Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Call to Action: Support call for Boy Scout Equality!

Dear Integrity Members and Friends:

The Boy Scouts of America recently used their discriminatory policy against gay scouts and scout leaders to remove a successful scout leader and mother, Jennifer Tyrrell, from her post when she raised concerns about improprieties in the finances of her local troop. Jennifer stood up for equality and so will we. launched a petition drive which resulted in over 275,000 signatures so far -- add yours today! says it is time for the Boy Scouts of America to reconsider its policy of exclusivity against gay youth and leaders – and The General Convention of the Episcopal Church agreed in way back in the year 2000 when it passed Resolution C031 which included the resolve: "encourage the Boy Scouts of America to allow membership to youth and adult leaders irrespective of their sexual orientation;"

Please take action for justice for our families today! Let the Boy Scouts know that as an Episcopalian you stand for equality!

Rev. Harry Knox
Interim Executive Director

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Believing AND Blessing Out Loud: Deep in the Heart of Texas

St. David's in Austin gets some great local television coverage about their plans to move forward with blessings once authorized by General Convention. Watch this segment and think about the "take-aways" viewers got  of [1] the Episcopal Church Welcomes Everybody and [2] (from the rector) "Jesus friended everybody ... before Facebook!"

Kudos to St. David's, Austin ... and Onward to Indianapolis!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Integrity Can Stand Up For Tyler Clementi At GC

“O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs; O God, to whom vengeance belongs, show yourself.” Psalm 94:1

Middlesex County, NJ Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman just sentenced Dharum Ravi to 30 days in jail, with probation and community service.  It was Ravi who videoed Tyler Clementi kissing another man and broadcast the kiss through social media.  Clementi ended his life on earth by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.  Tyler saw no way out of his unmitigated shame, but Dharum is being offered another chance after spending what I consider to be a very short time in jail.

The unrepentant Ravi won’t be deported to his native India, largely because the un-named man whom Tyler kissed wrote the judge and asked him to allow his tormenter the chance to be rehabilitated in the US.  That act of compassion on the part of Ravi’s other victim moved the judge to mercy of which I fear I would be incapable.

So in my anger at an apparent lack of justice for Tyler Clementi, I am thrown back on the words of the Psalmist.  Psalm 94 is among the places in the Bible we hear the plaintive cry, “Oh Lord, how long…” (v. 3). The Psalmist also asks, “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers?” (v. 16) Well, friends, that’s our cue.  I am not a judge, thanks be to God.  But because Integrity will be working night and day at General Convention 2012 to pass a resolution authorizing and empowering a strong response to bullying from the Episcopal Church. We have a chance to stand up for Tyler Clementi, and his un-named date, by doing all we can to make Integrity’s efforts successful.  True justice for those young men will not be found in a longer jail sentence for Dharum Ravi, but may be found in changed hearts and minds all over this country moved by what they will hear in church about how we can live together in peace.

Frankly, in these challenging economic times, we are having a difficult time raising the money we need to be effective at General Convention.  But Tyler’s death and Dharum’s sentencing point out that the stakes in Integrity’s work have never been higher.  So I hope you will join me in digging deep to contribute the money Integrity needs to help make the Episcopal Church a beacon of hope to the bullied, and the bullies.  Both are children of God crying out for us to stand with them for justice’s sake.

Rev. Harry Knox
Interim Executive Director
Integrity USA

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dio of New Hampshire Elects Hirschfeld as New Bishop


"Integrity USA celebrates today with the people of the Diocese of New Hampshire on their election of the Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld to serve as their tenth bishop," said Integrity's Vice President of National Affairs, The Rev. Jon M. Richardson.

Integrity President  The Rev. Dr. Caroline Hall added: "We are confident that the people of New Hampshire have listened to the voice of the Holy Spirit and have elected the person best able to lead them in fulfilling God's mission in the coming years.

The Rev. Jon M. Richardson continued, " "The Diocese of New Hampshire - as well as the wider church - have been richly blessed by the ministry of Bishop Gene Robinson.  Bishop-elect Hirschfeld will have big shoes to fill as he moves into his new call.  The bishop-elect was chosen from an outstanding field of three candidates, and it is a credit to the people  of New Hampshire, as well as a testament to the progress of the Episcopal Church as a whole, that the three candidates' sexual orientations served as little more than an historical footnote through this process.

"Bishop-elect Hirschfeld was chosen on the basis of his strong credentials as a pastor, priest, and teacher and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the context of prayerful discernment on the part of the Diocese of New Hampshire.  The bishop-elect has a strong record of support for marriage equality and is a trusted friend of the  LGBT movement, and we are eager to work with him in the years ahead as we continue to move the church from "Resolution to reality: making all mean ALL!"

