Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pray for Davis Mac-Iyalla's Family

Earlier today Father Jake posted the following on this blog...

Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude, Nigeria, has recently received some disturbing news.

Gun men invaded his family house in Nigeria and started shooting. They killed 20 people. The family was gathered for the swearing in ceremony for one of his brothers. He had just been appointed as Commissioner by the Rivers State Governor.

His mother was shot in the leg and is still in the local hospital. His cousin Opali was killed. Davis' brother, who was the main target, managed to escape.
Father Jake obtained this information from Josh Thomas (organizer of Davis' recent US speaking tour), who in turn obtained it from Colin Coward (Director of Changing Attitude UK).

Davis is currently in the UK and was not with his family at the time of the attack.

Details are sketchy as this point, but Father Jake later added this information from Josh...

Other new commissioners (members of the new governor's cabinet) in Rivers State were also targeted, not just the Iyallas. Several other people were also killed.

This appears to be the work of anti-government gangs. Rivers State is oil-rich and very violent.

Prayers, of course, are much needed. Davis is very close to his mother.

Susan Russell to Receive Liberty Award from Lambda Legal

620 Park Avenue #311 Rochester, NY 14607-2943
800-462-9498 info@integrityusa.org www.integrityusa.org


July 31, 2007—Lambda Legal announced last week that the Rev. Susan Russell, the President of Integrity, will receive a Liberty Award " for effectively advocating for full inclusion of LGBT people in the Episcopal Church, including the blessing of same sex unions."

In response to the announcement, Russell said, "I am thrilled to accept this honor on behalf of the tireless efforts of those within the Episcopal Church who have labored so long and hard for the full inclusion of all the baptized into the Body of Christ. I believe it is a wonderful opportunity for evangelism—a chance to proclaim to the Lambda Legal community that the Episcopal Church is committed to respecting the dignity of every human being. Integrity and Lambda Legal are united in our dedication to 'liberty and justice for all.'"

The award will be presented on October 2nd at the Directors Guild of America Theatre Complex in Los Angeles. Ticket prices for the event begin at $200 each and can be purchased by calling Levy, Pazanti & Associates at 310-201-5033.


The Rev. Susan Russell, President
714-356-5718 (mobile)
626-583-2741 (office)

Mr. John Gibson, Director of Communications
917-518-1120 (mobile)


See attached Lambda Legal press release.

Awards Ceremony to Take Place Tuesday, October 2nd
at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles

(Los Angeles – July 25, 2007) - Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund will present its 15th Annual Liberty Awards on Tuesday, October 2nd at the Director’s Guild of America in Los Angeles. This year’s celebrated honorees are actor Alan Cumming for his distinguished career and as an LGBT activist and champion for civil marriage equality; David Bohnett for improving society through social activism and philanthropy including his generous support of LGBT organizations; Reverend Susan Russell for effectively advocating for full inclusion of LGBT people in the Episcopal Church, including the blessing of same sex unions and Hilton for their excellent record of workplace diversity as well as their dedication and hospitality to the LGBT community. The event will also celebrate Lambda’s Executive Director Kevin Cathcart for his 15 years of service.

Actress and designer Honey Labrador will host the event which is one of the most important and meaningful awards ceremonies of the year as it honors those heroes who have made strides in the fight for full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people (LGBT) and those with HIV.

Lambda Legal is the country’s most prominent and powerful civil rights organization addressing the needs of the LGBT community and those with HIV. Since 1973 Lambda Legal's strategy has been to secure legal precedents that solidify basic rights in all areas of life for LGBT people and people with HIV through impact litigation, education, and public policy work. From the beginning, Lambda has produced unparalleled results, changing the day-to-day lives of LGBT people across the country.

"This year’s Liberty Awards celebration comes at an exciting time for both Lambda Legal and the struggle for LGBT rights in general. We’re proud to recognize those who are helping us in our fight for equality," says John Davidson, Lambda Legal’s Director of Legal Affairs.

Over the past decade Liberty Awards have been given to corporations, law firms, and individuals whose work exemplifies the highest standards of service and commitment to the LGBT communities and those with HIV. Past recipients include Mayor Gavin Newsom, Rosie & Kelli O’Donnell, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Martina Navratilova, Herb Ritts, Bill Jones, Margaret Cho, Dolores Huerta, Kathy Griffin and State Senator Sheila Kuehl.

Located in Los Angeles, the Western Regional Office (WRO) anchors Lambda Legal’s operations throughout the West Coast. The oldest and largest of Lambda Legal’s regional offices, the WRO celebrated its 15th anniversary year in 2005. The WRO boasts a docket as diverse as the territory it covers, with cases advancing legal protections for gay youth, advocating for the freedom to marry, defending domestic partner benefits, challenging discriminatory police policies, and fighting for fair treatment of people with HIV.

Ticket prices begin at $200 each and can be purchased by calling Levy, Pazanti & Associates at 310-201-5033.

For press information contact:
Jim Dobson
(818) 753-0700

4370 Tujunga Ave. #105, Studio City, Ca. 91604 (818) 753-0700 jim@indie-pr.com

Monday, July 30, 2007

Susan Russell to Receive Lambda Legal Award

Lambda Legal announces recipients of 15th Annual Liberty Awards
July 27, 2007
The Advocate

The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund has announced the recipients of this year's West Coast Liberty Awards, to be held on October 2 at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. These awards recognize individuals and organizations that strive to empower the LGBT community and improve the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS.

According to a press release, the honorees will include Scottish actor Alan Cumming, philanthropist and technology entrepreneur David Bohnett, Episcopal minister Susan Russell, and the high-end hotel chain Hilton. The event will also recognize Lambda's executive director Kevin Cathcart for 15 years of service to the LGBT community. Actress and designer Honey Labrador will host the event.

Since 1973, Lambda Legal has served as one of America's most prominent LGBT civil rights organizations. With its 15th annual West Coast Liberty Awards, the organization celebrates a long history of groundbreaking legal precedents that have helped move the country toward greater equality.

Source: http://www.advocate.com/news_detail_ektid47734.asp

Integrity will be posting the Lambda Legal press release and additional information when it becomes available.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Millions believe this man is the Antichrist

The Scotsman
Sat 28 Jul 2007

FORTY years after the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, American The Rt Rev V Gene Robinson, the world's first openly gay bishop, explains to ANDREW COLLIER in an exclusive interview what it's like to be many Christians' number one enemy.

Click here to read the rest.

Without gay priests Church would be lost claims Bishop Gene

Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
The Times
July 27, 2007

The openly gay bishop whose ordination sparked the crisis in the Anglican Communion has claimed the Church of England would be close to shutting down if it was forced to manage without its gay clergy.

The Bishop of New Hampshire in the US, the Right Rev Gene Robinson, who is divorced and lives openly in partnership with a gay man, said he found it "mystifying" that the mother church of the Anglican Communion was unable to be honest about the number of gay clergy in its ranks.
He said many of the English church's clergy lived openly in their rectories with gay partners, with the full knowledge of their bishops. But he criticised the stance of bishops who threaten the clergy with emnity should their relationships become public.

Speaking in an interview in London, Bishop Gene said: "I have met so many gay partnered clergy here and it is so troubling to hear them tell me that their bishop comes to their house for dinner, knows fully about their relationship, is wonderfully supportive but has also said if this ever becomes public then I’m your worst enemy.

"It’s a terrible way to live your life and I think it’s a terrible way to be a church. I think integrity is so important. What does it mean for a clergy person to be in a pulpit calling the parishioners to a life of integrity when they can’t even live a life of integrity with their own bishop and their own church? So I would feel better about the Church of England’s stance, its reluctance to support The Episcopal Church in what it has done if it would at least admit that this not an American problem and just an American challenge. If all the gay people stayed away from church on a given Sunday the Church of England would be close to shut down between its organists, its clergy, its wardens.....it just seems less than humble not to admit that."

Click here to read the rest.

Persecution in Uganda

An officer of Integrity Uganda forward the following article to me with this preface...
We have been busy with this case and we need your prayers things do not backfire against us. Some misquotings appeared in the papers recently reporting about the same and Bishop [Christopher] was mentioned . We need your prayers as the government is out on our necks that we promised to kill the minister for ethics collaborating with UK and USA allies. At a television live show it was emphasized that Integrity are the ringleaders into this. We are rather firm waiting for the ruling. God bless.

