Monday, April 30, 2012

Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire Prepares for May 19th Vote

Prayers for the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, for its three bishop candidates, and for its current Bishop Gene Robinson, as the diocese prepares to elect its next bishop on May 19th.  This article by Lisa Wangsness, excerpted below, appeared on the front page of the Boston Globe today, April 30th.  You can read it in its entirety here.

New Hampshire Episcopalians may elect 2nd gay bishop

Vote less charged than in 2003

The Rev. William W. Rich, a senior associate rector at Trinity Church in Boston and a married gay man, is one of three priests nominated by a Diocese of New Hampshire search committee to succeed Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who is retiring.
About 200 clergy and elected lay delegates will vote by secret ballot in Concord on May 19. The Rev. Adrian Robbins-Cole, president of the Standing Committee, a diocesan advisory board, declined to handicap the vote but speculated most delegates will see the nominees’ sexuality as irrelevant.
“I think electors in New Hampshire are interested in getting the best bishop for New Hampshire,’’ he said. “People are very parochial in the end.’’


Some US church leaders remain optimistic about the future of the Anglican Communion. Bishop M. Thomas Shaw of the Diocese of Massachusetts said he believes it will survive - not because conservative and liberal dioceses will reach agreement on hot-button issues like sexuality, but because he believes they will be willing to grant one another greater autonomy.
“I think there is definitely a change, a movement in much of the African church not to recognize the blessing of same-sex unions, or to encourage gay partnerships, but a real acknowledgment that our cultures and pastoral situations are different,’’ he said.
New Hampshire’s next bishop, with the consent of the national church’s general convention in July, will be consecrated in August and installed in January 2013.
Porter said that after months of work, the group’s consensus around the three nominees was “immediate and powerfully strong.’’
Rich, who spent much of his early life in Baltimore, holds a doctoral degree in psychology and religion. He oversees educational programs at Trinity and until last year was a lecturer at Union Theological Seminary in New York.
In answers to the search committee’s questions, posted on the committee’s website, he wrote that as a young priest in 1992, he presided at the “holy union’’ of a lesbian couple in Baltimore. Though he had obtained permission from his superiors, a media storm ensued, and he was tried, and exonerated, in both informal and formal church trials.
Like the other two nominees, he declined to be interviewed, citing the period of prayerful discernment prior to the vote.
Bridges grew up in Ireland and England and immigrated to the United States in 1985. She attended church as a layperson in Manchester, N.H., for nine years before attending seminary.
In her application, she wrote that New Hampshire had “set a standard for radical inclusion,’’ epitomizing “the broad umbrella of Anglicanism.’’
In his answers to the committee’s queries, Hirschfeld, who grew up in Connecticut, praised the Diocese of New Hampshire for its courage in elevating Robinson and said he was confident the divisions within the church would be healed.
He also noted that in 2006 he embarked on a “wedding fast,’’ refraining from presiding at weddings in response to a call from the wider church to refrain from blessing gay couples.
Many New Hampshire Episcopalians are proud of the role they have played in church history, but their focus now - as in 2003, they say - is on supporting the best person for the job, whoever that may be.
One member of the search committee, the Rev. Jason Wells, now a priest in Concord, was just months away from completing seminary when Robinson was elected. After Wells publicly declared his support for Robinson, theDiocese of Dallas turned him down for ordination. The Diocese of New Hampshire eventually sponsored him instead.
Wells declined to say which nominee he prefers, but he said he, like most of his fellow electors, would pick the candidate he thinks can best help parishes serve their communities, and thrive.
“I don’t get the sense that anybody here is going to cast a vote to make a statement one way or another, because there is really too much at stake,’’ he said. “We have churches that need good leadership.’’

Harry Knox Appointed President & CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Integrity is proud to announce that our interim Executive Director, Harry Knox, has been appointed President and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

“We are delighted both for Harry and for RCRC,” said Caroline Hall, President of Integrity, “while of course, being sorry that we will not benefit from his expertise and leadership for longer. When we hired Harry for this interim position, we knew that he was in discernment, seeking another permanent position commensurate with his abilities and experience and that his time with Integrity would be limited. We are grateful for all he has done for us and for the work that he continues to do as he completes his recommendations for Integrity’s next steps and helps us prepare for our General Convention presence.

