Thursday, May 28, 2009

The decisions of sixty-one priests honored

(+?John-David Schofield with colleagues in happier times )

Episcopal Church ousts 61 clergy in dispute
Pastors aligned with ex-bishop who broke with church over homosexuality

Episcopal leaders said Wednesday they were deposing all clergy who severed their ties and joined Schofield in affiliating with an Anglican archdiocese in Argentina.

Jerry Lamb, the new Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin, called the decision to oust the clergy "heartbreaking."

"But, the fact is, they chose to abandon their relationship with the Episcopal Church," he said

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Federal marriage suit premature

AP reports:

Gay groups call federal marriage suit premature

By LISA LEFF – 4 hours ago

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A coalition of gay rights groups said Wednesday that a federal same-sex marriage lawsuit brought by two high-profile lawyers is premature and they'd rather work through state legislatures and voters to win wedding rights.

A day after the California Supreme Court upheld a voter-approved ban on gay marriage, the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and other national organizations issued a statement saying they think the U.S. Supreme Court is not ready to rule in their favor on the issue.

"In our view, the best way to win marriage equality nationally is to continue working state by state, not to bring premature federal challenges that pose a very high risk of setting a negative U.S. Supreme Court precedent," said Shannon Minter, legal director of National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Challenge to Prop 8 filed in Federal Court

From The Advocate
In a bold move that takes a new approach to achieving marriage equality, two attorneys who argued opposing sides of the 2000 Bush v. Gore lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court have filed a challenge to Proposition 8 in federal court, The Advocate has learned.

Theodore B. Olson, the U.S. solicitor general from 2001 to 2004 under President George W. Bush, and David Boies, a high-profile trial lawyer who argued on behalf of former vice president Al Gore, filed the suit May 22 in U.S. district court on behalf of two California gay couples.

The attorneys argue that relegating same-sex couples to domestic partnerships instead of granting them full marriage rights is a violation of the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

More at the Washington Examiner.

h/t to Episcopal Cafe´

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

People of faith respond to Prop. 8 ruling in San Francisco

Early this morning anxious LGBT people and friends gathered for an interfaith service at St. Francis Lutheran Church adjacent to the Castro neighborhood.

From the church, several hundred people marched down Market Street with a police escort. They arrived in front of the Old State building in Civic Center not long before 10:00 am when the decision upholding Prop. 8 was released.

There were many in the march who might be known to Integrity members and friends.

The Rt. Rev. Otis Charles and his partner Felipe Paris strode along. They were legally married last October; those 18,000 pre-election marriages were upheld today despite the court's affirmation of Prop. 8.

After the decision came down, many folks moved into the intersection of Van Ness and Grove streets. A lesbian friend who works in City Hall for the traffic commission pointed out approvingly: "That's good. They blocked the state route, not one of ours." Fr. Richard Smith, above, assists at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist.

The 100 or so people who chose to stay and be arrested risked dehydration and sunburn. Here the Rev. Anthony Turney, Archdeacon at Grace Cathedral.

Finally the police moved in, removed and cited the protesters. At the center of this cluster are Brother Karekin Yarian, BSG, and Thomas Jackson of Oasis California.

As Integrity President Susan Russell said today: this was "a decision that should not and will not stand."

Integrity Appalled By California Supreme Court Ruling

May 26, 2009

LOS ANGELES--Integrity joins with those around the nation who express profound disappointment in the California Supreme Court’s abdication of its responsibility to offer equal protection to all California citizens in today’s decision regarding Proposition 8.

"This morning we saw justice both denied and delayed," said Integrity President Susan Russell. "Today’s ruling by the California Supreme Court does not just affect the lives of same-sex couples hoping to live happily ever after with the love of their life; it sets a terrible precedent that a simple majority of voters can relegate millions of citizens to second class status. Until 'liberty and justice for all' really means 'all' we are not yet the nation we are called to be and today was a sad step backward on that arc of history that generations of equality leaders have told us bends toward justice."