By Katherine Roubos and Val Kalende (Daily Monitor)

July 27, 2007: Two years ago, a government official broke into a home, seized property and detained one of the occupants without a warrant. The case seems clear, but will the plaintiff's homosexuality affect the verdict? The ruling, due next month in Uganda's Constitutional court, could set a precedent for sub-Saharan Africa's reportedly conservative masses.

Two Ugandan lesbians are suing the government for trespassing, theft of property, illegal arrest, and inhuman and degrading treatment. The case has been in court since December 2006 and a verdict is expected when the court session resumes in August.

Victor Mukasa, a 31-year-old gay rights activist and Yvonne Ooyo, a 24-year-old Kenyan, claim that on July 20, 2005, LC1 Chairman John Lubega from Kireka Kamuli zone illegally raided and searched and their home without a warrant and proceeded to arbitrarily arrest Ms Ooyo who was alone in the house at the time.

The case is highly contentious, if only because of the complainant's sexuality. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. Some religious leaders like born-again Pastor Martin Sempa of the Makerere Community Church, advocate a path of 'redemption' rather than court trials.

"I know many people in my congregation who were lesbian but have turned around and are living a straight life now," he says. "Victor will experience redemption if she is given the right treatment and information," he adds.

This is the first case on legal rights of homosexual citizens in a Ugandan court to receive a public hearing. In fact, aside from South Africa where homosexuality is legal, it is the first case in Africa of a gay person seeking affirmation of their constitutional rights.

Dr Nsaba Buturo, the minister of Ethics and Integrity, suggested that the plaintiffs "suffered under the false notion that homosexuality can be a human rights issue" and cautioned that "next time, they will say bestiality should be a human right."

On her part, Dr Sylvia Tamale, dean of the Makerere Law School, disagrees.

"This is not really a case challenging the legality of homosexuality. It is actually about rights to privacy and property," she says.

The case is filed as a violation of articles contained in Chapter 4 of the Uganda Constitution which covers the protection of fundamental rights which include the right to privacy, the right to property, the right to protection from inhuman and degrading treatment as well as the right to due process under the law.

These rights, by themselves, are a grey area for the law. Oscar Kihika, the president of the Uganda Law Society, says there is a conflict between Uganda's highly progressive constitutional law and residual laws from British colonial rule and Idi Amin's reign.

"Technically, police are allowed to search your home and detain you for questioning without a warrant at any time if they so much as suspect you are breaking the law," says Mr Kihika. "This was not the case in the 1970s but Idi Amin amended many laws to give police broader powers."

Since homosexuality is illegal, suspicion alone gives sufficient justification for a police search and 'call for questioning.' However, Mr Kihika points out that removing items from a residence without a warrant is still prohibited in all circumstances. Furthermore, the person who entered the home was an LC1 chairman, not a police officer.

"We want people to see that what we suffer is similar to other oppressed groups," says Ms Mukasa, who is the chairperson of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a coalition of three gay rights advocacy organisations.

"We are not asking for the right to marry, we are asking for the same rights that are guaranteed to all Ugandan citizens, even prisoners. My homosexuality does not deprive me of my citizenship of Uganda. I am only exercising my Constitutional rights," she says.

On July 20, 2005, John Lubega, the LC1 chairman of Kireka Kamuli Zone, allegedly raided Ms Mukasa's home without a warrant. Ms Mukasa was away at the time of the raid and Ms Ooyo, a student at Makerere University, was alone in the house that night. Police confiscated materials they described as advocating gay rights and arrested Ms Ooyo for "idle and disorderly" conduct.

She was held in police cells for several hours where, she alleges, she was interrogated and sexually harassed.

"They kept teasing me about whether I am a girl or a boy" she recounts. She says the police officers did not believe her when she asserted to be female and asked her to undress in front of an officer for a "thorough check".

The officer allegedly felt her private parts and pressed upon her breasts, ostensibly to confirm her gender. "I know that she did this because she felt that since I am a homosexual, I did not deserve any dignified treatment," claims Ms Ooyo.

After the raid, both complainants claim they lived in fear of more attacks. Amnesty International got involved and helped Ms Mukasa flee to South Africa on the basis of the complaints. She only returned to Uganda for the first hearing of the case.

The third and final hearing next month will therefore determine what fate awaits her desire to be guaranteed normal rights, despite her sexuality.

Hostility to gays
Uganda does not permit homosexuality which is considered a crime under the country's penal laws. Many Ugandans view homosexuality as a perverted practice.

"I have told the CID (Criminal Investigations Department) to look for homosexuals, lock them up and charge them," said President Yoweri Museveni while opening a reproductive health conference in Kampala in the late 90's. The statement provoked diplomatic protests from, among others, the US State Department.

Recently, after a split in the Anglican church of America over gay rights, Ugandan churches stepped up to provide pastoral assistance to several dioceses which were anti-gay. Gay rights activists like Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMU) claim the atmosphere in Uganda is constantly hostile to them.

In October 2006, The Red Pepper tabloid published a list of names of suspected gays and lesbians. The gay rights group says several people whose names appeared on the list lost jobs and received harsh treatment from their family members.

Uganda is a signatory to the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, which mandates the universal protection of civil and political rights for oppressed groups regardless of political affiliation, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. However, activists say this has had no apparent effect on the way homosexuals are regarded.

Harassment reports
According to SMU, gays and lesbians in Uganda report that they have been harassed by police, taxi drivers, and people on the street. Others reportedly claim they are humiliated at school assemblies, forced to undress in church to "remove male spirits," or raped to "prove" they are women. The group also says most of these acts go unreported because gay people fear they will end up in jail.

"This is not just a case of one lesbian woman seeking justice. It is a case of every gay person in this country whose rights have been violated in one way or another," says Ms Mukasa. It remains to see how the ruling will affect the way gay people live in Uganda.

Source: http://www.monitor.co.ug/news/news07274.php

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Archbishop of York: Exclusive interview

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
2:26am BST 26/07/2007
The Telegraph

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, was in typically ebullient form last week when I spoke to him at Bishopthorpe, his medieval palace on the banks of the River Ouse near York.


Inevitably, questions over the future of the worldwide Anglican Communion surfaced, and Dr Sentamu, a close ally of his counterpart at Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, issued a plea for unity.

He warned the leaders of the conservative Global South group that they would be in danger of putting themselves outside the worldwide Church if they carried out their threats to boycott the Lambeth Conference next year.

He said: "The thing that unites all Christians is our faith in the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and what makes us Christians is that we participate in the death and resurrection of Christ.

"The other thing to remember is that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace.

"As long as someone does not deny the very basic doctrines of the Church - the creation, the death, the resurrection of Christ and human beings being made in the image of God - then the rest really helps but they are not the core message.

"And I haven’t found that in Ecusa or in Canada, where I was recently, they have any doubts in their understanding of God which is very different from anybody. What they have quarrelled about is the nature of sexual ethics."

He nevertheless emphasised that Dr Williams does expect those who attend Lambeth to abide by the decision-making processes of the Anglican Communion.

"The Archbishop of Canterbury is very clear that he still reserves the right to withdraw the invitations and that those who are invited are accepting the Windsor process and accepting the process about the covenant.

"But in another sentence, he said that attending Lambeth is not also a test of orthodoxy.

"Church regulations and Church legislation should not stand in the way of the gospel of love your neighbour.

"You are members of one body and therefore you should listen to one another and find a way out.

"I want to say to both sides, you would do well to come to the Lambeth Conference for us to hammer out our differences.

"It will be no good for either side to say, it doesn’t matter now, we can just do anything we like."

Click here to read the entire interview.

Same-sex salvation

LUTHERAN CHURCH Wayne Miller, the next Bishop of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod, is pushing for abolition of celibacy requirements for gay and lesbian clergy
July 25, 2007

Chicago Sun-Times

The Lutheran pastor soon to be bishop of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod wants his denomination to lift a celibacy requirement for gay and lesbian clergy.