As marriage equality is gaining strength so reproductive rights are increasingly under attack. The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice provides an excellent platform for Harry’s extraordinary gifts as it meshes his passion for women’s rights with the opportunity to articulate an alternative faith voice to the dominant right-wing outlook.”

"It is an honor and a privilege to be Integrity USA's Interim Executive Director, said Knox. “Integrity is at the forefront of faith in action. I am deeply grateful to have worked with an organization that has been such an effective witness and gracious presence for the LGBT community in the Church and the world."

Integrity will continue to benefit from Harry’s  gifts during this time of transition as we prepare for and look beyond General Convention -- working with the board and staff to ensure that Integrity has a powerful presence in Indianapolis and is positioned to go from strength to strength as we continue to work in the dioceses to make All mean All.

Click here to read the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice's press release about Harry

For more information contact:
Louise Brooks
Director of Communications
Integrity USA

Friday, April 27, 2012

Integrity joins in call to prayer for Bishop of Los Angeles

Integrity joins with those across the Episcopal Church and beyond in the call for prayers for +Jon Bruno -- Bishop of Los Angeles -- who announced that he is entering treatment for leukemia.

In the email message send to his diocese late yesterday, Bishop Bruno shared:
"Having had what I thought was a bout of pneumonia since the House of Bishops last met in March, I have gone back into the hospital to determine what this nagging problem has been … and I will start immediately to begin aggressive treatment for Acute Monocytic Leukemia (AML M5)."
The full statement is available on the Diocese of Los Angeles website.

Please do keep Bishop Bruno; his wife Mary and their family; the Diocese of Los Angeles -- especially bishops suffragan Diane Bruce and Mary Glasspool; and his doctors in your prayers during this difficult time. Give thanks for his prophetic witness to the full inclusion and full equality for LGBT people everywhere. And pray that he might be restored to a place of wholeness in body, soul, mind and spirit through the healing power of God's grace and love.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Episcopal Voices Against North Carolina's Amendment One

In North Carolina a fierce battle is unfolding over the fate of Amendment One which would a) amend the state's constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman and b) end the legal recognition of domestic partnerships (same or opposite sex) curently on the books in some cities and counties.  Two days ago, the bishops of North Carolina -- The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry, Diocese of North Carolina; the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, III, Diocese of East Carolina; and the Rt. Rev. G. Porter Taylor, Diocese of Western North Carolin --released a joint letter opposing Amendment One.  Their statement (which can be found here) read in part,

“We oppose Amendment One because the love of God and the way of love that has been revealed in Jesus of Nazareth compels us to do so. We oppose Amendment One because every time we baptize someone in The Episcopal Church, the entire congregation vows to ‘strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.’* We oppose Amendment One because it is unjust and it does not respect the dignity of every human being in the State of North Carolina."

Yesterday, the Chapel Hilll News added the voice of another Episcopalian to the debate.  Viviane Taylor (writing under her current legal name, Sam) is a graduate of UNC, a recent Boston transplant from North Carolina, a writer, and an Iraq War veteran who has come out as transgender.  Viviane (whose transition is reported in a two-part article -- here and here) has had  a column in the Chapel Hill News since her deployment.  In yesterday's piece, she comes out strongly against Amendment One.

Published: Apr 24, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Apr 24, 2012 06:49 PM


North Carolinians are better than Amendment One. But I get it, there are a lot of Christians in my beautiful home state. There are a lot of people who put following the will of the Lord above all other things.

So let’s talk about God.

God is famous for, among a few other things, giving man The Law. Now folks today sure do like to hunt and peck with the Law, pick things they like and drop things they don’t.

If this thing The Law is going to be so important to people, well, we might as well give some small amount of energy to trying to understand what The Law is, what The Law means.

