Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NGLTF/GLAAD Press Release



Media Contacts:       


Pedro Julio Serrano, Communications Manager, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

646.358.1479 (office), 787.602.5954 (cell), pserrano@thetaskforce.org


Ann Craig, Director of Religion Faith and Values, GLAAD

213.703.1365, craig@glaad.org


National faith leaders hold vigil in D.C. to challenge Kansas City evangelist headed to Uganda with anti-gay message


WASHINGTON, April 27 — The Bishops and Elders Council of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force convened this week in Washington, D.C., to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Christian traditions.  In response to a call to action from LGBT leaders in Uganda, they held a noontime vigil, Tuesday, April 27, at the National City Christian Church, to support Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are facing increasing persecution.


Ugandan LGBT people have experienced threats and violence while their national Parliament considers a proposed “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” which would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment or even death. Political and religious leaders across the globe have condemned the proposed legislation but it remains under consideration.


Into this volatile situation, Lou Engle, a Kansas City evangelist is planning a stadium evangelism rally in Uganda.  Engle has a track record of referring to gay people as having demons and preaching a message of God’s wrath.


Last week, leaders of Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) issued an action alert which asked leaders in the United States “to take action to ensure that Lou Engle and his associates do not set foot in Uganda….the inflammatory preaching of Lou Engle and his associates is likely to incite further violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people in Uganda.”


Bishop Yvette Flunder, Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship, said, “Christians are called to share a message of love and inclusion, not fear and rejection.  Lou Engle is stuck in old-fashioned judgmentalism when the true call is to love our neighbors—whether in Kansas, Washington, D.C. or Uganda.” 


Rev. Roland Stringfellow, United Church of Christ minister said, “It is wrong and dangerous to dehumanize anyone by saying they are demon possessed. Lou Engle needs to preach God’s love and acceptance, not God’s wrath and vengeance.”


“Increasingly, Christians in the United States are accepting their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender family members.  It is wrong for US evangelists to now go to Uganda and ask them to reject and condemn their own family members—their church members—their neighbors—because of who they love or their gender identity,” said Rev. Nancy L. Wilson, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches.


“The Bishops and Elders Council is made up of leaders in over twenty communions and networks that represent over five million Christians who support the core values of our faith—love of God and neighbor—including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” said Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Faith Work Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.


Harry Knox, Director of Religion and Faith for the Human Rights Campaign said, “The whole world needs to see another face of Christianity from the United States.  We need to say loudly and clearly that persecution of LGBT people in Uganda is wrong.  In Malawi, in Brazil, in Iran, in Eastern Europe, in Jamaica, in the USA and the whole world, when sexual orientation and gender identity are used to imprison, execute or persecute people, it must stop.  As people of faith, we can come to no other conclusion.”



Monday, April 26, 2010

Anglican Covenant no longer enough for Global South.

The Reverend Dr. Caroline  Hall
Former Integrity VP of International Affairs

The bishops of the Global South (read GAFCON) have just completed a meeting in Singapore. As is customary they have provided a closing statement. Most of it is unremarkable and you can read it all here.

Of course they’re unhappy that we’re about to ordain Mary Glasspool as a bishop. The sting is in the tail. Here they suggest that everyone who signs the Anglican Covenant must also be in compliance with Lambeth 1.10. It’s like a stuck record (remember those?) which just keeps going round and round and coming back to the same thing. And so we keep pointing out the irony that the Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1:10 says a lot more than they want it to. There’s probably no Anglican Province which is in ‘compliance’ – those who condemn homosexuality are not listening to the experience of gay people while those who listen to us also accept us as full members and do not see this as contravening Scripture.

The Global South bishops also keep trying to make the Primates Meeting the highest authority in the Communion and to cut the Anglican Consultative Council (which includes lay people) out of the picture, so now they describe the Primates Meeting as responsible for “Faith and Order”. This is not part of the original purpose - the Primates Meeting was created for “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation” nor is it the “enhanced responsibility in offering guidance on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters” recommended by the 1998 Lambeth Conference. To say that the Primates Meeting is responsible for “Faith and Order” is to imagine a completely different Anglican Communion - one which is a single church with a hierarchical structure rather than the communion of churches which it is today. It’s never going to be a single church because no Primate wants to give up power.

So where next? The Global South bishops commend those Primates who are refusing to participate in meetings with the North American reprobates, they say the proposed Covenant is not good enough and they want to change the structure of the Anglican Communion. They justify their demands by saying that they represent the majority of the Anglican Communion. It is a democratic premise that the majority gets their way. But what the Global South wants is a less democratic structure. What the Global South wants is to get their own way and send the more democratic US and Canada packing. Would England be far behind?

In their final paragraph they lament “Over the last 20 years we have been distracted by conflicts and controversies that have kept us from effectively fulfilling the Great Commission.” Yet they keep revisiting and adding to the conflicts and controversies. Might I respectfully suggest that they stop allowing themselves to be distracted and concentrate on fulfilling the Great Commission in their own countries so that we can get on with fulfilling the Great Commission in our own way?

The Reverend Dr. Caroline Hall (‘Caro’) is a graduate of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP). She grew up in the Church of England and had a varied career in social work, education and business in England, Scotland and the US before ordination. Her PhD was earned through the University of Leeds, UK.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

URGENT CALL TO ACTION: Join the Campaign to Stop Exporting Homophobia



Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) condemns Lou Engle’s upcoming crusade scheduled for May 2, 2010. The crusade could cause incalculable damage, as it is designed to label homosexuality as a “vice” in Uganda and to incite people to “fight” against this “vice” in society. In the context of an already inflamed extremist religious movement against homosexuality in Uganda sparked off by American evangelicals, the inflammatory preaching of Lou Engle and his associates is likely to incite further violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people in Uganda.

