Thursday, September 4, 2014

My First Year in Thanksgiving and Gratitude

With The Very Rev Gary Hall

As of today, I have served as Integrity's Executive Director for one full year. It has been a wondrous journey. It is an incredible blessing to be called to serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, the Episcopal Church, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

This year we have seen enormous progress-we have new members and new parishes, more volunteers at large and in the office, so many victories, along with a great sense of purpose. This year our victories have included marriage equality in Oregon, progress towards passing the Equal Housing and Employment Act in Ohio, the beginnings of a renewed push for inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the American South, and the overturning of too many anti-LGBT ordinances to list.

Today I get to thank more people than I can count, for participating in this extraordinary work and helping me bring my best to Integrity.

To each of you whom I have met over the past year, thank you for your generosity, your kindness, and your energy. It is a phenomenal joy to be a part of your life, to get to know you, and to have the chance to earn your friendship. Thank you to all the people who invited me, a young transgender woman, to speak. Thank you to all the folks who listened. Your ideas, questions and interest are a light in my life, are a thrill and an education.

Thank you to all of our leaders from the Provincial Coordinators to the Diocesan Organizers to the local Chapter Leaders for their ongoing push for freedom and recognition. Thank you for working to put on Believe Out Loud trainings, for calling attention to important LGBT work in your own communities: thank you for being an LGBT-loving presence throughout our Church.

Thank you Charlene McCreight, David Soland, Andy McQuery and everyone else who has been the driving force behind all of Integrity's successes in our Oregon freedom to work and our Ohio Equal Housing and Employment Act work. Without folks like you, we simply would not have seen the successes and progress that have made this year such a joy.

To folks like the Rev. Valori Sherer and the Rev. Vic Mansfield who have welcomed Integrity's work in North Carolina, thank you for your energy, optimism, and faith for the future of the South.

To the Rev. Dr. Patrick Cheng and all those who attended Integrity's Campus Ministry retreat, thank you.

To the Rev. David Norgard, the Rev. Cameron Partridge, Mara Keisling, Alison Amyx and everyone else who had shared their wisdom with me over the past year, thank you.

To the Integrity staff, thank you for your dedication, creativity, and excellent work. I couldn't have done any of this without you.

To Integrity's Board of Directors, thank you for your guidance, your direction, and your engagement.

To all of the people who have generously supported Integrity financially, thank you for making it possible for us to do this work. Everything that Integrity does costs money. Thank you for not only recognizing the importance of Integrity's work, but also giving to ensure that our work can continue, that we can keep moving forward, ensuring that our beloved Church is open to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people everywhere.

Thank you God for the blessing of this work. Thank you God for these people and this Church and this world. Please lift us up to follow Your way for us.

The first year was incredible, but we are not done yet. We are not done when the Episcopal Church's inclusive policies are not yet fully instituted in all places and communities. We are not done yet when so many are still excluded from the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. We are not done yet when an entire generation of young LGBTQ have not yet found reconciliation with the Church. We are not yet done when many LGBTQ people in the American South do not even feel safe to be out in their own parishes. We are not done when gay and transgender people still do not have basic legal protections in many states. We are not done yet so long as the constant drum beat of violence and murder again transgender and gay people continues.

As Christ said in the Gospel of Luke, The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Together let us move forward and bring in the great harvest of Love and Justice!

Let's keep going!


Sarah Vivian Gathright Taylor is the Executive Director of Integrity USA

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