Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Integrity Needs Volunteers for General Convention!

Integrity USA plans for historic changes to take place in the Episcopal Church this summer.
Can you help?

The General Convention of The Episcopal Church will convene in Indianapolis this summer from July 2 through July 12. Since 1976, Integrity has made a very significant witness and presence.  Claiming the Promise: Making All Mean ALL is our campaign theme and our marching orders for GC12. Integrity has spearheaded the charge for almost every LGBT-positive resolution coming out of Convention for the last 35 years and we will continue that charge this summer.

 All of Integrity's preparation leading up to and during General Convention is geared toward a single goal — to accomplish positive changes in the church, in the world and in the Anglican Communion. We would not have had the successes we celebrate today if we had not worked very hard to partner with all the other peace and justice groups in the church. At General Convention, we join with them to support a broad platform of issues.
We hope to draw a team of faithful, concerned, committed Episcopalians and loyal, dedicated Integrity members who recognize the importance of a collaborative effort. Integrity’s success at General Convention will depend on  it. 

We are looking for a diverse group of talented individuals. Integrity will pay for lodging for supported volunteers (double occupancy), a stipend provided toward travel expenses, as well as some food allowance. Make no mistake about it, there will be long hours, sore feet and lots of meetings. This is not a 9 to 5 gig! But, volunteers will find the work to be very gratifying, exciting, and uplifting.  You will be making a difference for the future.

If you are interested in applying to be a member of Integrity’s Volunteer Team, click here to fill out an application.  It asks about your interests, experience and skills. It lists the specific jobs we need to fill and the skills and requirements needed to fill them. It will take about 15 minutes. The deadline for applying is March 30, 2012.  Those who will be chosen as the volunteer team will be notified by April 30, 2012.

Important note: the number of persons who will make up the Volunteer Team depends almost entirely on the amount of money that Integrity raises during our Claiming the Promise GC12 campaign. If you can't come to GC12 but would like help, please consider contributing to our Claiming the Promise Campaign, donate here.

Thank you in advance for your interest in working with Integrity USA.  If you have any questions, please contact: Chris Mackey-Mason at

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Blogger Platform Goes Haywire

Hello Walking With Integrity Subscribers

We have a new blogger platform and last night it went haywire and published a draft of a blog piece that was not completely edited and ready to go. We apologize for that mistake and will republish the completed piece soon. Please watch for it.

Integrity Communications

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's Oscar Season! Have You Seen LOVE FREE OR DIE?

It's Oscar season. Everybody is thinking about the movies. The Sundance Film Festival just ended and one of the acclaimed documentaries that came out of it was LOVE FREE OR DIE. It  is about our own Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, a man whose two defining passions are in direct conflict: his love for God and for his partner Mark. Gene Robinson, as we know,  is the first openly gay person to become a bishop in the historic traditions of Christendom. His consecration in 2003, to which he wore a bullet-proof vest, caused an international stir, and he has lived with death threats every day since.
LOVE FREE OR DIE follows +Gene from small-town churches in the New Hampshire North Country to Washington’s Lincoln Memorial to London’s Lambeth Palace, as he calls for all to stand for equality – inspiring bishops, priests and ordinary folk to come out from the shadows and change history.

Integrity member Donald Snyder recently saw this film and graciously allowed us to share his thoughts:

 I was fortunate enough to be invited to the premiere of the documentary, "Love Free or Die" at the E Street Cinema on Mon. evening. +Gene Robinson was in attendance (leg still in a cast) for the screening and the pre-screening reception held nearby at Chef Geoff's. Integrity was one of the co-sponsors of this event, along with the Center for American Progress and the Human Rights Campaign.

The film is a is an enlightening and inspiring work. I myself laughed and cried at various points through the showing. The audience gets to experience several notable events in +Gene's life, beginning with his consecration in 2003 and ending with the wedding of our own Betsy and Ellie+ in 2010. Viewers experience the events surrounding +Gene's "non-invitation" to Lambeth in 2008. Several of Integrity's current and former leaders are shown in the film. At the conclusion of the showing, +Gene, Makey Alston, the film maker, and Alyssa Rosenberg, from the Center for American Progress were on hand to conduct a Q & A for the audience.