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

NOTE: Integrity regrets the misspelling of Bishop-elect Hirschfeld's name in the initial release.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Integrity's Transgender Documentary Nears Completion! (w/Video Clip)

"Voices of Witness: Out of the Box" explores issues of gender identity and expression through voices of witness from the transgender community and their allies in the Episcopal Church. One of those allies, Bishop Gene Robinson, is convinced that "the transgender community is being brought to us by the Holy Spirit to become the more fully inclusive church we are called to be." View the preview/promo video here:

The third in the "Voices of Witness" series, this short documentary film will be accompanied by a study guide designed to equip individuals and congregations to explore and embrace the full inclusion of transgender people in the work and witness of the Episcopal Church.

June 1, 2012 is the scheduled release date for the project -- which will be posted to YouTube and made available via DVD to the bishops and deputies of the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

For more information contact Louise Brooks -- Integrity's Communication Director -- at

Monday, May 14, 2012

Anglicans, Sexuality and Scripture: An African Consultation

Anglicans, Sexuality and Scripture:  An African ConsultationAnglicans, Sexuality and Scripture:  An African Consultation
Last October, Integrity's Vice President of National Affairs represented our organization at a conference in Africa sponsored by our colleagues at the Chicago Consultation. Here is the report they have just released about that conference.
Anglicans, Sexuality and Scripture:  An African Consultatio
"In October, some 25 Anglican leaders from across Africa gathered with more than a dozen Episcopalians from the United States for a consultation on issues of justice and human sexuality.

For three days the group prayed, studied the Bible, listened to presentations and talked about issues of theology, sexuality and culture. When formal sessions ended, they talked into the night, all in an attempt to better understand one another and the unique context in which each participant lived and ministered.

The Chicago Consultation was proud to sponsor this event at the Salt Rock Hotel in Durban, South Africa with our partners from the Ujamaa Centre at the University of KwaZulu Natal.
 In October, some 25 Anglican leaders from across Africa gathered with more than a dozen Episcopalians from the United States for a consultation on issues of justice and human sexuality.

For three days the group prayed, studied the Bible, listened to presentations and talked about issues of theology, sexuality and culture. When formal sessions ended, they talked into the night, all in an attempt to better understand one another and the unique context in which each participant lived and ministered.

The Chicago Consultation was proud to sponsor this event at the Salt Rock Hotel in Durban, South Africa with our partners from the Ujamaa Centre at the University of KwaZulu Natal.

The 11-minute video below captures some of the high points of the gathering, including moving personal testimony from several participants. Click here to view video which includes Integrity's VP of National Affairs, The Rev. Jon M. Richardson

To read more about the conference click here.

Church of the Intercession, NYC Believes Out Loud

  • From
    Elisabeth Jacobs
    Intergity USA Board of Directors

    From her Facebook page...........................

    Yesterday (Sunday May 13, 2012) Fr. Berto preached on marriage equality at Church of the Intercession. He also read Bishop Sisk and Dietsche's support of President Obama's declaration on marriage equality. I asked members of the church to sign a welcoming statement that includes gender and sexual orientation diversity.

    We had 137 in attendance and 74 (54%) stayed after the service to sign this statement: "The Church of the Intercession in New York City, is a reconciling, affirming, and inclusive Christian community striving through worship, love, and service to welcome all people just as God created you. No matter where you are on your journey of faith, and whether you are single, married, divorced, separated, or partnered, our welcome knows no boundaries of age, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic condition, physical or mental ability. We believe that God delights in the diversity of creation and so do we!"

    Going into General Convention, Integrity is working to "Claim the Promise, Making All Mean All". People ask us all the time, how can I help? A "Welcoming Statement" like the one Elisabeth put forward is one step toward Making All Mean ALL. Ask your parish to "Believe Out Loud" and support a radically inclusive welcome for the vast diversity of all God's children.

A Circle Cast Ever Wider-- An Op Ed by The Rev. Sara Irwin

The following op ed by the Reverend Sara Irwin, rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Waltham, Massachusetts, was published in the Waltham News Tribune on Friday, May 11.

Waltham Voices: Spirituality and Same-Sex Marriage

This week, as marriage has been much in the news, I’ve been considering the way that people of faith have, and haven’t, been part of the national conversation. I was, with many friends from the fine state of North Carolina, disappointed by the decision of the voters to amend their constitution with the discriminatory Amendment One prohibiting any relationships outside of heterosexual marriage from having any legal standing. Hours later, I was delighted by President Obama’s declaration of support for same sex marriage, even more so thankful for the fact that he shared that his Christian faith was behind his change.