Russell continued, "It is a decision that is not only antithetical to the core American values of liberty and justice for all, it flies in the face of the core Christian commitment to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is a decision that grieves the heart of God, violates core values of both our faith and our founding fathers, and puts the State of California on the wrong side of history on the issue of marriage equality. It is a decision that should not and will not stand."

"As the mother of a son in uniform," said Russell, "I find it deeply ironic that our Supreme Court would issue an opinion allowing discrimination to be written into our statutes the day after a national holiday dedicated to the memory of the brave men and women who have given their lives to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic–to preserve for their fellow citizens the American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

"Integrity will work, pray, and advocate for the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments within the Episcopal Church and work with our California Faith for Equality allies toward marriage equality in California as we continue our 35-year history of giving voice to the LGBT faithful within the Episcopal Church and from the church to the world."

For more information contact:

The Reverend Susan Russell, President
714.356.5718 mobile

Ms. Louise Brooks, Media Consultant
626.993.4605 mobile

Monday, May 25, 2009

Clinton to announce partner benefits for diplomats

Washington Post reports:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will soon announce that the partners of gay U.S. diplomats are eligible for many benefits currently denied them and allowed to spouses of heterosexual diplomats, according to lawmakers and others advocating the change.

The Bush administration had resisted efforts to treat same-sex partners the same as spouses. Thus those partners were denied a wide array of benefits, such as paid travel to and from overseas posts, shipments of household effects, visas and diplomatic passports, emergency travel to visit ill or injured partners, and evacuation in case of a security emergency or medical necessity.

Those benefits will be extended to all unmarried domestic partners -- both same-sex and heterosexual -- under the policy shift to be announced by Clinton in the coming days, according to a draft memo prepared for Clinton's signature. The draft was provided to The Washington Post by an official with the organization Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies.

Looks like the country is leaving the church in the dust.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Anaheim Appeal Status Report #3

Dear Integrity members & friends:

Good news! The Anaheim Appeal has raised $67,000 [on hand and pledged]--so we a drawing closer to our goal of $80,000.

If you have already donated, thank you! If you have not yet contributed, please do so online at

We have had three major Anaheim Appeal events to date, with a fourth coming in June…
  • May 3rd--A garden party in Los Angeles, hosted by Bishop Jon and Mary Bruno at their home. Rev. David Norgard, Bishop Bruno, and Canon Randy Kimmler presented.
  • May 3rd--A presentation by Louie Crew, founder of Integrity, and Neil Houghton, Northeastern Regional Vice President, at St. Bartholomew’s Church, New York City, hosted by Integrity/NYC.
  • May 7th--A presentation by Katie Sherrod at a private home in River Oaks, outside of Houston, hosted by Integrity/Houston.
  • June 20th--A dinner at Top of the Park restaurant, with a presentation by Rev. David Norgard, hosted by the Integrity/Diocese of San Diego Network. Visit for details and tickets
Several chapters, networks, parishes, and members have also held small “screening parties” using the “Marching to Anaheim” video. If you have not yet seen the video, you can watch it at…

I also recommend this short video by Bishop Gene Robinson in which he urges viewers to support Integrity’s preparations for General Convention….

You can support Integrity’s witness at General Convention by giving online at If you prefer to contribute by check, please make it payable to “Integrity,” write “Anaheim Appeal” in the memo line, and mail it to…

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

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

Praising God from whom all blessings flow,

R. Bruce Colburn
Development Coordinator

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mainline Protestant Clergy Support Broad Rights for Gay & Lesbian Americans

May 20, 2009

PRR released major findings on Mainline clergy views on theology and gay and lesbian issues. The Clergy Voices Survey (CVS), conducted by Public Religion Research, is the most comprehensive survey of Mainline Protestant clergy ever conducted, and the new report provides the most in-depth examination of clergy views on LGBT issues to date.