The panel strongly encouraged the audience to arrange for private showings in their homes, faith communities, and community groups. The movie makes an extraordinarily powerful statement about marriage equality. I strongly encourage everyone on the list to create an event for showing the film. It will be a truly memorable event.

If you would like to arrange a showing in your neck of the woods, contact In the season which honors films, you don't want to miss a film that honors our beloved Bishop Gene Robinson.

Update on Membership Survey


Thank you, thank you to all who took the time to share your thoughts, opinions, hopes and dreams about Integrity through our recent membership survey.  26% of our members and friends responded to the survey – a remarkable response when you consider that a 10% return rate is considered viable and useful in polls of these kinds.

It is clear that many of you care deeply about Integrity and its mission: Working for the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments.  Having the benefit of your feedback will help the Board of Directors and staff immensely as they seek to stragetically discern the future goals of Integrity and how best to organize us all for mission in Christ’s name.

Once the data has been collated and topline findings recorded, some of you (if you said "it’s OK") will be contacted for deeper follow-up interviews.  Then we will receive a final report from Che Ruddell-Tabisola, the pollster-consultant who is working with us on this process.  We will share highlights of that report with our membership soon after General Convention (which is our primary focus between now and mid-July).

Don’t let this survey be the last time we hear from you!  Please give your Board, staff and volunteer leaders routine feedback on what you think Integrity USA should be doing and how you can help us accomplish our common goals.

And again, THANKS for participating in the recent survey!


Rev. Harry Knox
Interim Executive Director

Friday, February 17, 2012

General Convention Fundraising Begins Soon

Integrity USA is bustling with activity as plans are firming up for General Convention 2012 in Indianapolis July 2-12! Please pray for our volunteers and staff in these busy days. Our General Convention theme is Claiming the Promise: Making All Mean All. Building on the successes of the past, we are determined to make the promise of full inclusion in the Episcopal Church more real through passage of the resolution on the blessings of same gender relationships, putting the T in LGBT by supporting resolutions which empower and celebrate the ministry and gifts of transgender people, and making the Episcopal Church a powerful voice for against bullying anywhere, to anyone.

You can guess that these efforts will cost money – no surprise! Our fund raising goal for the campaign is $110,000 – funds that will pay for everything from a volunteer team of approximately 30 people, travel stipends, production costs for the Integrity Eucharist, a daily IntegriTV show to recap actions at GC, to booth rentals and material costs. Here is a heads up that the campaign to raise these funds will begin in earnest early in March.

 Watch this space for information about ways you can be involved in claiming the promise to full and equal claim to all the rights and sacraments of the church. Please prayerfully consider the most generous contribution you can make to the campaign. If we can make our goal, this year we will see the fruition of work many of you have given a lifetime to – if we have the resources to do so. We can't do it without your help.

 -- Harry Knox, Interim Executive Director

Integrity Vows to Continue Fight for ME in NJ

Integrity USA condemns the actions of Gov. Chris Christie in vetoing Marriage Equality. In doing so, he is overriding the will of the people in the state of New Jersey and allowing discrimination to prevail. 

"While I am disappointed that Governor Christie has chosen to stand on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of fairness, and the wrong side of faith," said The Rev. Jon Richardson, Integrity's Vice President of National Affairs and a New Jersey resident, "I remain hopeful that Marriage Equality will soon be a reality in New Jersey. I am deeply grateful to all of the legislators and faith leaders who have stood up for progress while Governor Christie has chosen politics over fairness. 'Justice for all!' is an American value, a Christian value, and a Family value. Though Governor Christie's values may be different, justice will win in the end."

Integrity thanks the many people of faith and religious leaders who spoke out on behalf of marriage equality during this campaign, including Bishop Mark Beckwith of the Diocese of Newark. While many Integrity members rejoiced last night in the victory, today, they commit to continuing the fight that one day all persons can marry the person they love.