My Christian faith is the reason I support same sex marriage as well: not only because of the “golden rule” and not only because all people are equally children of God and deserve the same legal privileges. I support it for a bit more of a personal reason: because it enables me to do my job as a priest in the Church. Some people may say that the separation of church and state means that Christians can’t practice their faith. In this case, it means that I can.

When I was ordained, I promised to “love and serve the people among whom you work, caring alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor.” I promised to administer the sacraments, to teach, to preach. Those promises are made without qualification. There are no exceptions to the love of God.
I am in support of same-sex marriage because as a pastor, I believe it is my duty to bless and honor the relationships of all people who might come through the doors of my church seeking that blessing. I regret that the clergy of North Carolina do not have that ability as I do in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

This past Sunday at my church, we heard the words of the first Epistle of John: “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (4:7). I recently had the honor of officiating at a burial of someone who died at age 84. A World War II veteran, at the burial the honor guard gave the flag to the man with whom he had shared his life for more than 50 years: “On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation, thank you for your sacrifice.” Their sacrifice was not only in that he risked death on behalf of this country. Their sacrifice was not only decades of care and concern for each other. They offered another sacrifice: a partnership that was, for much of its duration, legally invisible. Fifty years before, as young men not much younger than I, would they have anticipated the power of that moment, one receiving the flag at the other’s graveside? I wonder.

In the ministry of Jesus Christ, the circle of inclusion is cast ever wider. This was not easy for the early church, those early disciples who sought to follow God in Christ. Did new believers have to convert to Judaism first? Did they have to follow the dietary laws? Did they have to be circumcised? Again and again, the barriers were lowered. Would my daughter’s transgender godfather have been included? Yes. Would my high school friend and her wife and son be included? Yes. Would someone who was unsure about what they believed be included? Yes. Would two 80-something vets be included? Yes, yes, yes.

So, President Obama, thank you. Thank you for taking the stand that supports my church in our work. I know that not everyone in our pews agrees with my stance. I know that not everyone in our state agrees with our law, and that not everyone will appreciate your “evolution.” But I also believe that the God who animates love can also animate respect, and journeying together, persons of all faiths and no faith, can continue to work for our “more perfect union.”

The Rev. Sara Irwin is the rector at Christ Church Episcopal in Waltham. Send feedback to

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cast Your Vote for a Queer Positive Church

The Rev. Winnie Varghese
St. Mark's in the Bowery
New York City

From HuffPost......

Cast your vote for queer positive, women positive, youth, men, baby and everyone else positive, healthy, progressive, diverse and fun church today. St. Mark's Church in the Bowery is one of 40 contestants in an online contest sponsored by Partners in Preservation to give away $3 million of preservation funds in New York City.

St. Mark's is a progressive, welcoming (church speak for LGBTQI friendly) racially diverse, high energy, soulful congregation. In a time of decline, we are growing and growing fast. Why? Because we believe we have some good news to share, particularly for those who have felt beaten up by the church for who they are, simply because they want to follow Jesus. If that's you, you're right, Christianity needs you.

St. Mark's doesn't have endowment funds or income properties. We survive and thrive on the donations of people who believe in our mission, and we rent out our spaces to wonderful arts partners: Danspace, The Poetry Project and Incubator Arts.

We have been given an opportunity to invite those who believe in our mission support us. You can vote from anywhere in the world. All you need is an e-mail address.

I've been working at St. Mark's for three years. We are testing the idea that if we celebrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it is manifest in The Episcopal Church by taking seriously the bold decisions The Episcopal Church has made in my lifetime (the last 40 years), we will grow. Those decisions include: bold financial commitments to the Civil Rights Movement, the ordination of women, sensible teaching on birth control and reproductive choice, the full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons in all orders of ministry, celebrating same sex marriage in jurisdictions where same sex marriage is legal, and sporting the finest liturgy (worship) known to Christianity in the West in a vast array of styles with heart and soul.

If you want to support that kind of church, or even just the idea of that kind of church in a fine building established on the graves of some of your history book's favorites: Peter Stuyvesant, Daniel Tompkins and Admiral William Perry. If you want the next Patti Smith to have a stage when she needs one, the next Allen Ginsburg, Merce Cunningham, Isadora Duncan, W.H. Auden, Kahlil Gibran, Amiri Baraka, Sam Shephard or Pauli Murray to produce and perform art and fight for justice from this beautiful space, then support St. Mark's. We don't know why so many lovers of art and liberation walk through our doors, but they do and they will.