"That's where I think the church is going," Bishop-elect Wayne Miller of Aurora said. "That's where I think it needs to go."

He's hoping the change will come next month in Chicago, where the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is conducting its churchwide assembly. Nearly a third of the denomination's 65 synods are asking for a policy shift in clergy standards.

Eventually, gay and lesbian clergy in monogamous, same-sex relationships could be allowed to serve.

John Roberts of Chicago also hopes it could lead to the reinstatement of gay clergy removed from ministry. He says he was ousted as pastor of a Michigan church in the 1990s after he confided to his bishop that he was gay.

"He gave me 11 days to leave the parish and not tell anyone," the 58-year-old Roberts said. "I still feel that call to pastoral ministry."

Click here to read the rest.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Their Own Receive Them Not: African American Lesbians & Gays in Black Churches

"Their Own Receive Them Not: African American Lesbians & Gays in Black Churches" from The Pilgrim Press, by Horace L. Griffin, 240 pages, hardcover, c. 2006, $24

[Source: The Pilgrim Press] As a counterpoint to these negative teachings, Griffin, an openly gay African Amercan Christin pastoral theologian and seminary professor, offers new approaches to understanding scripture and homosexuality through pastoral theology and black liberation theology.

He provides a historical overview and critical analysis of the black church and its current engagement with lesbian and gay Christians, and shares ways in which black churches can learn to reach out and confront all types of oppression - not just race - in order to do the work of the black community.

Horace L. Griffin is an adjunct professor and the interim director of field education at The General Theological Seminary in New York City. He received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University Graduate Department of Religion and his M.Div. from Boston University.

To order: Episcopal Books and Resources, online at http://www.episcopalbookstore.org or call 800-903-5544 -- or visit your local Episcopal bookseller,http://www.episcopalbooksellers.org.

Gay Christian Triumphs in Battle Against Bigoted Church

Church of England’s Homophobia Exposed

Bishop of Hereford Brings Church Into Disrepute and Should Resign

The Revd Richard Kirker Chief Executive of LGCM warmly welcomed the Employment Tribunal decision today in favour of John Reaney, he said:
"All the evidence in this case says John Reaney is an outstanding Christian Youth Officer - the mission of the Church has not been served by Bishop Anthony Priddis’ prejudicial action against him."

"The tables have been turned. Bishop Priddis attempted to humiliate Mr Reaney but he now stands condemned and humiliated by this judgment. This is a just outcome. The Church has brought this humilation on itself. The case need never have been brought if the Church was not institutionally homophobic."

"We were alarmed by elements of Bishop Priddis’ evidence before the tribunal. There was a moment of extraordinary farce when he quoted a remark allegedly made by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to a journalist in an African airport as an authority for his position. He did not give the source."

"Bishop Priddis himself has pointed out that Hereford diocese is not wealthy - yet by his unwarranted action the diocese will be many thousands of pounds the poorer - he must consider his position. How much has this case - an attempt to persecute and deny employment on the grounds of sexual orientation - cost the Church of England? What good could possibly have come even if the Church, improbably, had won?"

"LGCM stands ready to help all victims of the Church's Homophobia. Shockingly what happened to Mr Reaney is not unusual. We receive similar evidence regularly."

"The forty-odd pages of the judgment boils down to this - everything about the appointment of a Christian Youth Officer in the diocese of Hereford was going well UNTIL the bishop got involved. This displayed to all the world that his judgment was clouded above all else by homophobia and hubris. This is not the first time he has acted in this way." "We will be considering the lengthy judgment for the broader implications it has for the Church. In fact all faith bodies will need to act with extreme caution now more than ever if they are tempted to discriminate against lesbian and gay people despite the exceptions given to faith bodies in certain very restricted situations to discriminate. We wish Mr Reaney well whether or not he feels he wants anything further to do with an institution which has treated him so appallingly." said Mr Kirker.


For more information please contact:
Press Officer
Martin Reynolds
Tel: + 44 (0)1633 215841
Email: martin.reynolds1@virgin.net

Richard Kirker
Chief Executive
Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement [LGCM]
Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, London, E2 6HG

Office Tel & Fax 020 7739 1249


Registered Charity No 1048842.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bishop loses gay employment case

A gay man has won his case for unlawful discrimination after he was refused a youth official's job by a Church of England bishop.

The employment tribunal said John Reaney, 42, was discriminated against "on grounds of sexual orientation" by the Hereford diocesan board of finance.

Mr Reaney, from Colwyn Bay, Conwy, said he was "delighted" at the decision.

The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, said he was "naturally disappointed" and may appeal.


Delivering the judgement, the tribunal said the case would now be listed for a remedy hearing.

"The respondents discriminated against the claimant on the grounds of sexual orientation," said the judgement.

Mr Reaney, who had already worked in two other Anglican dioceses, where he had been praised for his achievements, said he was delighted.

He said the case "demonstrated to many lesbian and gay Christians working for God within the Church of England that they are entitled to fair and respectful treatment".

Click here to read the entire story.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Place in God's Heart, A Place at Christ's Table

Worship Resources for the Welcoming Church Movement

Created in honor and celebration of Rev. Ann B. Day's & Donna Enberg's twenty years as leaders of the Open and Affirming Program of the United Church of Christ Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns and for their founding and ongoing spirit in the ecumenical Welcoming Church Movement, a new collection of worship resources prepared by their friends in the Welcoming Church Movement and the Institute for Welcoming Resources is available now.

The booklet includes...
  • Opening Worship
  • Confessions & Assurances
  • Affirmations of Faith
  • Litanies
  • Liturgies & Occasional Services
  • Prayers
  • Closing Worship
  • Music

Click here to download the PDF!

MCC Comments On Canadian General Synod

Remarks by
Rev. Nancy L. Wilson
Office of the Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches

July 16, 2007

On Sunday, June 24, 2007, the Anglican Church of Canada, acting as an independent province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, attempted to straddle an impossible fence: the divide between acceptance and action.

In consecutive votes that both affirmed the compatibility of same-sex blessings with "core doctrine" and denied priests and parishes the freedom to offer such blessings, the House of Bishops sent a clear message not about LGBT relationships but about their own unwillingness to fully honor their call as both prophets and pastors.

Whether we see marriage equality as the "civil rights battle" of our time or only a piece of a much more encompassing struggle for human equality, the Church Universal has a responsibility to lead the way in dismantling social prejudice, not upholding it. Many believe the Anglican Bishops who countermanded the supportive majority votes in both the lay and clergy houses, did so out of the fear of losing communion with churches in Latin America and Africa.

I am reminded of St. John's counsel: Perfect love casts out all fear. We cannot save our relationships with one another by acting on our fears of loss. Only by calling one another to accountability for the love we share in Christ, will our ties and affinities be strengthened.

As the leader of a worldwide communion that serves people of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, I am compelled to address the racism that allows us to pit the Northern Hemisphere against the Southern, people of European descent against those of African or Latin descent, as justification for inequality, hatred, or violence. There are many, many people of African, Latin and European descent, to name a few, whose voices are represented by Metropolitan Community Churches, and who believe passionately in human equality within the Church and beyond its borders. There are many, many people of diverse heritages who have made tremendous sacrifices and taken great personal and professional risks to call for and ensure human solidarity and equality.

As denominational leaders, our common responsibility is to provide pastoral care for the people we serve as well as to lead our communities with prophetic vision and courage. While no one of us fulfills that call perfectly, love is our common calling. In service to that call, I ask that believers of all Christian traditions join in praying for courage for all people in leadership, that we might bridge the gap between acceptance and action in pursuit of the day when all our lives, and our many families, and our diverse ways of loving are acknowledged as equally holy and equally blessed in the eyes of God.



Rev. Nancy L. Wilson
Metropolitan Community Churches

This statement prepared in conjunction with MCC's Global Justice Team, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Homosexuality isn't the only issue, bishop tells interviewer

[Episcopal News Service] As Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas Bishop C. Wallis Ohl recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of his consecration, he sat down with the religion editor of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal newspaper to reflect on his tenure.

Ohl, 63, told reporter Beth Pratt that not the least of his challenges has been the Episcopal Church's continuing quarrel over homosexuality.