Integrity/Oasis leader Christain Paolino said, "While it comes as no surprise that Governor Christie made good on his promise to veto this bill, it is nonetheless disappointing. As people of faith who believe God loves ALL loving, faithful relationships, we will continue to witness that belief to those around us until justice does indeed roll down like water and all couples in the state are afforded the same rights and responsibilities. We will also go on striving to make our congregations places where such partnerships are blessed and nurtured and our states places where liberty and justice for all really means ALL."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Marriage Equality Acts Pass in NJ Senate & House, Action Needed to Overcome Veto

Integrity NYC-Metro responds to Marriage Equality progress in New Jersey

Both houses of the New Jersey Legislature passed versions of the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act this week. On Monday, Feb. 13th, the Senate voted 24-16 in favor, and today (Thursday) the Assembly followed with a vote of 42-33.

Integrity NYC-Metro is extremely grateful to the Right Rev. Mark Beckwith, Bishop of Newark, and the Right Rev. George Councell, Bishop of New Jersey, for their repeated visits to the State House and speaking out to the press. Thanks to all the clergy and laity who have dared to BELIEVE OUT LOUD about marriage equality as a Christian value.

“It's exciting to witness the progress toward marriage equality that is already happening in the state of New Jersey and I'm particularly heartened by the leadership on that front by our Episcopal bishops,” said the Rev. Jon M. Richardson, Integrity’s Vice-President, National Affairs and Priest-in Charge at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Jersey City. “ I join my voice with so many others in our state calling on Governor Christie to sign the bill.”

However, our work is not yet complete. Governor Christie has indicated he will veto these bills if they reach his desk, and that he prefers a public referendum on the matter. While the majority of New Jerseyans favored marriage equality in recent polls, we do not believe people's civil rights should be put to a vote. We need your voices added to ours in the effort to either build veto-proof support for this legislation or convince the governor to let it pass. We must ensure that a referendum, should it occur, would not put marriage equality in New Jersey further beyond reach.

We ask that you contact your assembly and senate representatives, friends, family members and those in your congregation and be willing to speak from your heart on why marriage equality matters to you. Too often Christians are assumed to be against LGBT equality: at this historic moment in our state's history, let's break that assumption and tell New Jersey that ALL love is of God, and the rights and responsibilities of a stable, recognized relationship belong to ALL couples.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Making a faith-based case for marriage equality

As the arc of history continues to bend toward justice on marriage equality, in New Jersey Bishop Mark Beckwith (Diocese of Newark) joined with Lutheran Bishop E. Roy Riley and Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz to make a compelling "faith-based case for marriage equality" in the Star-Ledger, writing:

"... differing theological notions about the nature of marriage will continue to flourish across our diverse religious landscape. But a state has neither the right nor the competence to promote one of those theological understandings in opposition to others — particularly when doing so deprives some citizens of the rights enjoyed by others."
Although New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has vowed to veto any marriage equality bill coming from the legislature, the rising tide is clearly on the side of equality -- and we have an opportunity to join our voices with Bishop Beckwith and others speaking out as people of faith for equality!

So use your voice ... Believe Out Loud!
  • Email Bishop Beckwith and thank him for standing up for equality.
  • Visit the Star-Ledger blog and "share," "like" and comment.
  • And call Governor Chris Christie's office -- 609-292-6000 -- and tell them [a] the reason you're calling rather than using the "contact" page on his website is there no option relating to marriage equality in specific or LGBT issues in general and [b] you urge the governor to stand on the right side of history -- not the Lester Maddox side of history -- on marriage equality.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

From Washington State to General Convention

Louise Brooks
Director of Communications
Integrity USA

The Washington state marriage equality bill introduced by Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire and passed recently by a wide margin in the Washington senate, sailed through the Washington house as expected yesterday. This makes Washington state the 7th in the nation to allow same-sex couples to wed. This action came one day after a federal appeals court declared California's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, calling it was a violation of the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples.

Gov.Gregoire issued a statement after the Washington state vote, saying it was "a major step toward completing a long and important journey to end discrimination based on sexual orientation."

"Thanks be to God!, " said Rev. Harry Knox, Interim Executive Director of Intergity USA. "While some are trying to limit freedom, Gov. Gregoire and the Washington State legislature are expanding freedom and equality. They recognize that same sex couples simply want the liberty to commit to care for each other in sickness and in health. They have made the American dream a reality for thousands of families in Washington."

