Monday, March 30, 2009

A New Dean for EDS

Just in from EDS via press release, this VERY good news of the unanimous election of Dr. Katherine Ragsdale as the next dean of EDS -- good news not only for EDS but for the whole church AND for LGBT folks wondering if it's possible to be out and exercise vocation in the Episcopal Church!

Katherine is a long-time friend of Integrity and was an important part of our Lambeth Witness team as well as a longtime General Convention activist. Way to go, EDS -- and Congratulations, Dr. Ragsdale!
.

March 30, 2009, Cambridge, MA:

Mr. Brett Donham, chair of the Episcopal Divinity School Board of Trustees announced today that The Rev. Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, president and executive director of Political Research Associates and vicar of St. David’s Episcopal Church has been named the new president and dean of Episcopal Divinity School. Elected by a unanimous vote of the board of trustees, Ragsdale succeeds The Right Rev. Steven Charleston who led the seminary from 1999 to 2008.

“The Search Committee presented to the Board of Trustees The Reverend Katherine Ragsdale as its unanimous recommendation for president and dean of Episcopal Divinity School,” said Donham. “Katherine’s gifts, skills, and experience are an excellent match with the criteria established by the Search Committee, both in terms of the current challenges and opportunities at EDS, and the personal attributes we are looking for in a new leader.”

EDS trustee and search committee member, The Right Reverend Thomas Ely continued, “The Search Committee sees in Katherine the right combination of a person of immense faith, demonstrated organizational and team leadership ability, a passion for academic excellence and quality theological education, formidable development skills, and the ability to be a strong, articulate, and inspiring voice for the mission of EDS, both within the Episcopal Church and beyond. From among the many gifted candidates we interviewed, Katherine Ragsdale overwhelmingly stands out as the one best equipped and called to lead EDS into this next exciting and promising chapter of our life and mission.”

Ragsdale, a 1997 graduate of EDS, comes to the School from Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank, where she has served as president and executive director since 2005. Her leadership and development skills helped PRA successfully make the challenging transition from a founder led organization to one that continues to grow and thrive following the founder’s retirement. During her tenure, PRA has both broadened its donor base and worked with foundations to launch several new programs. Ragsdale has served on the boards of The White House Project, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice among others. She has served as vicar of St. David’s Church in Pepperell, Massachusetts since 1996.

When asked why she chose to leave PRA at this time, Ragsdale said, “EDS’ commitment to the full range of diversity and not merely to inclusion but to transformation is at the heart of my own values and commitments. I believe that EDS grounds that work in the context of deep, thorough, nuanced theological education. The thought of leading and supporting an organization doing cutting edge theology and preparing lay and ordained leadership to serve God in the church and the world is very exciting.”

EDS trustee, The Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw said, “I am thrilled with the appointment of Katharine Ragsdale as the president and dean of EDS. She brings a wealth of small parish ministry to her new position and it is critical that the new president and dean be able to train and form parish priests for the growth of progressive parishes across the country. She brings a wealth of experience, talent and creativity to this new position.”

Ragsdale holds a doctor of ministry degree from Episcopal Divinity School, a master of divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary, and a bachelor of arts degree from William and Mary. Her publications include “Not by Outrage Alone,” Dispatches from the Religious Left (Ig Publishing, 2008), “The Christian Right’s Staying Power,” with Chip Berlet, The Progressive (July 2008), Boundary Wars: Intimacy and Distance in Healing Relationships (Pilgrim Press, 1996), “The Role of Religious Institutions in Responding to the Domestic Violence Crisis,” Albany Law Review (1995), and Building Advocacy Skills (Leader Resources, 1994).

"I am elated to have the Rev. Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale join EDS as its first woman President and Dean,” commented search committee member and EDS Acting Academic Dean, Dr. Angela Bauer-Levesque. “As someone with stature in the church and in the world, she inspires excellence. Her commitments, energy, and clarity, combined with her astute analysis, her collaborative style, and her experience in fundraising will make EDS more boldly live out its purpose of educating lay and ordained leaders for the church and the world, dedicated to work for justice, foster diversity, and seek constructive change."

--------------

About Episcopal Divinity School

Episcopal Divinity School is a respected center of study and spiritual formation for lay and ordained leaders with a strong commitment to justice, compassion, and reconciliation. EDS, formed in 1974 with the merger of Philadelphia Divinity School (founded in 1857) and the Episcopal Theological School (founded in 1867), offers doctor of ministry and master’s degrees, as well as certificates in theological studies. Located on an eight-acre campus just a few blocks from Harvard Yard, EDS is a member of the Boston Theological Institute, a consortium of nine eminent theological schools, seminaries, and departments of religion.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Weekly Witness For 27 March 2009



Action Alerts [and status reports]!
Transgender Equality Raised In Episcopal Life Ad

Integrity USA recently partnered with TransEpiscopal to publish an ad in the April issue of Episcopal Life--which is currently arriving in mailboxes. This ad is part of our pre-General Convention series aimed at bishops and deputies.



Are you called to serve Integrity on the national or provincial level?

Dear members & friends of Integrity:

A couple of weeks ago I announced that nominations were being accepted for the board of directors and provincial coordinators. To date we have 4 candidates...
  • President [1 nomination received]
  • Secretary/Director of Communications
  • Treasurer
  • Vice-President for National Affairs
  • Vice-President for Local Affairs [1 nomination received]
  • Stakeholders' Council Chairperson
  • Stakeholders' Council Vice-Chairperson
  • Province 1 Coordinator
  • Province 2 Coordinator
  • Province 3 Coordinator
  • Province 4 Coordinator
  • Province 5 Coordinator
  • Province 6 Coordinator
  • Province 7 Coordinator [1 nomination received]
  • Province 8 Coordinator [1 nomination received]

Please prayerfully consider whether you or someone you know might be called to lead our ministry into the next triennium.