"It doesn't matter what the issue is," Ohl said. "We're going to have something to argue about as long as we have human beings. How do we treat one another in the midst of all that is, for me, more important than anything else - as brothers and sisters in the Lord or with 'no, not as long as you disagree with me.' "

Click here to read the rest.

+Gene Robinson preaches on "The Good Samaritan"

Sunday, July 15, 2007

All Saints Church, Pasadena

Gay Episcopalian Advocate Sharpens Focus of Outreach Ministry, Teaches Inclusive Orthodoxy


Contact: Justin R. Cannon
Email: justin@InclusiveOrthodoxy.org
Website: http://www.InclusiveOrthodoxy.org

Berkeley, CA – For over two years Justin R. Cannon has run an online outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians through www.TruthSetsFree.net. Cannon’s ministry emerged from the publication of his booklet The Bible, Christianity, and Homosexuality, described by the Los Angeles Times as "an illuminating…analysis that argues the Bible doesn't condemn faithful gay relationships." (Michael McGough, July 18, 2005). In 2006 he was honored among OUT Magazine’s top 100 lgbt achievers of the year for his work, including the establishment of the internet’s first gay Christian dating and matchmaking site, www.RainbowChristians.com, which boasts over 2400 registered members. This month, however, Cannon’s has radically changed both the look and focus of his outreach ministry.

His outreach ministry has been renamed "Inclusive Orthodoxy" and can now be accessed via www.InclusiveOrthodoxy.org. His website explains, "Inclusive Orthodoxy is the belief that the Church can and must be inclusive of lgbt individuals without sacrificing the Gospel and the Apostolic teachings of the Christian faith." His website decries individuals like lgbt advocate and retired Episcopalian bishop John Shelby Spong who denies the reality of Jesus’ resurrection and The Center for Progressive Christianity which recently celebrated "Pluralism Sunday." Cannon asserts, "The Church needs to embrace lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals not despite scripture and tradition, but in light of it."

Cannon explains, "It seems that the more inclusive an organization or denomination becomes, the further it strays from the Apostolic faith and core orthodox Christian teaching. We believe that the Church can be inclusive of lgbt individuals without sacrificing the Gospel and the Apostolic teachings."

On his website visitors can download his Bible study for free, listen to a couple sermons he has given about his own personal journey, read about Inclusive Orthodoxy, and even find a church in your area that is affirming of lgbt Christians. He is currently attending seminary at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California (USA) as he pursues priesthood within the Episcopal Church.


Integrity Naples Welcomes Dabney T Smith To Southwest Florida

July 12, 2007, Naples, FL—Integrity Naples welcomed Bishop Dabney T Smith, newly elected Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Southwestern Florida, on Monday evening to their 25 June meeting at Trinity-by-the-Cove, Naples.

Integrity Naples is a chapter of the national organization Integrity USA. It is composed of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender persons and their friends. Its mission statement reads: "Integrity Naples supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) persons in all ministries of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Southwest Florida; and provides a safe and supporting environment for community, worship, education and outreach for all."

The monthly meeting began with a celebration of the Eucharist conducted by the Bishop for the 14 members attending. The Eucharist was followed by a Pot Luck Supper and a chance to speak informally and share the stories of our spiritual journeys. The Bishop listened attentively and we, in turn, listened to him. It was a time of sharing, fellowship and good food together.

The meeting marked an opportunity not only to welcome the new Bishop and ask "how can we help you in your new role" but also provided the unique opportunity to respond to the Bishop’s invitation to take a "first step" in the listening process required of the Windsor Report. Integrity Naples looks forward to continued constructive engagement with Bishop Smith and the Diocese of Southwest Florida in times to come.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Anglican leader warns of fear against terror, within church

Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter

"Fear not," said a Church of England bishop in the days after several bomb plots were discovered and amid the second anniversary of the 2005 suicide bombings.

Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, warned Monday that fear of terrorism can lead to "false conclusions about our Muslim neighbors."


"At the moment, the Church is in danger of being paralyzed by fear of schism in the Anglican Communion; by much painful disagreement over the controverted issue of ordaining people in same-sex relationships, and the blessing of such relationships," Sentamu said in his address.

And when fear grips the Church, Sentamu warned that "Christ can easily be pushed out of the way as we try to show others that we are right and that they are wrong."

"Then, grace, compassion and love go out of the window."

Click here to read the entire article.

Which Bishop Is the Greater Danger?

This e-mail was sent to me and several others by Ben Lowe [bplowe1534@bellsouth.net]...

Dear friends,

I think we may be the victims of one of the greatest diversionary scams to hit the Anglican church in some time. When you listen to the interview here of Davis Mac-Iyalla at the end of the July 6 program you will wonder why the Communion is consumed with a compassionate gay bishop in the U.S. who preaches and lives the gospel instead of a primate who encourages violence toward a segment of the population that he believes doesn’t even exist. When you erase another person’s humanity you are acting so contrary to Christ that it is unimaginable to me that you would be permitted to lead any kind of church much less an archdiocese. And Mac-Iyalla’s words about Akinola are corroborated elsewhere; it’s just that to hear how they affect real human beings (yes, they are real) cuts deep into the soul and heart.

As someone who is currently researching and writing a book about an early Anglican bishop who was actually burned at the stake for standing true to the gospel, I am amazed at the contrast with today. There was a time when the church was not afraid to take action and deprive renegade prelates--who mock the gospel and damage the church’s mission--of their office and their platform to do harm. Perhaps it is time to stop playing defense and start to take action. No more rhetoric about accepting Akinola and others like him into the full body with no strings. This only serves to give their positions and behavior some validity. How long do you tolerate this and the misogyny that is also part of their message? And this is to not even mention the corruption that has been uncovered (see the most recent Advocate). Why is there no serious call for disciplinary action? Why are they the only ones being permitted to give ultimatums? They have made it clear that they have no interest in dialogue. (They have said that gay people don’t even exist in their own congregations.)

Instead let’s be willing to take a stand and say that maybe it is they, not the Episcopalians, who don’t belong in the church, or at least in a leadership position, even if their congregations are the largest in the world. Would the bishop of a small diocese be accorded this kind of servility? Remember, they are on record denying the humanity of some of God’s creatures and of abetting the violence being done towards them. And Gene Robinson is the problem? Where is Canterbury’s leadership on this issue? Why are they being invited to Lambeth when they’ve violated Anglican teachings far more than the Bishop of New Hampshire who can only come unofficially as a guest? Let’s be consistent folks. . .

You can hear the streaming audio of this podcast on your computer even if you don’t have an iPod. The interview is in about the last 20 minutes of the hour-long program. Listen and weep, but also take courage in the heroism of this man:



An Important Change

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Letty Russell, leading theologian, dies at 77

Letty Mandeville Russell, one of the world's foremost feminist theologians and longtime member of the Yale Divinity School faculty, died Thursday, July 12 at her home in Guilford, CT. She was 77. A leader for many years in the ecumenical movement, she remained active in ecumenical circles until her death, working for the World Council of Churches and the World YWCA.

In an introduction to a festschrift published in Russell's honor in 1999 under the title Liberating Eschatology, fellow Yale Divinity School theologians Margaret Farley and Serene Jones called Russell's influence on contemporary theology "monumental" and wrote of her "uncanny ability to articulate a vision of the church that is radical in its feminist-liberationist critique but that nonetheless remains anchored in the historic traditions and communities of the Christian church."

Farley, the Gilbert L. Stark Professor of Christian Ethics at Yale Divinity School until her retirement July 1 and a friend and colleague of Russell for three decades, said, "She leaves a legacy of wisdom, integrity, and indomitable hope. Voices will rise from women and men throughout the world to bear witness to her gifts to them, not the least of which is her gift of faithful friendship.

In the East Harlem Protestant Parish, Russell focused her ministry on equipping her congregation of mostly black and Hispanic people to claim their voices as leaders in the parish and the community. Her experiences in Harlem led her to develop Bible studies that encouraged people of color to explore ways in which the Bible gives them voice and liberation.

