As we gather resources to bring LGBT issues and marriages to General Convention in Salt Lake City next year, we also remember our heroes who have gotten us to this point.
In 1973, Ernest Clay was training as a sales associate at Rich's, Atlanta's largest department store, and living at the Lucky Street YMCA. On Labor Day weekend, he met Louie Crew, at the elevator on the 6th floor. At that time Louie was teaching at Fort Valley State University. They courted for five months, and married in Fort Valley, GA on February 2, 1974. At the time their marriage had no legal standing. They married legally on August 22, 2013 and Crew took on his husband's last name.
On Thursday, November 6, 2014, Integrity kicked off its 40th anniversary celebration in Raleigh, North Carolina with a Eucharist celebrated by the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, bishop of North Carolina. According to Louie, Bishop Curry is one of the best preachers in the Anglican Communion; I am inclined to agree.
Let’s go back a few steps for those of you too young to realize the impact of those statements above. Louie Crew was born in Anniston, Alabama in 1936, Ernest Clay was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1948. Louie is a white man, Ernest is a black man. They met in Georgia, courted in Georgia, married in Georgia forty years ago. The fact that they both survived the aforementioned events in the south forty years ago is nothing short of a miracle. Who am I kidding, the fact that they survived those events in America forty years ago is a miracle. Then Louie decided he needed to prod The Episcopal Church.
Forty years have passed and -- with Louie's guidance and inspiration -- Integrity has gone from a discreetly-mailed newsletter to a catalyst for change in the church. Louie has received honorary doctorates from the Episcopal Divinity School, General Theological Seminary, and Church Divinity School of The Pacific. These are in addition to the one he earned from the University of Alabama. I’m waiting for the bishop of his diocese to name him a Canon. Louie and Ernest Clay now live in New Jersey but they got on a plane and flew to Raleigh, North Carolina to kick off the first of many 40th anniversary celebrations Integrity members will hold over the next year. Louie participated in the Eucharist and he and Ernest joined the celebration at the reception.
The ultimate celebration of Integrity’s 40th anniversary will be the Integrity Eucharist at General Convention 2015, to be held in June in Salt Lake City. If you are able, you should make your reservations to be there. General Convention and Integrity will be a part of history you don’t want to miss.
Elisabeth Jacobs is the Treasurer and Board Member of Integrity USA