Friday, September 19, 2014

This Far By Faith: Integrity at 40

"Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult 

with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!" 

ZEPH. 3:14

Forty years ago this fall, a young English professor from Georgia named Louie Crew phoned Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, inquiring how he and his partner might find other gay Episcopalians in the city. The response was less than hospitable, but -- rather than concede or walk way -- he decided that if gay and lesbian people were going to have a home in the church, they would just have to create that community themselves.

A monthly newsletter was launched, and within a year, groups of men and women were organizing themselves into chapters across the city. Their efforts quickly drew the attention of the current Presiding Bishop, and -- before long -- it became clear that the church was not going to be making decisions about us without including us in the conversation.

We have made tremendous progress in the years since, stepping from the fringes into the heart of congregations, dioceses, and all facets of church life and leadership. As secular culture began debating about and evolving on matters like marriage equality, bullying and transgender identity, we were pleased and proud to find allies from all walks of life -- from the Presiding Bishop to heterosexual teenagers from the Midwest -- speaking out on our behalf.

As such, Integrity is gearing up to celebrate forty years of ministry in a big way. Our theme is This Far By Faith, and we will be celebrating our progress to date, taking a realistic look at where we stand, and planning for our role as the church and the world continue to change.We want to include as many of our constituents, members, allies and friends as we can, so we plan to keep the party going for a whole year!

To start, we are thrilled to announce that the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina, will celebrate the Eucharist and preach at our kickoff on Thursday, November 6 at The Church of the Good Shepard in Raleigh. If you have never heard Bishop Curry preach, we are confident that his sermon from the 2012 General Convention in Indianapolis, entitled "We Need Some Crazy Christians" will have you ready to plan your travel to this event:

This will also formally launch a local campaign we are conducting with the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and local leaders, in partnership with the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.

Over the course of the year that follows, we will sponsor additional activities (some of which will be on-line), and we encourage our chapters and partner congregations to plan events of their own. All our local activities will be featured on our new web site, which will be launched prior to the Nov. 6 event.

The celebration will culminate at the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, coming up next summer in Salt Lake City, UT. The spectacular Integrity Eucharist, which has become a "must-do" for many convention goers, will feature the Right Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool, Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles, as the preacher.

For 40 years, Integrity has served as the Episcopal voice for LGBTQ Christians. We will
be honoring Integrity's past, present, and future, and we hope you'll be a part of it.

The Board and Staff of Integrity

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