Thursday, July 31, 2008 Today's "Comment is free" column

I appreciated the invitation to write this piece for the Guardian yesterday. Remembering that the "recommendations" of the Windsor Continuation Group are only that ... recommendations ... we remember as well that the Windsor Report quickly morphed, in the minds of some, into the Windsor Edict.

The work the bishops are doing here at Lambeth Conference is, I believe, bearing genuine fruit of respect for difference and commitment to walk together -- over the objections of the schismatic minority still lobbying for "resolution." Our job is to keep reminding all of them of their high calling as bishops in the church of God to pastor all the people ... not just some of them.


A flock abandoned -- Susan Russell, Thursday July 31 2008

It would be a sinful thing if Anglican church leaders walked away from the gay and lesbian baptised

As the Lambeth conference proceeds in Canterbury, gay and lesbian Anglicans find themselves, once again, on the communion chopping block. It is a sad thing indeed that the message sent out from the Anglican communion to the world is that homosexuals getting married in California are of more concern to the church than are homosexuals being mugged in Nigeria. It is an even sadder thing that bishops who have taken vows to be shepherds to their whole flock seem willing to consider sacrificing their gay and lesbian followers at the altar of institutional unity.

We recognise that the Anglican communion is involved in a long-term process of discernment and dialogue on issues of human sexuality and we are committed to being part of that process. Sadly, what the Windsor Continuation Group furthered in its report released on July 28 was the process of institutionalising bigotry and marginalising the gay and lesbian baptised. Acceptance of these recommendations would be totally antithetical to the core message of the Christian gospel.

The American and Canadian churches have never maintained that they hold anything other than a minority opinion on the full inclusion of the gay and lesbian baptised in the life and witness of the church. "Blessed are you who have complied with the will of the majority to exclude the minority" is to be found nowhere in the Bible. Rather, the gospel of Jesus is one of love, inclusion and "doing unto the least of these."

The Windsor Continuation Group has presented the bishops with nothing less than a "Sophie's choice" – telling them to choose between walking with brother and sister Anglicans who disagree with them on issues of human sexuality or walking with their brother and sister Anglicans who happen to be gay or lesbian.

It is time for the bishops to step up and say that gay and lesbian Anglicans are not for sale as bargaining chips in this game of global church politics – that the sacrifice of their lives and vocations in this church is too high a price to pay for institutional unity.

For at the end of the day, there is an ontological difference between feeling excluded because you're disagreed with and being excluded because of who you are. Brother and sister Anglicans walking away from the table because they've been disagreed with is a painful thing. The church walking away from the gay and lesbian baptised is a sinful thing.

Indaba On Human Sexuality

The Lambeth Conference

Daily Account: Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles

Bishop Chilton Knudsen of Maine

Bishop Michael G. Smith of North Dakota


The topic for today was The Bishop and human sexuality. We had been informed by the Archbishop of Canterbury that Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 would not be revisited in our discussions because it continues to be the accepted teaching of the vast majority of the Anglican Communion.


The Bible Study focused on John 13: 31- 14:  " I am the way, and the truth, and the life. " 


The Bible Study groups appear to have bonded together and we have appreciated the opportunity for sharing. The Bible Study groups are greatly diverse and we have developed a sense of trust and love in each other.


We saw a video and then entered into our Indaba group.  The video focused on concerns that people share around the globe and we were able to express our feelings freely. Many, however, noticed that in the video, there was no indication of the speaker’s sexual orientation.


In the Indaba groups, we are being the people of God, who love others in the name of our Lord.  We are about building bridges.


In many groups, the issues of sexuality have been discussed, and as a result we experienced much honest listening.  Throughout the discussions, it was clear that the respect and dignity of all people must be honored.


In the afternoon, a hearing was conducted on the Lambeth reflections.


Also available on EpiScope

See Episcopal Life Online for full coverage and video:

Infomation Overload?

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The Bishop and the Book

Posted this afternoon on The Gene Pool, the Bishop of New Hampshire reflects on biblical interpretation...

Listening Process Report

This afternoon Canon Phil Groves, facilitator of the Anglican Communion Listening Process, distributed a report to the bishops. Click here to read a PDF of the document, scanned from a paper original.

Bishop Robinson reflects on his experiences at Lambeth

U.S. News did this interview with Bishop Robinson about his experiences at the Lambeth Conference. In it he reflects on the impact of the witness that he is providing here, as well as the emotional impact of being excluded.

