Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Richardson attends South African Consultation on Justice & Sexuality

Integrity USA Vice President of National Affairs, the Rev. Jon M. Richardson, recently represented us at a consultation on justice and human sexuality in Durban, South Africa organized by our Chicago Consultation colleagues "working with the Ujaama Center in Kwazulu-Natal University—gathered 30 Anglican African Church leaders and 15 North Americans to discuss issues of justice and sexuality. For the first time on the continent of Africa in the Anglican Communion people came together to talk about both mission and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. "

Integrity USA applauds and celebrates the great work of our collaborative partners.

The Rev. Bonnie Perry, co-founder of the Chicago Consultation, preached a sermon about the recently concluded consultation to her congregation at All Saints Church in Chicago last Sunday. Here is a part of what she had to say:
"Every morning in small groups

we did Bible-study for an hour and half.
We poked and rolled around,
immersing ourselves
in our common scriptural heritage.
We listened to each other—
we talked about where we do ministry
and what our many challenges are.
Then we had tea.
Then people told their stories.
African and North American.
We listened deeply and intently.

Most of the Africans in attendance
were Biblical scholars—
far more educated than most of the Americans.
Surprise number one of many for me.
That said, this was for many of the Africans
the first time they’d met Americans.
Certainly the first time they’d ever related
to someone who happened
to be openly gay or lesbian.

We told our stories.
And our African sisters and brothers listened:

We dispelled half-truths and myths.
One man was under the impression that Bishop Gene Robinson—
the first out, gay partnered bishop of New Hampshire
was elected by gay people.
It was their belief that New Hampshire,
all of New Hampshire is gay.
For how else could this have happened?

A priest from Nigeria asked,
“But don’t you have all gay churches?”
He asked this with profound curiosity
and confusion after listening to my presentation
on our ministry here at All Saints.
He watched one of our annual meeting slide shows—
and your pictures—
did not fit his previous beliefs.

We can laugh—
we can shake our heads in disbelief.
But let me ask you this—
how much do you seriously know about villages in Kenya?
How many of us can even find Tanzania, Rwanda or Unganda on a map?
When we answered their open, honest, candid questions—
they listened and they believed us. "

You can read Perry's entire sermon on Episcopal Cafe here.

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