"We found that Mainline clergy are generally more supportive of equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans than the general public," said Dr. Robert P. Jones, President of Public Religion Research. "Clergy in these denominations have wrestled with theological questions around sexuality and report that they've been moving toward more supportive positions on equal rights in society and full inclusion in the church."

Martin Marty, a leading scholar on Mainline Protestantism, said the "Uncertain Middle"--a group identified in the survey--illustrates a paradox of what he calls Ecumenical Protestantism. "Because it seeks to minister to an ever more pluralist America and internally diverse church, it concentrates on conversation more than confrontation, dialogue more than diatribe."  Marty says this characteristic "represents one strength of this group of clergy who are well-suited to our current task of living justly together amidst our differences."

For more:


News Roundup

Wall Street Journal
New Hampshire
Lawmakers Put Off Approving Gay Marriage

Boston Herald
Shock in the gallery at NH gay marriage vote

Bishop Robinson On NH Marriage Equality Pause

Vermont Public Radio
Same-sex marriage is on hold in New Hampshire

USA Today
Church-gay issues challenge the mainline faithful

Bay Area Reporter
Support for gay Iraqis

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Voices of Witness Africa Helps Church Keep Commitment to Listen

contact: Rebecca Wilson, 330-524-2067,
Voices of Witness Africa documentary tells stories of gay Anglicans
CHICAGO--As long ago as 1978, the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Communion
bishops urged the church to listen to Anglicans who are gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgender (GLBT). However, as the Rt. Rev. David Russell,
retired bishop of Grahamstown, South Africa, says, "We made some very
definite decisions that we need to be listening, and precious little
listening happened. There was a huge reluctance to listen."

Now a new half-hour documentary film helps Episcopalians keep the church's
commitment to listen. Voices of Witness Africa, produced by Cynthia Black
and Katie Sherrod, interviews gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
Africans about their lives and their relationships with God and the church.

Viewers who have followed the plight of GLBT people in Africa will hear
familiar and tragic stories of fear, imprisonment and abuse. However, they
may also be surprised by the support and hope voiced by some of the film's
subjects, including African Anglican bishops and priests.

"I'm sorry about what the church is saying. God loves you, God loves you,"
says the Rt. Rev. Christopher Senyonjo, retired bishop of West Buganda
Diocese in the Anglican Church of Uganda, who leads a study and prayer group
for gay Anglicans. While acknowledging that speaking out for GLBT Christians
has been "very risky," Bishop Senyonjo says that "When you know the truth,
it should make you free."

Although the situation for GLBT Africans is dire—two-thirds of African
countries still criminalize homosexuality, according to the International
Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission—several people in the film cite
cause for hope.
"Many, many years ago, when the townships were in smoke and people were
dying, we never thought that we would be where we are now," says Yvonne
Daki, manager of iThemba Lam Center of Inclusive and Affirming Ministries in
South Africa. "We will have one day a situation where gay people can speak
openly about their sexuality."

Voices of Witness Africa is being released just before the Episcopal
Church's General Convention, scheduled for July 8-17 in Anaheim, California.
At the meeting, deputies and bishops will discuss both the church's mission
in the developing world and the inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender people. The film is being mailed in advance to all deputies and
bishops. It is also being mailed to all bishops of the Anglican Communion,
including those who lead churches that are hostile to GLBT Christians.

Near the end of the film, the Very Rev. Rowan Smith, dean of St. George's
Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, offers some words of advice. "I would
like to say to the church, 'Learn what we have learned in South Africa, that
things like sexual orientation or gender or race are immaterial before God.
God delights in all that God has made.'"

Voices of Witness Africa is a production of Claiming the Blessing and was
made possible with support from The Chicago Consultation, Integrity and many
individuals. More information on the film, including a study guide for use
in Episcopal parishes, is available at and

Currently scheduled screenings include:

May 24: St. Augustine of Canterbury Anglican Church, Toronto, Ontario
May 27: Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Cleveland
May 30: Church of the Incarnation, Santa Rosa, California
June 5: All Saints Church, Pasadena, California
June 6: Christ Episcopal Church, Dearborn
June 7: Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge
June 8: All Saints' Episcopal Church, Chicago
June 10: Church of the Ascension, Silver Spring, Maryland
June 12: Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, Missouri
June 14: St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Houston, Texas

To schedule a screening of Voices of Witness Africa in an Episcopal parish,
please talk with Chicago Consultation communications consultant Rebecca
Wilson at or 330-524-2067.