Letty Mandeville Russell was born in Westfield, NJ in 1929. She is survived by her partner, Shannon Clarkson; her sister, Elizabeth Collins of Salem, OR; seven nieces and nephews; 14 great nieces and nephews; and a great-great niece. In addition, Russell felt that her wider family included generations of feminist and womanist activists and scholars around the world.

Read it all here

Thursday, July 12, 2007

To Stand in a Crucified Place

The Reverend J. Edwin Bacon, Rector
All Saints Church, Pasadena
Rector’s Forum: June 24, 2007

We have a responsibility in our words, our worship, and our actions to articulate a theology that does not glorify violence, does not perpetuate poverty, disease, occupation, and genocide, and that does not exclude, denigrate, or sacrifice those who are less powerful in society or in the church.

This means a return to Jesus’ understanding of the nature of God, forgiveness, the Reign of God, salvation, the cross, the community we now call the Church, and the resurrection. [It is] an understanding of God that is much more vast that the old man in a beard. That God usually is depicted in art and in our imagination as so angry at the human race for its sin that the only way forgiveness can come our way is to have the perfect sacrifice of Jesus crucified paid as our penalty. No to all that misunderstanding of how we are made at one with God. God’s grace and power to forgive is in the very nature of God, Godself as Jesus illustrated in the parable of the
Prodigal Son.

There is no gulf between God’s creation and God that has to be spanned. We are not in the need of that kind of salvation -- salvation from the wrath and punishment of God. We do not need that kind of salvation or savior. What we need is someone to embody revealingly God’s compassion to us whose life says, “This really is NOT too good to be true.” And lest we calcify God as a father -- even a compassionate, forgiving, love and grace-based father -- Carroll challenges us to understand God as Meaning. It is meaning -- to live a life of meaning -- that saves us from hell on earth. Heaven after death is already taken care of in the love and forgiveness and compassion of God.

We must put an end to any portrayal of God that says that without Jesus and the crucifixion we are left standing condemned. And that God’s way is to crucify Jesus and us. That is not what it means to claim that the way of the cross is the way of life. The way of the cross is the way of life means that when we offer ourselves in love for the sake of the life of another -- like loving parents do and loving friends do and compassionate neighbors like Good Samaritans do. That is the way of life.

This theology is deeply needed by the church as an antidote for making denigrating sacrifices of other people. Just two weeks ago, Bill Moyers interviewed our beloved and brilliant Presiding Bishop, but listen to her response to the practices of denigrating LGBT Christians:

BILL MOYERS: You've even been criticized by some of your liberal colleagues in the American fellowship because you have called for a moratorium for a season on ordaining more gay Bishops. Why did you do that?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: It was a very painful thing to do. My sense was that there might be hope of some kind of broader understanding if we were able to pause. Not go backwards, but pause.

BILL MOYERS: Is it fair to ask some aspiring gay or lesbian person who wants to become a Bishop, like Gene Robinson did in 2003, to wait?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Is it fair? No. It's not fair.

BILL MOYERS: But it's necessary?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: It's a crucified place to stand.

--From the Transcript of Bill Moyers Journal, broadcast June 8, 2007

There is no doubt that we all from time to time must stand in a crucified place. Jesus certainly did. Any follower of Jesus certainly will from time to time have a crucified place in which we must stand. But that place in order for us to take the place Jesus stood in that crucified place as opposed to the place the Roman empire stood in that crucified place is the place of self-offering as opposed to sacrificing someone else. When we sacrifice someone else, we are standing in the role of the Empire. When we offer ourselves, we are standing in Jesus’ place. That is why bishops cannot sacrifice someone else and call that act “Christian.”

All of this will call on us to claim with joy, peace, and power our intellectual and historical identities as children of Galileo. To use the story James Carroll used here last week, Galileo’s scientific observations led him to believe that the earth revolves around the sun rather than the opposite. The church said that Galileo had to be wrong because the Bible said the earth was the center of the cosmos. Galileo said, “No, that doctrine is wrong. Observation and scientific experience trumps doctrine.”

This means that we must tell the truth about biblical research. The Bible is not a stenographic record of God’s speaking to 66 different authors. The Bible contains the truth as well as a great deal of destructive, violent, and fear-based bigotry. We must sift through the wheat and the chaff and join the critics of religion coming from the “new atheists” now writing in the service of ending sadistic and masochistic religion and promoting religion that saves lives, promotes resistance of every dehumanizing force and idea, and turns the human race into the human family.

Anglicans advertise for foster gay couples

11th July 2007 17:32
PinkNews.co.uk writer

A branch of the urban mission and welfare service of the Anglican Church in Australia has inadvertently become involved in the political row about gay parenting by taking an advert in a gay publication.

Teenshare, part of Anglicare, has taken the ad in monthly gay paper OUT in Perth to encourage gay and lesbian couples to foster children aged 12 to 17.

Last month the news that a gay male couple had adopted a baby was welcomed by lawmakers in the state of Western Australia but church groups and conservative politicians have criticised the decision.

It was the first same-sex couple adoption in Australia.

It is understood the child's mother was consulted and approved of the adoption of her child by two gay men.

Click here to read the rest.

Church can’t remain divided, say youth

Churchgoers at St. Philip’s in north Oak Bay [British Columbia] – just like Anglicans around the world – are divided on whether same-sex unions should be blessed. Parishioner Ernest Morrow said polarization exists even among young adults.

The difference, he said, is the younger parishioners are more "socially acclimatized" to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rights.

They are also interested in reconciliation, he said.

"There's a real sense of we’ve got to work this through together," Morrow said.

St. Philips parishioners with strong and unwavering opposition to the church blessing same-sex marriages have been part of a cautious dialogue with supporters of changing church doctrine. Those supporters include a married gay couple at the church.

Despite the possibilities for outright fighting in the congregation, Morrow said the conversations have been "very decent."

"Because these are matters of faith, it's been very, very intense," he said, but "there's graceful disagreement."

Click here to read the rest.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

For the record

From the Desk of the President

As we struggle together as members of this beloved church of ours to find our way forward in mission and ministry it seemed a good time -- once again and for the record -- to restate a critical plank of Integrity's "platform" ... a key component of our "agenda." It involves the critical issue of where we stand on diversity of opinion and whether or not we believe there is room in the Episcopal Church for those who disagree with us.

In a word: we do. And in a few more words -- the eloquent, now historic words of our past-president Michael Hopkins posted below -- we always have.

So please -- the next time someone writes or blogs or emails the urban myth that "both sides" are insisting on the expulsion of the other send them this "Message to the Church" -- or have them talk to me. I'll be happy to set the record straight.


All best blessings,
The Reverend Susan Russell
President, Integrity USA


We are absolutely committed to this Church and we are absolutely committed to the Continuance of as broad a diversity—including theological—as is possible for us to maintain together. This commitment is, in part, a commitment to continued messiness and frustration … Liberals and conservatives, progressives and traditionalists, must learn to live together in this Church or there will be no Church in which for us to live. But learning to live together must mean “mutual deference” not moratoriums or some insistence that we all convert to being “moderates.”

My second message to the church at large is that we are not going anywhere. Gay and lesbian Christians make up a significant portion of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. We will continue to do so after General Convention 2003 no matter what happens. We will not attempt to get our way by threatening to leave. I ask those on all sides of this debate to make this commitment as well.

Now three comments especially for our conservative brothers and sisters. First, we do not desire for you to go away. Yes, some sympathizers with our movement have said from time to time that it would be just as well if you did. Of course, some of yours have said the same about us. Let us together commit ourselves to finding every way possible to move forward with our debate without threatening either schism or purge. It is simply not necessary for us to do so.

Second, we do not desire to force same-sex blessings on you or anyone. We do desire to enable them in those places where the church is ready to receive them as a blessing but is not able to because of an understandable desire for some level of national recognition. Of course we will continue to work towards local communities desiring to bless same-sex unions. Of course you will work to keep them from doing so. We ought to be able to live with each other’s efforts on that level. Third, we do challenge you to stop scapegoating lesbian and gay Christians for every contemporary ill in the Church, particularly for our current state of disunity or the potential for the unraveling of the Anglican Communion.

