Thursday, October 30, 2014

Reflections on a Bishop's Sermon at Integrity Atlanta's 26th Annual Gay Pride Eucharist

Reflections on a sermon for Integrity Atlanta’s 26th Annual Gay Pride Eucharist for Human Rights, October 9, 2014

This service has had special meaning for me for many years. It is that not-often-found opportunity to share both my spirituality and sexuality in a safe space where those around me are doing the same. The service takes on even more meaning when the Bishop is preaching and presiding. Our shepherd is there with us and in many ways is "guiding and guarding" us. Such was clearly the case with the sermon preached by the Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright, Bishop of Atlanta, on the occasion of Integrity Atlanta’s 26th Annual Gay Pride Eucharist.

2014 Jonathan Daniels Pilgrimage
Bishop Wright taking part in the Jonathan Daniels Pilgrimage
PHOTO CREDIT: Charles Wynder, Jr. Used with permission.
(C) Episcopal Divinity School.  All rights reserved
Bishop Wright used the work of a not-so-well known saint, Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, to -- forgive a well-worn phrase -- "nail it" with his sermon. It was quite clear to all present where our bishop stood when it comes to the full inclusion of LGBTQ folks in the Episcopal Church. From the point of his consecration/ordination as our bishop in October 2012 (coincidentally on Pride weekend no less!), his goal has been to "draw the circle wider, draw it wider still."

He spoke of being appalled at a number of things, including the high rate of teen/youth suicide attempts and suicides related to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. His words touched my heart: one of my volunteer activities is with an organization that serves homeless LGBTQ teens and youth. Several times he moved me to tears, both with his words and the simple act of being with us, being "on our side," being present with our struggles.

Ours is not just a bishop of words. He is a bishop of action, having participated at demonstrations at our state capitol over unjust policies and bad legislation. He has blessed same gender relationships, doing so for a priest and her wife in the midst of her parish family and friends. (Of course they didn’t get married here. They had to go to a more enlightened state for that. Perhaps soon we will join civilization.)

I commend the words (and actions) of Bishop Wright to you. Listen to the entire sermon here.

Bruce Garner is Integrity's Province IV (Southeast) Coordinator.  He has served as our president in the past, and has been a member of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church.

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