Sexual Minorities Uganda calls on all human rights defenders, organizations, religious communities and leaders, governments, and civil society, globally to take action to ensure that Lou Engle and his associates do not set foot in Uganda and that the Call Uganda does not proceed with this inflammatory and hate-inducing plan. While Sexual Minorities Uganda supports freedom of worship, we recognize the need for restriction on any speech that incites hatred and violence against a minority group. If a prayer event is to be held in Uganda, it should be done in a manner which encourages Christ-like love and acceptance and does not incite hatred and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people.


Lou Engle’s extremist and violence-laden preaching is often laced with references to gay people as being possessed by demons. During a rally for Proposition 8 in California, he called for Christian martyrs. His inflammatory speech and focus on martyrdom can easily incite people in Uganda to disregard people’s human rights and go to extreme measures to eliminate whatever they characterize as “evil” or a “vice”. For example, Lou Engle preaches, “The most ‘dangerous terrorist’ is not Islam but God. One of God’s names is the avenger of blood. Have you worshiped that God yet?”

The crusade is organized by TheCall Uganda and ten Ugandan Pentecostal pastors. According to www.thecalluganda.com, the crusade is ‘intended to awaken and revive the young and the old, men and women, church and family, government and the public to fight vices eating away our society’. TheCall intends to address homosexuality in Uganda as a what they label a “vice”. The crusade is preceded by a 21 day fast.

Lou Engle is a core founder of TheCALL in the U.S. but has expanded chapters to different countries. Last year, TheCALL sent an American Evangelical, JoAnna Watson of Touching Hearts International, to be based in Uganda full-time to orchestrate this crusade to fight vices like homosexuality.

This crusade could have the same kind of impact that the March 2009 anti-gay conference had in Uganda. Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge and Don Schmierer reinforced the desire of some religious leaders to persuade the government to create laws which would eliminate homosexuality from the nation. Eventually, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced in the Parliament of Uganda by MP’s David Bahati and Benson Obua.

Lou Engle’s crusade will be the second major American evangelist event with an anti-homosexuality agenda after the trio to set foot in Uganda and will definitely incite our people into more hatred of homosexuals that may lead to further violence. This is very evident with the nature of preaching that he does in the US. He claims that homosexuals have demons and has mobilized Americans on several occasions for anti –gay rallies. Since the Bill was tabled, the rate of violence and homophobia has increased drastically in Uganda. Lou Engle’s inflammatory preaching is likely to exacerbate an already worrying situation

•Call and/or write Letters of Protest to TheCall Ministries and ask them stop exporting homophobia to Uganda. The event they are organizing is dangerous to LGBTI people in Uganda.

JoAnna Watson, Coordinator of The Call Uganda
Email: Joannawatsonthint@yahoo.com
Phone: +256 779 864 985

Lou Engle
Email: response@thecall.com
Phone: +1 816 285 9351

•Hold demonstrations and/or marches in Kansas City where Lou Engle’s church is located and protest against TheCALL Uganda





For further information, contact;
1.Valentine Kalende
Email: kalendenator@gmail.com
Tel: +256752324249

2. Frank Mugisha

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Observing Easter as Exodus

The following is a sermon that my seminarian for this year Kori Pacyniak and I composed and delivered together. We were inspired to do a combined sermon because of our discovery in conversation that we were both puzzled by the same, somewhat obscure, facet of Sunday's gospel passage. In addition, I had already planned to incorporate a story told by Rhiannon O'Donnabhain at an event we put on at St. Luke's and St. Margaret's to honor her and GLAD's February legal victory (which I mentioned in a recent blog post about recent major happenings in the transgender community). We shared Rhiannon's words in the sermon and in blog form with her permission.

Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge


St. Luke’s and St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church
Easter 3: Sunday, April 18, 2010
Cameron Partridge & Kori Pacyniak

An Exodus Observed

CP: Welcome to the third Sunday of Easter, day fifteen of the Great Fifty Days. In these poignant days we encounter again and again, in manners both mundane and mysterious, the reality of resurrection life. On Easter Sunday itself we stood before the empty tomb and met in the Gospel of Luke an exodus of the body. Last week in the Upper Room we stood in awe with Thomas and the terrified disciples and received an invitation into a body marked by exodus. This week, by the Sea of Tiberias, we observe an Easter exodus in progress. We watch as Peter responds to the revelation that Easter is neither something that simply happened to his beloved Jesus, nor something from which he should run away, but rather an event toward and into which he must move. Easter as exodus transforms resurrection into action, into movement outward, into freedom and newness of life. Peter enacts the dynamics of this Easter Exodus encounter with his very clothing; he must put on resurrection like a garment lest, as Paul puts it in Second Corinthians, he simply be found naked (2 Cor 5:3). And yet…

KP: What was the one line that leapt out at me when I looked at today’s readings? “When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.” How could it be that I didn’t remember ever hearing this line before? I think I would have remembered something this odd and perhaps even shocking. Slightly disturbed by my faulty memory, I glanced through various translations and discovered that the version I would have grown up with did not mention nakedness at all. Was it really just a translation issue or did some authorities not want to deal with the questions that this would inevitably bring? Why was Peter naked while fishing and why did he put on clothes to go swim to the Lord? Though I have no answer to the first question, it seems less consequential than the second question. Why did Peter put on clothes before jumping into the water to swim to Jesus? It seems contrary to every aspect of common sense. It was just after dawn, the water would still be cold and more wet clothes would mean one would be colder longer. Generally speaking, you take off your clothes to go swimming. What was it about this instance, about being told that it was Lord on the shore that makes Peter seem to defy common sense and reason?