Read it all HERE

1913 law limiting Massachusetts marriage repealed

The Massachusetts state legislature has voted to repeal the 1913 law that prohibits gay and lesbian people from marrying in Massachusetts when it is illegal for them to do so in the states in which they reside.

The law was passed in 1913 as a response to interracial marriages that were legal in Massachusetts but illegal in most other states at that time. It was designed to ease legal tensions that might arise when interracial couples came to Massachusetts seeking marriage and then sought to have their marriages recognized in other states.

After the 2004 state Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage, the law began to be used for the same purposes, but this time limiting the rights of same-sex couples.

Rep. Byron Rushing, a leader in The Episcopal Church, member of the House of Deputies, and Board Member of the Episcopal Women's Caucus, was instrumental in orchestrating the repeal.

Read the full coverage from by clicking HERE

"We are Anglicans, not Puritans"

That's a quote from the Rt. Rev. Terry Brown, Bishop of Malaita in the Province of Melanesia, and the "other" gay bishop - the one in attendance at this Lambeth Conference.

His experience in the Anglican Communion is unique in that he was confirmed in The Episcopal Church, ordained deacon and priest in the Anglican Church of Canada, and is serving as a bishop in the Province of Melanesia in the Global South. Additionally, he is an openly gay man.

Read his reflections HERE

The Lambeth Witness #9

The Thursday issue of The Lambeth Witness is now available here as a PDF.

Make sure to read the special edition here--which contains an essay on human sexuality by the Rev. Dr. Bill Countryman!

"Seven Passages" Opening Night In Canterbury

Last night the cast and crew of "Seven Passages" gave an amazing performance. The play consists entirely of words from the Bible and the real-life stories of over 100 gay and lesbian Christians living in Michigan. It explores 7 "clobber passages" of scripture that are used to condemn same-gender relationships and 7 "life passages" common to gay and lesbian Christians. Four members of the audience from the Global South walked out of the theatre about halfway thru the performance. After a standing ovation, the Very Rev. Dr. Rowan Smith of South Africa facilitated a conversation between the audience, the directors, and the cast.

"Seven Passages" will be performed again TONITE, July 31st, 8 pm, at the Aphra Studio [just to the right of the Lambeth Conference registration table in the Grimond Building]. If you are in Canterbury, don't miss it!

If you are not in Canterbury, a DVD of the play is due for release in September. To order an advance copy, please contact the Actor's Theatre at +1-616-234-3817 or You can also arrange a license to produce the stage version in your area.

This performance was made possible thru a grant from the Arcus Gay & Lesbian Fund.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Photos From African Voices Fringe Event

Several LGBT Africans giving testimony.

Rowan Smith, Dean of the Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, showing his apartheid-era identify card.

All photos © 2008 by Cynthia Black

Homophobic Grafitti At Lambeth

An LGBT-supportive bishop shared this photo with us...

The graffiti is a little heard to read, but appears to say, "Repent. Disgusting. Please don't reinvent religion."

The Lambeth Witness #8

The Wednesday issue of The Lambeth Witness is now available here as a PDF. Don't miss Colin Coward's coverage of the African Voices fringe event.

A Word of Hope for LGBT Episcopalians

Posted on The Gene Pool this morning, +Gene gives LGBT Episcopalians some encouragement about the outcome of the Lambeth Conference...

Peter Toscano On How Integrity Saved His Faith

Peterson Tosacano, a "theatrical performance activist," attended the second Voices of Witness: Africa preview last night. Susan Russell introduced herself to Peter, and Peter gave a glowing testimony about how Integrity/Memphis saved his Christian faith when he came out...

Peter is performing tonight and tomorrow night at a Lambeth Conference fringe event.

2nd Preview Of VOWA Packed

The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of California, hosted a second preview of Voices of Witness: Africa last night. The room was packed with bishops and their spouses. There were so many, in fact, that not everyone could get in! Brazil was especially well represented--with every bishop from that province attending.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Anglicanism's Wizard of Oz

A gay Nigerian Anglican activist has been granted political asylum. Why won't the bishops stand up to his persecutors?