Click here for more information and to submit a nomination! The deadline for nominations is Sunday, March 29th. If there are insufficient volunteers, the nominating committee will begin drafting candidates. Online voting will occur during May. Elected candidates will take office October 1st.

Feel free to contact me at leftpaw76@gmail.com if you have any questions about the nomination or election process.

Sincerely,

Joshua Blackwood, Chairperson
Nominating Committee

Josh is Integrity's network coordinator in the Diocese of Washington.

Gene & Susan In Philadelphia At Equality Forum 2009

This week the Equality Forum announced at Gene Robinson and Susan Russell will have significant roles during the April 27-May 3 event....

12th Annual National Religious Colloquy:
Conversation with Bishop Gene Robinson

A Conversation with Bishop Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop. His ordination led to international debate about the inclusion of gay clergy in the church hierarchy. Bishop Robinson delivered the invocation at President Obama's Lincoln Memorial Inaugural Concert. Facilitated by Rabbi Linda Holtzman, Senior Rabbi of Mishkan Shalom. Tues., April 28, 7-8:15 p.m., Prince Music Theater [More]

5th Annual National Interfaith Service at historic Christ Church


Rev. Susan Russell, national president of Integrity, delivers the sermon and is joined by Cantor David Acker, Congregation Ohev Shalom, Rev. Carol Anthony, Christ Church, Rev. Karla Fleshman, Imago Dei Metropolitan Community Church, Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director, Equality Forum, and the Rainbow Chorale of Delaware, in spiritual celebration at historic Christ Church, the sanctuary where George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross worshiped. Sun., May 3, 5-6 p.m. Christ Church Philadelphia [More]

The Equality Forum also released a video promoting the May 3rd national rally that will be the climax of the week....




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I2U-lBddWU

Unblogged News

Union Leader
NH House endorses gay marriage
click here

Associated Press
NH Approves Gay Marriage; Sends to Senate
click here

The Advocate
God vs. Gay
http://www.advocate.com/exclusive_detail_ektid76397.asp

Bennington Banner, VT
Clergy offer opinions on marriage bill
http://www.benningtonbanner.com/ci_11982975?source=most_emailed

KHON2
Religious Leaders Rally to Pass Stalled Civil Unions Bill
http://www.khon2.com/news/government/41719282.html

The Maui News, HI
Dueling demonstrations
Those on each side of civil-unions bill appeal to drivers, lawmakers
http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/516371.html

Plattsburgh Press Republican
Vermont Senate OKs gay marriage; some fear political repercussions
http://www.pressrepublican.com/homepage/local_story_082224627.html

Religious Institute on PBS Religion and Ethics Weekly This Weekend

Dear all:

We are excited to announce that our recent study, Sex and the Seminary:
Preparing Ministers for Sexual Health and Justice
<http://www.religiousinstitute.org/SeminaryReport.html>, will be featured
this week on the PBS series Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. The program will
be available online (www.pbs.org/religion) starting Friday night, and local
affiliates will begin airing it over the weekend. (Check pbs.org for dates
and times.)

Sex and the Seminary is an in-depth report on how 36 leading seminaries and
rabbinical schools in the U.S. integrate sexuality in their degree
requirements, curricula, policies and institutional environments. The
study, co-sponsored by the Religious Institute and Union Theological
Seminary, found that most seminaries are not adequately preparing future
clergy and religious professionals to address the sexuality issues they will
face in ministry. Dr. Kate Ott, the study director of Sex and the Seminary,
is interviewed on the program, which also features how one of the seminaries
in our study -- Chicago Theological School -- addresses sexuality education.


The Sex and the Seminary report represents the first phase in a multi-year
initiative aimed at improving sexuality education in seminaries and
promoting competencies in sexuality issues as an ordination requirement for
all faith traditions. We encourage you to tune in and spread the word!

The Reverend Debra W. Haffner
Director
Religious Institute
21 Charles Street, Suite 140
Westport, CT 06880
203 222 0055
www.religiousinstitute.org

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Feast of the Annunciation


Here's a "thought for the day" on this Feast Day of the Annunciation for those who are waiting for us to "do the theology" before we move forward with the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments of the church:

"I'm so glad Mary didn't wait for the formulation of a Doctrine of the Incarnation before she said 'Yes' to God." -- The Reverend Canon J. Edwin Bacon

Victory In Gainesville

Voters Reject Fear Tactics and Discrimination

Equality Florida Press Release
March 24, 2009

(GAINESVILLE, FL) Equality Florida joins with local leaders in Gainesville and fair-minded people across the state and nation in celebrating today's decisive victory over discrimination and fear embodied in Gainesville Charter Amendment 1.

Voters rejected the amendment by a vote of 58% to 42%. If passed, Charter Amendment 1 would have repealed existing civil rights protections for Gainesville's gay and transgender community.

For over a year, backers of the amendment have waged a fear-based campaign filled with outright lies and media campaigns that dehumanized gay and transgender people. Specifically, these extremists drew a target on the backs of transgender people with bigoted messages intended to instill fear in the hearts of Gainesville citizens.

Led by Equality Is Gainesville's Business, a coalition of local, state and national organizations worked together to stop discrimination from being legalized in Gainesville.

The sweeping language of the ballot initiative, imported to Florida by a far right conservative group in Michigan, would have also prohibited the City of Gainesville from ever providing nondiscrimination protections beyond those
listed in the Florida Civil Rights Act.

"Supporters of Charter Amendment 1 waged a campaign that blatantly lied to voters about the protections Gainesville has provided transgender citizens." said Joe Saunders EQGB campaign manager. "By targeting transgender people, proponents of Charter Amendment 1 have proven the need for inclusive anti- iscrimination laws. Voter's embraced Gainesville's anti-discrimination laws tonight when they rejected Amendment 1."