The Law is mainly found in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Folks like some of those five books. Genesis? Everyone knows Genesis, most have number some sort of fight over it. Exodus? It’s the model for every revolutionary group, whether it be America taking our independence from Britain or the folks of African descent fighting their way out of slavery, or hey, even gay and trans folks like me. And Leviticus and Deuteronomy? Some one is always trying to whip out that big old rule book to pop somebody else over the head.

But I’m going to direct you to everybody’s least favorite book of the Pentateuch, of the whole Bible even. The Book of Numbers. I know folks who have spent their entire lives studying the scriptures who avoid Numbers. Why? Because it can be powerfully, powerfully boring. It seems like nothing but W begot X begot Y begot Z begot and so and so on, right?

Turns out, No. There’s a story I want to point you to in Numbers chapter 27, verses 1 through 11. It’s a story about five women demanding their Rights.

Story goes that there was a man named Zelophehad who had five daughters, Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah and no sons. He died. The Law of Moses, the Law of God said that his property was to go to his nearest male relative. His daughters were to get nothing. Nothing.

The daughters saw how unjust that was. They went before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders, and all the congregation and they told them that The Law was unjust, that they deserved their inheritance. Why should their family lose everything just because of the lack of a male to inherit it?

What happens? Does one of the leaders call them greedy? Or immoral? Or uppity? No, Moses takes their case to God. And God takes up for them. The Lord says, Those women are right. And The Law gets changed.

You see, The Law isn’t right because it’s The Law. The Law is only right so long as it is just. If The Law is being used to defend injustice, The Law is wrong and God wants it changed.

The man I believe is the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth is recorded saying when someone asked him which was the most important commandment “You shall love the Lord you God with your whole heart, soul, and mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second like the first, ’You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Amendment One doesn’t work with the commandments Jesus gave us. It just exists to harm folks who aren’t hurting anyone, who are just living their lives as well as they can, just like everyone else.

I’m asking you to love your neighbor as yourself and vote against carving needless discrimination against your neighbor into our state’s constitution.

Sam Taylor served as a chaplain’s assistant in Iraq and is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill.

New Guide for Local Churches: A Response to LGBT Refugee Crisis

New Guide for Local Churches: A Response to LGBT Refugee Crisis

By Rev. Harry Knox
Interim Executive Director
Integrity USA
It was her quiet determination to live that made a lasting impression on me.  She was a refugee of LGBT hatred in Uganda.  I had the opportunity to meet her in New York City at a meeting called to discuss the growing crisis of systemic violence toward LGBT people in many countries in parts of Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe.

She spoke of her experience being raped by men who claimed they did so in order to “cure” her of her lesbian orientation.  She told us about the beatings she had endured by thugs in her neighborhood tied to local authorities.  And she related her fear for the safety of her family now that she has escaped the horror that was her life in a country ruled by hate.

The cry of my heart was “what can I do?”  I chafed against the powerlessness I felt in the face of this growing problem.

Now ORAM (Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration) has provided a user-friendly resource to help local congregations put away that sense of powerlessness and act to help save the lives of LGBT refugees in the United States.  Rainbow Bridges is available at:

“There are immediate ways those of us in the U.S. can support members of our LGBT community facing persecution overseas,” said Neil Grungras, Executive Director of ORAM. “Uniting in support of queer asylum seekers and refugees is a powerful way of building community and reversing homophobia.”

Sometimes I hear folks say that the movement for LGBT justice is over…then I think of the face of that indomitable woman from Uganda. Our work is not done – in the US, or overseas.  If Holy Spirit is calling you to do something, ORAM’s new resource can help.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Who do we say that they are?

by Susan Russell

I'm still "dwelling" on my experience of speaking with a group of APU (Azusa Pacific University) students on Thursday night last week. I wrote about it in a piece on the Huffington Post called "Voices from a Parking Lot" that posted up live today. I hope you'll read it because, as I noted in the comment over on Facebook:
Would appreciate any help you can give “liking” – sharing – tweeting – commenting – etc. As wearying as it all is, we cannot afford the luxury of “movement fatigue” when these kids are still being relegated to parking lots to speak of their struggle to rise above "the continual nausea of eating your own shame."
Because those are the words that still haunt me from that last Thursday night in the Citrus College Parking Lot -- and the fact that a bright, creative, 20-year college student who is living with the nauseating impact of internalized homophobia just breaks my heart. And pisses me off.