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

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Washington state governor expands same-gender partnerships

Seattle - Surrounded by about 300 people — most of them gay and lesbian couples and their children — Gov. Chris Gregoire on Monday signed legislation giving registered same-sex domestic partners all the rights and benefits that Washington now offers married couples.

The law will take effect July 26 unless opponents seeking to repeal it can collect enough signatures to get a referendum on the November ballot.

A network of conservative and religious organizations, through a public action committee called Protect Marriage Washington, plans to begin collecting signatures to repeal the measure under Referendum 71. However, they have to wait a full week to see if someone challenges the referendum's ballot title in court.

They will then have about 60 days — until July 25 — to collect 120,577 signatures. If they are successful, the law would be suspended until voters decide the referendum.

Several gay-rights advocacy groups, through a campaign called Decline 2 Sign, are seeking to raise money to turn back the challenge.

Read the rest at The Seattle Times online here
Or here:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

State should allow same-sex marriages

Bishop Prince Singh of the Diocese of Rochester advocates civil marriage equality in today's Democrat & Chronicle. An excerpt...

My faith teaches me that all people are children of God, deserving of love, dignity and equal treatment.

When same-sex couples are treated as less than anyone else, it is my problem; my spiritual problem.

I would personally be delighted for New York to allow loving, committed same-sex couples to be married.

Click here to read the rest!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Challenging "The Living Church" on their report regarding The Presiding Bishop on B033

In yesterday's webcast regarding the upcoming General Convention of the Episcopal Church (available in its entirety here) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori had this to say in answer to reporter Rachel Zoll's emailed question (at 21:20 into the video) regarding "upholding or ending" B033:

My hope is that we not attempt to repeal past legislation at General Convention. It's a bad practice ... a bad legislative practice. I would far more prefer us to say where we are today in 2009 ... to make a positive statement about our desire to include all people fully in this church and that we be clear about who we are as the Episcopal Church.

That's the verbatim.

Here's how "The Living Church" reported the story ... with the headline: P.B. Opposes Revisiting Resolution B033

In response to a question regarding the repeal of B033, the resolution approved at General Convention in 2006 that recommends caution in consecrating bishops whose manner of life might cause distress to other members of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Jefferts Schori said B033 would be debated, but that she opposes its repeal."

“I would far more prefer that we say here is where we are today,” she said, adding that it was a more positive way to express the mind of the church."

Do you notice the part they left off the quote? The second half of the sentence that included "to make a positive statement about our desire to include all people fully in this church."

Probably not an accident. The Presiding Bishop -- in answering Zoll's question -- made it very clear that believes the way forward is a positive statement about inclusion ... and we know that such a statement would indeed move us beyond B033. And there are pending resolutions that do precisely that and we look forward to their adoption in Anaheim.

By leaving off that second half of her response, TLC reframes her comments to fit their headline. We're going to see more of this before we see less ... and the time to start challenging this kind of shoddy journalism is now.

The Presiding Bishop deserves the respect of having her quotes fully represented in ALL media outlets ... and an publication such as The Living Church has absolutely no excuse for not accurately reporting the news -- ALL the news -- even the news that doesn't work with the headline they've already written for the piece they plan to print.

Take a minute to write or call them today and urge them to raise their journalistic standards up a notch -- to rise to the ethical standards we expect from those reporting on the critical issues facing this church we all love and serve.

You can comment on the online article here.
You can email them here.
You can use their online "contact us" page to send feedback here.
Or you can call them at: 414-276-5420

Please join me in making our voices heard and let them know that half a quote is NOT better than none and that the challenges of being the church in the world demand better than we're getting from "The Living Church."