Saunders is also the field director for Equality Florida.

"This is a local victory but it's significance reaches across our state and our nation. Those pushing Amendment 1 are part of a national effort to repeal LGBT protection in communities across the country," said Nadine Smith, executive director for Equality Florida. "This victory sends a strong signal that we will not allow extremists to turn back the progress we have made to secure equality for everyone."

The local team waged a strong grassroots campaign reaching voters and unmasking the real human impact of the proposed amendment.

"Today Gainesville voters showed that they value the rights of all citizens," said EQGB Chair and Gainesville City Commissioner Craig Lowe. "They have rejected the politics of fear and instead chose to retain the values that make our city such a beautiful place. Today, our voters showed their true character by emphasizing that, in Gainesville, every person matters."

A broad array of organizations came out to publicly oppose Charter Amendment 1.

These organizations include: the Anti-Defamation League - Florida, the ACLU of Florida, Equality Florida, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Organizations United Together (O.U.T.), UM (University of Miami) for Equality, Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, Florida NOW, Gainesville Area NOW, Judy Levy NOW PAC, Alachua County Democratic Party, Alachua County Green Party, Alachua County/Gainesville League of Women Voters, Alachua County NAACP, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, Gainesville Area AIDS Project (GAAP), Gainesville Commission on the Status of Women, Human Rights Council of North Central Florida, Interweave, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville, North Central Florida Central Labor Council, Pride Center of North Central Florida, Social Justice Council of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville, Trinity Metropolitan Community Church, United Church of Gainesville Social Concerns Committee, University of Florida Students for Change, Students for a Democratic Society @ UF, Wild Iris Books and Wild Words Café, University of Florida Faculty Senate, University of Florida Presidential LGBT Concerns, and University of Florida Student Senate.

Equality Florida is Florida's only statewide human rights organization dedicated to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Through education and advocacy, the organization is committed to building a
state of equal rights for all Floridians, inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

-30-

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The faith of a gay bishop



The Boston Globe's Michael Paulson reports on The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson's lecture at Trinity Church in Boston.
New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) as the first openly gay bishop, visited Boston on Sunday to preach and lecture at Trinity Church in Copley Square. The afternoon lecture was provocatively titled "The faith of a gay bishop,'' and Robinson said a last-minute look at the title caused him to throw away his prepared text and speak relatively extemporaneously about his Christian faith.


Paulson talks about what stood out and caught his attention: praying with gay christians in Hong Kong, +Gene's conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the importance of following Jesus not just admiring Him, on finding gay stories in the Bible, and on persevering.

The audio of Robinson's remarks is here.

(Photo, by Mark Wilson of the Globe staff, shows Bishop V. Gene Robinson at Trinity Church in Boston on 3/22/09.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Freedom to Marry Bill Passes Vermont Senate

S.115 PASSES SENATE!

The Vermont Senate just made history, voting 26-4 to pass S.115, the freedom to marry bill. The Senate will hold its final vote tomorrow morning, and the House Judiciary Committee will begin its hearings.

Check out Vermont Freedom to Marry for more details.
And click here for an NPR story.

Herb Steer Promoted to Glory


Shared by Gordon Broom...

Herb Steer, 92, passed away on Friday, March 20, 2009. Herb was one of the founding members of Integrity Palm Beach.

Herb served in the court of King George VI as the king's personal valet. After the king died, Herb came to the states where he served as Jack Benny's butler and served other Hollywood notables as well.

On Herb's 90th birthday he received a surprise birthday letter from the office of Queen Elizabeth.

Herb and his partner eventually moved to Florida and settled in Lake Worth.

Herb was an active member of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Lake Worth, FL.
Herb was well known to the Lake Worth community as well as Palm Beach county's L/G/B/T community. It is fitting that Herb's funeral will take place on our first day of Gay Pride of the
Palm Beaches. Herb's funeral will be on Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 10 AM at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Lake Worth, FL

Herb will be missed by all of us and he brought much joy to those whose lives he touched.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Reflections Toward Anaheim

by Susan Russell

"Episcopal Bishops Say 'Preoccupied' Church Missed Crisis" was the headline of the Daniel Burke's RNS follow up to last week's spring meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops. The article, posted March 19, included this quote from the bishops' pastoral letter:

"In this season of Lent, God calls us to repentance," the bishops said. "We have too often been preoccupied as a Church with internal affairs and a narrow focus that has absorbed both our energy and interest ... to the exclusion of concern for the crisis of suffering both at home and abroad."

It had a familiar ring to it, so I checked my archives and -- sure enough -- it sounds a lot like this quote from the last day of General Convention 2006 in Columbus:

"We spent nine days here in Columbus and we’ve done nothing substantive other than talk about where our position is in the Anglican Communion.

We have over 200 pieces of legislation that are going to fall into the abyss today because the clock is going to run out and we’re not going to talk about genocide and we’re not going to talk about evangelism and we’re not going to talk about how to bring a just peace in Iraq and we’re not going to talk about the environment and we’re not going to talk about our children.

Instead we’ve spent our whole time talking about “the church.” If the point of the church is to serve the world in God’s name we have failed – we have failed miserably – and we haven’t just failed gay and lesbian people, we’ve failed the Gospel. "

That was me ... just after the vote on B033 ... letting it all hang out for a scrum of reporters outside the Columbus Convention Center in a moment preserved for time-and-all-eternity on YouTube by Greg Griffith of Stand Firm fame. You can watch the whole 4+ minute rant here ... (and yes, I was having a bad hair day!) ... but here's my point:


What I said ... what WE said ... in Columbus is now being said by our bishops in a unanimously adopted pastoral letter: our preoccupation with the institutional church has kept us from living out the Gospel.