If we are awarded a grant, it will be used to restore the glorious old cast iron portico that frames our front entrance. Some say these buildings are albatross around our necks. I think this particular one is a testament to the human spirit. If you value those things, we could use your vote, (we can remind you here) daily through May 21.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Integrity Responds to Obama Support of Gay Marriage

"Today a sitting President of the United States said he believes lesbian and gay couples should be allowed to marry. That makes this a very, very good day. What Louie Crew and Ernest Clay began to model on behalf of gay and lesbian Episcopalians when Integrity was formed in 1974, was finally endorsed by the leader of the free world 38 years later. President Obama spoke in powerful personal terms about the witness of his own gay friends, staff, and the parents of his daughter’s friends when he spoke of why he has changed his mind and turned even further toward justice. Beloveds, we LGBT folk and our allies taught him to do that. Our struggle is not over, but today is a very good day". Interim Executive Director,  Rev. Harry Knox

"The President's change of heart will come as no surprise to Integrity members who have seen miracles of transformation as those close to us and in the wider Church have had their hearts and minds touched by the Holy spirit working through LGBT people and our allies".- Integrity President, The Rev. Dr. Caroline Hall

"I am deeply grateful to President Obama for his vocal support of marriage equality.  This growth and forward movement in his thinking is particularly heartening after the unsurprising, but disappointing vote yesterday for continued discrimination in North Carolina.  Integrity remains committed to realizing full marriage equality both in our church and in the wider society, and we are happy to welcome the President's support.  While some churches and local governments are holding fast to socially irrelevant and outdated political positions, we are proud to lift up the Episcopal Church as a growing beacon of hope for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people of faith and our allies".- Integrity Vice President The Rev. Jon M. Richardson


Update: Knox on North Carolina Amendment Vote

Of Bad Days And Good
Rev. Harry Knox
Interim Executive Director
Integrity USA

Today a sitting President of the United States said he believes lesbian and gay couples should be allowed to marry.  That makes this a very, very good day.  What Louie Crew and Ernest Clay began to model on behalf of gay and lesbian Episcopalians when Integrity was formed in 1974, was finally endorsed by the leader of the free world 38 years later.  President Obama spoke in powerful personal terms about the witness of his own gay friends, staff, and the parents of his daughter’s friends when he spoke of why he has changed his mind and turned even further toward justice.  Beloveds, we LGBT folk and our allies taught him to do that.  Our struggle is not over, but today is a very good day.

My heart hurts today for all my friends and colleagues in North Carolina who are mourning passage yesterday of an amendment enshrining discrimination in their state’s constitution.  Yesterday was a bad day. I remember well when the voters of my home state of Georgia passed such an amendment in 2004.  Back then, the vote in that Southern state was 77% in favor of discrimination.  What a change, eight years later, to see a neighboring and similar state vote roughly 60-40% to reject the plea of its lesbian and gay families for fairness. A 17% movement toward greater understanding has taken enormous work by advocates in NC.

I know this seems small solace in this moment, but I hope my beloved colleagues can hear my deep thanks for all they have done and will continue doing to make the Tarheel State safer and saner for LGBT people.  This year, equality and justice actually won in the counties that represent the Research Triangle and the city of Asheville.  There were no such victories to assuage our pain in Georgia in 2004
The movement for the freedom to marry in Asheville has had significant leadership from allied clergy since 2006, when my friend Rev. Joe Hoffman first preached a pro-inclusion sermon and set off a rollercoaster of response from other faith leaders in the region who were called by Joe’s courage to make their own stands for fairness for their LGBT congregants.  Because Joe and his colleagues stepped up, hearts and minds in Buncombe County have changed.  LGBT people in their city and county have the soul-affirming confidence on this tough day after that at least a majority of their neighbors stood with them in this struggle.  Thanks be to God.
The vital work of graceful engagement in North Carolina will continue this summer when the Democratic National Convention meets in Charlotte.  Charlotte-based Freedom Center for Social Justice ( is coordinating events with the Human Rights Campaign and others that will create dialogue with delegates from around the country around the need for inclusion of a strong marriage equality plank in the Democratic Platform on which President Obama and all Democrats will run in November. The Freedom Center will make sure people of color are speaking out for justice from a faith perspective in those conversations.  Bishop Tonyia Rawls, the founder of the Center, knows that good days – those on which we celebrate victories – are achieved by not being so dismayed by the bad days that we forget Who is bending the arc of history toward justice.  It is our daily walk of faith that calls us to keep telling our stories and calling our neighbors to account for how they treat us.