Gov. Gregorie is expected to sign this bill into law next week. And the Diocese of Olympia is poised and ready to deal with this victory. Here's what they posted on their website about Marriage Equality on February 1, 2012.

Our Policy on Marriage Equality

Per the recommendation of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, the Diocese of Olympia does not formally authorize any rite of blessing for same-sex unions; however, Bishop Rickel leaves it to the discretion of individual clergy as to whether they will bless same-sex unions.

When marriage equality legislation in Washington State passes and is signed into law, the Episcopal Church in Western Washington will accommodate that law within its structure, much as other Episcopal dioceses have in states where similar legislation has passed.

On the same date, Bishop Greg Rickel’s posted his own personal opinion on his blog at

Marriage Equality: A Conservative Proposal

It is expected that our Washington state legislators will very soon, perhaps even tomorrow begin floor deliberations on HB2516 & SB6239 with the Senate to begin. Passage of these bills or a version of them would make same sex marriage law in our state. Our Episcopal Church, after a long discussion about this over the years is poised to do roughly the same this summer at our General Convention.

While I am careful about wading into our legislator’s business, I would say this is the church’s business too. I have been asked by many about my feelings on it, and I have decided to share them. The ideas are not new, I have shared them openly in the walk-abouts before becoming your bishop and in many venues before and since.

Christianity has held, when considering relationships of all sorts, but especially in relation to two people in marriage, fidelity to be our value. Fidelity is the value in most all our sacraments and also in our life as Christians.

It seems to me we have held our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in a “catch-22″. We say they cannot live up to our value because they cannot be married, or even blessed in their union. While many of them have begged for this, it is still not possible. What they ask of us, the church and the government, is to put boundaries around their relationship, to hold them in the same regard and with the same respect, which would also mean that we expect the same from them. They are not asking for special treatment. They are asking for equal treatment. They are asking to be accountable, as a couple, in community. To me, this is a conservative proposal. I am for it, and I hope we will finally make way for this to happen, not only in our society, but also in our church.


The Rt. Rev. Gregory H. Rickel

Episcopalians have much to rejoice about. The polls show that the majority of Americans support the right for all persons to marry. The tide is turning.  It's only a matter of time. It is just a few months til our own General Convention where, as Bishop Rickel said, we will be "asking for equal treatment" and we will work so it "will finally happen, not only in our society, but in our church."


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Integrity USA's Press Release on Today's Prop 8 Decision


Today, Integrity USA celebrates a giant step toward justice with the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court that California’s Proposition 8, which denied marriage to same-gender couples, is unconstitutional.
"What wonderful news!", said The Rev. Dr. Caroline Hall, President of Integrity. "Since 1888 the Supreme Court has ruled 14 times that marriage is a basic civil right, but again and again it has been denied to loving, faithful gay or lesbian couples. We can rejoice that in California, our right to equal treatment under the law has been upheld and our marriages are once again recognized. This will be an encouragement to all those fighting this battle in their own states."

Rev. Harry Knox, Interim Executive Director of Integrity added, "The Ninth Circuit’s decision affirms same-sex couples’ freedom to commit to care for each other for a lifetime. Thank God the court recognized government should never limit our freedom nor deny our love. Today’s ruling is an important one. We wait to see whether this is the last word or whether our opponents will take their case on to Supreme Court."

Both Hall and Knox issued a call to action to the Episcopal Church in the state of California: "Integrity calls upon the bishops of the six California dioceses to extend a generous pastoral response to lesbian and gay couples so that our legal rights can be celebrated in our churches and our marriages blessed by the church in the same manner afforded to our straight friends and family. This is an enormously important symbol of the Episcopal Church’s true willingness to welcome all people even those of us who are LGBT and to extend all the sacraments to all the baptized.We hope that California citizens will soon be able to marry the person they love.

"While this is a huge victory in the battle for marriage equality, this fight is far from over. Same-sex married couples still face federal discrimination against their marriages because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Integrity vows to continue to fight for marriage equality both within and outside of the church. We will not stop until we can claim the promise that all really means ALL."

For more information:
Louise Brooks
Director of Communications
Integrity USA