The question we need to ask ... each and every ONE of us ... of each and every ONE of our bishops is:

So what are we going to do about it?



What are we going to do different in Anaheim to move this church forward on the issues that call us to make God's love tangible in the name of Christ Jesus to a hurting, broken, crying out for Good News world?

What are we going to do to keep this General Convention -- and the next and the next and the next -- from being manipulated by those who want to exploit the differences on human sexuality that challenge us into divisions that distract us from our wider mission and ministry?
.
I think the answer is here -- also from the pastoral letter:

"We have often failed to speak truth to power," they said, "to name the greed and consumerism that has pervaded our culture, and we have too often allowed the culture to define us instead of being formed by Gospel values."

The answer is that we have too often allowed forces in our communion to define us instead of being formed by the Gospel values that inform our Baptismal Covenant -- and that we can, must and WILL stand up together in Anaheim and say we're ready to be the church God is calling us to be and get on with the work we have been given to do.

The cost of continuing to allow that work -- that mission and ministry -- to be held hostage by those who insist that we must choose between institutional unity and gospel justice is TOO great. We cannot allow what happened in Columbus to happen again in Anaheim and we must start NOW making that case ... to our bishops, to our deputies, on our blogs, on our listserves -- wherever and however we can.

The time has come.

The future is here.

It is time to repent. To turn around. To move forward.

Our bishops have written, "God calls us to repentance" -- in the Greek "metanoia" ... to turn around. Let's answer that call together by turning away from B033 ... by embracing once and for all this church's 1976 commitment to fully include its gay and lesbian baptized and then let's ALL get to work on the suffering at home and abroad that our bishops have called us to!

.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vermont Senate panel approves gay marriage bill

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A state Senate committee unanimously approved a gay marriage bill on Friday, moving Vermont one step closer to allowing same-sex couples to legally wed.

"It provides ... gay and lesbian couples the same rights that I have as a married heterosexual," said Sen. John Campbell, vice chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and chief sponsor of the bill.

The measure would replace Vermont's first-in-the-nation civil unions law with one that allows marriage of same-sex partners beginning Sept. 1.

The committee's vote ended an intense week highlighted by a public hearing Wednesday night in which more than 500 people swarmed the Statehouse to speak for and against allowing same-sex marriages.

If approved, Vermont would join Massachusetts and Connecticut as the only U.S. states that allow gays and lesbians to marry.

Civil unions, which confer some rights similar to marriage, would still be recognized but no longer granted after Sept. 1. Both Houses, under Democratic control, are expected to pass the measure. The Senate is taking the lead and is expected to debate the bill next week. Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, has said he opposes the bill but has declined to say whether he will veto it if it reaches his desk.

Read the rest here ...

Weekly Witness For 20 March 2009



Action Alerts!
Sacrificial Giving To The Anaheim Appeal

Margo McMahon gave us permission to share the following note that came with her gift to the Anaheim Appeal ...

Enclosed is my check for $100. I saved up over the last three months from my disability check to make the donation. I have witnessed Integrity’s work at General Convention and totally support it’s work. If every Integrity member were to consider giving $100 (via two installments if needed), Integrity would more than meet its goal.

Thanks Margo! Click here to match Margo's challenge!

Nominations Are Open For One More Week!

Dear members & friends of Integrity:

Last week I announced that nominations are now being accepted for the following positions...
  • President [1 nomination received]
  • Secretary/Director of Communications
  • Treasurer
  • Vice-President for National Affairs
  • Vice-President for Local Affairs [1 nomination received]
  • Stakeholders' Council Chairperson
  • Stakeholders' Council Vice-Chairperson
  • Province 1 Coordinator
  • Province 2 Coordinator
  • Province 3 Coordinator
  • Province 4 Coordinator
  • Province 5 Coordinator
  • Province 6 Coordinator
  • Province 7 Coordinator [1 nomination received]
  • Province 8 Coordinator

Please prayerfully consider whether you or someone you know might be called to lead our ministry into the next triennium.

Click here for more information and to submit a nomination! The deadline for nominations is Sunday, March 29th.

Voting will occur during May. Elected candidates will take office October 1st.

Feel free to contact me at leftpaw76@gmail.com if you have any questions about the nomination or election process.

Sincerely,

Joshua Blackwood, Chairperson
Nominating Committee

Josh is Integrity's network coordinator in the Diocese of Washington.


Bishop of Vermont Testifies In Favor Of Marriage Equality

March 18, 2009

Senator Sears and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

My name is Thomas Ely. I am a resident of Burlington, Vermont, and serve as Bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont. I have been happily married to Ann for 32 years. I appreciate the opportunity to address the committee in support of the matter before you: An Act to Protect Religious Freedom and Promote Equality in Civil Marriage. I especially appreciate the accommodation to my schedule and for allowing me to present my testimony by way of a pre-recorded video [recorded March 10, 2009]. From March 11-21, 2009, I am attending a meeting of the Bishops of The Episcopal Church in North Carolina, and therefore not able to be present in person.

The testimony I offer is my own, and while I believe it represent the
sentiments of the vast majority of Episcopalians in Vermont, I know full
well that it does not represent the view of all Episcopalians in
Vermont. I want to acknowledge at the outset that our diocese, like most
religious denominations, is not of one mind on the various issues
concerning human sexuality that are currently part of our civil and
religious discourse. I respect those differences and remain committed to
conversation with those who disagree with my thinking. At the same time,
I do hold strong convictions that are well known among the members of
the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, and my testimony today is consistent
with those beliefs.