Stephen Bates in today's Guardian

The news that Davis Mac-Iyalla, a Nigerian Anglican who is gay, has been granted political asylum in Britain ought to give the 670 bishops currently meeting in Canterburypause for thought about the African church which has so often been held up as a shining example of growth and spiritual dynamism in the worldwide denomination.
Mac-Iyalla, whose offence has been to try and organise a movement for gay Christiansin Nigeria, has been regularly smeared and denigrated by the church authorities there and has been threatened and physically assaulted sufficiently often for himto seek sanctuary, first in nearby Togo and now here.
The fact that the immigration authorities in Britain believe his story sufficient to give him protection and allow him to stay ought to suggest to the Archbishop of Canterbury and his colleagues that all is not necessarily sweetness and light in the Nigerian Church, whose bishops are boycotting their conference because of their opposition to mingling with "apostate" gay-friendly bishops.
When Mac-Iyalla first surfaced three years ago, organising a local chapter of the Changing Attitude pro-gay Anglican group, the Nigerian hierarchy refused to believe he existed -- their line was that there were no homosexuals in Nigeria and, anyway, such people were worse than beasts.

Then, when he produced proof that he was not only a practising church-goer but also had formerly been assistant to a Nigerian bishop, who had since died, the press officer of the Nigerian archbishop Peter Akinola shamelessly claimed that Mac-Iyalla had embezzled church funds -- an allegation for which he provided no proof, which Mac-Iyalla denied and which the Nigerian police have never investigated.
When Mac-Iyalla organised a meeting of gay Anglicans, theNigerian church first denied it had taken place, then that it had been attended by only a few dissidents, in the face of a news story and photographic evidence from a New York Times correspondent that it had indeed occurred and had attracted quite a crowd.
Remember: Archbishop Akinola it was who enthusiastically endorsed an attempt by the Nigerian government to introduce laws criminalising the friends and relatives of gays with up to five years' imprisonment and who, when asked at a conference in Jerusalem last month to condemn violence against gay people, somehow could notfind the words to do it.
Incidentally, for those English bishops, wracked with post-colonial guilt, who defend Akinola as having to stand strong against militant Islam in Nigeria, it has to be said that some of his statements have come very close to inciting violence against Muslims. All this and yet he still has an honoured position in conservativeAnglican circles.
The smears against Mac-Iyalla continue to surface, without evidence being produced, by supporters of the Nigerian church elsewhere. You only have to look at Ruth Gledhill's blog about the story on the Times website today to see the bile directed, not against the Nigerian church authorities, but against Mac-Iyalla himself.

It is vicious stuff and, at the most basic level, unChristian, visceral and homophobic.
The Nigerians' influence in worldwide Anglicanism, despite their bishops' current absence from the Lambeth conference, is predicated on the size of their church and its rapid growth. This sounds impressive to bishops leading declining congregations in the West, but may be more apparent than real. Akinola has been boosting his personal following by appointing bishops wholesale in Nigeria: 30 yearsago there were 16 dioceses and one archbishop there, now there are more than 120 bishops (it is difficult to keep up since more are being created all the time), 80 dioceses and 10 archbishops.
Since Akinola has personally forbidden any of his bishops from attending the conference (no need for him to seek democratic, synodical, agreement to such a move) and has personally ordered one bishop who wished to attend to return home on pain of punishment for disobedience (so much for episcopal autonomy), the Nigerian absentees form a significant proportion of the 200 or so bishops who have boycotted the meeting.

Take away the Kenyans and Ugandans who are also not present (though some of their colleagues have shown up) and the boycott looks somewhat thinly spread.While the Nigerian church has undoubtedly been recruiting members, its membership figures are almost certainly inflated.

Just as worldwide Anglicanism claims 70m members, of which 26m or so are counted as members of the Church of England, even if fewer than 1m actually show up in church in any given week, the Nigerians' figure of at least 18m (up from 5m 30 years ago so there has certainly been inflation in the number of bishops to administer to them) also looks dubious since the head count is done on parish membership and there is nothing to stop people being members of more than one parish so long as they pay a modest annual membership subscription: David Mac-Iyalla himself claims to be a member of at least three parishes, his own,his parents' parish and the parish where he formerly worked: so he's threeNigerian Anglicans for a start.

Since Nigerian dioceses get financial support from the central church based on diocesan membership there is every incentive to inflate numbers. There are even rumours that livestock are included by some hard-pressed dioceses, but that may be just apocryphal.

In any event taking the air out of the Anglican membership balloon suggests a much smaller and less committed worldwide membership than the church likes to pretend.

Surely it could not be, could it, that worldwide Anglicanism's voice is a bit like the Wizard of Oz's: booming, surrounded by an imposing edifice, but concealing a very small presence?