ACC Overview

The members of the Anglican Consultative Council are on their way home and it's time to assess the outcome of the meeting.

On the Anglican Covenant, the ACC agreed on Parts 1-3 which cover Anglican identity in terms of faith and ethos. Part 4 proved more contentious as it deals with what would happen in the event that a church stepped outside the agreed bounds. This is the part which has been most changed from the earlier drafts and after some complicated and confusing debate it has been deferred for additional study and clarification. This is crucial because it defines the nature of the covenanted relationship - is this to be a Communion based on relationship and mission or on rules and discipline? I still agree with the House of Bishops of the Brazilian church that we don't want a covenant or anything else that will tie us down at a time when the rest of the world is moving away from rigid structures to networks and task forces.

Interestingly some conservatives are declaring that the Anglican Covenant is now dead - are we to assume from this that the only part worth bothering with was Part 4? Part 4 has long been championed by our conservative brethren - its first iteration was in 2000 when Bishop Maurice Sinclair (then primate of the Southern Cone) raised the idea of a disciplinary process after TEC refused to accept that a Lambeth Conference resolution was binding on the provinces. Sinclair and DrexelGomez put their ideas in writing in To Mend the Net published in 2001.

Parts1-3 of the Covenant do not mention compulsory heterosexism and Part 4 onlyrelates to issues which are 'incompatible with the Covenant'. So is the Covenant being declared 'dead' because it doesn't deal directly with sex and gender issues or because it doesn't meet some conservative timetable? Either way General Convention 2012 will be the Convention which decides what stance
TEC takes on the final Covenant.

The Windsor Continuation Group report continues to reinforce the idea of 'agreed moratoria' and alas the ACC adopted this language too even though it's unclear who has agreed which moratoria. GAFCON bishops continue to claim that they can't/won't stop boundary violations until TEC does something different. TEC lay representative to the ACC, Josephine Hicks, has pointed out that the boundary violations started long before +Gene Robinson was ordained. She dates them from 2000 when five foreign bishops (including ++Sinclair and ++ Gomez confirmed candidates at the Pennsylvania church led by David Moyers of FIFNA.

However the record goes further back, to 1998 when Tom Johnston became rector of a parish in Little Rock, Arkansas over the objections of the diocesan bishop, Larry Maze. Instead of his letters dimissory being sent to Bishop Maze they were sent to20John Rucyahana in Rwanda. It's pretty much been downhill ever since.

Attempts by some to make a moratorium on litigation stick failed so we are left with the demand that TEC will continue to hold moratoria which discriminate against LGBT people. What will that achieve? There is no evidence that GAFCON will change their behavior whatever we do. Orombi, primate of Uganda, has not turned up at any meetings since he was elected to the Joint Standing Committee, chose to preach in England instead of showing up at the ACC, and had a hissy fit when he was not allowed to substitute an American 'Uganda' cleric as an ACC delegate.

Akinola of Nigeria has continued to support punitive action against LGBT people and their supporters in direct contradiction of Lambeth 1.10. Nigerian representatives at ACC were aggressive towards Colin Coward of Changing Attitude UK, rather than pastoral or willing to 'listen' or communicate 'across difference'. So who are we trying to appease? Even the TEC Communion Partners have been shown to be plotting against the Presiding Bishop. It becomes very difficult to know who has any interest in being reconciled with us. LGBT folk are being held hostage but there's no ransom note.

Which brings us to the 'Listening Process'. Canon Phil Groves gave a presentation to ACC and announced a grant of $1.5m to continue an 'indaba' process.

We are now very far from the original 'listening to the experience of gay and lesbian persons' which was 'mandated' in that 'standard of teaching' Lambeth 1.10. This new 'Listening Process' is to encourage conversation about other aspects of our faith - like the role of scripture.

The American Anglican Council (AAC) is crying foul because the money has been donated by an organization which receives money from the Ford Foundation. The Ford Foundation has perceptively noticed the way conservatives use sex and gender issues to further their own agenda, and is working to change public opinion in the area of healthy sexuality.