As a person of faith, my religious beliefs, grounded in the Bible and
the Baptismal Covenant, have led me to speak out for human and civil
rights in a broad range of areas over the years. The Episcopal Church’s
General Convention in resolution after resolution has, since 1976,
consistently expressed its conviction that homosexual persons are
entitled to equal protection of the laws with all other citizens, and it
has called upon our society to see that such protection is provided in
actuality. The intent of the legislation before you is consistent with
that voice from our denomination’s highest form of governance.
Vermont has lived with a certain measure of equality for gay and lesbian
couples since the enactment of our current Civil Union legislation. This
legislation seeks to provide an even greater measure of equality and
dignity. As you well know, because of federal statues this law cannot
provide a full measure of equality, but it is a step in the right
direction and sends an important message to our elected leaders in
Washington. I applaud those who have introduced this legislation and
encourage all legislators and our governor to support it.

Marriage equality means different things to different people, but among
the things it means to me is that the values I hold dear in my own
marriage and in the marriages of other men and women of faith can be
celebrated by all. Those values include the mutual love and support of
another person in a committed life-long relationship, in which fidelity,
joy, help and comfort in all circumstances can be respected and
practiced, and through which the stability of family can be provided for
those who choose to care and nurture children. I do not believe that
this legislation will diminish, or compromise, the integrity of marriage
(certainly not my marriage). Rather, I believe it has the possibility to
strengthen our understanding and appreciation of marriage as we witness
the love and fidelity of gay and lesbian couples alongside that of
straight couples.

Finally, as the title of this bill reflects, there is a need in this
legislation to affirm the principle of religious freedom that is so much
a part of our society. This bill will not settle the theological debate
within religious communities—but that is not your work, is it! Your work
is to serve the citizens of Vermont and to assure, to the best of your
ability, the civil and human rights of all of us.

You need not, nor should not, wait for a consensus to emerge among the
various religious communities active within our state. That is not
likely to happen for a very long time. In this case, justice delayed is
justice denied. The Episcopal Church, other Christian churches, and
other religious faiths all have their work to do, and each will need to
live with integrity with this new law, just as we have learned to live
with the conviction of our various beliefs in response to Civil Union
legislation. This will not be easy for the Episcopal Church here in
Vermont and throughout our denomination. Our Canons and our Book of
Common Prayer are clear in the use of marriage as between one man and
one woman. Many are working to expand that understanding, but that will
require the action of our General Convention. In the meantime, we here
in Vermont will continue to provide the very best pastoral care we can
to all couples who seek God’s blessing on their faithful, committed,
monogamous relationships.

The time is right for Vermont to move forward with what is right and
just for all with regard to civil marriage and the many benefits it
brings to couples and to society as a whole. Thank you for your
attention to this important matter and for this opportunity to speak
with you today.

Unblogged News

Burlington Free Press VT
Clergy divided over same-sex marriage bill
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20090319/NEWS03/90319010

Barre Montpelier Times Argus
Bishop: 'Preserve the sanctity of marriage'
http://www.timesargus.com/article/20090319/NEWS01/903190399

US endorses UN gay rights text

US endorses UN gay rights text
By MATTHEW LEE

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration on Wednesday formally endorsed a U.N. statement calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality, a measure that former President George W. Bush had refused to sign.

The move was the administration's latest in reversing Bush-era decisions that have been heavily criticized by human rights and other groups. The United States was the only western nation not to sign onto the declaration when it came up at the U.N. General Assembly in December.

"The United States supports the U.N.'s statement on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity and is pleased to join the other 66 U.N. member states who have declared their support of the statement," said State Department spokesman Robert Wood.

"The United States is an outspoken defender of human rights and critic of human rights abuses around the world," Wood told reporters. "As such, we join with other supporters of this statement, and we will continue to remind countries of the importance of respecting the human rights of all people in all appropriate international fora."

Gay rights groups hailed the move.

Read the rest here ... and then take a minute to click here and send a message to The White House thanking President Obama for this step forward for liberty and justice for all!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

+Gene to receive GLAAD award



Out and About reports:
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) announced Wednesday that Kathy Griffin will receive the Vanguard Award and the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson will receive the Stephen F. Kolzak Award at the 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards.
.....
Bishop Robinson became the first openly gay Bishop of the Episcopal Church after he was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire in 2004. He most recently delivered the invocation at the opening celebration of the Presidential Inauguration at the Lincoln Memorial.

Robinson will be honored with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award for his work to raise visibility of LGBT-inclusive voices of faith. His ongoing work as a LGBT advocate has been featured in international news outlets including The New York Times, Reuters and NPR. His personal story is featured in the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So and in his 2008 book In the Eye of the Storm. For the Bible Tells Me So profiles several LGBT families discussing their Christian faith and received the award for Outstanding Documentary at the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. Robinson joins Rufus Wainwright, Melissa Etheridge, Bill Condon, Todd Haynes, Alan Ball, Ellen DeGeneres and Sir Ian McKellen as a recipient of the award, which is presented to an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for our community.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Activists Challenge Episcopal Church to Do Justice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

March 18, 2009

The Consultation -- a coalition of thirteen independent organizations in The Episcopal Church committed to peace with justice – issued its 2009 Platform this week, challenging their church to "do justice" when it gathers for its General Convention this July in Anaheim.


"
For over twenty years The Consultation has served as the conscience of The Episcopal Church in matters of peace with justice," said Diane Pollard, The Consultation co-convener and a leader in the Episcopal Urban Caucus. "And this comprehensive platform once again calls the church to put its faith into action – from poverty to peace, from racial justice to marriage equality, from environmental responsibility to economic justice."


"
The Consultation’s strength has been the commitment of our member organizations to dismantling racism and oppression through education and legislation," said co-convener Byron Rushing,
a leader in the Episcopal Network for Economic Justice, and a member of the Massachusetts state legislature. "This General Convention is another opportunity to work together toward our baptismal promise to strive for justice and peace among all people and to respect the dignity of every human being."

