live in communion with one another, but also to
embrace all of the Spirit's gifts—graciously and fearlessly."

The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy
and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgendered Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican
Communion. We believe that our baptismal covenant requires this.

The Chicago Consultation believes that, like the church's historic
discrimination against people of color and women, excluding GLBT people from
the sacramental life of the church is a sin. Through study, prayer and
conversation, we seek to provide clergy and laypeople across The Episcopal
Church and the Anglican Communion with biblical and theological perspectives
that will rid the church of this sin.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Integrity Responds to Primates' Communique

February 5, 2009

MOBILE, AL--Integrity USA is disappointed but not surprised that the communique issued by the primates of the Anglican Communion earlier today repeated the all-too-familiar call for moratoria on the election of bishops in same-gender unions, rites of blessing for same-sex unions, and cross-border interventions.

"There's an American superstition that 'bad things come in threes,'" said Integrity President Susan Russell speaking from the Episcopal Urban Caucus Annual Assembly in Mobile. "And accepting the lumping together of these three issues in one moratoria package would be a very bad thing for the Episcopal Church as a whole and its LGBT faithful in particular.”

"Calling a halt to actions that violate the polity and boundaries of the autonomous national churches that are constituent members of the Anglican Communion is preserving the historic unity of the church. Scapegoating a percentage of the baptized by excluding them from a percentage of the sacraments of the Body of Christ is participating in the appeasement of bigotry. They're apples and oranges."

Russell continued, "Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is absolutely correct in stating that moratoria are a matter for General Convention in Anaheim this summer. Resolutions have already been submitted that would move the Episcopal Church beyond the non-canonical restraints imposed by B033 and forward on marriage equality. Integrity USA believes that General Convention will reaffirm that all the sacraments are open to all the baptized. We will be working with our allies to achieve that gospel agenda item next July."

"Integrity encourages all concerned Episcopalians to contact their bishops and General Convention deputies and dialogue with them on these issues as they prepare for Anaheim," concluded Russell. "The question on the table is whether or not we mean it when we renew that Baptismal Covenant's promise to respect the dignity of every human being. Integrity is counting on the Episcopal Church saying, "We will with God’s help."

Visit for more information.

Press Contact:
The Rev. Susan Russell, President
(626) 583-2741 office
(714) 356-5718 mobile

CA Supreme Court to Hear Same-Sex Marriage Cases in March

The Mercury News of Silicon Valley is reporting...

The California Supreme Court will hear the legal showdown over gay marriage on March 5, ensuring a decision on the future of same-sex nuptials across the state will arrive before summer.

In a statement released Tuesday, the high court set three hours of arguments for its calendar in San Francisco, setting the stage for the justices to consider a series of legal challenges to voter-approved Proposition 8. Civil rights groups and a number of cities and counties, led by San Francisco and Santa Clara County, sued after the November election, arguing that the ballot initiative is invalid and should be struck down.

Attorney General Jerry Brown, in an unusual move, is not defending the law, arguing that Proposition 8 should be struck down because it erased an existing constitutional right.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case last year, and will decide not only the legality of Proposition 8, but also the fate of thousands of same-sex couples who married before voters approved the measure. The justices have 90 days from the March 5 hearing to decide the case.

Read more here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bulletproof Faith

Religion Dispatches interviews the Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge on her book, Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians.
What inspired you to write Bulletproof Faith? What sparked your interest?

I was inspired to write Bulletproof Faith by the readers of Whosoever, the online magazine for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians that I founded in 1996. As soon as I put Whosoever on the Web, the hate mail began to pour in. People were offended that there was a magazine out there telling LGBT people not just that God loved them, but that God loved them just as they are—as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people because God had created them that way.

I heard from so many LGBT readers that they didn’t know how to respond to people who told them they couldn’t be both LGBT and Christian. I wanted to find a way to help them respond without becoming angry or becoming depressed by all the opposition around them. The idea for the book came in 1998 when I took a class in the martial art of Aikido. There are no offensive moves in Aikido—no kicks or punches. There are only defensive moves—using the momentum of your attacker to disable them. I thought it served as an excellent metaphor for “spiritual self-defense” for LGBT Christians. I also came across the Bible verse that became central to the book, 1 Peter 3:15-16: “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” Not returning hatred for hatred is the key to being bulletproof. I developed a workshop around these ideas and it morphed, some ten years later, into a full-fledged book.

Read the interview here.

Clergy Asked To Sign Open Letter

Today, the Religious Institute launched a new campaign to demonstrate
ordained clergy support for comprehensive sexuality education. We hope to
obtain 1000 clergy endorsers of our Open Letter on Sex Education by February
17th. You can read it at

If you are an ordained clergy person and support comprehensive sexuality
education, please go to this link to read the
letter and add your name.

And please help us by passing this on to your clergy colleagues. We hope to
have the names of at least 1000 clergy to the White House and Congress by
the end of the month as they consider ending the ineffective
abstinence-only-until-marriage program.

Thank you for your help. To the bloggers on this list, we'd appreciate you
posting this request!

Blessings for all you do to support sexual justice.

Rev. Debra W. Haffner
Religious Institute
21 Charles Street, Suite 140
Westport, CT 06880
203 222 0055

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What Did Ed Browning's Primacy Mean To You?

I am working on a biography of retired Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning to be published by Forward Movement and would welcome stories, news, and anecdotes from INTEGRITY members. Just send your comments to me at Thanks. Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook

Monday, February 2, 2009

Toronto bishops propose process to allow same-sex blessings

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

Feb 2, 2009

The bishops of the diocese of Toronto are proposing that "a limited number
of parishes" be given episcopal permission to offer prayers and blessing
"but not the nuptial blessing" to same-sex couples "in stable, long-term,
committed relationships."

The bishops, who outlined their proposal at a Jan. 29 meeting of the
diocesan council, said they plan to conduct an extensive consultation
process and would present the guidelines for implementing the proposal at
the diocese's synods in May and in November. A bishop's commission will be
formed to formulate the guidelines.

The process could take a year, the diocesan bishop of Toronto, Colin
Johnson, told the Toronto Star.

The bishops said that the proposal was well within the parameters
recommended by the house of bishops, which in 2007 declared that they were
committed to "develop the most generous pastoral response possible within
the current teaching of the church." The bishops said that clergy may
celebrate a eucharist and intercessory prayers with a same-sex couple, but
not pronounce a nuptial blessing.

To read the rest of the story, please visit the Anglican Journal Web site,

At The Primates Meeting In Egypt

The Primates of the Anglican Communion are meeting in Alexandria, February 1st thru 5th. The Anglican Covenant is their primary agenda item. Please keep them in your prayers.

Colin Coward and Brenda Harrison of Changing Attitude are in Egypt and are blogging at