Many Integrity members were part of the campaign against Amendment 1 in North Carolina!  To all who did your part, Integrity members, and others, too, a hearty thank you from the Board and staff of Integrity.  Your witness will bear fruit for generations to come and God will be praised.

And to our President, God bless you, Sir, for your courageous statement of support for my family and untold thousands of others throughout our country and around the world.  You have made our day.

Rev. Harry Knox

Monday, May 7, 2012

From HuffPost

Why Religious People Should Support the Rights of Women in Reproductive Decisions 

Lately, headlines have been full of reports of religious condemnation of abortion and birth control. As a person of deep faith, I believe the opposite: I believe that -- as a matter of social justice -- religious people should support the rights of women to make decisions about bearing children, including about abortion and birth control. God's love encompasses all creation. It includes a woman in labor and it includes a woman having an abortion. It does not stop at the door to a women's clinic. For women, justice must include the right to make decisions about sexuality and reproduction.

Many people of faith and religious institutions think that reproductive rights should be protected and expanded, but often they are silent. Women's reproductive rights have been so stigmatized and stripped of moral value by certain religious leaders that it can be difficult to speak up. Ongoing opposition to comprehensive contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and their allies is the latest example of stigmatizing women's health care. This is a good time to reconsider why religion should support, not oppose, women's reproductive rights. Here are six reasons:

  1. Religions hold that all human life is sacred -- and include the life of a woman as well as that of a potential child. This belief inspires many religious communities to work for a world in which women are healthy and every child is wanted, loved and cared for. Those religious communities support birth control, safe and legal abortion, and health care for all.
  2. Religions value the responsible and loving use of the gifts of sexuality and reproduction. The decision to become pregnant and have children is one of the most important we make as individuals and couples. We have a sacred responsibility to support the rights of women in this process because women have the responsibility of bearing children.
  3. Planning one's family is a fundamental right and responsibility. It is a key factor in determining the physical, social and economic health and well-being of individuals, their families and their communities. Religious institutions and people of faith have an obligation to contribute -- as other organizations do -- to ethically grounded policy on sexuality and reproduction.
  4. People of faith certainly have differing views on abortion and even on birth control, but most of us agree that God has endowed women with free will and the ability to make moral decisions. Free will isn't a matter of politics or ideology and it's not to be exercised only when it's convenient. An unwanted pregnancy or a pregnancy that threatens a woman's health and life requires a decision that is made freely, with information that resources and support are available, whatever the decision.
  5. Reproductive rights are central to the lives of women and girls along with access to education, health care, equal opportunity and human rights. Women's full participation in life and full expression of self requires that reproductive health care and options are available. This is especially true for women who are economically marginalized, who have unintended pregnancy rates that are four times as great as other women. In this country, half of all pregnancies are unintended and about half of those end in abortion. That means one in three women will have an abortion at some point in life. Use of birth control, which some opponents equate with abortion, is virtually universal. As many as 99% of women use it at some point. Access to safe, legal abortion and universal availability of birth control must be a basic part of a woman's reproductive health care.
  6. We are a nation with a rich diversity of religious traditions. Decisions about birth control and abortion are medical decisions and are also decisions of conscience -- what an individual believes is ethical. Since religions have varying views about reproductive rights, enshrining any one view into law restricts the ability of those who disagree to follow their own conscience and religious beliefs -- thus denying them religious freedom.

The harsh and condemning judgments of some religious leaders are troubling. They suggest that abortion is morally wrong, while ignoring the fact that miscarriages and unwanted pregnancies are common. They deny that God is present in these times. In my view, it is sinful to turn away from women who are struggling to make the best decision for themselves, their families and perhaps their future children. There is nothing holy about silence in the face of human struggle and there is certainly nothing religious about shaming a woman who has an abortion. Women deserve compassion and support -- public as well as private -- from their churches, synagogues and temples.

Rev. Knox, Interim Executive Director of Integrity USA, the voice of LGBT Episcopalians and their allies, was the founding director of the Human Rights Campaign's Religion and Faith Program and was appointed by President Obama to the President's Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He will begin his position at RCRC July 16.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Press Release on Maryland Church Tragedy

Integrity USA extends its sympathies to the people of St. Peters, Ellicott City, Maryland, a congregation known for its inclusive welcome, for
the tragedy that has taken place on its grounds and in its office.