You know as well as we do that the issues are far deeper than human sexuality. They are issues of scriptural interpretation and authority, including the very different polities that exist in different provinces of the Communion and whether or not local autonomy is a defining characteristic of Anglicanism. Issues of human sexuality are just one tip of that very large iceberg and if sexuality went completely away tomorrow, the iceberg would still be there.

This movement is not about getting our way or else. This movement is a means to further the healthy debate within the Church, to deepen it on a theological level, to begin to articulate how we see the blessing of same-sex unions as a part of the Church’s moving forward in mission rather than hindering mission. We believe that it is time for the church to claim the blessing found in the lives of its faithful lesbian and gay members and to further empower them for the mission of the Church. We are trying to find a way forward in this endeavor that holds as much of this church we love together as possible. We ask all our fellow-Episcopalians to join us even if they disagree with us.

The Reverend Michael Hopkins
Past-president of Integrity USA
Rector of St. Luke and St. Simon Cyrene, Rochester NY

Edited version of a speech first given at the Claiming the Blessing Conference
St. Louis, Missouri, November 8, 2002

Anglican Covenant Response Committee Appointed

[Episcopal News Service] Nine members of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council have been appointed to draft the Church's response to the first version of an Anglican covenant. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson made the appointments as called for in Executive Council Resolution INC021, passed at the council's June meeting in Parsippany, New Jersey. The group is charged with writing a proposed response of the Executive Council to the draft Anglican covenant for the council, to be considered at its October 2007 meeting in Dearborn, Michigan.

Read the rest of the ENS article here ...

The members of the Covenant Response Drafting Group are:
Rosalie Simmonds Ballentine (Virgin Islands) - chair
Kim Byham (Newark),
the Rev. Dr. Lee Alison Crawford (Vermont),
the Rev. Dr. Ian T. Douglas (Massachusetts),
Canon Victoria L. Garvey (Chicago),
the Rev. Canon Mark Harris (Delaware),
the Rev. Winnie S. Varghese (New York),
Ted M. Yumoto (San Joaquin)
and Belton T. Zeigler (Upper South Carolina).

Davis Mac-Iyalla meets Bishop Ben Kwashie at Church of England General Synod, York

Tuesday, 10 July 2007
by Colin Coward
Changing Attitude

Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria (CAN), arrived in England from Washington DC on Friday 6 July and has been present at the meeting of General Synod in York this weekend.

Davis attended a fringe meeting organised by Anglican Mainstream on Monday 9 July at which the speaker was the Rt Revd Benjamin Kwashie, Bishop of Jos in Nigeria. Bishop Kwashie presented a picture of the Church of Nigeria which Davis recognised as true to his own experience. The bishop said that homosexuality is not an issue for the Church of Nigeria and he acknowledged that there are many lesbian and gay people living in Nigeria.

When asked a question by Davis, Bishop Kwashie remembered him very well. They had met many times when Davis was the administrator of the Diocese of Otukpo, working with the bishop, the Rt Revd Prof. I Ugede. Davis visited the Bishop Kwashie’s house when the diocese of Jos hosted the meeting of the Province of in July 2003.

Bishop Kwashie revealed that he was totally unaware of the Disclaimer published on the Church of Nigeria web site in December 2005 by Canon Akintunde Popoola, Director of Communications for the Church. The Disclaimer contained a series of false allegations against Davis deliberately designed to destroy his reputation. The allegations resulted in at least one member of the Church of Nigeria issuing repeated threats to murder Davis.

Click here to read the rest.

The Chapel of the Cross may bless unions

Same-sex unions might earn blessing
By Carolina Astigarraga, Staff Writer
The News and Observer

CHAPEL HILL - At a time when women were often denied positions of authority, the tattered book that chronicles the 1842 incorporation of The Chapel of the Cross bears the signatures of 12 women beside those of 12 men.
The book also lists the names of young slave children whose owner brought them to be baptized in the 1850s. Pauli Murray, the granddaughter of one of those slaves, became the first black woman ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. She returned to Chapel Hill and received her first Eucharist as an ordained priest in the church.

Now, The Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church is incorporating another minority community into its 1,200-member congregation by entering into a discernment process -- or active discussion -- about blessing same-sex unions.

"We have a number of gay couples in our parish that have been together 25, 30 years, some of whom would like the church's blessing on their private covenant," said Rector Stephen Elkins-Williams. "I think we've asked them to wait, those who want to, long enough."

The larger Episcopal Church does not recognize any rites for same-sex unions, although specific parishes are not penalized for offering such ceremonies or creating their own rites.

The Chapel of the Cross, 304 E. Franklin St., would join several other Triangle churches that have offered similar ceremonies for years.

Read it all here

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

First Presidential Forum to Focus Exclusively on GLBT Issues

From the HRC Website:

LOS ANGELES — Logo, a division of Viacom’s MTV Networks, and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation today announced they will co-present a historic televised forum on issues of importance to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community with the leading 2008 Democratic presidential candidates, including, currently confirmed and in alphabetical order, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

(UPDATE (7:04 PM EST): Former Sen. John Edwards and Sen. Chris Dodd have confirmed they will also attend the August 9 debate.)

The one-hour event will be held on Aug. 9 at 6 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. ET in Los Angeles before a studio audience and broadcast live, without commercial interruption, exclusively on Logo’s 24/7 cable television channel as well as through live streaming video at LOGOonline.com. Logo is the nation’s leading television and broadband channel for the GLBT audience and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the nation’s largest GLBT civil rights organization.

Read the rest here ... and mark your calendars!

That’s How the Light Gets In

A sermon preached by The Right Reverend Leopold Frade, Bishop of Southeast Florida, at his Annual Visitation for Confirmation on Trinity Sunday, June 3, 2007, at Trinity Cathedral, Miami.

“Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”

Those words come from a poem by the Canadian poet and composer Leonard Cohen. I thought that they were an appropriate way for your Bishop to be able to make you aware of the different cracks that exist at present in your church.


You see, reason is what would not allow us over 400 years ago to accept the theory of "Limbo" that Rome so assiduously taught up to a few weeks ago. Also it didn't allow us to insist that the sun rotated around planet earth and that our planet was the center of the universe. Now, reason was also a factor that prevented us from saying dumb things like that the Teletubbie Tinky Winky was gay because of his triangular antenna, his color purple and his handbag.

Reason has helped us to recognize that Blacks and Hispanics are not inferior, that men are not superior to women and that women can and are called by God--and ordained by the church--to be deacons, priests and bishops.

What is exciting is that the Spirit of God has been active during these days and is helping us to comprehend that human beings don't end up being gay or lesbian because they are possessed by demons or have simply chosen an "unnatural" way of life.

It was that 3-legged stool of Anglican thought, Scriptures, Tradition and Reason, that moves the members of our church to be involved in bringing justice and peace and "to respect the dignity of every human being."


Some talk about the decrease in membership in our church as a symptom of our discussion on sexuality. But they forget to mention that the main exodus from our denomination was not because of Prayer Book changes or the ordination of women or the acceptance of gays and lesbians, but it was mainly due to the departure of white persons who refused to worship next to a black person who had dared to enter into their beloved homogeneous, culturally friendly environment through cracks that were being made by our clergy and laity to end segregation and discrimination.


If we are not hypocrites and hold double standards, we must say that injustice is injustice in any way, shape or form that it may appear. As a Hispanic I say that if I want justice and equality for those like me, then I have no business whatsoever being part of anything that seeks to deny justice and equality for others, even if those others are gays and lesbians. You should not talk about equality on issues of race and culture if you at the same time--using selected verses from the Bible--refuse justice and the full participation in the life of our church to others with a lifestyle different from yours.


There are other churches in our country where blacks and Hispanics are kept away. There are quite a few other churches out there where gays and lesbians are bashed and considered evil, where war is praised and encouraged, where women are kept in their place, churches where cracks are not allowed to happen. This Cathedral is not one of them.

Now if you really insist on becoming an Episcopalian, then welcome to this church and help us to make sure that we keep some of our cracks. It's important--you see, that's how the light gets in.

Click here to read the entire sermon.

Church of Englad General Synod Affirms Anglican Covenent Process

From http://www.cofe.anglican.org/news/gsjul0807pm1.html...