Protest against gay rights in Costa Rica is reporting that 20,000 protesters attended a march against same-sex marriage in Costa Rica. There was strong support for the protest by Roman Catholic bishops in the area.

Read it all HERE

Rowan's Presidential Address

Just delivered to the bishops...

The Archbishop of Canterbury


Second Presidential Address to the Lambeth Conference 2008


29 July 2008


'What is Lambeth '08 going to say?' is the question looming larger all the time as this final week unfolds. But before trying out any thoughts on that, I want to touch on the prior question, a question that could be expressed as 'Where is Lambeth '08 going to speak from?'. I believe if we can answer that adequately, we shall have laid some firm foundations for whatever content there will be.


And the answer, I hope, is that we speak from the centre. I don't mean speaking from the middle point between two extremes — that just creates another sort of political alignment. I mean that we should try to speak from the heart of our identity as Anglicans; and ultimately from that deepest centre which is our awareness of living in and as the Body of Christ.


We are here at all, surely, because we believe there is an Anglican identity and that it's worth investing our time and energy in it. I hope that some of the experience of this Conference will have reinforced that sense. And I hope too that we all acknowledge that the only responsible and Christian way of going on engaging with those who aren't here is by speaking from that centre in Jesus Christ where we all see our lives held and focused.


And, as I suggested in my opening address, speaking from the centre requires habits and practices and disciplines that make some demands upon everyone — not because something alien is being imposed, but because we know we shall only keep ourselves focused on the centre by attention and respect for each other — checking the natural instinct on all sides to cling to one dimension of the truth revealed. I spoke about council and covenant as the shape of the way forward as I see it. And by this I meant, first, that we needed a bit more of a structure in our international affairs to be able to give clear guidance on what would and would not be a grave and lasting divisive course of action by a local church. While at the moment the focus of this sort of question is sexual ethics, it could just as well be pressure for a new baptismal formula or the abandonment of formal reference to the Nicene Creed in a local church's formulations; it could be a degree of variance in sacramental practice — about the elements of the Eucharist or lay presidency; it could be the regular incorporation into liturgy of non-Scriptural or even non-Christian material.


Some of these questions have a pretty clear answer, but others are open for a little more discussion; and it seems obvious that a body which commands real confidence and whose authority is recognised could help us greatly. But the key points are confidence and authority. If we do develop such a capacity in our structures, we need as a Communion to agree what sort of weight its decisions will have; hence, again, the desirability of a covenantal agreement.


Some have expressed unhappiness about the 'legalism' implied in a covenant. But we should be clear that good law is about guaranteeing consistence and fairness in a community; and also that in a community like the Anglican family, it can only work when there is free acceptance. Properly understood, a covenant is an expression of mutual generosity — indeed, 'generous love', to borrow the title of the excellent document on Inter-Faith issues which was discussed yesterday. And we might recall that powerful formulation from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks — 'Covenant is the redemption of solitude'.


Mutual generosity : part of what this means is finding out what the other person or group really means and really needs. The process of this last ten days has been designed to help us to find out something of this — so that when we do address divisive issues, we have created enough of a community for an intelligent generosity to be born. It is by no means a full agreement, but it will, I hope, have strengthened the sense that we have at least a common language, born out of the conviction that Jesus Christ remains the one unique centre.


And within that conviction, what has been heard? I want now to engage in what might be a rather presumptuous exercise — and certainly feels like a risky one. I want to imagine what people on different sides of our most painful current debate hope others have heard or are beginning to hear in our time together. I want to imagine what the main messages would be, within an atmosphere of patience and charity, from those in our Communion who hold to a clear and traditional doctrinal and moral conviction, and also from those who, starting from the same centre, find fewer problems or none with some recent innovations. Although these voices are inevitably rooted in the experience of the developing world and of North America, the division runs through many other provinces internally as well.


So first : what might the traditional believer hope others have heard? 'What we seek to do in our context is faithfully to pass on what you passed on to us — Holy Scripture, apostolic ministry, sacramental discipline. But what are we to think when all these things seem to be questioned and even overturned? We want to be pastorally caring to all, to be "inclusive" as you like to say. We want to welcome everyone. Yet the gospel and the faith you passed on to us tell us that some kinds of behaviour and relationship are not blessed by God. Our love and our welcome are unreal if we don't truthfully let others know what has shaped and directed our lives — so along with welcome, we must still challenge people to change their ways. We don't see why welcoming the gay or lesbian person with love must mean blessing what they do in the Church's name or accepting them for ordination whatever their lifestyle. We seek to love them — and, all right, we don't always make a good job of it : but we can't just say that there is nothing to challenge. Isn't it like the dilemma of the early Church — welcoming soldiers, yet seeking to get them to lay down their arms?


