Friday, August 10, 2018

Language Matters

Words Have Power

I am beginning to hear discussions about the use of  "expansive language" authorized by our General Convention. Some conversations are "heated" and others more calm.  Some want to retain traditional language, others want to seek words that reflect a different understanding of how we relate to each other and to God.

Those who use Morning Prayer as the source of  their daily prayers know The Jubilate or the 100th Psalm very well. A couple of days ago I felt moved to experiment with language of The Jubilate just to see how a few changes might sound. So in every place where the word “Lord” appeared, I replaced that with God. Every time God was referred to as “he” or “him” or “his” I replaced that with “God” as well.

Then I prayed the psalm. I was not prepared for something I immediately felt:  The intense power those changes created: God was God! The divine power of God came through the psalm in an unexpected way. I realized why. This simple change had removed all characteristics attributed to God that were human in nature. God’s divine nature was not encumbered by the limitations of human language. God was free to be God however I perceived God.

Here is the psalm using more expansive language:

Jubilate (Psalm 100)

Be joyful in God, all you lands; *
serve God with gladness and come before God’s presence with a song.
Know this: God is God; * God has made us, and we are God’s;
we are God’s people and the sheep of God’s pasture.
Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving; go into God’s courts with praise; *
give thanks to God and call upon God’s Name.
For God is good; God’s mercy is everlasting; *
and God’s faithfulness endures from age to age.
Glory to the Holy and undivided Trinity, One God, as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen

(I looked in the Enriching Our Worship (EOW) series of services to see if this was something I might have seen there. It was not, in so far as I could determine.)

Then I wondered what impact such simple changes might have on others. How often do any of us consider the impact of God always being portrayed as male (and often as a white male) on our kindred? Is the language of a “male God” a source of comfort to a woman who was abused by her father or husband or brother or some other male in her life? I’m not sure how it could be a comforting image in such situations. Similarly, how well could a man who had been beaten, belittled and abused by his father find comfort in God always being referred to as "he?" If there has never been a positive male role model in your life, how can you see God in a positive light if God is always a male?

We are products of the words and language we use. We are shaped by the images conveyed by those words, even if we do not always realize that. Do our words bring comfort or pain? I really don’t think most of us pay much attention to the power of language. When there is a proposal to change language, especially language in our Book of Common Prayer, we often see much resistance. Are we worshiping God or are we worshiping words?

Even Jesus used the symbolism of a mother hen gathering her brood under her wings. Jesus did not use "rooster". He used "hen". He used a feminine image. Surely if Jesus could look beyond the limitations of language, we can do the same. We might even be able to move beyond what we have inherited from our ancestors whose reference points were invariably male for more reasons than can be covered here.

Our language and imagery cannot contain God, no matter how hard we try. Let God be God, however each of us perceives God.

Holy Spirit, expand our hearts, expand our minds, expand our words. Let us see God simply as God. May we experience the divine power that comes when we cast off that with which we have tried to bind God.

Please continue to offer prayers for  healing and recovery for our Presiding Bishop as he rests and recuperates from prostate cancer surgery.





















Bruce Garner, President
Integrity USA: The Episcopal Rainbow


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Expansive Language, Expansive Love

I urge you to access the activities of General Convention by going to www.generalconvention.org. Click on “virtual binder” you can view the resolutions on which actions were taken. I think it will be worth your while to explore the resolutions that were passed and see how they might impact your life and that of our church.

An area that is likely to pique interest is that of “expansive language.” Resolution D078 provides for the trial usage in Eucharistic Prayers A, B and D of language that is more expansive in our relationship and references to God and each other. It pulls in some of the language used in the Enriching Our Worship (EOW) series of services. It includes other changes that many congregations have essentially automatically been making in an effort to refer to God in more expansive language.

How many of us have begun prayers with “God be with you” rather than “The Lord be with you?” This resolution authorizes that language. In the opening acclamation for the Eucharist you will now be able to hear: “Blessed be God: most holy, glorious, and undivided Trinity.” To which the people may respond: “And blessed be God’s reign, now and for ever. Amen.”

One of the provisions of this trial usage is that it is authorized for use until the next revision of The Book of Common Prayer. This means we can use it beginning the First Sunday of Advent, 2018 and continue from there. 