Rev. Dr. Caroline Hall, President of Integrity said “My heart goes out to the people of St Peter’s and to the family and friends of those who have died or have been injured. Violence is always painful and never justified. Violence that takes place in a Episcopal church brings all of us to the sharp realization that we are interconnected in ways that we cannot normally verbalize.”
We ask all Integrity members and friends to keep St Peter’s in your prayers at this difficult and traumatic time.

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

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bishop of Texas Shows Way Forward

Integrity President, The Rev. Dr, Caroline Hall, comments on Bishop Andy Doyle's plan to bless same gender couples in the Diocese of Texas.

One of the great charisms of the Anglican tradition has been our ability to embrace a wide range of theological perspectives while continuing to worship, serve (and argue) together. In the recent troubles that approach has been lacking as the puritan faction have tried to make us adhere to their ideas of the true faith. This has sadly led to their even refusing to receive communion together with those who theological views are different.
Now the Bishop of Texas has gone back to the ethic of Anglican inclusiveness. Even though he himself cannot at this time countenance blessing a same-gender union, he is making it possible for those in his diocese to follow their own consciences. I admit I haven’t read the whole document, Unity in Mission, but I have read the headlines and the FAQs. The Bishop says, “We feel that faithfulness to the Good News of Salvation and the unique Gospel proclamation of God in Jesus Christ demands unity and peace for the sake of mission. We believe that a proactive response to emerging issues that may divide us against one another safeguards the mission and life of the Church.”

You betcha.

Of course I’d like to if everyone saw things my way all the time. After all I am right!! But that’s not the reality and I’d much rather we all said, let’s find a way to work together and focus on serving God and furthering his/her reign. As Bishop Gene has said “Jesus is the gay agenda.”

No bishop, however liberal, is going to force his or her clergy to bless same-gender relationships. After all, clergy don’t have to bless different-gender ones. But it seems very likely that a lot of conservative bishops simply won’t allow same-gender blessings in their dioceses, thus perpetuating inequality within the church.  So it will depend where you live whether you’re really welcome.

Bishop Doyle is clear that he is not going to vote for blessings, but if they are accepted by Convention, which he thinks they will be, two congregations in his diocese will be granted permission to bless same-gender covenants, provided the people and the rector are all in agreement. At a later point additional congregations will be given the same permission. No congregation will have to agree to blessings.

So within the Diocese of Texas it will be possible to have a same-gender union blessed in an Episcopal Church. It might not be the church you’d like, but it’s a whole load better than not being able to get a blessing at all.

“It’s not the whole enchilada,” as one of my predecessors famously said, “but it’s got enough guacamole on it for me.”

I hope other conservative bishops will have the same breadth of vision and generosity as Bishop Doyle.

Integrity Supports Transgender Resolution D002

Here is a copy of the Transgender Resolution D002 which Integrity is staunchly supporting at GC12. Watch for our Voices of Witness III: Out Of The Box, a DVD and parish study guide in support of transgender inclusion.

Affirming Access to Discernment Process for Ministry

Lawton, Ms. Sarah

Rushing, The Hon. Byron; Robinson, The Rev.
Carla Robinson

Blue Book: p. N/A; Constitution & Canons: p. 65

HB / Ministry


N/A; N/A; not yet reviewed

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That Title III, Canon 1, Sec. 2 of
the Canons of the Episcopal Church be hereby amended to read as follows: No
person shall be denied access to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or
ordained, in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex,
marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disabilities or
age, except as otherwise provided by these Canons. No right to licensing,
ordination, or election is hereby established.

Title III, Canon 1, Sec. 2 of the Canons of the Episcopal Church states "No person shall be denied access to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age, except as otherwise provided by these Canons. No right to licensing, ordination, or election is hereby established." This resolution would revise this canon by adding "gender identity and expression" to this list of protected categories of access, but not of right.

As we continue to grow in our understanding and embrace of all human beings, it is important for us to be specific in our naming of difference. This proposed revision is based upon our increased understanding and practice to respect the human dignity of transgender people - transsexuals, and others who differ from majority societal gender norms. Gender identity (one's inner sense of being male or female) and expression (the way in which one manifests that gender identity in the world) should not be bases for exclusion, in and of themselves, from consideration for participation in the ministries of the Church
Printed: Thursday, May 03, 2012 at 12:14 PM. Page 1 of 1

A Message from Rev. Harry Knox about Violence

A Message 
Rev. Harry Knox
Interim Executive Director
Integrity USA

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)

Two events in the news yesterday have pushed me to the computer when I should be doing numerous other tasks, but this is too important. I need to speak out.