Breaks my heart because I've raised two boys -- and it was hard enough to watch them have to navigate the challenges of self-esteem and self-understanding through those tough years of young adulthood without the burden an internalized shame about their sexual orientation. And pisses me off because I know for a fact-certain that as a card carrying, collar wearing Christian the faith I both espouse and represent has been mis-represented and mis-used to convince this kid -- and others like him -- that there is something inherently shameful about being gay. Or lesbian. Or bisexual or transgender.

So tonight, as I was doing some research for a vestry committee meeting tomorrow night ("Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation" by Carol Howard Merritt ... check it out ... great book.) I came across this paragraph that resonated not with the committee meeting coming up tomorrow night but with the parking lot experience last week:
Scripture reminds us that we have the power to bless and to curse. (Genesis 12:3) This may seem like a foreign concept, but any father who hears the words “I love you” from his child knows the power of a blessing. The words create a reality. Parents also often have the power the bless and curse, and indeed we parents are typically the first ones to create our children’s realities. Our answers to their question of “Who do you say that I am?” have a lasting effect on them, for better or worse. When children are formed under the constant drone of disparaging words, it can damage them for their entire lives. Whether disparaging or affirming, others’ words form our attitudes, shape our ability to trust and model for us how to give and receive love.”
What word do we give our LGBT children? Who do we say that they are? If we do not say it loudly, clearly, openly and often that they are a BLESSING then they are at risk of growing up internalizing the message that they are a CURSE ... and ending up living with the continual nausea of eating their own shame.

The question isn't whether we have the power to bless. The question is whether we have the will to use it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

What's Happened at Executive Council?