This is ironic given their own close connection to the right-wing Institute of Religion and Democracy and their funding by right winger Howie Ahmanson. I guess they just have short memories. The Listening Process has moved on - I guess they think they've heard from us. The political process of the Communion has moved on, leaving LGBT folk stranded. It's time for TEC to move on and leave the Anglican Communion where it belongs: in the hands of the Trinity.

Caro Hall
Director of Inter-Anglican Affairs

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

South Dakota elects its tenth Bishop

in only two ballots from a fine field of thoughtful and engaging candidates.

Here's a little about him from the Rapid City Journal:
With their children grown, the couple moved to Pierre because they were looking for a congregation that could benefit from their experience but perhaps didn’t have the financial resources of the wealthier East Coast churches he had previously served.

"We just clicked," he said of his call to South Dakota. "We absolutely love it. We love the landscape, we love the people. I love the work I’ve been able to do on the reservation.”

A self-described optimist and theological moderate, Tarrant said he thinks the Episcopal Church can be a witness to the rest of the world about how “we can live in unity even in the midst of our diversity" -- despite the national church’s schisms over the issues of same-sex marriage and the ordination of gays.


"I hate labels, but I would call myself a moderate," Tarrant said. "I think we need liberals to respect conservatives and conservatives to respect liberals and for all of us to not forget that we really do need to respect each other."

He admits that the national church hasn’t done a great job of that so far, but said past failures shouldn’t preclude the possibility of future success.

(Rev. Tarrant is a former chaplain of an Integrity chapter in Massachusetts.)

Monday, May 11, 2009

LGBT family-inclusive faith curriculum launched, fills gap

WASHINGTON, May 11 - Leading organizations today released a curriculum
designed to help faith communities support and embrace lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their families. The National Gay
and Lesbian Task Force's Institute for Welcoming Resources, COLAGE and
Family Equality Council announced that this multimedia curriculum will go a
long way in providing the necessary tools to make faith communities
affirming of LGBT people and their families.

"While many churches have done very well welcoming individual lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender members into their midst, many have not done so
well with LGBT families," says the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Institute for
Welcoming Resources and faith work director of the National Gay and Lesbian
Task Force. "But LGBT families deserve the same love and honor as all of
God's beloved families. This curriculum helps congregations extend God's
extravagant welcome to all of God's families - especially LGBT families."

All in God's Family includes concrete tools to educate faith leaders,
including a step-by-step guide to supporting LGBT families of faith and
tools for facilitating group learning, community dialogue, Bible study and
community action planning to highlight LGBT families in our communities.
Additionally, the curriculum includes Families Like Mine, a book about
adults with LGBT parents written by Abigail Garner, whose father is gay; the
youth-produced documentary In My Shoes: Stories of Youth with LGBT Parents;
and a CD containing the phototext exhibit "That's So Gay: Portraits of Youth
with LGBT Parents."

"I know many LGBT parents who struggle with faith," says Jennifer Chrisler,
executive director of Family Equality Council. "It can be difficult to find
a congregation that feels welcoming and supportive. Though they want raise
their children in a community that shares their values and beliefs, LGBT
parents also want their children to be embraced. That's why we partnered to
put together All in God's Family: Creating Allies for our LGBT Families. We
know there are thousands of congregations out there that want to embrace our
families. We want to give them the tools to do so more fully."

"For youth and adults with LGBTQ parents, finding a faith community where
your family is respected and reflected can be a challenge," says Meredith
Fenton, COLAGE program director. "COLAGE is pleased to be a partner on All
in God's Family: Creating Allies for our LGBT Families and invites your
faith community to use these tools to move beyond acceptance to full
inclusion and celebration of LGBTQ families."