The platform is available online at http://www.theconsultation.org/id1.html .


For more information contact:

Diane Pollard – Dbpsd4u@aol.com

Byron Rushing – byron.rushing@state.ma.us /617-722-2006

Equality Forum 2009

Mark you calendars...


From: ben@equalityforum.com [mailto:ben@equalityforum.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 12:07 PM
To: info@integrityusa.org
Subject: Equality Forum 2009


Dear Integrity:

Equality Forum 2009 (April 27 – May 3) features 34 panels, 8 parties and 10 special events, including the National Equality Rally at Independence Hall (http://www.nationalequalityrally.org/). There is no registration fee for the 17th annual Equality Forum and all panels are free.

There are programs of particular interest to Integrity

  • 12th Annual National Religious Colloquy: Conversation with Bishop Gene Robinson
  • 5th Annual National Interfaith Service at historic Christ Church
  • Shabbat Service with sermon delivered by Equality Forum Executive Director Malcolm Lazin
  • Dignity Philadelphia Mass and Couples Blessing
  • Would Jesus Discriminate? A Campaign to Counter Religious Bigotry

We will be sending you a graphically-designed email blast about these programs. We would appreciate if you could email it to your membership.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Chip Alfred at (215) 732-3378 x 116 or at chip@equalityforum.com.

For more information about Equality Forum 2009, visit http://www.equalityforum.com/.

We thank you for your valued support.

Sincerely,

Ben Perry

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Consultation's GC2009 Platform



The Consultation, of which Integrity is a proud member organization, yesterday publicly released its platform for General Convention 2009. Here's the section on LGBT issues...

Therefore, we call The Episcopal Church, gathered at this 2009 General Convention, to:

8. Embrace the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments
  • affirm that all orders of ministry are open to all the Baptized who are otherwise qualified.
  • urge clergy to refuse to function as civil magistrates in marriage and to re-affirm their authority to bless all faithful relationships.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Anaheim Appeal Status Report #2

Dear Integrity members:

In January we launched the Anaheim Appeal, a campaign to support Integrity's witness during General Convention this summer. Our goal is to raise enough 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.

I am very pleased to inform you that, as of today, we have received a total of $27,000. We are a third of the way there!

I am also proud to report that our new video "Marching to Anaheim" is finished. In this 9-minute production, President Susan Russell explains our goals for General Convention 2009 in Anaheim, California, and encourages donations to our Anaheim Appeal. Watch it online here...

video

...or at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNYUu2feet4.

Please share this video with your friends and fellow parishioners--and encourage them to support this crucial effort.

You might also consider holding a "screening party" in your home or parish. Please contact me if you would like a supply of contribution packets for your guests.

If you have already contributed, THANK YOU! If you have not yet given, please GIVE NOW by clicking here and designating your contribution 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...

Integrity USA Anaheim Appeal
274 N Goodman St #B267
Rochester NY 14607

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

Sincerely,
R. Bruce Colburn
Development Coordinator
bruce@integrityusa.org

Presbyterian Church Votes On Gay Ministers


By John P. Connolly, The Bulletin
Monday, March 16, 2009

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is voting to decide whether or not gay ministers should be allowed to serve and whether or not single ministers should be bound to practice chastity.

Pittsburgh Presbytery voted 206-105 this weekend against the proposed amendment, which would also require church officers to practice fidelity in heterosexual marriage. So far, 43 other presbyteries have voted in favor of the measure and 72 voted against, according to an unofficial tally on the Web site of the Presbyterian Coalition, a group opposed to the amendment. The last count by the Presbyterian News Service had the count at 42 to 69 last week. Over 87 presbyteries must pass the amendment in order for it to become church law.

The vote is not the first time the Presbyterian Church has discussed the issue. The current vote is the third time in the last 30 years that gay ministers have been voted on by the denomination, with the last vote having been held in 2002.

A General Assembly Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage is set to hold its first meeting next week. The committee will convene tomorrow morning and work through Thursday. The assembly will make policy recommendations on various topics, including civil unions, Christian marriage, the effects of gay couples on children they may raise, and the place of same-sex couples in the Christian community.

John P. Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@thebulletin.us

Friday, March 13, 2009

Weekly Witness For 13 March 2009



Action Alerts!
Nominations Are Now Open

Dear members & friends of Integrity:

In accordance with the recently amended bylaws of Integrity, I am pleased to announce that nominations are now being accepted for the following positions...
  • President
  • Secretary/Director of Communications
  • Treasurer
  • Vice-President for National Affairs
  • Vice-President for Local Affairs
  • Stakeholders' Council Chairperson
  • Stakeholders' Council Vice-Chairperson
  • Province 1 Coordinator
  • Province 2 Coordinator
  • Province 3 Coordinator
  • Province 4 Coordinator
  • Province 5 Coordinator
  • Province 6 Coordinator
  • Province 7 Coordinator
  • Province 8 Coordinator

Please prayerfully consider whether you or someone you know might be called to lead our ministry into the next triennium.

Click here for more information and to submit a nomination! The deadline for nominations is Sunday, March 29th.

Voting will occur during May. Elected candidates will take office October 1st.

Feel free to contact me at leftpaw76@gmail.com if you have any questions about the nomination or election process.

Sincerely,

Joshua Blackwood, Chairperson
Nominating Committee

Josh is Integrity's network coordinator in the Diocese of Washington.

VOWA Field Test Successful

On Saturday, March 7, a field test of the curriculum that will accompany the "Voices of Witness: Africa" video was held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Worth. Here's a report...

For those of you who were able to attend today's screening, you understand what I mean when I say that it was a success. While we did not have a "standing room only" attendance, we had a nice assembly of individuals from the diocese who openly participated.