CP: Of course, I too was struck by — even stuck on — Peter’s nakedness and how he responds with such seeming lack of logic to the presence of his risen Lord on the beach. Now, commentaries suggest that perhaps “naked” doesn’t mean “buck naked” but simply scantily clothed; Peter may have been wearing a only fishermen’s smock which he then tucks into his cincture before jumping into the water (see Raymond Brown, citing Barret, Lagrange & Marrow, The Gospel According to John XIII-XXI. The Anchor Bible Commentary (New York: Double Day, 1970), 1072). But regardless, when presented with the presence of the risen Jesus, he does two things that pull in different, almost opposite, directions: 1) he covers up his nakedness, his unreadiness, the vulnerability with which he was caught offguard; and, or rather, but 2) he still leaves everything behind and dives into the water, wanting nothing more than to be with the one who had called him with the words “follow me.” What we are observing here is a resurrection exodus in progress, in all its messiness. This is an ordinary person like each of us responding to the invitation of Easter that calls us out from our routines, disrupts our patterns of life, exposes our vulnerabilities, retells our stories in the ever-new frames of salvation history, as our current Prayers of the People puts it, as in the liturgy of Easter Vigil.

KP: We heard one such story here recently. On Thursday evening, April 8, you may recall, SLAM hosted an event to honor Rhiannon O’Donnabhain and the attorneys from GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the folks who helped bring Massachusetts equal mariage) who represented her in the case O’Donnabhain vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The IRS had audited Rhiannon’s 2002 tax return and had deemed as “cosmetic” rather than “medical” the expenses she had written off related to her transition from male to female. They had asked her to pay back her refund, but she had refused. The case went to trial here in Boston in July, 2007, and on February 2nd the decision was announced: she had won. This was a huge victory for the trans community across the US, an early legal building block for victories yet to come.

CP: But what struck several of us, as we sat where you are and listened to Rhiannon and GLAD lead attorney Karen Lowey, were their stories. How Rhiannon’s courage propelled her out from routine and complacency into a terrifying limbo. And how that in-between place became a place where her community rose to the challenge, where her connection with community buoyed her and enabled her to move forward, even amid fear and anxiety. This was not the first time she had moved outward in this way; the story she told was a very personal one about her original decision to transition, which she has written out and given us permission to share today.

KP: “For a very long time, I felt that I was treading water in a very cold and deep ocean, barely keeping my head above water. I was afraid to start swimming for fear that someone might laugh at the way I swim… I couldn’t even see the shore…. It was always so far away. I didn’t even know which direction to swim. I was drowning! Finally, I realized what I had to do to live…… I had to start swimming! To save my life! I took a risk and started swimming because I didn’t want to drown. I wanted to live! I had been swimming for what seemed like forever and I could finally make out a distant shore! It was still a long way off, but at least I could see it! I was still not a very good swimmer. I made mistakes along the way. I had never done this before! But I was determined. I would reach that far-away shore! Finally the shore got nearer and nearer. I had never been a quitter, and I was determined to succeed at what I set out to do! In my mind, I visualized that I emerged from the water riding a white horse up onto a beautiful sunny beach. In my visualization, I had already done it…! And I did do it! I rode up and out of the water on that beautiful white horse onto the beach and rode into to a new life!”

CP: Resurrection is about living, swimming, riding, into new life. It means being willing to move outward from our history into our future, always bearing that history with us—indeed, sometimes burdened by it—even when the shore is further than 100 yards away, even when we can’t see it. Resurrection is something into which we are thrown like the deep end of the pool. It is an event and a process, indeed, an Exodus that leads to life more beautiful and mysterious than we can imagine. At its beginning we can only catch the smallest of glimpses, but it is there, waiting for us. We have to be willing to be vulnerable, to take the risk of diving in and swimming-- even if we stop to cover our nakedness first -- to leave behind the familiar to encounter the living Christ, knowing that we will never be the same.

KP: Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he showed himself in this way. Amen.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Lutheran Church Embraces the LGBTQ Community!

By:  Dr. Cindi Love

After twenty-five years of deliberation, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Church Council has abolished its anti-gay policies, effective immediately.

Following from discussions at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly last summer, the ELCA will now allow people in same-sex relationships to serve as rostered leaders. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) human beings are no longer considered abominations but blessed church members with full standing. Same-sex partners and families can now fully participate in the ELCA Pension Plan.

Best of all, the ELCA is reinstating people who were removed from ministry positions because they were truthful and came out of the closet, as well as those who conducted holy unions for non-heterosexual couples. The ELCA has practiced restorative justice.

The Lutherans -- breaking from Garrison Keillor stereotypes as shy, retiring, or stoic -- said, "Just do it!" All votes passed overwhelmingly, with no votes against and no drawn-out hassles about how to implement the policies.

Read the rest of the article here.

Best of all, the ELCA is reinstating people who were removed from ministry positions because they were truthful and came out of the closet, as well as those who conducted holy unions for non-heterosexual couples. The ELCA has practiced restorative justice.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My brother speaks!

My brother comments to the NY Times on this book review of the new book Thine Is The Kingdom.

To the Editor:

Jon Meacham’s review of “Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years” (“Thine Is The Kingdom,” April 4, 2010) fails to acknowledge an active groundswell of serious progressive theologians, ministers and congregants who wholeheartedly take the Bible seriously but not literally. Meacham’s statement that “a foundational belief” of Christianity is that Jesus’ death was substitional atonement for the sins of humankind flies in the face of scholarly research into first-century Christianity by such noted academics as Elaine Pagels, Richard Horsley and John Dominic Crossan. As an active member of the United Church of Christ, I can assure you that I embrace the wisdom that Jesus brought into the world and recognize its power to save (that is, to redeem our humanity and to bring us into alignment with Creation). I can do this without checking my twenty-first century brain at the church door. To assert that knowledge and faith are at odds is to diminish our God-given attributes in service of nothing.