8 July 2007

At the invitation of the Presidents, the Most Revd Drexel Gomez (chair of the Anglican Covenant Design Group) addressed the Synod.

The Bishop of Chichester moved the motion:

'That this Synod:

(a) affirm its willingness to engage positively with the unanimous recommendation of the Primates in February 2007 for a process designed to produce a covenant for the Anglican Communion;

(b) note that such a process will only be concluded when any definitive text has been duly considered through the synodical processes of the provinces of the Communion; and

(c) invite the Presidents, having consulted the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council, to agree the terms of a considered response to the draft from the Covenant Design Group for submission to the Anglican Communion Office by the end of the year.'

This was carried unamended.

Link to audio

Click here to read Ruth Gedhill's spin in The Times.

The Tutu Connection

The July issue of Vanity Fair (starting on page 96) includes a conversation between Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Brad Pitt...

Brad Pitt: "So certainly discrimination has no place in Christianity. There's a big argument going on in America right now, on gay rights and equality."

Desmond Tutu: "For me, I couldn't ever keep quiet. I came from a situation where for a very long time people were discriminated against, made to suffer for something about which they could do nothing--their ethnicity. We were made to suffer because we were not white. Then, for a very long time in our church, we didn't ordain women, and we were penalizing a huge section of humanity for something about which they could do nothing--their gender. And I'm glad that now the church has changed all that. I'm glad that apartheid has ended. I could not for any part of me be able to keep quiet, because people were being penalized, ostracized, treated as if they were less than human, because of something they could do nothing to change--their sexual orientation. For me, I can't imagine the Lord that I worship, this Jesus Christ, actually concurring with the persecution of a minority that is already being persecuted. The Jesus who I worship is a Jesus who was forever on the side of those who were being clobbered, and he got into trouble precisely because of that. Our church, the Anglican Church, is experiencing a very, very serious crisis. It is all to do with human sexuality. I think God is weeping. He is weeping that we should be spending so much energy, time, resources on this subject at a time when the world is aching."

Brad Pitt: "I couldn't agree with you more. Thank you for saying that."

Photo by Annie Leibovitz

Questions and answers with Davis Mac-Iyalla

By John Johnson
John Johnson, a member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Washington, D. C., is the domestic policy analyst for the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations.

On the eve of July fourth, I wondered how many would actually attend: A Conversation with Davis Mac-Iyalla. The venue was St. Thomas’ Episcopal Parish in Dupont Circle and the event was sponsored by both St. Thomas’ and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill. As 7 p.m. arrived the sanctuary was nearly filled with some 75 Episcopalians and visitors. I didn’t know who all was there from St. Marks, but I was amazed by the number of non-Episcopalians that attended. Davis spoke to the congregation gathered for nearly 55 minutes before taking questions and answers and the evening was followed by the beautiful Compline service from the Book of Common Prayer.

The altar was adorned with a simple white altar cloth with several black-based candle holders and lighted candles for the evening’s event. The clergy, senior and junior warden were robed in traditional black and white Evening Prayer vestments seated in the first row. Davis, dressed in blue jeans with a cut off sleeveless shirt and rainbow wrist band, joined them.

Davis was invited to be part of the Altar party for Compline after his presentation. The plate was passed as he vested and he was presented with $1000 gift as he concluded his 60-event, 20-city tour or the United States and left for the Church of England’s General Synod meeting. The money is greatly needed because Davis has been hounded from his home in Nigeria and now lives in Togo, where he ekes out a living by running a small restaurant.

Davis sang the Doxology at a reception following the service. For someone who lives in exile, who has been jailed for speaking truth to ecclesiastical power and who has been beaten in Nigerian Police custody, he remains remarkably cheerful, favoring friends with a deep gregarious laugh.

Prior to the evening’s events, I had the opportunity to interview Davis...

Click here to read the rest!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Floods are judgment on society, say bishops

Last Sunday, The Telegraph published an article in which the Rt. Rev. Graham Dow, Bishop of Carlisle, suggested that the recent flooding in the UK was God's judgement for gay and lesbian equality laws.

The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association immediately responded with a press release saying, "The Bishop's comments reveal a primitive, superstitious mind that belongs in the Bronze Age. If he thinks these floods are the result of pro-gay laws rather than global warming, then how come far more catastrophic floods afflict homophobic nations such as Bangladesh? And how come ultra-pious nations such as Pakistan suffer catastrophic earthquakes? And the self-proclaimed religiosity of the United States doesn't protect it from lethal hurricanes either."

A couple of days later Ruth Gledhill of The Times wrote an article explaining Bishop's background and worldview.

Anglican priests set to defy same-sex blessing ban

Richard Foot
CanWest News Service
Friday, July 06, 2007

Two weeks after the Anglican Church of Canada voted to maintain its ban on same-sex blessings, a pair of renegade parishes are publicly vowing to bless and even marry gay and lesbian couples, saying there are dozens of other Anglican parishes across the country defying the rules of the national church.

Clergy at Holy Trinity Church in downtown Toronto, and at St. Saviour's Church in Victoria, have each declared their intention to push ahead with blessing ceremonies despite a decision by their church's national governing body forbidding such acts.

"We also intend, when the opportunity arises, to take the next step which is a (same-sex) marriage ceremony," said Jim Ferry, one of the priests at Holy Trinity.

"And we're not the only ones," he said Friday. "There are other parishes across the country who have been quietly going ahead and doing same-sex blessings. They're in the major urban centres, wherever there's a significant population of gay and lesbian people.

"I think, for the most part, it will be tolerated."

One senior Anglican official, who did not want his name published, said he expects the Anglican bishops in Toronto and Victoria to discipline priests in those parishes in order to enforce the rules of the national church. Bishops have the authority to fire priests or withhold their licences to minister.

Click here to read the rest.

Photograph by : MALCOLM TAYLOR/CNS

Holy disobedience

Breaking the law for the sake of love.
by Rev. Shawn Sanford Beck
July 6, 2007

From June 18 to 25, members of the Anglican Church of Canada gathered from across the country to hear reports, to worship together, and to make decisions on some fairly important issues. The most controversial of the issues, of course, was the ongoing acrimonious debate about the place of queer folk in the church. As someone who has been in the thick of this particular battle for the past several years, I was watching closely (via internet coverage) to see where the chips would fall.


It was almost a year ago when my own patience ran out. I found myself caught on the horns of a vexing ethical dilemma: as a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada, I had taken a vow of obedience to my bishop (yes, slightly medieval, I know), but now that vow was putting me in a position where I would be actively discriminating against GLBTT members of the church. As the chaplain for our local chapter of Integrity (a group within the church for queer folk and their allies), I had received a request from a gay couple to bless their relationship. Church law forbade me. My bishop forbade me. But the Spirit compelled me, and She trumps the others. There was no way I was going to turn this couple down.

So after a fair bit of soul-searching, I told my bishop that I would not be towing the line on this issue anymore. I called my position an act of ecclesiastical civil disobedience, but I don’t think he really got it. In any case, I soon found myself delicensed and out of a job, in exile along with the many who have been marginalized by the ecclesiastical powers that be. Interestingly enough, others in the church have picked up on my action, calling it “holy disobedience,” and it is not impossible that more clergy will follow suit in the months to come. In fact, recently Holy Trinity parish in downtown Toronto voted to do just that: clergy and people together, they are not waiting any longer for the full inclusion of queer Christians — the entire parish is prepared to break canon law. Holy disobedience indeed.

Click here to read the entire article.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Canon Phil Groves on the Listening Process

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Canon Phil Groves speaks with ENS national correspondent, the Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg, during a recent visit to New York about the Anglican Communion's Listening Process, its progress so far, and the next steps.

The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, appointed Groves as the facilitator of the Listening Process in November 2005. Groves' task, as defined in a portion of the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10, is to establish "a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion" and to help the Communion listen to the experiences of homosexual persons.

The Primates Meeting at Dromantine, Ireland, in February 2005 asked the Anglican Consultative Council "to take positive steps to initiate the listening and study process" which has been the subject of resolutions at Lambeth Conferences since at least 1978 (Lambeth 1978, Resolution 10).