Resolution B012 is the one that should allow same sex couples to be married in their own parishes whether the bishop of the diocese approves or not. How that will really play out is still to be resolved.

Resolution D067 calls upon us to use “bias free” language in referring to God and humankind. Most might immediately think that is more gender neutral language but it goes beyond that. The language of some Scripture is almost accusatory in tone. John’s version of the Gospel is sometimes anti-semitic in places. This resolution allows for the use of language that doesn’t automatically convey cultural biases. Hopefully that will allow us to see Scripture with more clarity.

Resolution C054 calls upon the church to be more inclusive of transgender persons and seeks avenues to achieve that.

Resolution D088 calls for the creation of policies for amending church records particularly for transgender people. This should make it easier once someone makes their transition to have some very important records reflect their expressed gender identity. 

I find it ironic that we have to pass resolutions to provide for more “expansive” language. God’s love is beyond expansive and always has been. It is our limited view of both love and God that needs expanding in both language and concept. God is beyond our humanly concocted notions of who God is or how God acts or in truth, anything about God. The Divine is always going to be beyond the ability of our limited minds to conceive.

May we learn to be more expansive about how we relate to each other as children of the Living God. Boundaries are of our creation, not God’s. Love knows no boundaries, despite our attempts otherwise.

Holy Spirit, sustainer of who we are as God’s children, expand our minds to engage with our fears and ignorance to see each other as God sees us. Holy Spirit, expand our hearts to match the boundless heart of God in pure and holy and unconditional love for each other and for the God to whom we turn in faith and trust for all that we are.

Please continue to offer prayers for healing and recovery for our Presiding Bishop as he rests and recuperates from prostate cancer surgery.




















Bruce Garner, President
Integrity USA: The Episcopal Rainbow

Saturday, July 28, 2018

General Convention 2018 - Further Retrospective

The final gavels sounded the end of General Convention 2018 a mere thirteen days ago and I have seen a few post mortem comments on what we accomplished. The overall feeling seems positive as important decisions were reached that are for the good of all... even when some of “all” may not realize that yet.

I urge you to access the activities of General Convention by going to www.generalconvention.org. Click on “virtual binder” you can view the resolutions on which actions were taken. A number of resolutions that were passed reflect on how well we are fulfilling our Baptismal Covenant vows to respect the dignity of every human being and to seek and serve Christ in all persons.

Look at the resolutions related to how women have been treated both in our church and in our society.

Guys, and I used that term deliberately, our treatment of women, cis and trans, has been reprehensible for far too long. Women still do not earn the same as men earn for doing the exact same job, although progress has been made, just not enough. How we have ever justified that form of discrimination escapes me.

We have given all sorts of sexual harassment a “wink and a nod” but done nothing to end it. Would any of us have stood silently while our mothers, sisters and other female relatives were treated so poorly? I hope not, but I cannot confirm that just based on history. Yes, many of us were subjected to a role model that condoned, supported or ignored inappropriate behavior and actions taken against women. That is hardly an acceptable excuse.

There is a pop song from a few decades ago by Deborah Cox, entitled “Absolutely Not” that contains the following lyrics:

“If I go to work in a mini skirt am I giving you the right to flirt?
I won’t compromise my point of view. Absolutely not, absolutely not.”

Too many of us grew up when the mistaken attitude of men was that how a woman dressed gave men the right to flirt or behave even more inappropriately. Our work now is to change that mindset and work to reverse the damage done by it. The church is pointing the way. May we have the good sense and courage to follow. We have work to do.

We continued to address our perpetual failings around the issue of racism. We have resolved to work toward repentance, reconciliation and healing as we seek out the Beloved Community. We seem to make “baby steps” but so much remains to be done.

Fellow white folks, it’s time that we threw our hearts, minds, and souls into owning and seeking to rectify what we created. It is a situation, a problem, we created and we have a responsibility to work toward resolving it. I am fully aware that many of us white people do not want to hear these things, but the time is now to insure that all hear what must be said. Owning a problem helps lead to resolving it. The Beloved Community involves us all and our mission is to get there.

Systemic racism takes hard work to eradicate. Are we up to that task?

The Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Testament both give us guidelines about how we are to treat the alien residing among us. Scripture contains no references as to whether such resident aliens are documented or not, legally admitted or not. We are to treat them with dignity and respect and see to their needs as we see to our own.