Reed Price
Bainbridge Island, WA

Newsweek: On Mary Glasspool

A Traditionalist Who Shakes Tradition
By Lisa Miller
Newsweek Web Exclusive

Nobody seems to care that the new Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles is a lesbian. Don't blame distraction by the Catholics.
In 1974, when Mary Glasspool was 22 years old, she delivered to her father two unwelcome bits of news. First, she was gay. Second, she wanted to follow in his footsteps and become an Episcopalian priest. The Rev. Douglas M. Glasspool was not wholly pleased. He belonged to a conservative church Tradition—as he would have said, "capital T, please." He opposed women's ordination on theological principle and did not allow girls to be acolytes, or altar servers, in his church. Confronted with his daughter's revelations, he did what any loving father would do. He swallowed his objections the best he could.

"I was an exception to his rule," Glasspool reflects, "not an example of the rule itself. That's how he was able to live with it. In his own gracious way, he sort of separated out public and private. I think he honestly was proud of me on a personal level and wanted to support me but couldn't break out of the kind of characteristics he himself promoted as someone who upheld the Tradition." Mary Glasspool was ordained in 1981. Her father stood proudly by.

Last month, for the second time in its history, the Episcopal Church in America elected an openly gay person as a bishop. The Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool—an experienced administrator and human-rights advocate from Maryland—will be consecrated as Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan at a ceremony in May. To date, her election has generated astonishingly few headlines. "People have in a caring way asked if I've received any hate mail," says Glasspool. "I really haven't."

The Catholic news explosion can't take all the blame for the Americans' disinterest in Glasspool. Their disinterest—in her sexuality at least—is genuine. In 2003, Gene Robinson, a gay man, became the Bishop of New Hampshire—an event still credited with triggering schisms within the Episcopalian denomination and causing the defection of thousands of devout churchgoers to more conservative corners of Christendom. In seven short years, attitudes have changed—dramatically. Polls show that support for gays in the military, gay marriage, and civil unions has been, for most of this decade, steadily rising. Even diehard conservatives concede that the battle over gay rights (if not gay marriage) is more or less over. Half of Americans have a close friend or a family member who is gay, according to a 2009 CNN poll. "A human face always makes harsh judgment more difficult," wrote Michael Gerson last month in The Washington Post.

Here, Glasspool's father offers a human lesson. Traditionalists often capitulate to change without enthusiasm—or even willingness—but because someone they love insists on violating old, accepted rules. A daughter wants to vote, say, or go to college, or marry outside her race (or religion), or join the army. Eleven women were unofficially ordained in the Episcopal Church in 1974, a symbolic gesture of defiance. The usual panic ensued, the expected denouncements. Two years later, the church approved the ordination of women; today, more than a third of Episcopal priests are female. The highest Episcopalian cleric in the land, the Presiding Bishop, is Katharine Jefferts Schori—a former oceanographer and a woman.

Jefferts Schori won't call herself a feminist or a gay-rights activist—only a Christian. "We claim a faith that has a vision of what civilization ought to look like, called the reign of God, or the kingdom of God. When current reality is dramatically divergent from that vision, most of us feel it's our responsibility to advocate for a different vision," she told me. And it was, perhaps, this Christian vision that allowed her—and those who elected Glasspool—to overlook a warning that came from their superior, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, back in December. Glasspool's election, he wrote, "poses very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole."

Was the selection of Glasspool, then, an act of defiance? "It's not in defiance of anything.…People have made their decision carefully, with abundant consideration for impact on others but also out of a sense that they deeply feel is correct," the Presiding Bishop said.

Read the rest of the article here.
Lisa Miller is NEWSWEEK's religion editor and the author of Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination With the Afterlife.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Watershed Event for a 320 Year Old Parish

 Ann Turner
Convener of Integrity's New Chapter
Virginia Beach, Virginia

On March 19 & 20, Eastern Shore Chapel Episcopal Church in Virginia Beach welcomed Bishop John Shelby Spong for a two-day lecture series entitled Discovering A New Christianity For A New World. The church, which seats 400, was filled to capacity. People had come from all across the state, some from out of state. Many were Eastern Shore Chapel parishioners, many were from other churches, other denominations. This was a watershed event in the life of this 320-year old parish.

After many, many years of being quietly inclusive, Eastern Shore Chapel is making some noise. In 2009, the clergy and staff began preparations to launch a new lecture series in 2010. The invitation to Bishop Spong to be our inaugural speaker was very intentional. We knew that this would send an important message – loud and clear – to our community about who we were and where we stood. But we didn’t stop there.

At its meeting on March 16, 2010, the Vestry voted unanimously to become a Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregation. The words of long-time parishioner and former Senior Warden Lee Davis were typical of the parish’s reaction to this decision: “Our national church and many, many congregations have been through heartbreaking, gut wrenching gyrations trying to work out our future direction now that the issue of inclusion of homosexuals in our church is ‘out of the closet.’ It has been sad to watch and to be part of. I believe we must resolve the issue and move on – hopefully forward – in our walk of faith. I thank you for having the courage to stand up and vote to make Eastern Shore Chapel a Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregation…I am proud to be a member of Eastern Shore Chapel!”

Just a few days later, we applied for Chapter-in-Formation status for Integrity Virginia Beach Chapter. Within hours the Integrity Virginia Beach Facebook page had over 20 fans. “This is great!” posted a former Vestry member and one of our first chapter members.