The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church just concluded a three day meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church is an elected body representing the whole Church. In the course of the three years between convention, known as the "triennium", the Executive Council will customarily meet once in each of the nine provinces of the Episcopal Church. It's duty is to carry out programs and policies adopted by General Convention. It is the job of Executive Council to oversee the ministry and mission of the Church. It is comprised of twenty members elected by General Convention (four bishops, four priests or deacons and twelve laypersons) and eighteen members elected by provincial synods.
A Message from Executive Council
April 20, 2012
Salt Lake City, UT
The Lord is Risen! Alleluia!
The Lord is Risen indeed! Alleluia!
In this joyous Easter season, Executive Council came together in Salt Lake City for its final meeting of this Triennium.
It has been a time of reflection on what we have done, and what we have left undone. It has been a time to ask whether we have loved our neighbors – Council members and Church Center staff; bishops, clergy and laity of The Episcopal Church; our sisters and brothers of the Anglican Communion; sisters and brothers who chose to leave The Episcopal Church; the poor, the needy and the oppressed – as ourselves.
Have we had enough strength and courage for this work, or have we at times shrunk from the need to stand up and say things that are not only hard to say, but hard to hear? Have we cherished collegiality more than accountability? Have we used our structure to empower one part of the church while disempowering another? Have we been able to overcome fear of the unknown as we face the challenges of being church in a post Christian world?
The Presiding Bishop spoke of this in her opening remarks: “We will be more faithful, and far more effective, in that discernment work if we can let go of suspicion, assumptions about others’ motives, and power politics – all of which are based in fear and scarcity.  We do know that perfect love casts out fear, and when we can remember how deeply and completely love dwells within us, the fear does begin to recede.”
President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson said, “I want us to change. But I want us to do it responsibly, with a conceptual framework that will keep us from the unintended consequences that come from reactive decision-making. I want us to keep the decision making in the hands of all the baptized and not an elite few. “
Chief Operating Officer Bishop Stacy Sauls said in his opening remarks, “The conversation I long to have with you as the elected leadership of the Episcopal Church is not about the panic of our declining numbers but about how we strengthen what is working best out there and make what is strong stronger so that the strong can serve the less than strong.  The conversation I long to have with you is not about how to get more people in the doors to help us pay the bills but about how to make more disciples of Jesus to go about changing the world into God’s dream for it.” 
The opening plenary session began with a frank discussion of Council’s extreme disappointment with the budget that was sent to PB&F. Council members were very clear that their disappointment was not simply a reluctance to let go of the budget but instead a very clear statement that the budget sent to PB&F is not the budget Council approved. Rather than spend time assigning blame, Council members moved fairly quickly to a discussion of how to rectify the situation within the confines of the canons.  On Friday, Council passed a memo outlining their concerns to PB&F.
The plenary discussion strengthened our realization that while we attempted to save money by having shorter Council meetings, the amount of work remained the same or expanded. The result has been longer days with tired and stressed Council members and staff, resulting in a greater chance of errors occurring.
Having said that, we want to remind the Church that our work in this triennium involved much more than just the budget. Much of it is not as visible as the budget, but is structurally important, just as a lattice is often hard to see but is vital in supporting the vine as it grows toward the Light. This last meeting seemed an appropriate time to highlight the scope of our work.
The Committee on Local Mission and Ministry (LMM) was made up completely of new members of Council. This meant their initial task was discovering and developing the scope of their work. They decided that in addition to simply approving the continued funding of Jubilee Centers they would uphold and celebrate the work done by the various centers. At this meeting they celebrated the work of All Saints Cathedral on St. Thomas, whose work with elderly includes home visits, pastoral care, and work with grandchildren in after school care. LMM also spent a lot of time on multi-cultural issues with a particular focus on encouraging the whole church to engage in anti-racism work. This work calls the Church to continue, individually and corporately, to recognize, name and confront racism in all its guises.
In this meeting, Council’s anti-racism committee worked with members to focus on systemic racism. In our table discussions members recounted instances where they became aware of how racism permeates the world in which we live, move and have our being – most of us in positions of great privilege that insulate us from much of the destructive results of this sin and thus puts us in danger of being blind to its effect on those less privileged.
The report of the Committee on Advocacy and Networking around their work on issues of immigration led the Council into a heated and passionate discussion of how we tease out the differences between anti-racism training and diversity and inclusion training. Immigration includes more than issues of racism.  How do we make space for people who come from other countries in our church? How do we broaden our conversation to address these issues without in any way lessening our commitment to the peculiar and dire necessity for anti-racism work in this church and in these United States? It is clear this will be an ongoing conversation in Council.
A and N working in collaboration with The Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations has moved resolutions on Immigration Reform, Racial Profiling, and Corporate Social Responsibility. These resolutions empower local, regional, national and international advocacy on behalf of the disenfranchised and empower OGR to lobby on behalf of our shared values as Episcopalians in a conflicted, partisan environment on Capitol Hill.  For example, one simple resolution on the moral dimensions of balanced budgets gave The Episcopal Church the ability to participate in a dominant national debate in a creative, visible, and influential way that would not have been possible absent the resolution. 