First was the shocking diatribe of North Carolina pastor Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, in which he tells fathers to “man up” and “punch” their male children if they act “effeminate”.  He goes on to tell parents to confront “butch” behavior on the part of their daughters and to reinforce gender stereotypes by insisting that they “act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl”.  This rant came as part of an effort by conservative Christian leaders in NC to promote an anti-marriage constitutional amendment currently being voted on in the Tar Heel State.

The second was equally shocking: five liberal anarchists in Ohio tried to blow up a major bridge in Cleveland yesterday, claiming they are part of the Occupy Movement.
Episcopal leaders around the country have been a major part of the Occupy Movement and thanks be to God, for they have stood up for the poor and disenfranchised in a season of turmoil when the rich are demanding even more of the world’s resources and money and the poor are suffering more than ever before.

The anarchists don’t represent the Occupy Movement and Sean Harris doesn’t talk, or act, like most Baptist ministers I know.

Here’s the point.  No matter what end of the ideological spectrum we represent, we must not - as a joke, as a political statement, or just out of frustration - EVER recommend or commit violence.  And we must never blame Jesus for it when we do.

As we move ever closer to General Convention in Indianapolis in July, it becomes increasingly apparent that Integrity’s years of graceful, loving engagement with people who do not know LGBT people well, and who do not understand our gifts for ministry and community building, is paying off big time.  We are poised, with your help, to achieve blessings for same gender couples, canonical changes that will encourage the full inclusion of the ministry gifts of transgender people in the Episcopal Church, and a strong response on the part of TEC to bullying.  Our prayer is that the Church’s response to bullying will not just be empty words, but will result in real changes that will be the proper antidote to the diseased thinking of people like Sean Harris.

Young people that heard Pastor Harris’ sermon on Sunday will need places of safety in their lives.  We pray that Episcopal churches, Episcopal schools and public schools will be among those safe spaces as a result of work we will do at General Convention.  We trust in God’s promise that our deeds will be rewarded.

Harry Knox can be contacted at

Watch for Integrity's new DVD, VOICES OF WITNESS: Out Of The Box which highlights the stories of just those people that Pastor Harris condemns.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Call to Prayer from Integrity VP Jon Richardson

A Letter From Integrity VP National Affairs Jon M. Richardson

Dear Friends,

I'd like to take a moment to invite you into a time of prayer for our brothers and sisters in the United Methodist Church who are meeting right now (through the end of the week) in their quadrennial (once every four years) General Conference in Tampa, Florida.  I grew up in the United Methodist Church, and my father is a retired clergyman in that tradition.  I personally know many United Methodists who share in the striving for LGBT rights in the United Methodist Church.  I know many talented and pious men and women of God who have been denied access to the ordination process in the United Methodist Church simply because of their integrity in living honestly as the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people that God created them to be.  I know several ordained United Methodist leaders who, in sacrifice to their call, have been forced into lives of secrecy and shame.

It breaks my heart to see our brothers and sisters striving in the same uphill battle in which we, in the Episcopal Church, have been so successful for these past 35 years.

But I ask you to pray for the United Methodist Church - not just because they still have so far to go, or because of my personal ties, but because their lives as a denomination are so closely linked with ours.  As you probably know, the Methodist tradition grew out of the Anglican tradition.  We are closely linked in our lineage as people of faith.  As such, we have long had close ties.  At our last General Convention, we entered into an agreement of "inter-Eucharistic sharing" - an outward and visible sign of our inward and spiritual connection.  Under this agreement, United Methodist and Episcopal clergy are invited to concelebrate the Holy Eucharist together, under the direction of our bishops.  Our ties are growing closer and more tangible, so their struggles are becoming more closely tied with our own.

The video below is of a flash mob that was organized by one of the progressive lobbying organizations of the United Methodist Church - The Love Your Neighbor Coalition (  Despite the challenges and disappointments that they have continued to face at this General Conference, their continued joy and hope remains admirable.  May God shield them in their joy.

I particularly love the song that they've chosen - "You Can't Stop the Beat" from Hairspray.  It's true.  As we are so often reminded: the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.

The Rev. Jon M. Richardson
38 Duncan Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07304
(m) 225.229.9920
(h) 201.332.6824
(o) 201.433.4922



(Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Saturday, April 28, 2012)  Nine same-gendered couples’ marriages were blessed in a ceremony at Fort Lauderdale’s All Saints Episcopal Church.  In 2009 the Episcopal Church’s General Convention authorized Episcopal Bishops to choose whether to allow the blessing of same-gendered marriages within their Dioceses.  The Bishop of Southeast Florida, Leo Frade, petitioned by the Rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, agreed to allow the blessing ceremony to take place.