All in God's Family: Creating Allies for Our LGBT Families can be acquired
for a suggested donation of $50.00. As a special promotion, the first 50
congregations to request the curriculum will receive it for free. All in
God's Family: Creating Allies for Our LGBT Families can be acquired at

Chicago Consultation Responds to Anglican Consultative Council Actions

contact: Rebecca Wilson, 330-524-2067,
Chicago Consultation Urges Deeper Communion Through Justice, Mission
CHICAGO, May 11, 2009--The Chicago Consultation released this statement
today from its co-convener Ruth Meyers in response to the Anglican
Consultative Council's affirmation of the recommendations made by the
Windsor Continuation Group and its decision to postpone the release of the
Anglican Covenant for consideration by provinces:
The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), meeting now in Kingston, Jamaica,
has committed itself to the hard work of debating recommendations and
documents that seek to define the Anglican Communion. We are grateful for
the efforts of its representatives, and we especially commend the decision
to delay sending a draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant to the provinces
until more work has been done that might strengthen, rather than tear down,
our common life.
However, we believe that the ACC and the Windsor Continuation Group have
made a grievous error by concluding that God is calling us to exclude
baptized Christians who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender for the
sake of communion. These moratoria, which were requested in the Windsor
Report and by the primates, have not been formally agreed to by the
democratic structures of the Episcopal Church and are inconsistent with both
the Anglican tradition of seeking unity through diversity and with
scripture's mandate to do justice.
Moreover, much of the recent debate suggests that we are in danger of coming
to believe that the Anglican Communion is defined by meetings, documents and
resolutions rather than by our call to be the body of Christ in the world.
All baptized people share equally in that call and no resolution or
moratorium can diminish it.
At its best, the Anglican Communion is a manifestation of the body of Christ
in which the Holy Spirit blesses members from different cultures and
contexts in various ways and gives us grace to embrace all of these gifts.
All around us, we see evidence that this Communion—strengthened by common
prayer and sacraments, mutual mission, and ministry of our gay, lesbian
bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters—offers rich possibility for
our common life.
Sometimes this way is difficult, but we believe it is the path on which God
is calling us to go forward together. We urge the Anglican Consultative
Council, the working group to be appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury,
and the Episcopal Church to follow by doing justice and seeking true
communion, without fear about where God might lead us.
The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy
and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender (GLBT) 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.
Editor's note: The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers is Co-Convener of The Chicago
Consultation; Professor of Liturgics at Seabury-Western Theological
Seminary; and Deputy from the Diocese of Chicago.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Weekly Witness For 9 May 2009

This issue covers what's been happening during the past 2 weeks...

Bishop Singh Lobbies For Marriage Equality

The Bishop of Rochester, Prince Singh, and a number of Integrity members participated in the Empire State Pride Agenda's Equality & Justice Day in Albany, NY, on April 28th. Neil Houghton, Integrity's Northeast Regional Vice President, was one for the local organizers. Governor David Paterson recently introduced a bill that could make New York the 6th marriage equality state if Senate reticence can be overcome.

Bishop Singh spoke at an outdoor rally. You can see the video here.

Susan Russell Reports From Philadelphia and Washington, DC

This week I had the extraordinary opportunity to represent Integrity USA in two historic venues--in the pulpit at Christ Church, Philadelphia and in the hall of Congress on Capitol Hill.

In Philadelphia, I had the honor of being the preacher at the interfaith service concluding the Equality Forum 2009--a national gathering of LGBT activists that included San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom as a keynote speaker.

There was a deep sense of being part of history in that place--not only of the history that seeps out of the pours of Christ Church where the first General Convention met in 1789 and where Bishop William White is buried--not only the history of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell we all learned about in grade school--but the history we are living in 2009 as we see "liberty and justice for all" come closer to really meaning "all" with this week's gains on marriage equality.

After the truly awesome experience of preaching from the pulpit where generations of Episcopal preachers have stood (a sermon entitled "Patience isn't all it's cracked up to be" and posted on the Christ Church website) I took a late train to Washington DC in order to be part of the "Clergy Call for Justice" sponsored by the HRC (Human Rights Campaign).