We found our voice on serious immigration issues that need to be addressed. Seeing the faces and waved hands of those held in jail, separated from their own children, provided a graphic image of how un-Christ-like so many of our immigration policies are. Can we really claim to be a “Christian nation?” I don’t know how... with any sense of morality.

Through painful compromise, we said that all should mean all when it come to marriage in our church. As we move closer to Advent I, we will be able to see if all really is all in the eight dioceses that have not allowed same sex marriages.

I fear that those eight bishops have forgotten that they are to be the chief pastor over their flocks more than anything else. The service for the ordination of a bishop contains the following phrase in the Examination on page 517 of the BCP: “...and to be in all things a faithful pastor and wholesome example to the entire flock of Christ.” On the following page, the fourth question posed to the bishop-elect, begins with “As chief priest and pastor, will you encourage and support all baptized people in their gifts and ministries?”

Some bishops see their primary role as that of teacher, yet I cannot find that as ranking above the role of pastor in the ordination service. Perhaps they need to be taught about their role as pastor. Other bishops whose first careers were as lawyers, might need to be reminded that they are now pastors, not lawyers. I have to wonder what fear drives the thinking of some. We need now to support the work of people at the local level to change hearts and minds through personal testimony and interaction.

Please continue to pray daily for our church and all of her members as we seek to help personify respecting the dignity of all and seeking and serving Christ in all.

Please offer special prayers for healing for our Presiding Bishop as he approaches surgery and recovery from prostate cancer.




















Bruce Garner, President
Integrity USA: The Episcopal Rainbow

P.S. - The Reverend Barbara Brown Taylor has written some profound words about where we find ourselves these days. There's a meme posted on Facebook. It's worth your time to read it.

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 our correction of a probably 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


Friday, June 29, 2018

2018-2021 Board of Directors Elected

IntegrityUSA, the Episcopal Rainbow, is excited to announce that the election for the next Board of Directors has been completed. The following positions have been filled and the terms will run from October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2021.

President: The Rev. Gwen Fry
Vice-President of National Affairs: Brent Cox
Vice-President of Local Affairs: Kay Smith Riggle
Treasurer: DeAnna Bosch
Secretary/Director of Communications: Letty Guevara-Cuenca

Integrity's current Board of Directors offers its congratulations to the new board. The current board looks forward to working and assisting in the transition during the next three months.


Mel Soriano
Secretary, Board of Directors
Integrity USA, The Episcopal Rainbow

Thursday, June 28, 2018

General Convention 2018

Next week the gavels will sound in the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops to open General Convention 2018 in Austin, Texas. For the 79th time, we begin the process we are directed to do by our Constitution and Canons.  We will carry out the business of The Episcopal Church. When the gavels sound to end the Convention on July 13, The Episcopal Church will have spoken and provided our position on a variety of topics from the somewhat mundane to the almost sublime.  

Over the course of the General Convention we will pass a budget for the next three years. That budget will show where our priorities are in carrying out our work as part of The Jesus Movement. We will show where our hearts are with where we will spend our money.

During the General Convention we will process various resolutions, over 200 at last count with more to come.  (Just for your information, my first convention in 1991 had over 800 resolutions on which to act.  We have learned greater restraint since then!) Each resolution will be given an open hearing before the committee to which it is assigned. The committee will then vote and send it to the houses of Convention in the original form or as amended.  The first house will act on the resolution and if passed it will go to the other house. If both agree on the exact same wording it will become the policy or the voice of The Episcopal Church.

The resolutions that are closest to my heart are those that concern how we treat each other as children of God, as members of this church.  That includes those that address Israeli-Palestinian relationships.  It also includes those that continue to address the perplexing and bedeviling issue of racism that still permeates our church and our society. The ugly head of racism has raised itself to a higher profile over the last few years. 

And of course we will consider resolutions that would at long last make all the sacraments available to all of our people.  Will we leave Austin with the ability to get married in our church no matter in which diocese we live?  Will those who live in the eight dioceses where bishops refuse to allow same-sex marriages to take place finally be able to get married in the parishes where they worship and serve God?  Will those who live in various parishes in other dioceses where rectors also refuse to allow same-sex marriages be able to be treated as full members of their parishes as well?  I pray to God we will at last be able to insure that all are treated equally in The Episcopal Church when it comes to marriage. 