The nine couples, who were legally married in California, Canada, Connecticut, New York and the District of Columbia, have been in committed relationships anywhere from 10-43 years. 

The sanctuary was filled with more than 350 people – parishioners, friends and family of the couples, who celebrated the unions with a specific blessing for each of the couples.  Children of some of the couples were also in attendance. 

“We have walked a very long road to get to this moment,” said the Rev Sherod Mallow, Rector of All Saints.  “We have worked and struggled for years to bring us to the place where true diversity and the celebration of the committed relationships of all our parishioners are embraced as part of God’s larger plan for his people.  While the celebration service was important and meaningful for the nine couples involved, it was probably even more important for the rest of the congregation to be witnesses to examples of love and life-long commitment.”

Many denominations in the United States have struggled with how to include lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered (LGBT) people in their congregations and church life.  Some have an ecclesiastical version of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, or tell LGBT members that they are welcome, but that their sexual orientation and relationships must not be noticed or acknowledged.  The Episcopal Church, on the other hand, has attempted a “Consecration” model for LGBT parishioners, where their sexual orientation and relationships are embraced and life-long committed relationships are celebrated.

“It is a memorable day”, said Lorraine Michels, one of those whose marriage was blessed at the ceremony.  Mallow said “we hope this will be the first – and as far as we know, this is the first blessing service to take place in the state of Florida – of many such blessings; as we welcome those in committed relationships to have the support of their church community and the larger church.”

For more information contact:  The Reverend Sherod Mallow at (954) 467-6496.

Queer Youth and Allies Retreat in Diomass This Saturday

This Saturday there will be a Queer Youth and Allies Retreat, sponsored by the Office of Youth Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and by The Crossing, an emergent church congregation based at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.  The retreat, now in its second year, will be taking place at St. Chrysostom's Episcopal Church in Quincy, and will feature both The Reverend Irene Monroe and the Right Reverend M. Thomas Shaw, diocesan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of MA.  As indicated in the awesome video put together by retreat organizers, Henry Thompson (an intern in the Life Together Program)  and Vicki Morte, the retreat is open to supportive adults as well as youth, and allies as well as LGBT folks.  For more information, contact Henry or Vicki.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Integrity Attends Provincial Synods: Report from Synod VI

Report on Province VI Synod
Bill Oliver
Integrity - Colorado

For the first time in Integrity's history, we had a presence at the provincial synods this year. I was privileged to be the face of Integrity at the Province VI Synod in Omaha (though certainly I was only one of many Integrity members present).  It was my first visit to Omaha and my first to a provincial synod.

 There were 75-80 attendees from the provinces's eight north-central states (though a single person from Montana), including 5-6 of the diocesan bishops - plus the Presiding Bishop, Bishop Stacy Sauls (COO) and Bonnie Anderson (President of the House of Deputies), all of whom addressed the assembly.  I fully expected to feel welcomed, but was somewhat taken aback by what I felt was such an open-hearted welcome, especially from the folks running it.  Unlike a diocesan or general convention, there were no vendors nor any displays - except Integrity's!   At the Thursday evening's opening, I was one of a handful of people introduced as a guest of the synod.

The only display table in the room was ours, situated at the front near the podium.  An unexpected "bonus" was that, as the only table, ours was also used for the Eucharist service Friday morning, temporarily without our display but prominently with our named table cloth - as noted in the photo album (link below).

My job was to distribute Integrity materials which included the resolutions we support such as bullying, the SCLM resolutions, transgender inclusion and moving ahead on marriage equality. I also answered questions from attendees. I think virtually all of the people there were familiar with Integrity and I believe most of them support us.  People were also interested in grabbing various pieces of literature provided by the Rev Andrew Cooley, who co-led a well-over-an-hour presentation Thursday evening on the SCLM's Blessings Project.  Andrew, a Colorado Deputy, was closely involved with the SCLM study, as were several other Colorado folks.  I was happy to provide half the space on our table to lay out his handout materials.  Their presentation included a simulated blessing using the proposed liturgy, and I would say most everyone was moved and impressed by the beautiful liturgy.

The synod concluded about 6:00 pm Saturday.  I was privileged to join Bishop Robert O'Neill (from my state of Colorado) and four others for dinner out.  Bishop +Rob is well-known as a great supporter of Inclusion and as a friend of Integrity.  

More photos here:


Bill Oliver is a long time Integrity member from Colorado.