Hundreds of clergy from every state and many denominations and faiths stood together on the Washington Mall and called for Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill and to end employment discrimination by supporting a fully inclusive ENDA bill. What an honor to stand with Rabbis Steven Jacobs and Denise Eger, with Tony and Peggy Campolo, with Pastor Erin Swenson ... well, it was a FABULOUS Cloud of Witnesses! (Read an AP report on the gathering here.)

After the press conference (pictured above) we split up into state delegations and called on our senate and house representatives for one-on-one lobbying conversations about moving this legislation forward. (Here's a photo of just some of the Episcopal clergy who participated:)

It was--to say the least--a full week! But it was one full not only with events, meetings and travel but with the abundant blessing of taking our gospel message of God's inclusive love to both allies and decision makers as we continue to call both our church and our nation to live up to their high calling to embrace all members--to empower all citizens--equally.

Provincial Synod Road Show Continues

Three more presentations have been given to General Convention deputies on LGBT issues:

  • Fred Ellis, a past president of Integrity, spoke at the Province VII Synod on May 2nd in Dallas. About 16 people attended.
  • Cynthia Black spoke at the Province V Synod on May 4th in Detroit. About 25 people attended.
  • John Clinton Bradley, Integrity's acting executive director, spoke at the Province II Synod on May 7th in Albany. About 30 people attended.
IT IS IMPARATIVE THAT YOU TALK TO YOUR BISHOP AND DEPUTIES BETWEEN NOW AND GENERAL CONVENTION! Ask them to vote for resolutions in Anaheim that will move the Episcopal Church beyond B033 and forward on marriage equality. Visit for more info.

Voices of Witness Africa Completed

The final version of the Voices of Witness Africa video is done. A DVD and study guide will be mailed to all active bishops and General Convention deputies next week by the Chicago Consultation with the logistical assistance of Integrity. If you are interested in screening this 30-minute documentary in your parish, please contact Rebecca Wilson of the Chicago Consultation at

Vote Today!

If your membership is current, you should have received by mail a paper ballot to elect Integrity USA's next Board of Directors and provincial coordinators. Members of the Stakeholders' Council should have received a separate ballot to elect their chair and vice-chair. You can read brief bios of each candidate at ALL BALLOTS MUST BE POSTMARKED BY MAY 30TH!

Two New Resources From IWR

The Institute for Welcoming Resources--of which Integrity is a proud affiliate--recently released two new resources related to welcoming and affirming congregations:

Building an Inclusive Church: A Welcoming Toolkit

Drawing upon twenty five years of experience within a variety of Christian denominations, this Toolkit is a step-by-step guide to help facilitate a Welcoming Process in your local congregation. Biblically and theologically based, it uses tools of relational organizing, congregational assessment, conflict management and change theory.

Click here to download Building an Inclusive Church: A Welcoming Toolkit (pdf)

To Do Justice: A Study of Welcoming Congregations

In order to both highlight the vibrancy, faithfulness and power of the Welcoming Movement and to counter the “false witness” of those who seek to quash this movement of hospitality and justice, the Institute for Welcoming Resources surveyed pastors and leaders of 1,200 Welcoming congregations to ask them about their work and witness. Two areas emerged that warrant particular focus and celebration: 1) Successfully completing a Welcoming Process makes a congregation more likely to work and witness on other justice issues. 2) Congregations that directly engage the question of welcoming LGBT persons have low levels of conflict.

Click here to download To Do Justice (pdf)

Unblogged News

Episcopal News Service
ACC affirms Windsor Continuation Group recommendations

Episcopal News Service
Phil Groves addresses media on the Listening Process

Episcopal News Service
Listening Process ready to move to next phase

Associated Press
Maine becomes 5th state to allow same-sex marriage

Friday, May 1, 2009

Judy Shepard comments on Hate Crimes bill

Judy Shepard on video from the Rachel Maddow show, why we need this legislation and her reaction to the Congresswoman who called Matt's hate crime death a hoax.