You can 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! You can follow Integrity at General Convention by going to http://www.integrityusa.org/general-convention-resources.

I continue to wonder if we will we have the moral courage to speak up and speak out on behalf of all who are marginalized and oppressed for whatever reason?  Will we have the strength of conviction to take actions to change our ways? Will we make an effort to respect the dignity of every human being regardless of how that human being should be respected?  

Like most legislative processes, a resolution begins one way and may come out looking completely different.  We can still contact our deputies to General Convention and influence the outcome. We can contact our bishop(s). We can remind them of our common vow to respect the dignity of every human being whether it is about marriage equality or refugee treatment or racism or any of the myriad of ways we can think of to mistreat each other.  We can let them hear our stories about how not having our dignity respected looks like in this our household of faith.

Please continue to pray daily for the General Convention of our church and all who make
decisions that affect us.

Before General Convention begins, we have a way to demonstrate our respect for every human being through participating in a “Families Belong Together” rally on Saturday June 30.  Here's the link to find an event near you. I hope you will attend.







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


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Indignity and Injustice: How much will we allow to be imposed?

Question:  Will you respect the dignity of every human being?
Response:  I will with God’s help.

I was looking for a way to talk about the despicable way our government has been treating refugee/immigrant families at our southern border. I felt that I needed to couch any comments I might make in faith-based terms since the Attorney General of The United States had used Scripture to justify what I consider immoral and reprehensible actions that I am convinced are also repugnant to our Creator. So I found myself once again relying on the vows of our Baptismal Covenant.

The pictures of cages made from chain link fencing, uprights and doors/gates horrified me. And please do not tell me those were not cages. Two images came to mind for such structures: One is a dog kennel run. The other is the cage where the “big box” membership clubs lock up tobacco products. Neither image is suitable for any human being, much less children and babies! I KNOW what a cage looks like, so please don’t even try to spin that any other way.

Then I saw more pictures that showed these children sleeping on pallets on concrete floors using emergency “blankets” for cover, the kind made from shiny reflective materials intended to help hold in body heat. I was further repulsed. This is not how the wealthiest nation on the face of this planet should be treating children (or adults). Pallets no less. Not even mattresses.

This situation seems to have touched a nerve across a very broad spectrum of the faith communities of our nation. Condemnation has come in from the political right and the political left. That nerve is so raw that some 600 members of the United Methodist Church have filed ecclesiastical charges against the Attorney General. This link tells that story, but be warned it also contains some of the pictures I have referenced. https://tinyurl.com/Methodists-Charge-Sessions

I have no idea what will come of this but it does give me a degree of hope that we really have not reached the point of having no shame in what we do as a nation.

The POTUS has issued an Executive Order rescinding the policy of separating families at our southern border. Note that I said policy. There was never a law that required such actions.

Personally, I must take a “wait and see” approach because, to be bluntly honest, I do not trust either the author of the executive order or the contents of it to deal with this issue in a way that I think will be in accord with our baptismal covenant vow to respect the dignity of every human being. I just do not believe that such an intent will be found much less enforced.

Would we be having this discussion at all if those refugees fleeing persecution and gang violence had blond hair and blue eyes? Would our concerns be nearly as great if they did not have brown or black skin? Is our systemic racism rearing its ugly head for all the world to see? I fear it so. Again.

Perhaps I remember too much history. When I first learned of this process of separating children from families, my mind immediately went back to Nazi Germany. The gut wrenching stories of parents being separated from children and the journeys each would take - gas chambers and ovens or work camps - still have not left my thoughts. I would like to think that we would never descend to such depths of depravity, but I am not willing to rule that out... sadly so. Too often we forget that we had our own version of concentration camps in this country. We just used the word “internment” camps to make it sound a little nicer and more civilized. Really!?

The haunting words of Pastor Martin Niemoller come to mind: “They came for the _______ and I was not a ________, so I did not speak up. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak up.” We are called by the faith we profess to speak up for those who are marginalized and oppressed for any reason. How could we claim to be respecting the dignity of every human being if we did not speak up?

The General Convention is almost upon us. Will we have the moral courage to speak up and speak out on behalf of all who are marginalized and oppressed for whatever reason? Will we have the strength of conviction to take actions to change our ways? Will we make an effort to respect the dignity of every human being regardless of how that human being should be respected?