While Bishop Spong was received with warmth and excitement at his recent visit to Eastern Shore Chapel, make no mistake, we weren’t certain of that reception as we were planning the event. Parishes within our diocese have been literally torn apart after the 2003 General Convention as they wrestled with the issue of inclusion. And don’t forget that Virginia Beach is home to Pat Robertson and his Regent University. Support for Integrity Virginia Beach is strong within our host parish, Eastern Shore Chapel, and the response thus far from other churches in the diocese has been positive. Our first meeting will be on April 19. With only one other Integrity chapter in the state, there is much to do. We are excited and energized and anxious to follow where the Spirit will lead us as we answer the call to work toward openness and understanding for all people.

STAY TUNED: Walking With Intergity hopes to spotlight several new Chapters in the coming months.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Integrity Chapter Opens in Virginia Beach, VA

By Patrick Wilson

The Virginian-Pilot
© April 12, 2010

An Episcopal church in Virginia Beach is the only one in the region and one of two in the state to join a national group calling for full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the church.

Eastern Shore Chapel Episcopal Church on Laskin Road recently formed a chapter of the Episcopal group Integrity. Last month, the church's vestry also approved a statement called "Believe Out Loud" that welcomes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in its congregation.

"Words are great, but you've got to put some action to the words," said the Rev. Chris Thompson, the rector at Eastern Shore Chapel. "The time was appropriate so we're going full speed ahead."

The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion of which it is a branch have faced internal division over homosexuality.

Acceptance is not new, however, for the Episcopal Church. In 1976, its General Convention passed a resolution saying gay and lesbian people are "children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church."

Read the rest of the story here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Integrity USA to bring Bishop Christopher Senyonjo of Uganda to US & Ireland for six week speaking tour on homophobia

Integrity USA will sponsor a visit by Bishop Christopher Senyonjo (ret.) from West Buganda, Uganda for a six week U.S. and European speaking tour. His visit will be an historic opportunity to hear the personal witness of a courageous man of faith who has proclaimed God's inclusive love and spoken truth to power in homophobic Uganda. Bishop Christopher has been a valiant straight ally of the LGBT community and has experienced firsthand the cost of discipleship for his work and witness. He brings words of both hope and challenge of all those working for equality and inclusion in the church.

Bishop Senyonjo has been an outspoken advocate for human rights in Uganda. He has taken great risks in defense of LGBT people in his country, a nation where lawmakers recently considered imposing a death penalty on homosexuals. He will address the homophobic and draconian anti-gay movement and legislation pending in Uganda.

His ministry with Integrity Uganda could soon outlawed by the government, and Bishop Christopher could be put in prison for his support of LGBT Ugandans. He has strongly condemned the bill as a violation of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights and a violation of the sacred bonds of the Ugandan extended family system. He calls the bill inhumane and was recently a part of a delegation to the Speaker of the House to reject the bill.

Please be a part of this historic tour, donate to support his work and share these venues with your friends.

CITIES ON THE TOUR : The bishop will be visiting the following communities:

Los Angeles May 10- 16th

Sacramento May 17-18th

San Diego May 19-21st

Orange County May 15-16th and 21st

San Francisco May 22-26th

Minneapolis May 27- 31st

 New York June 6th-8th, 13th-17th

Belfast and Dublin Ireland June 18-21st

Contact Tour Coordinator:
Rev, Canon Albert J. Ogle
Vice President for National and International Affairs,
Integrity USA
949 338 8830

Friday, April 9, 2010

Integrity Celebrates Mary Glasspool's Consecration

Integrity invites you to participate in a celebratory dinner following the consecration of Mary D. Glasspool as a bishop in The Episcopal Church. This will be a time for Integrity members and friends to enjoy each other's company and give thanks for this milestone.

Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 6:00 PM (PT)
Fuego Restaurant @ Hotel Maya
700 Queensway Drive
Long Beach CA 90802

The cost is $68.50 per person. Four entrées--including a vegetarian option--are available. Seating is limited. Sales end May 07, 2010.

More info and tickets available at http://maryglasspool.eventbrite.com/.

Diocese of Utah announces slate for bishop election

From the Diocese of Utah website:

The Very Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe
The Rev. Canon Juan Andres Quevedo-Bosch
The Rev. Canon Scott B. Hayashi
The Rev. Canon Mary C. M. Sulerud

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dante Tavolaro: A New Sense of Holy Week

A New Sense of Holy Week
Dante A. Tavolaro

5 April 2010

I have spent a lot of time thinking about the recent election and consent of Mary Glasspool to the episcopate. In fact, it was one point of my focus as I journeyed though Holy Week. As a young gay and transgender person, who is incredibly active in the life of the Church, the recent years on LGBT inclusion of been of supreme importance to me. It seems to me that our movement and struggle in the life of The Episcopal Church has a bit of a Holy Week feel to it.

Palm Sunday is the celebration of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. This process was incredibly counter-cultural. In fact on the opposite side of the city a royal procession, with all the pomp and circumstance, was taking place. Jesus’ triumphal and final entrance into Jerusalem marks the beginning of a new time of something very different about to happen. It is a joyous time, but the events that take place later in the week are looming. In 2003, the General Convention approved the election of Gene Robinson to the New Hampshire episcopate. This historic day marked the genesis of a new era in the church. It had finally happened, what so many of us had been waiting for: there was now an openly gay member in the House of Bishops. For many it was a joyous and triumphal time. It was something that was counter-cultural for the Church. It was something we’ve never done before. Just as there were those who were deeply afraid of Jesus and his growing following, those who would go to great lengths to stop it: There would be those who were greatly threaten by this shift in the House of Bishop and the church, those who would do anything to stop it.

As the journey through Holy Week continues the events of the end of the week continue to become clearer. Just as we journey to the cross on Good Friday, The Episcopal Church began to move closer to a dark and painful time. The years between the 2003 and 2006 General Convention would be marked by churches leaving, Bishops from other jurisdictions coming in, lawsuits and battles of who is in and who is out – who is ok to welcome into the Church and who is not. Those three years seem to me to be very similar to the three days between Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday: growing danger, pain, and fear.