The documentary was touching and edited with care. Following the screening, we participated in a trial version of the field test that will soon accompany the documentary as the producers plan on shipping these to all bishops in the Communion hopefully by May of the year.

Because this documentary is still in need of financial support (to pay for shipping costs, possible further editing, etc) we would like to encourage you to pray about how you might be able to support the message of this film with your monetary donation. Even a small gift will help by going to the Integrity USA website (https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=30549).

Thank you again to all who showed up for this screening.

God's blessings,
Board of Integrity/Fort Worth

New Resource: All God's Children

Burrill, Melany, All God's Children: Teaching Children About Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, [Fort Wayne, IN: LifeQuest, 2009; 20 pp., ISBN 1-893270-48-0].

All God’s Children is an essential guide to open and caring conversations with young children about gender and sexual orientation. You’ll find that this small, user-friendly book addresses your concerns, your questions, and your search for just the right words; it also suggests ideas for sermons and classroom activities. As you read, you’ll learn to model openness, respect, and the affirming belief that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender difference, is a beloved child of God. Anyone who has a loving relationship with young children—parents, family, friends, pastors, Sunday School teachers—will benefit from reading and discussing All God’s Children.


Buy it at http://www.godloveseachone.org/allgodschildren/!

Unblogged News

Beckley Register-Herald, WV
Senate poised for vote on homosexual rights bill
http://www.register-herald.com/local/local_story_071225955.html

WPTZ-BUR (NBC) – Burlington News
Support for same sex union
http://mms.tveyes.com/Transcript.asp?StationID=1665&DateTime=3/11/2009%2011:08:43%20PM&Term=episcopal&PlayClip=TRUE

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Clergy Ask White House to End Federal Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs

Contact: Tim Palmer
(914) 438-4127
palmer@religiousinstitute.org

WESTPORT, CT, March 11, 2009 - The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality,
Justice, and Healing today called on the Obama Administration to end federal
funding for abstinence-only programs and commit to comprehensive sexuality
education in the nation's public schools.

"We urge you to help bring an end to sex education programs that fail our
young people, and to renew our national commitment to education that honors
truth, respects diverse values, and prepares our young people to lead
healthy and productive lives," Rev. Debra W. Haffner, director of the
Religious Institute, said in a letter to President Obama.

The Religious Institute also announced that more than 925 ordained clergy
and national religious leaders have endorsed its Open Letter to Religious
Leaders about Sex Education, urging policy makers, school officials and
educators to provide comprehensive sexuality education that complements the
guidance young people receive from their parents and faith communities.

The Open Letter states in part: "Young people need help in order to develop
their capacity for moral discernment and a freely informed conscience.
Education that respects and empowers young people has more integrity than
education based on incomplete information, fear, and shame. Programs that
teach abstinence exclusively and withhold information about pregnancy and
sexually transmitted disease prevention fail our young people."

The signatories of the Open Letter are part of a growing movement in the
U.S. religious community. A majority of mainline Protestant clergy support
comprehensive sex education programs in public schools, according to a
national survey released last week by Public Religion Research. At least 10
faith traditions and the National Council of Churches of Christ have
policies supporting sexuality education in schools. And more than 15
denominations and faith-based organizations are part of the National
Coalition to Support Sexuality Education.

The federal government has invested more than $1.5 billion in grant programs
supporting abstinence-only education programs, despite growing evidence of
the ineffectiveness of these programs. In 2007, an evaluation funded by the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that youth enrolled in
abstinence-only education programs were no more likely than other youth to
delay sexual initiation, have fewer sexual partners or abstain entirely from
sex.

"As religious leaders, we believe there are strong moral foundations for
giving our young people the information they need to make responsible
decisions about their sexuality," Rev. Haffner said. "Education that is
age-appropriate, accurate and truthful is the best way to assure that
teenagers will make moral and healthy decisions."

The Open Letter to Religious Leaders about Sex Education, list of
signatories and the Religious Institute's letter to President Obama are all
available on the Religious Institute's web site, www.religiousinstitute.org.


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, theologians,
scholars and religious leaders representing more than 50 faith traditions
are part of the Religious Institute's national network.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss On Hate Crimes

 Below is what Sen. Saxby Chambliss thinks about federal hate crime legislation.  If you are in Georgia and are so inclined, I urge you to write Senator Chambliss your own thoughts on the matter.  If you are not in Georgia, please consider writing your representative(s) to urge passage of federal hate crime legislation.  For some background on this leglislation, check out http://www.matthewshepard.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Erase_Hate_Crimes_Legislation
 
Shalom,
Gretchen R. Chateau
Integrity Member
Member of GALAS Steering Committee (Gays and Lesbians at All Saints'), All Saints' Episcopal Church, Atlanta, Georgia
 

From: saxby_chambliss@chambliss.senate.gov
To: jetteyeknight@hotmail.com
Subject: Responding to your message
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 2009 09:26:49 -0400

 

Dear Ms. Chateau:

 

Thank you for contacting me regarding your thoughts on hate crime legislation.  I appreciate hearing your concerns on this matter.

 

  There is little evidence that indicates that violent crimes motivated by "hate" go unpunished in the United States.  Most states already have criminal laws that prohibit the anti-social behavior addressed by hate crime legislation - including laws against murder, rape, arson, assault, and battery. 

 

  I oppose the creation of Federal hate crime legislation for a variety of reasons.  First, I do not believe the Federal government should interfere with the criminal laws already on the books in our states.  Second, many hate crime bills attempt to establish a "protected class" of crime victims who would receive special protection under the law.  And finally, we already have laws to prosecute individuals who commit violent crimes.  Those people guilty of violent crimes against anyone should be prosecuted under existing law.