We do not know the outcome of any resolution until we are actually in committee with it and vote on the floors of the houses of General Convention. But we can still contact our deputies to General Convention. We can contact our bishop(s). We can remind them of our common vow to respect the dignity of every human being whether it is about marriage equality or refugee treatment or any of the myriad of ways we can think of to mistreat each other. Let them hear your stories about how not having your dignity respected looks like in this our household of faith.

Please continue to pray daily for the General Convention of our church and all who make
decisions that affect us.

Some other perspectives:

Elections for the new leadership of Integrity USA are now taking place. Pray and cast your vote if you are a member. If you are not, join us in bearing good fruit.






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

Friday, June 15, 2018

Good Fruit

Good Fruit: Our Work Does Yield Good Fruit! (Eventually)

The good folks at “THE TWELVE” a faith based blog, have showered us queer folk with high praise for our steadfast work over the last few decades. A recent item appears at this link:
Five Ways the LGBTQ Community is Saving the Church

The five ways the article states that we are saving the church are:
1 We’ve had to face our judgment
2 We’ve had to face hard conversations that we previously avoided
3 The LGBTQ community is driving the church to look more deeply at scripture
4 The LGBTQ community is helping us rediscover unity
5 The LGBTQ community is helping us rediscover grace

There is far more to the article than just the lead in to each of the five. I commend the article to you because it helps me and I hope it helps you see what some of the struggle over the last decades has produced, at least in the view of one group of people. Sometimes I fear we are so enmeshed in our work that we never really see the fruit of our labors. The “we” in the first two should apply to us even though in the article the focus is essentially the “straight” church.

We really have had to engage in conversations that are difficult and that, quite frankly, most of us would have avoided unless pushed into them. Sexuality has always been that topic no one wants to discuss because it is a subject that involves all of us. It has nothing to do with the “icky” topic many want to make it. It’s a part of who God created us all to be. There are dozens of facets of the topic, yet the tendency has been to avoid the discussion. I’m inclined to believe that if we can have hard conversations about sex, we can have equally difficult conversations about race, and a host of other areas where our relationships often falter.

We certainly have all had to look more deeply into Scripture. I think it is a safe bet that most reading this have had to learn Scripture in order to defend ourselves from its misuse and misinterpretation and its being taken out of context. When an object is being used to oppress, it bears looking at with completely new vision to counter that oppression. Hearing the words “the Bible says” is usually a decent indicator that the words are coming from someone who knows very little about what is actually in the Bible. Scripture is such an important part of our worship that all have benefitted from our studies.

In just a few weeks, we, The Episcopal Church, will have an opportunity to demonstrate how well we have fared in our tasks, even perhaps, saving our church. How well will we do?

Some will trot out old arguments to try and keep queer folks in the second class status where they find themselves in eight of our dioceses. Others will look for ways to create exceptions to the call for full and equal inclusion at all levels of our church, in all the sacraments, all the time. This again will be based on arguments we have heard before, especially about honoring the history of tradition. They were the same words we heard to keep women and people of color “in their place” in church and society. Is oppression really a tradition we should want to uphold?

My recollections of our church’s past is that we consistently have sought ways to create exceptions to that which would hold all accountable to the same standards. Perhaps our biggest debacle was around the ordination of women. There are no exceptions in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are no “carve outs” or “exemptions” or anything else to allow any of us to water down either loving God with all our heart and soul or mind and strength OR loving our neighbor as ourselves. Try as we might, we are all held to that same standard. We cannot water that down.

So while we may bask for a short while in the praise of those who appreciate what we have tried to do, we cannot rest there for long. The arc of history may bend toward justice, but there are always those with short memories who must be continually reminded of what that means and how easily we can back slide right off of that arc.

My broken record: Contact your deputies to General Convention. Contact your bishop(s). Make sure they know you want them to have the church to continue to bear good fruit. Let them hear your stories about how you still don’t enjoy full inclusion in our household of faith.

Please continue to pray daily for the General Convention of our church and all who make
decisions that affect us.

And just a reminder: Elections for the new leadership of Integrity USA begin next week. Pray and cast your vote if you are a member. If you are not, join us in bearing good fruit.




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