Maundy Thursday is a time of gathering and service. It was here that Christ institutes the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. The Last Supper marks the final time Jesus and the twelve will be together. When Jesus acknowledges that Judas will betray him. When Jesus was his disciples’ feet. During the 2006 General Convention, LGBT people, allies, friends, spouses, clergy, laity, deputies, volunteers, visitors, gathered at a local Episcopal Church to the Integrity Eucharist. We gathered together around the Sacrament, we ministered to one another. We knew that it was going to be difficult, and through the service bound ourselves together in service and ministry. While we may not have known it, it became in a sense our Last Super.

Good Friday marks the remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion. It is a dark and solemn day. For Jesus’ followers, it looked like there was no hope. They had lost their teacher, there was no idea of what was to come: It is safe to say that their hearts were filled with great sadness and fear. The 2006 General Convention would not only mark the Maundy Thursday for the LGBT movement, but it would more powerfully bring about our Good Friday. On the last day of General Convention the infamous resolution – B033 – would be introduced and forcefully passed at the last moments of Convention. This resolution would bring about a moratorium on the election and consecration of any openly LGBT partnered people to the episcopate. It was, at least for me, a time of great fear and sadness. The Church that I love, the Church that I wanted to serve as a lay person – and one day God willing as a priest – has said that I was not good enough: that I was a second class citizen within the life of the Church for simply being the person God created me to be.

Following the General Convention we journeyed home not knowing what would happen next. After sometime things started to continue as normal. The everyday things that take up our personal and professional lives went on. Besides the everyday stuff, preparations were beginning for what would be next. Holy Saturday is a day where things seem to get back to normal. There is an underlying sense of sadness, but life goes on. It is also a time of preparation for what will come next in the liturgical calendar.

Then it happens: The Great Vigil of Easter. We hear the stories of our ancestors we follow the Pascal Candle and finally proclaim the great news, “Alleluia, Christ is Risen!” It is a new day: a new creation. With the Resurrection of Christ a new generation, a new world order is established. The Great Vigil of Easter for the LGBT movement in The Episcopal Church is in fact the election of Mary Glasspool to the episcopate. It is a new day in the life of the Episcopal Church. It is a joyous occasion. Through efforts at the 2009 General Convention and through this election we can say, “Alleluia.” The Church has taken a great stride towards full inclusion. Fear and sadness have been taken away and replaced with joy and hope.

It is a new day in the Church, but we can’t leave it with that. We must continue to work towards complete and total inclusion in The Episcopal Church for all of God’s children. Let us go out following the light of Christ and proclaiming the Good News that the Lord is Risn: the Good News that The Episcopal Church welcomes all people.

Dante Tavolaro is a Junior at Rhode Island College (graduating 2011) with a BA in Political Science and a minor in International Non-Governmental Organization Studies (INGOS). He is an active member of his campus including work with the LGBT organization and the Student Community Government Finance Commission. He is a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Pawtucket, RI. He has served in various capacities in his diocese including Deputy to General Convention 2009. After college he plans on going to Law School to focus on LGBT issues. Dante is currently exploring a vocation to the Priest and is in the Discernment Process in the Diocese of Rhode Island.

Action Alert | 3 Steps For ENDA

Here are things YOU can do  to move forward the Employment Nondiscrimination Act during the Congressional recess:

  1. VISIT House Members In District Offices.  Get an appointment, drop by their office, and definitely leave a note
  2. WRITE Your Representative.  Handwritten is best, so mail it, or send an email.
  3. CALL Your Representative today! Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Give the operator your zip code and ask to be connected to your Representative.
Suggested voicemail message:

My name is _______ , and I live at (your street address) in (your city). I am calling about ENDA.  My message is simple and direct: we need committee markup and a House vote on ENDA the week of April 12. Thank you.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Returning To Places Of Wounded Memory

Timely reflections from Integrity VP for National & International Affairs, The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle.

The issues that surfaced during the Easter weekend of 2010 may soon be forgotten. Amnesia is the church’s most dangerous sickness.

This past Easter weekend made history when the Vatican offended child molestation and holocaust survivors in one perfectly-timed sermon - comparing criticism of the Pope to anti-Semitism. Later, that same weekend, the Archbishop of Canterbury offended the Irish Catholic church over its handling of the sexual abuse scandal by claiming the Irish Church “had lost all credibility”. Not to be outdone, Pastor Fred Phelps offended every decent American by being awarded $16,000 in legal fees from the father of a dead gay marine. Phelps, (who pickets high profile funerals) also managed to alienate the Jewish community with an Easter DVD that blamed the Jews for killing Jesus. We have not heard this much Easter un-joy since the Vatican reinstated a Good Friday liturgy two years ago (that Pastor Phelps would have enjoyed) that managed to upset every Rabbi in Rome! The liturgy implied the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus and opened “wounded memory” between Jews and Catholics.

The German aspects of this controversy are particularly sensitive. Germany’s hidden child molestation stories represent the outward skin on this onion, but underneath, there are much deeper issues that the sexual misconduct cover-up that are coming to the fore. They represent a deep wounded ness and chasm between Jews and Catholics over the holocaust and systemic anti-Semitism. Given the present Pope’s history with Germany’s past, including the Hitler Youth Movement and the Catholic Church’s full embrace of National Socialism, his performance as Archbishop of Munich is now under particular scrutiny. Both religions are based on the retelling of stories and the preservation of community memory, yet both religions are having difficulty in agreeing on the truth of what happened in recent years, from the holocaust to the sexual abuse scandal. One unresolved wounded memory stimulates another, as we have witnessed so painfully this past weekend. Secular society looks on with disbelief.