 

If you would like to receive timely email alerts regarding the latest congressional actions and my weekly e-newsletter, please sign up via my web site at: www.chambliss.senate.gov .  Please let me know whenever I may be of assistance.

 

 




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New Gay Rights Organization for West Virginia

West Virginia Public Broadcasting is reporting...

Fairness West Virginia is dedicated to ensuring gays and lesbians are treated equally, and has launched a campaign to sign up 1,000 supporters in 20 days.

“The rate that we are gathering supporters is unbelievable,” said Stephen Skinner, a lawyer from the state’s Eastern Panhandle.

“And they’re from all over West Virginia and I don’t know whether they are gay or lesbian or straight or the parents or the brother or the sister, but they’re there. And they’re ready to be heard this year,” he said.

Skinner says Fairness West Virginia’s primary goal is getting sexual orientation added to the state’s human right’s act. Skinner says currently employers can fire people just because they are gay or lesbian.

Read more here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Supporters Rally At Hawai'i State Capitol For Civil Unions

Video from local ABC affiliate here: http://www.kitv.com/video/18880905/

Supporters remain hopeful civil unions bill will pass

More than 200 rally at the Capitol, with unions and religious groups also in support

by Rob Shikina
Honolulu Star Bulletin
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Mar 08, 2009

Supporters of civil unions in Hawaii vow to return to the Capitol every year until the state legalizes same-sex partnerships.

Their promises came yesterday at a candlelight vigil in support of House Bill 444, which would legalize civil unions and give the same legal rights for married couples to couples of the same sex.

The bill stalled in a Senate committee last month.

snip

"I would love to see the religion taken out of the argument for a change," said Father Richard Shields of the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii.

He added that members of religious groups opposed to same-sex partnerships should not just listen to their leaders, but read the Bible themselves.

"Go through the Bible, sit down and read what Jesus said," he said. "They preach love and they live out hate. I think they're being very disingenuous."

Source:  http://www.starbulletin.com/news/090308_Supporters_remain_hopeful_civil_unions_bill_will_pass.html

 

 

 

Episcopal Clergy Overwhelmingly Support Marriage Equality

Last Friday, leading researchers on religion and politics today released the results of an in‐depth survey of Mainline Protestant clergy political engagement during the 2008 election season, attitudes on social and economic issues, and the public role of the church. The Mainline Protestant Clergy Voices Survey (CVS), conducted by Public Religion Research, is the largest survey of mainline clergy in seven years, and the broadest ever in scope.

The most significant finding for LGBT Episcopalians and their allies is that 49% of Episcopal clergy believe that same-gender couples should be allowed to marry, and another 38% believe same-gender couples should be allowed civil unions.

More than three quarters of Episcopal clergy also support adoption by same-gender couples, ENDA, and anti-hate crime laws.

More detailed results on LGBT issues will be released in May.

To read the press release, click here.
To read the full report, click here. See especially pages 25-26.
To read the topline survey results, click here.
To read ENS' story about the results, click here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Weekly Witness For 6 March 2009



Action Alerts!

President Appoints Nominating Committee

In accordance with the bylaws changes recently ratified by the membership, President Susan Russell has appointed the following members to the nominating committee that will solicit and approve candidates for the next board of directors and provincial coordinators...

Province 1—Mark Kozielec [Diocese of New Hampshire]
Province 2—Michael Cudney [Diocese of New York]
Province 3—Joshua Blackwood [Diocese of Washington]
Province 4—Bruce Garner [Diocese of Atlanta]
Province 5—Rick Kautz [Diocese of Indiana]
Province 6—Curtis Price [Diocese of South Dakota]
Province 7—Julie Schultz [Diocese of Arkansas]
Province 8—Ian Chamberlin [Diocese of Arizona]

The members of the nominating committee were selected from a pool of volunteers.

The nominating committee will hold a kick-off meeting next week. Shortly after that, they will announce the process for receiving nominations. Meanwhile, begin discerning whether you or someone you know might be called to serve in one of the following offices...

President: Chairs meetings of the Board. Appoints committees and individuals to assist in carrying out the programs and obligations of the organization. Makes regular reports to the membership of Integrity.

Secretary: Records and maintains the minutes of meetings of the Board. Conducts the legal correspondence of the organization. Is the custodian of the official business records of Integrity. Function as Director of Communications.

Treasurer: Is responsible for the receipt and disbursement of all funds of Integrity, and for the maintenance of accurate financial records with a regular accounting to the Board and an annual accounting to the membership. Prepares and files fiscal reports as required by governmental entities. Prepares an annual budget for approval by the Board. Arranges for an annual audit of the books.

Vice President for National Affairs: Responsible for planning, implementing, and evaluating Integrity's programming, development, and administrative work at the national level.
Vice President for Local Affairs: Responsible for planning, implementing, and evaluating Integrity's programming, development, and administrative work at the provincial, diocesan, and congregational levels. Mentors the Provincial Coordinators and serve as the primary liaison between them and the Board.

8 Provincial Coordinators: Serve as field organizers—providing technical assistance and encouragement to the members, parish partners, congregational circles, diocesan network coordinators, and chapters of their provinces—with the aim of starting new work and strengthening existing work. [NOTE: Provincial coordinators do not sit on the Board.]



Unblogged News

Whittier Daily News, Calif, San Gabriel Valley Tribune (CA)
Calif. Supreme Court weighs same-sex marriage ban
[includes quote from Susan Russell]
http://www.whittierdailynews.com/news/ci_11847647

Bennington Banner, VT
Hearings to start March 16 on gay marriage
http://www.benningtonbanner.com/local/ci_11850616

BeliefNet
Marriage Matters: Why California Must Overturn Prop 8
http://blog.beliefnet.com/progressiverevival/2009/03/marriage-matters-why-californi.html