An audio stream of the interview is available at


Two Anglican parishes offer same-sex ceremonies

Priests say Synod resolution allows blessings
Marites N. Sison
staff writer
Anglican Journal
Jul 5, 2007

The dust has barely settled and already, different interpretations of the decisions General Synod made last month about human sexuality have led one parish to publicly offer blessings to same-gender unions, and another to say that it would not deny a parishioner's request for a same-sex marriage.

During its seven-day meeting in Winnipeg, the church's highest governing body approved a resolution saying that same-sex blessings are "not in conflict" with the church's core doctrine but defeated another that would have given dioceses the power to offer them in churches.

There is enough ambiguity in those decisions that it is left open to dioceses and churches to offer same-sex blessings, said Rev. Jim Ferry, who was fired for being involved in a homosexual relationship in 1991. He has since been given some duties at Holy Trinity church in downtown Toronto.

"I think at first there was some confusion (regarding the decisions on sexuality). But after having reflected on them, it seemed that the most important of the two resolutions (the one stating same-sex blessings are 'not in conflict' with Anglican core doctrine) had passed," said Mr. Ferry. "It's very positive. It moves us out of the realm of canon law into pastoral decision-making."

In Victoria, B.C., the rector of St. Saviour’s church, Rev. Antonio Osorio, invited lesbian and gay couples to be blessed in his parish during the Sunday service July 1. Four couples showed up to be blessed as a group and as couples, said Mr. Osorio.

"These were people in committed, faithful and long-term relationships," he said in a telephone interview. "They were there as friends, as members of our community and as volunteers of our church."

Click here to read the rest.

For God’s sake

From The Times
July 5, 2007

Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria, the world's most powerful Anglican leader, tells Religion Correspondent Ruth Gledhill that his conservatism is the true faith


Nigeria's bishops will not meet to decide about Lambeth until September. Dr Akinola says he does not know how they will decide. But at this point, attendance by Nigeria looks extremely unlikely. And if they stay away, this will mark the start of true schism. The Lambeth Conference is one of the communion’s four instruments of unity. For the Nigerians to attend, the Archbishop of Canterbury would have to invite Bishop Minns, which he will not.

And the Episcopal Church in the US would have to backpedal on its liberal agenda, which would be a betrayal of everything it has struggled for in the past two decades.

Dr Akinola does not deny that homosexuals exist in Africa. "All we are saying is, do not celebrate what the Bible says is wrong. If the Bible says it is an aberration, it is an aberration. Do not do it." He sees no point in his church attending the Lambeth Conference if the bishops cannot share together in Holy Communion. He begins to get passionate, becoming eloquent in his anger. "The missionaries brought the word of God here and showed us the way of life. We have seen the way of life and we rejoice in it. Now you are telling me this way of life is not right. I have to do something else. Keep it for yourself. I do not want it."

No Nigerian bishop needs to go to Canterbury to learn how to be a bishop, he says. "No Nigerian Anglican needs to go to Lambeth Palace to learn how to become a Christian. It is all available here. We rejoice in our fellowship, we rejoice in our heritage as Anglicans. We celebrate it. But our unity will never be at the expense of truth, of the historic faith."

In spite of what Western church leaders fear, he has no ambitions to lead a breakaway church. "That has never been on my mind. This is the media thing. You see we have scripture. We have our traditions. We have not broken the law. It is your churches that are breaking the law. You are the ones breaking the rules. You are the ones doing what should not be done with impunity. We are saying you cannot sweep it under the carpet. Maybe in the past you could get away with it, but not any more. We have aged. So we are not breaking away from anybody. We remain Anglicans. We are Anglican Church. We will die Anglicans. We are going nowhere."

I ask him about his comments a few years ago, when he was reported as saying that homosexuality was an aberration unknown even in the world of animal relationships. He urges me to see these remarks in their context. A diocese in Canada was moving towards authorising the first Angican liturgy for same-sex blessings. "I was shocked to my marrow the very first time I heard the Church is saying a man can marry a man. What? It is from that shock, that surprise, how is that possible? Is it a kind of experiment or something? They are sick or tired of normal heterosexual relationships? How could that be? That is the context in which I said what I said."


He has been criticised for not speaking out against a new law proposed in Nigeria to make it an offence to promote homosexuality. "The Western world does not have a monopoly of homosexuals," he says. "They are everywhere in the world. But we do not desire to celebrate it. We see it as a problem that can be treated. There have been a lot of importation of Western values and practices in our country. Now the Western world is highlighting the gay issue as the thing. We realise that if care is not taken, our country will be one where you can do whatever you want to do." The new law was intended to prevent wholesale importation of Western values and practices, he says. He admits to problems with the specific provisions, which are, to Western sensibilities, draconian. "But what you have there is still much less, much softer than if it were to be sharia. This is our context. On the one hand the Christian community is happy that we have this provision. It is just our hope that it will help to preserve the institution of marriage, family life as we know it. But if it is not passed, fine, we will look for something else. It is purely democratic."

Click here to read the entire article.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The sun is up and the sky isn't falling!

The Honorable Byron Rushing, member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and distinguished Episcopal lay leader, reflects on the recent Massachusetts marriage decision -- the subject of a Washington Post editorial earlier today -- in this commentary (shared with permission. Thanks, Byron!)

Before last month's vote in the Massachusetts legislature already the majority of my colleagues supported the Goodridge decision and same-sex marriage, and opposed adding a discriminatory article to the state constitution, and had voted against the proposed amendment. What last month's vote showed, was that that majority had become overwhelming, "super," 75%+1. In the past three years there is no evidence in Massachusetts that the expansion of marriage has weakened the right of heterosexuals to marry or prevented the strengthening of heterosexualcivil marriage by individuals, organizations or government; or forced religious institutions to change their views on who they should "marry."

The public schools in Boston were first integrated in the 1850's--on September 3, 1855--after a long controversy. Reflecting on that successful struggle, one of its leaders, William C. Nell said, "And since the 3d of September to the present time, the sun, moon and stars are regular in their courses! No orb has proved so eccentric as to shoot madly from its sphere in consequence, and the State House on Beacon Hill, and old Faneuil Hall, remain as firm on their bases as ever."

Theodore Parker taught 19th c. Bostonians to, "Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice. Things refuse to be mismanaged long."

Or as Martin Luther King, Jr. rephrased it, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

On May 16, 2004, I made this prediction: "The sun will rise tomorrow, and the milk will not curdle!" I was right about the first; and about the second, what goes on in people's refrigerators...

Washington Post supports same sex marriage

The Sky Isn't Falling
Experience may be trumping hysteria over gay marriage.
Thursday, July 5, 2007

WHEN THE high court of Massachusetts ruled in 2003 that the commonwealth's constitution gave same-sex couples the right to marry, detractors railed against "activist judges" who were "imposing" their will on the people. Only the people, through their elected representatives, should decide something so fundamental, they said. Thus began an effort to amend Massachusetts's constitution by referendum to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Four years and about 10,000 same-sex marriages later, here's what the people have said: never mind.

Read it all here

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Church pours scorn on love

Jul 03, 2007 04:30 AM
Mark Abley
Toronto Star

A small miracle occurred two days ago across the nation: Hundreds of gay and lesbian Anglicans showed up to worship in churches that had just scorned them.

I know, that's not the official story. The official story is that by a narrow margin, the bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada voted to make it impossible for any parish in the country to bless same-sex couples. Warships and hamsters can be blessed, but not a loving pair of women or men.

The closeness of the Winnipeg vote inspired a lot of huffing and puffing about "pastoral generosity" – although Bishop Larry Robertson, more forthright than your average Anglican leader, promptly announced: "I don't and cannot accept homosexual behaviour."

Among traditional-minded Anglicans, the typical response to the vote was nervous relief. Their fear that the issue remains unsettled is understandable. But last week their blogs and websites also featured a smattering of hateful rhetoric of the kind that makes me wonder why I remained a church member for much of my adult life.


In the face of such fulminations, most gay and lesbian members of the church kept their heads down last week. On Sunday they faithfully trooped into the uncomfortable pews. They still appear to believe their time will come.

I wonder how long they'll have to wait.

Click here to read the entire op-ed piece.