For example in the early 1980’s a Christian memorial to 100,000 Christians who were killed at Auschwitz and erected by a convent came under increasing scrutiny by Jewish leaders. When crosses appearing on the burial grounds of Birkenau alongside a number of Stars of David (next to the crematoria where the ashes of hundreds of thousands of incinerated corpses had been dumped) Jewish leaders saw the crosses and the convent, not in terms of memorialization but in terms of the longer range context of historic anti Semitism that had led to the Holocaust itself. Their anger and belief was the Christian world had still not shed its identity as a force for the oppression and persecution of Jews. This ugly exchange of accusations and recrimination throughout the 1990,s and the affair was eventually settled by removing all religious symbols from the World Heritage site at Auschwitz. Jonathan Webber, using this example as a major breakdown of communication for a very complicated interfaith issue (in “Memory, Religion and Conflict at Auschwitz” in the book “Religion, Faith, Violence, Memory and Place”) asks “Why, one might ask, has institutional religion removed itself from the theater of one of the greatest challenges to our age –to try to make sense of the incomprehensible?..Should it not be the case, rather, that religion should throw all its energies into the need for a sense of healing in European culture, the need for reconciliation and for moral and spiritual repair of the world?”. We now have a new window of opportunity to repair a deep wound and what good might come from this recent celebration of “New Life”?

The issue is also bigger than Catholics and Jews. This inability to deal effectively with moral leadership in the face of large scale human suffering affects every culture. For example, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s comments on the Irish Catholic churches handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal opened an old wound between Ireland and her former political oppressor, England. Even the Anglican Archbishop of Dublin distanced himself from Williams by claiming it was “unfortunate”.

Many of our North American National and World Heritage treasures are vast stretches of beautiful lands that were removed from the Native American community, either through conflict or at a fraction of their real worth. The United States Supreme Court has never given the Native American side of the story the opportunity to be heard, never mind receive some semblance of justice. Living in places like Taos and parts of New Mexico is challenging for three very different cultures that all have a different interpretation on what actually happen in the middle of the 19th century. These kinds of historical traumas do not disappear. We struggle to find language and rituals to heal the past. The new museum in Santa Fe is a courageous attempt to tell more than one story about the blood soaked land on which it now rests. Certain stories remain taboo, like the massacre of a local native community in a local church by the military. It is difficult for truth telling and without it there can be no deep healing.

In more recent living memory, the church has also ensured a lack of culpability for atrocities like the Rwandan genocide. Pope John Paul II said the institutional church could not be blamed for the actions of a few bad apples. Even thought there is a wealth of historical evidence that both the Catholic and Anglican churches used their communication and leadership structures to organize the 6 week genocide that claimed the lives of over 600,000 Rwandans, the cover-up has been relatively successful. Only a few scapegoat nuns and bishops took the heat for something that was much more systemic than has been publicly admitted. Now the Papacy is using the same argument over clergy sexual abuse - that a few bad apples need to be punished, but the institution remains clean.

The recent attacks on the gay and lesbian community from the Catholic, Evangelical and Mormon churches in places like Maine and California over the rights of gay people to marry, appear to be another form of contemporary scape-goating. Last week, the New York Times carried an ad last week from the Catholic League deflecting the clergy sexual abuse scandal towards the American LGBT community. “The Pedophile crisis is a homosexual crisis” This is a consistent deflection of responsibility by the Vatican that has systematically “cleansed” Catholic universities and seminaries of all sympathetic progressive theologians and all LGBT academics and gay seminarians. The policy attempts to cleanse the church of gay (even celibate) clergy as its strategy to deal with clergy sexual abuse, even thought the vast majority of pedophiles are heterosexual. The church has not only failed to grasp the issues, but it has scape-goated the LGBT community that continues to be persecuted by the church.

So the Vatican and the Catholic church has, like Teflon, managed to deflect a series of important charges and accusations that, in the scale of human suffering, present even more significant moral crises that the current sexual abuse debacle. From the Holocaust, to the Rwandan genocide, nothing sticks to an institution or a leader that claims “Infallibility”. Will this be old news in a month? It is only when the lay Catholic community and a significant number of clergy publicly calls the church to account for its actions, (no doubt horrified by some strategic lawsuits that challenge the so called independence of the church in criminal issues), that we may see some changes in our lifetime. But the record during my lifetime shows we will probably not.

I Am A Social Justice Christian

There is a new PSA out on You Tube today. It's in response to conservative tv commentator Glenn Beck who called on Christians to leave their churches if they hear preaching about social or economic justice, saying they were code words for Communism and Nazism.

This PSA was produced by New Name Pictures, a growing, faith-based community of filmmakers, musicians and other artists, creating transformative films. They are committed to using modern and accessible technology.

The producers are asking Integrity's help to send this PSA out virally. Please pass it along to all those you know who share this message.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Be afraid....be very afraid!

An Update on The Church of Nigeria
by Louise Brooks

The Church of Nigeria has a new Archbishop. Nicholas Okoh. With a new Archbishop, however, does not come change. Here's a summary from Business Day by Opeyemi Agbaje of Okah's predeccesor, Archbishop Peter Akinola's tenure:

 "Bishop Akinola was most known worldwide for his opposition to the ordination of homosexuals within the Anglican Communion. In 2003, he led a revolt against the planned ordination of Jeffrey John and Gene Robinson as Bishops of Reading and New Hampshire respectively precipitating a crisis in the Communion when the US Episcopals proceeded with Gene Robinson's ordination. He became leader of a newly formed Convocation of Anglicans in North America, Anglicans who preferred to join with Akinola and the African Bishops who were irrevocably opposed to the ordain these homosexuals in the face of the explicit condemnation of homosexuality in several parts of the Bible.