The Joint Standing Committee on World Mission addressed many major areas of concern. It worked with the D020 Task Force that developed a process that allowed for the involvement of the church in responding to the Proposed Anglican Covenant through the preparation of a study guide. Collated responses from church leadership at all levels informed the report which is in the forthcoming Blue Book. The committee engaged in an on-going review of the funding source and distribution of funds for CETALC (Theological Educational Center of Latin America and the Caribbean). It followed the formation of a seminary for Latin America and the Caribbean, heard from missioners, especially the Young Adult Service Corps, and discussed ways of supporting future missionary efforts. After the successful Mutual Regional Ministry Conference in February 2010 that involved all the provinces of the Americas, the committee discussed plans for a future conference. The committee continued to evaluate the covenants The Episcopal Church has with our covenant partners in Mexico, Central America, Brazil, the Philippines and Liberia. Finally, the committee also received regular reports from Episcopal Relief and Development and worked with the “Rebuild Our Church in Haiti” campaign.
The Joint Standing Committee on Finance for Mission dealt with many issues beyond the budget. They continued consulting on funding for the Archives and tracked mission funding as well as the larger financial picture of the Church, including modifications of the budget on an annual basis and financial trends five to twenty years out. They also have examined the highest and best use of the Church Center property and reviewed the status of fundraising for Haiti.
In the absence of committee chair Del Glover, acting chair Tim Anderson asked COO Sauls to share with the entire Council his report on the proposed effort to create an Episcopal Church Cooperative. This involves providing high-quality professional service to dioceses, congregations and other Episcopal institutions at a lower cost than would be available to these individual institutions by making use of economies of scale and group purchasing power. This would leave additional funds for mission and ministry at the local level, thereby furthering the overall mission of the Church.
The Joint Standing Committee on Governance and Administration for Mission (GAM) was formed at the beginning of this triennium and quickly realized there was ample work to accomplish, which included a comprehensive review and revision of the By-laws of the Executive Council of the General Convention and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society; the creation of Rules of Order for the Executive Council; a revision of the Whistleblower Policy for the staff; a call for the GAM-009 Consultation on Church Structure held in May 2011; and the initiation of board development training for members of Council.  At this meeting, the Council adopted a new DFMS Employee Handbook, human resources policies, and Policies for the Protection of Children & Youth from Abuse.  The adoption of the Employee Handbook and policies represents an enormous amount of work on the part of the Executive Council and staff members John E. Colón, Paul Nix, and Bishop Stacy Sauls. John Colón, Director of Human Resource Management, was especially commended for his significant contribution and tireless devotion to the completion of this important project.
Wednesday night the Class of 2015 said farewell to the Class of 2012 with a lighthearted roast that revealed hitherto unknown talents of some of our members. The Class of 2012 was treated to an “EC Cruise” led by “Captain Gregory Straub,” who was played by a Council member who will remain unnamed to protect him from being besieged by talent scouts.
On Thursday Council heard reports from the Rt. Rev. James Cowan, bishop of British Columbia and liaison to Council from the Anglican Church of Canada, and from Lelanda Lee, elected representative from Council to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Bishop Cowan reminded us of the need to listen respectfully and deeply to one another and to “the many.” 
He asked, “Where are the voices of prophecy in your midst? Personally, I as a bishop, need to remember that prophets are annoying as I seek to maintain an institution, but are necessary to reforming the institution.”

He also said he wants to take home with him the Council’s process of anti-racism training.
Lelanda Lee reported on attending a meeting last week, where for the first time, three other ELCA Full Communion Partners also were present from the Reformed Church in America, the Presbyterian Church USA, and the Southern Province of the Moravian Church. Lee noted that unlike the other ecumenical partners, she is the only layperson among them, a reflection of The Episcopal Church's commitment to the ministry of the laity. Her point in sharing specific information from the ELCA meeting and these other churches was to highlight the fact that our churches share many concerns and trends in common.
Council also heard a comprehensive report from Elizabeth Lowell about work being done around creating a Development Office for The Episcopal Church. Major challenges include the time to do appropriate cultivation of possible donors; finding people who can ask for those major gifts, and obtaining most effective development software.
As that plenary session ended, in a moment of personal privilege one Council member mused  - given current data on the number of people with no church affiliation - on what would happen if we all committed to spending as much time and money developing evangelism and stewardship skills as we do fundraising skills.
As always, we ended around the Lord’s Table, gathering not just for solace but also for strength, not just for pardon but also for renewal.
Council passed resolutions on the following topics:
• Declares Council's support for Senate Bill 1670, End Racial Profiling Act of 2011, which is designed to enforce the constitutional right to equal protection of the laws by eliminating racial profiling through changing the policies and procedures underlying the practice, and stands in solidarity with the suffering of the victims of the harm caused by racial profiling, their families and their communities.
• Urges the Congress to adopt Senate Bill 1925 to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act that includes new protective measures for Native American women.
• States Council's support of the work being done by Children’s Defense Fund’s “Cradle to Prison Pipeline” campaign and similar campaigns directed at breaking the cycle of disproportionate incarceration of children and youth of color targeted by Zero Tolerance rules.
• Reaffirms the importance of ongoing Anti-Racism Training for the church, and commits Council to participate in Anti-Racism Training at its regularly scheduled meetings on a periodic basis.
• Reaffirms the commitment of the church to the Rebuild Our Church in Haiti campaign, thanking the Episcopal Church Foundation for its early leadership in administering the campaign, which will now be part of the development effort of the DFMS staff.
• Recognizes a new companion diocese relationship between the Dioceses of Southeast Florida and Haiti.
• Reaffirms the Executive Council Committee on Indigenous Ministries, restating its mandate and committee composition.
• Reauthorizes the continuing Executive Council's Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Economic Justice Loan Committee.
• Adopted some cleanup amendments to Council's bylaws.
• Adopted a new Employee Handbook resulting from more than two years of intensive work on the part of the present Joint Standing Committee on Governance and Administration and the former Administration and Finance Committee.
• Addresses the need to plan for partnership conversations with Province IX, IARCA, and Mexico, so that such conversations might serve as model for other partnerships.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

