Monday, March 21, 2011

Making “All the Sacraments for All the Baptized” a Reality in 2011 and 2012

A Three Part Series on Integrity USA

Max Niedzwiecki
Executive Director, Integrity USA

Part II. What We Have Yet to Achieve

Part One: What We Have Achieved

Integrity has been a strong social justice leader inside and outside the Episcopal church. Since 1974 when Integrity USA was first founded by our illustrious leader, Dr. Louie Crew, we have seen many changes in this church. Integrity has influenced those changes and in doing so, we have influenced other denominations as well. Some Episcopalians, not comfortable with those changes, have left, however, many, many others have been drawn to the Episcopal Church because of our achievements toward full inclusion. But, we are not done yet.

Integrity's goal of all the sacraments for all the baptized is first and foremost on our list of priorities. We still have much work to do with respect to the blessing of relationships, equal access to ordination, growing our membership, and sharing the good news of the Episcopal Church with the wider world. The words of former Presiding Bishop Edmund Browning still resonate: "There will be no outcasts in this church." But, there are still strangers at the gate. There are still places where LGBT persons do not feel welcome or included. We must create more welcoming environments for LGBT persons in every Episcopal church. Our transgender brothers and sisters need more pastoral care, understanding and equality. There is much left to do to educate and inform the church and community about gender issues so that transgender Christians are explicitly welcomed as full members of the Body of Christ. We must join with our allies at TransEpiscopal to effect these much needed changes.

Same sex blessings in all dioceses is our audacious goal. We hope for incremental victories at our upcoming General Convention in Indianapolis in 2012. We applaud and support the work of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music which is gathering theological, liturgical and pastoral resources to presented at GC12. We are optimistic that they will be adopted at that time, and we will lobby for a new edition of Enriching Our Worship, an addendum to the Book of Common Prayer. There are bishops and deputies and vestries and congregations with whom we must gracefully engage in dialogue. We share the stories of our lives and commitments in hopes to change hearts and minds.

Last May, 2010 saw the election of a lesbian priest, Mary Douglas Glasspool as Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles. She joins our beloved Bishop Gene Robinson as our second openly gay bishop. Yet, equal access to ordination in all dioceses is still a goal. We must identity, resource and encourage the consideration of LGBT candidates for ordination and placement in every diocese of the Church.

Integrity vows to grow the Church by proclaiming the good news that the Episcopal Church is increasingly a place where everyone really is welcome. However, our bold agenda for cultural change does not stop within the Episcopal Church. We must spread our good news to both the secular community and the un-churched.

Integrity has a global vision for justice We must strive to live into our baptismal promises to love our neighbor and respect the dignity of every human being. We must advocate for immigration rights and reform., We must be a voice for those who have no voice. We must protest human rights violations all over the world. We must offer a powerful witness for the global community.

Integrity opposes the Anglican Covenant as a dangerous effort to force the Episcopal Church to choose between inclusion all of God’s children and expulsion from the worldwide Anglican Communion. We must take part in the on-going church wide discussions on the covenant to make our concerns heard.

Yes, there is still much work to do. And we are ready to take it on!

The next installment of this three part series will outline our plans moving forward. Stay tuned!

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