"Many true Christians in Nigeria, including non-Anglicans (and this columnist) were justifiably proud of, and encouraged by the leadership and principled position taken by Akinola. TIME Magazine was also impressed and nominated the Bishop as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2006, recognising him in the category of leaders and revolutionaries. Bishop Akinola chose fidelity to the scriptures rather than bending to the will of the western Anglican Church, which appears to have lost its way. I have however wished that Bishop Akinola would devote the same zeal he put to work against homosexuality towards issues which plague the church and society in Nigeria such as witchcraft and occultism, polygamy, election rigging, poor governance and most importantly corruption! "

We have only to look forward to more of the same. This is from Okah's inaugural sermon:   "In the present crisis in the Anglican Communion, at the moment huge sums of money are being spent to undermine marriage.

"We are unable to accept this. The recent presidential address to his diocese by the Bishop of Liverpool is not acceptable to us. He argued that in the past people had to live side by side in the church, who held opposite views on war. In the same way he is saying, if some people say that same-sex relationships are okay, they can carry on, and if some say they are not okay, they can carry on too.

"The danger is of establishing two authorities in the Church, one of the Bible and the other the canon of a deviant subculture. We refuse to accept it. For whom does the Bishop of Liverpool speak? For himself and his diocese, but he does not speak for the Church of Nigeria. He also spoke of a direction for the Anglican Communion. We do not know if he has the authority to speak on that. If the Communion Covenant is intended to carry the spread of the homosexual lifestyle thoughout the communion, it is doomed to fail. The Bishop of Liverpool chose to speak at the wrong time.

"Do not be afraid of being called homophobic. It is a term designed to close down any expression of a contrary view. Respond by accusing them of gunaphobia – an inordinate fear of women and of relationships with women."

Integrity USA Immediate Past President, the Rev. Canon Susan Russell had this to say in response: “Is is deeply regrettable that Archbishop Nicholas Okoh chose to begin his tenure as Primate of Nigeria by attacking the Bishop of Liverpool in an inaugural sermon focused on the polemic rather than the pastoral. It is long past time for this Anglican Communion family to work through the differences that challenge us rather than continue to exploit them into divisions that separate us. While some -- like the Bishop of Liverpool -- have been working to build bridges across those differences, others -- like the Archbishop of Nigeria -- have been acting as spiritual terrorists and blowing up those bridges with incendiary language like, “Do not be afraid of being called homophobic.” To encourage the irrational fear of those who are “other” is antithetical to the Gospel call to love our neighbors as ourselves and to walk with them in love as Christ loved us and gave himself for us. It does nothing to build up the Body of Christ and everything to continue to sacrifice the lives, vocations and relationships of the gay and lesbian faithful on the altar of global Anglican politics."

Integrity USA is deeply saddened by the remarks made by the new primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, in his inaugural sermon. His remarks indicate that he not only accepts but is willing to promote homophobia. Such blatant promotion of the fear and hatred of homosexuals leads to only violence and death. It is not, as he suggests, a mantle to be worn with pride. Homophobia is wrong. It is simply not Christian to promote hatred of "the other". Homophobia is NOT accpetable anywhere in the communion. It is long overdue for our church leaders realize that the Anglican Communion is "coming out of the closet". Homosexuals are part of the African family. They are part of the human family. Homosexuality is a gift from God. And, it is time that all good people fo faith stop promoting hate and start promoting love.

Louise Brooks is a Media Consultant, Director of Communications for Integrity and a board member. She works with  the Human Rights Campaign's Religion and Faith program and California faith for Equality. 

Integrity calls for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

By the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle

President Obama is on record to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” yet, gay and lesbian service members remain at risk for discrimination. That's about to change. Last week, the Pentagon made it harder to fire gays from the military because Defense Secretary Robert Gates approved new rules to ease enforcement of the 1993 congressional ban, saying the changes reflect "common sense and common decency."

This represents the first significant step by the administration to address what Obama calls an "injustice." The changes would tighten the rules of evidence when someone reports that a soldier is gay and put higher-ranking officers in charge of dismissal proceedings.The new guidelines also will prevent the current ban from being used to launch witch hunts or settle grudges,

Almost 14,000 responsible and dedicated service members have been discharged under the law. Gates said the changes, effective immediately, are "an important improvement in the way the law is put into practice," short of repealing it. The changes give "a greater measure of common sense and common decency for handling what are complex and difficult issues for all involved," he told a Pentagon news conference.

Last week also saw the House of Bishops electing the new Suffragan Bishop for Armed Forces: the Rev. Dr. James "Jay" Magness. He was chosen out of a field of eight nominees. A simple majority of the votes cast by the bishops was necessary for the election, according to the Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs. Magness received 64 votes; 54 were required. He is canon for mission and diocesan administration in the Diocese of Southern Virginia.

At the recent House of Bishops meeting, Bishop Gene Robinson asked Magness his position on DADT. This was his response. "I absolutely support the lifting of this restriction. It is time for us to make it possible for our gay and lesbian military members, many of whom provide dedicated and excellent service, and are in very responsible leadership positions, to be equals with everyone else in the Department of Defense. It is difficult for me to imagine what it must be like to be caught in the bind between their fearfulness of their respective military organizations and their dedication to the country they love”.

Bishop-elect Magness’s consecration is scheduled for June 19, 2010 at Washington National Cathedral, Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori will preside.

Integrity USA joins all those who call for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell. We recommit our advocacy for all LGBT people  serving in the military, as well as those in the church and the world.

Rev. Canon Albert Ogle is Integrity’s Vice President for National and International Affairs.