Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Renewed Vision for Integrity USA

Making God’s Love Tangible Everywhere

Integrity Vision Statement

Max Niedwiecki
Executive Director


Since 1974, when Integrity began, the Episcopal Church has become much more welcoming to people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.  We just ordained our first openly lesbian bishop, after having ordained our first openly gay bishop.  Marriages between people who share the same sex or gender are celebrated in many diocese.  The Church is developing rites and pastoral resources for the blessing of same-sex relationships on a national scale.  The Church has spoken out in favor of equality in civil marriage, immigration, and other domains of public life.

But there is still much work to be done.  Episcopal congregations, the Episcopal Church, and our broader society do not yet give full witness to God’s love for all.

Twin Focus Areas

Making God’s Love Tangible In and Through the Episcopal Church

Integrity will continue to be a leader in making “all the sacraments for all the baptized” a reality throughout the Episcopal Church so that all Episcopalians are able to serve God as they were born to do.

We can do this by:

  • Providing resources and support to members, chapters, Proud Parish Partners and Integrity Believe Out Loud Congregations so they can be more effective on the parochial and diocesan levels
o   Believe Out Loud trainings on the diocesan and parish levels
o   Mentorship opportunities that link people on issues such as making parishes more welcoming
o   Educational materials on Integrity’s website, as well as materials that could be adapted to local needs (e.g., draft letters to the editor on various topics, draft resolutions for diocesan conventions, information sheets)
o   Opportunities to experience the links that bind us together as local, regional, and national communities
o   Partnerships with colleague organizations that support broader diversity aims that go beyond the LGBT community
o   Displays and encouragement to represent Integrity at diocesan conventions
o   Media training

  • Serving as an information channel to enrich the work of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music as it develops resources for the blessing of same-sex relationships

  • Encouraging partners to act on Integrity’s charge to “make God’s love tangible in and through the Episcopal Church”

  • Advocating for positive change at General Convention 2012
o   Coordination with partners at General Convention
o   Opportunities for members to have their voices heard on priorities and strategies, and to demonstrate that Integrity is an authentic voice for LGBT people and their friends
o   Educational efforts for deputies and bishops

... and other activities not listed here 

Integrity will let the wider society know about God’s inclusive love for all – including LGBT people – as it is expressed by the
Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church is a leading voice for truth and justice in the world.  As a national body the Church has clearly voiced support for marriage equality, as well as equality in the immigration system and other domains of public life.  Because of this, the Church draws the ire of those who would seek to make the oppression of LGBT people permanent, and the admiration of many others.  We will provide a distinctively Episcopalian voice on issues of social importance, and we can do that by:

  • Letting the world know that the Episcopal Church is on the side of justice when it comes to marriage equality, immigration equality, school bullying, and other issues
o   Model a “diverse” community that is motivated by inclusive love, within our own leadership and network
o   Work with partners to support civil rights initiatives like equality in marriage and immigration, especially in battleground states
o   Walking With Integrity blog and email list
o   Friday Flash
o   Face Book pages
o   Many other communications channels

  • Supporting the capacity development of allied groups globally, as our resources permit
o   Continued engagement with Bishop Christopher Senyonjo and his colleagues in Uganda

  • Letting LGBT people and those who love them know that there can be a spiritual home for them in the Episcopal Church

... and other activities not listed here 

Integrity’s Mission and Infrastructure Development

Unity and Diversity

In order to effectively promote justice within and through the Episcopal Church, Integrity will concentrate on strengthening its infrastructure of members, Chapters, Proud Parish Partners, and Integrity Believe Out Loud Congregations.  Integrity will also invigorate its Stakeholders Council, increase and diversify its individual membership, and continue to develop its network of Provincial Coordinators and Diocesan Organizers.  The people who populate these roles will all be essential components and decision-makers in the fulfillment of Integrity’s renewed vision.

This infrastructure-building work will proceed hand-in-hand with Integrity’s mission-driven work.  We can best build infrastructure by working together within a common framework, adjusting the framework to our changing needs, and continuously drawing more people into our movement.

Our broad strategy will be to provide coordination and resources that help our members pursue the goals that they have for their church and society.  The communities we work with are different, and at the national level Integrity’s work will mirror that diversity: Some leaders and groups will want to focus on making their parishes more welcoming; others may want to focus on General Convention, speak out for marriage equality, and/or support LGBT rights within the broader Anglican Communion.

Integrity will be as much a “bottom-up” as a “top-down” organization.  At the national level, we will follow the lead set by our members, as much as seek to lead them; we will be attentive listeners, as well as persuasive speakers.  Our job is not to dictate, but to coordinate, cultivate enthusiasm, and make the national network that we call “Integrity” powerful as a single body composed of diverse, dynamic, interrelated parts.


Anonymous said...

My second son is gay. I love him dearly. I joined Integrity because I believe in what you are doing. The short time I have been a member it seems that simple tasks are taking on more complex roles. I have a thorough understanding of what a vision is. After reading the revised rendention.....what is your vision. It should be brief, lofty and attainable, not some document a committee of lawyers would write. It is trite and before most of your times, but the classic example is "put a man on the moon by the end of the decade." A third grade "jock" can understand that, again what is the Integrity Vision???

Jeff Martinhauk said...

What a joy that we are in a place to be able to shift towards this more celebratory vision! But please do not leave us behind who are in dioceses of the church where all of the good progress General Convention has made is only a distant idea. This vision for Integrity seems to imply that the hard work we still have in front of us is already done, and there are still places where we still need a lot of help; where we are not anywhere close to access to all the sacraments for all the baptized, and where diocesan canons still prohibit LGBT ordination, and are likely not to comply with any action at 2012 GC around same-sex blessings. Don't forget us!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, Jeff - I hear you. In fact, I also live in a diocese (Louisiana) where there is A LOT of work to be done. I look forward to the day when my partner of 24 years and I can be married in our home church. Rest assured, diocese like ours will not be forgotten as Integrity moves towards 2012!

Lindy said...

That's fine and well... if you live in Newark, or a handful of other places. I think your energy might be better spent warning people that in fact most of The Episcopal Church remains hostile, and while you might wish that the actions of General Convention actually carried some weight, the fact is that they don't.

I wish you a lot of luck. I hope you all get what you want. But, in the meantime, don't try to hoodwink people into thinking they've found a safe spiritual home. That's not right.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lindy,

Thank you for your comment.

I totally agree with you that the Episcopal Church still has a long way to go. My own diocese - Louisiana - is a case in point. And I agree with you that many Episcopal congregations do not yet provide "safe spiritual homes" for LGBT people.

But I think that LGBT people can find a spiritual home in the Episcopal Church, even if they live in diocese like mine that do not provide all the sacraments to all the baptized. And even where welcoming congregations are not present, there might be an Integrity chapter, or an LGBT person or friend might like to start one. Or someone might like to participate in Integrity's activities that are not geographically based - like meetings of the Stakeholders Council that we are now launching.

I don't think we've met. But in any case, I hope you will "walk with Integrity" (sorry for the pun) as we work to make the Episcopal Church all it should be.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your note, KYLANDMAN. We have struggled to find a brief new vision statement. It's really hard to match up to "All the sacraments for all the baptized" (which remains a huge part of our vision). The shortest we have now is "LGBT people and friends making God's love tangible everywhere." Sometimes we continue that with the phrase "-both in and through the Episcopal Church." Please help us improve this, and God bless!