Friday, March 2, 2012

Integrity Sponsored Workshop Tackles Inclusion in Southern Virginia

A Pivotal Moment
By Ann Turner
Secretary, Integrity Virginia Beach Chapter
Integrity USA

On Saturday, February 25th, Southern Virginia hosted the diocese’s first Believe Out Loud training workshop. Integrity USA’s David Cupps led the training with the assistance of Mike Diaz, board member and treasurer of the local Integrity Virginia Beach Chapter. Among those in attendance were parish and diocesan leaders, both ordained and lay.

The attendees came from a variety of parishes which represented a wide spectrum of inclusion and openness with regards to LGBT members. Some expressed frustration about the unwillingness of their parish leadership to openly address the issue of LGBT inclusion. Some came from very inclusive communities and were eager to begin taking intentional steps toward welcoming LGBT members.

No matter what the situation in their home parish, each participant recognized and acknowledged that the Diocese of Southern Virginia is currently at a pivotal moment when it comes to LGBT inclusion. The diocese’s Annual Council, held just three weeks ago, included two major events. Delegates to Council voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution that urged our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. “Holly” Hollerith, to permit clergy to use the trial liturgies for blessing same-gender unions that General Convention will likely approve this summer. Additionally, Bishop Hollerith’s Leading a Holy Life Task Force - convened to foster conversation in the diocese around issues of sexuality – launched a new blog site with weekly posts inviting online conversation.

The folks who participated in our BOL workshop agree that the tools provided by this training – specifically the skills of “graceful engagement” and “framing” – will be vital as we move forward from the events of Annual Council.  The training equipped participants to share their stories and experiences, to make valuable contributions to the online conversation of the Leading a Holy Life blog, and to help parishes that will participate in the use of trial liturgies to share their experiences, joys and concerns.

Plans are already under way for additional training opportunities to be offered across the diocese. Also for development of our own diocesan trainers so that congregations which need help engaging in conversation around these issues can receive direct and immediate assistance.

We are thankful that our diocese is directly addressing LGBT inclusion and that, with the help of Integrity USA, we have access to training and tools that will support a strong and healthy community within the diocese so that we can confidently, courageously and compassionately address these issues in the midst of our differences.

Ann Turner

To hold a workshop for your chapter or Diocese, you can email

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