An Inside Look at Planning General Convention

Integrity leaders met with the leadership of the Chicago Consultation and TransEpiscopal at St. Chrysostom's in Chicago on April 10-12 to coordinate plans for our legislative success General Convention.  Integrity was represented by our President, Rev. Dr. Caro Hall, Vice-President for National Affairs, Rev. Jon Richardson, and Interim Executive Director Rev. Harry Knox.

One of the highlights of the meeting was a training led by Rev. Allyson Robinson, Deputy Director of the Workplace Project at the Human Rights
Campaign Foundation.  Allyson prepped those in attendance for effective advocacy on behalf of full inclusion of the gifts and graces for ministry of
transgender people in the life of the Episcopal Church.

Integrity, in turn, promoted our Voices Of Witness: Out Of The Box video and study guide which educates and informs viewers of the stories and vocations of our transgender brothers and sisters in TEC. The Chicago Consultation and TransEpiscopal.will join Integrity in distributing the video to all who will vote on transgender inclusion at General Convention.

There was much discussion of strategies for finally
obtaining blessings for same gender couples and for beginning a church-wide conversation on ending
discrimination in church canons and the Book of Common Prayer.  Integrity will stand strongly for full marriage equality in Indianapolis.

Integrity also emphasized the need for TEC to have a strong pastoral response to sll types of bullying.  Integrity will advocate for denominational endorsement of federal legislation that will impact the systemic violence experienced by the vast majority of LGBT youth.

What can you do to help? You may not travel to meetings but you can be a major factor in our success. Our  numbers crunchers tell us we need $110,000 to send a team of volunteers to GC12 to make our legislative goals happen. A gift of $5, $10, and$15 will help send our team out to do the work you expect us to do.  Please contribute whatever you can today at DONATE, No gift is too small or too large.

Rev. Harry Knox
Interim Executive Director
Integrity USA

Monday, April 16, 2012

Controversial Archbishop of Uganda to Resign

News from our colleagues at Changing Attitude, UK:

Archbishop of Uganda to resign one year before official tenure ends.

, April 16th, 2012       

The outgoing conservative Ugandan Anglican Archbishop, Henry Luke Orombi, has said the Church in Europe and America has lost vision and direction over gay rights and prosperity.

He said if the Anglican Church of England elects the gay sympathetic Ugandan-born Archbishop of York, John Sentamu to replace the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams and “ it imposes (Sentamu) on the Anglican communion”, the communion would have to decide whether to work with Sentamu or not.

Orombi who is the Archbishop of the (Anglican) Church of Uganda and Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Kampala is retiring one year before his official tenure ends.

It is not clear if he is resigning, given that his fanatical anti-gay sentiments have put him at odds with members of the global Anglican Communion.

