Friday, July 20, 2018

General Convention 2018

The 79th General Convention is over. The exhibit hall has been struck and the contents hauled out. The House of Deputies adjourned sine die (ahead of schedule even!). I’m sure that hall was soon emptied of the tables and chairs where we spent so many hours deliberating issues pertinent to or church.

A couple of things will always stand out for me. One is regarding the final version of Resolution B012 and the other was the resolution that brought the Diocese of Cuba back into The Episcopal Church. Both were sources of great emotion for me.

I was lucky enough to testify at the hearing held on Resolution B012 and several other resolutions related to us queer folk finally having access to marriage rites in every diocese. Unless you have felt the pain of being excluded because of who you are, it is difficult for you to understand how important these resolutions were.

Luck continued as I was also able to testify on the floor of the House of Deputies when the compromise version of B012 came to the floor. I shared the pain and the damage that continually hearing messages from the church that I was somehow flawed, inherently more sinful than other sinners, and somehow less in the eyes of God than others. Such messages wound our souls. I noted that hearing these messages convention after convention wearied me more than you could know. I reminded people who talked about who might leave about the hundreds of thousands of people we lost already who were LGBTQ+ and who walked out or never darkened our doors.

I reminded the Deputies that someday it might be one of their own children or grandchildren who asked why they could not be married in their own parish. And finally, I noted that in a good compromise, no one is happy. This was a good compromise.

The resolution passed in a vote by orders with 96 clergy and 97 lay votes in favor; 10 clergy and 8 lay votes against; and 4 clergy and 5 lay votes “divided.” That represents a “super” majority. I teared up a bit. (Now as you might know the Bishop of Dallas has already started trying to create roadblocks to those same sex couples who want to marry in that diocese. Others will follow.)

Regardless of what we have accomplished, without constant vigilance, we can even lose that. The work continues!

The vote to re-admit the Diocese of Cuba passed with overwhelming majorities. I suspect there was a little bit of shame in what was probably our correction of an illegal ejection of them by the House of Bishops in 1966. The emotional reunion was almost overwhelming. The Bishop and the Deputies were escorted into the House to great cheers and applause. Shortly after a table was marked as the Diocese of Cuba and the Deputies were seated. There is more to be done, but they are back in our church.

You can continue to access the activities of General Convention by going to www.generalconvention.org . There you will find all you ever wanted to know and maybe more than you wanted to know! If you click on “virtual binder” you can view everything we saw and upon which we took action as Deputies. Over 500 resolutions were processed. Thank God for the Consent Calendar!

Please continue to pray daily for our church and all of her members as we seek to insure that our all really does mean all. Please pray for those who live in dioceses where all of us are still not equal.

Pray also for this organization that we all love deeply, as we try to live into the reality of the need to embrace the entire rainbow of God’s creation in a way that all can see. We're trying to make changes that will help build the organization, and recognize that we may need to cast a wider net among our backers if we are to cast a wider net among those who don't know yet what we can do for the church.

Give thanks for the hard and diligent work of those who volunteered to staff our booth at the Convention, those who volunteered at our Eucharist, and those who helped make what we did a reality.


Bruce Garner, President
The Episcopal Rainbow: Integrity USA










P. S. - The United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that gays and lesbians are not a protected class. They upheld the firing of a man here in suburban Atlanta because he was gay. WE still do not exist as fully human even in some secular circles. Read more about it at "Atlanta appeals court again rules gays, lesbians not a protected class"

Friday, July 13, 2018

General Convention 2018 - The Episcopal Rainbow Rises!

The 79th General Convention is drawing to a close today.  By and large it has been a good convention. Legislation favorable to us in areas of importance to LGBTQ+ folks is making its way through the process. Yes we have once again endured the demeaning language some continue to use.  I have heard language that I have heard in one form or another since my first General Convention in 1991. But the arc of history is still bending toward justice. There are still some who just cannot grasp the concept of the inclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must continue to pray for them.

The Integrity General Convention Eucharist was a success. I hope you watched it from wherever you are through our live streaming of the service. Great local volunteers working with the board resulted in a great service with great music and great preaching.