He came in as head of the Ugandan Anglican Church in 2004 at the height of internal friction on the Church’s stand on gay rights as a result of the 2003 election of the openly gay non-celibate Bishop Gene Robinson to lead the Anglican Church in New Hampshire, in the USA
At that time his fellow Ugandan Anglican Bishop, Christopher Senyonjo a prominent rights activist in the Anglican Church, was encouraging the Ugandan Church to allow diversity by including homosexuals in the local Church. This position saw Senyonjo stripped of his bishopric by the House of Bishops
While at the helm Orombi has been a great supporter of the infamous Ugandan Homosexuality Bill 2009 though he later modified his stand against gays saying that while homosexuality was in no way a human right, killing them as proposed in the bill would be wrong.

Orombi has been an anti-gay role model and a voice of intolerance on the issue of human sexuality in Sub-Saharan Africa.

While writing in the Journal of Religion, Culture and Public Life, Orombi praised the early Christian converts who were executed on the orders of the historical Buganda King, Daniel Mwanga on June 3, 1886, allegedly because they refused his homosexual advances and would not recant their belief in Christ.
In an interview published on Sunday April 15 in the influential Ugandan magazine, the Independent, Orombi said that while he believes in unity for the worldwide Anglican Communion disagreements on the issue of same-sex relations meant “The Western church and the African church are no longer walking on the same premises. The African church is still a Bible-believing church. Its congregation responds, worships, is growing. You will never say the same about the church in Europe, not even in America.”

He added: “We don’t interpret the Bible the same way. Whereas for them (Western Europe), they’re influenced more by the status quo in terms of the modernised way of interpreting sexuality, we still, as believers, understand sexuality from the creation story, from our cultural background, which to them is all mixed up.”

Orombi also spoke passionately about his anti gay sentiments saying the human rights movement that embraces gay people had “a different agenda.”

He said, “If they were talking about human rights per se, don’t I have the right to exercise my faith and believe the way my faith teaches me? These guys will say no. Do it the way we want you to do it. That’s not human rights. That’s imperialism.”

The election of the next Archbishop will take place in June 2012 by the House of Bishops. The enthronement of the new Archbishop will take place in December 2012. Orombi was elected in July 2003 and enthroned as Archbishop on January 25 2004.

Archbishops in the Church of Uganda serve a 10 year term and must retire by the age of 65 or at the conclusion of their ten-year term, whichever comes first
Orombi’s term was set to expire in January 2014, before he turned 65. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Behind the Scenes of "Out of the Box"

Photos from "on set" in Pasadena at the filming of "Out of the Box" ... the third in the Voices of Witness series giving voice to the witness of transgender Episcopalians. Watch for it ... coming soon to a DVD/YouTube near you!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Opening Day Double Header!

Today was Opening Day at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and baseball fan Susan Russell celebrated with a Double Header ... two blog posts going live on The Huffington Post on the same day.

"It's unusual for that to happen," Russell said. "But I can't think of a better way to start the new season than with a Dodger win and two blogs up on the HuffPost!"

The first -- "The High Cost of Homophobia" -- was a response to the recently released survey linking homophobic actions to self-loathing and a reflection on the collateral damage done by internalized homophobia.

The second -- "Seriously? An Open Letter to the Purpose Driven Pastor" -- was a reaction to Rick Warren's Easter Sunday interview on ABC's "This Week" and included a remedial look at the Bible and the Bill of Rights.

See for yourself:

 "The High Cost of Homophobia"
Catching up on the news of the weekend, I came across a new study linking homophobia to repressed same-sex attractions. My first reaction was, "This belongs in the file folder labeled 'Duh!'" -- because it only confirms what we have long suspected, known, and experienced.
"Seriously? An Open Letter to the Purpose Driven Pastor"
According to Matthew's gospel, when Jesus comes to judge on the last day the answer that gets you into the sheep fold rather than the goat line is not "inasmuch as you were fundamentally fair" -- it was "inasmuch as you fed the hungry, clothed the naked and gave water to the thirsty." And it was most certainly not "inasmuch as you "created wealth" -- it was "inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these."

The Reverend Canon Susan Russell is a Senior Associate at All Saints Church in Pasadena and a past-president of Integrity.