One of the highlights of the service was the presentation of the Louie Crew Clay award, named in honor of our beloved founder. The award was given to The Reverend Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, and The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

Integrity began as a truly grass roots organization some 43 years ago with a mission: seeking the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the life and ministry of The Episcopal Church. In 1975 there were essentially no queer clergy in our church. That would have been the name used as well... so I have reclaimed it from our detractors to celebrate who we are as LGBTQ folks.

Work began on that mission at the local level and then moved to the level of the General Convention where we sought to insure equality and inclusion through canon law and resolutions and any way we could achieve it “officially” at the church wide level.

I would say that you probably know the success of that work, but it is obvious - even at the 79th General Convention - that work remains when queerfolk in 8 dioceses still could not get married in their own parish churches. Three of those are in my own Province IV.

Like other organizations in our church, the Board of Integrity has struggled with the question of what needed to be next. While we must never stop being vigilant about maintaining justice and equality, there is still much more to do.

We came to the conclusion that we needed to return to our roots, literally, to go back to being a grassroots organization focused on helping folks at the diocesan and parish levels to be fully included in our church. While we will always be watching what happens at the church-wide level, energy and time needs to go local.

We are also aware that we are just part of the wonderful and colorful rainbow of God’s created humanity. That rainbow involves infinite colors.

We reached a conclusion as well that the name Integrity did not have a readily discernible connection with The Episcopal Church. So after many discussions and a conversation with our founder:
Beginning with the close of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church Integrity USA will begin doing business as The Episcopal Rainbow
So bring your particular color and flavor and join us in our work. Regardless of how “good” some of us have it, we have kindred who still live in a form of hell right in this country.

And regardless of what we have accomplished, without constant vigilance, we can even lose that. The work continues!

Continue to follow the activities of General Convention by going to www.generalconvention.org.  There you will find all you ever wanted to know and maybe more than you wanted to know!

Please continue to pray daily for the General Convention of our church and all who make
decisions that will be made, especially those with a direct affect on us as queerfolk. Pray that all return to their homes safely. And pray as we, Integrity, return to our homes, to our grassroots, to our Episcopal Rainbow.




Bruce Garner
President, The Episcopal Rainbow


Friday, July 6, 2018

General Convention 2018 - Off And Running

The 79th General Convention is underway. The gavels have sounded in both houses and we enjoyed a vibrant and holy opening Eucharist yesterday. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry inspired us... as always... with a stirring sermon. The theme became: “Keep your eye on the prize.”

Our prize as LGBTQ+ children of God, members of The Episcopal Church, is full equality with all other members of our church... oddly still illusive in some ways... the most obvious in marriage equality.

Hearings on resolutions related to marriage equality were, as in conventions past, a challenge as we endured, yet again, the many ways and words of people who want to keep us in our place, our less than equal place, our place outside looking in. Even after more than two decades of these discussions, hearing language that continues to categorize you as less than, not equal to, somehow flawed, unworthy of all the sacraments... that language still hurts. It still bruises the soul.  It damages the psyche. The salve, the salvation if you will, is that we know in our heart of hearts that such language does not come from God. It still comes from ignorance and the fear bred from ignorance.

As we listen to the debate, the hearing, the discussion, pray that we will be surrounded by a shield, a holy shield, to deflect the language... however disguised... of discrimination and sometimes veiled hatred, deflect that away from us. We have heard enough of it for several lifetimes. Pray that the still small voice of God will find its way to our ears to say: “Keep your eye on the prize my beloved child, keep your eye on the prize. I love you how I created you. And someday all will finally learn to accept and appreciate my handiwork.”

Continue to  follow the activities of General Convention by going to www.generalconvention.org.  There you will find all you ever wanted to know and maybe more than you wanted to know! And visit the Integrity site at http://integrityusa.org/general-convention-resources. And join us on Sunday July 8 at 8pm CDT, watching the Integrity Eucharist at http://bit.ly/IntegrityEucharistGC79.

Please continue to pray daily for the General Convention of our church and all who make
decisions that will be made, especially those with a direct affect on us as queerfolk.



Bruce Garner, President Integrity USA ... The Episcopal Rainbow