'But please remember also that — while you may say that what you do needn't affect us — your decisions make a vast difference to us. In this world of instant communication, our neighbours know what you do, and they see us as sharing the responsibility. Imagine what that means where those neighbours are passionately traditional Christians — and what it means for our own members, who will be drawn to leave us for a "safer", more orthodox church. Imagine what it means when those neighbours are non-Christians, delighted to find a stick to beat us with. Imagine what it is to be known as the 'gay church' in a context where that spells real contempt and danger.


'Don't misunderstand us. We're not looking for safety and comfort. Some of us know quite a lot about carrying the cross. But when that cross is laid on us by fellow-Christians, it's quite a lot harder to bear. Don't be too surprised if some of us want to be at a distance from you — or if we want to support minorities in your midst who seem to us to be suffering.


'But we are here. We've taken a risk in coming, because many who think like us feel we've betrayed them just by meeting you. But we value our Communion, we want to understand you and we want you to understand us. Can you find some way of being generous that helps us believe you care about us and about the common language and belief of the Church? Can you — in plain words — step back and let us think and pray about these things without giving us the impression that the debate is over and we've lost and that doesn't matter to you?'


And then : what might the not so traditional believer hope has been heard?


'What we seek to do in our context is to bring Jesus alive in the minds and hearts of the people of our culture. Trying to speak the language of the culture and relate honestly to where people really are doesn't have to be a betrayal of Scripture and tradition. We know we're pushing the boundaries — but don't some Christians always have to do that? Doesn't the Bible itself suggest that?


'We are often hurt, angry and bewildered at the way many others in the Communion see us and treat us these days — as if we were spiritual lepers or traitors to every aspect of Christian belief. We know that no-one is the best judge in their own case, but we see in our church life at least some marks of the Spirit's gifts. And part of that is acknowledging the gifts we've seen in gay and lesbian believers. They will certainly be likely to feel that the restraint you ask for is a betrayal. Please try to see why this is such a dilemma for many of us. You may not see it, but they're still at risk in our society, still vulnerable to murderous violence. And we have to say to some of you that we long for you to speak up for your gay and lesbian neighbours in situations where they are subject to appalling discrimination. There have been Lambeth Resolutions about that too, remember.


'A lot of the time, we feel we're being made scapegoats. Other provinces have acute moral and disciplinary problems, or else they more or less successfully refuse to admit the realities in their midst. But those of us who have faced the complex issues around gay relationships in what we feel to be an open and prayerful way are stigmatised and demonised.


'Not all of us, of course, supported or took part in the actions that have caused so much trouble. Some of us remain strongly opposed, many of us want to find ways of strengthening our bonds with you. But even those who don't stand with the majority on innovations will often feel that the life of a whole church, a life that is varied and complex but often deeply and creatively faithful to Christ and the Scriptures, is being wrongly and unjustly seen by you and some of your friends.


'We want to be generous, and we are hurt that some throw back in our faces both the experience and the resources we long to share. Can you try and see us as fellow-believers struggling to proclaim the same Christ, and to be patient with us?'


Two sets of feelings and perceptions, two appeals for generosity. For the first speaker, the cost of generosity may be accusation of compromise : you've been bought, you've been deceived by airy talk into tolerating unscriptural and unfaithful policies. For the second speaker, the cost of generosity may be accusations of sacrificing the needs of an oppressed group for the sake of a false or delusional unity, giving up a precious Anglican principle for the sake of a dangerous centralisation. But there is the challenge. If both were able to hear and to respond generously, perhaps we could have something more like a conversation of equals — even something more like a Church.


At Dar-es-Salaam, the primates tried to find a way of inviting different groups to take a step forward simultaneously towards each other. It didn't happen, and each group was content to blame the other. But the last 18 months don't suggest that this was a good outcome. Can this Conference now put the same kind of challenge? To the innovator, can we say, 'Don't isolate yourself; don't create facts on the ground that make the invitation to debate ring a bit hollow'? Can we say to the traditionalist, 'Don't invest everything in a church of pure and likeminded souls; try to understand the pastoral and human and theological issues that are urgent for those you are opposing, even if you think them deeply wrong'?


I think we perhaps can, if and only if we are captured by the vision of the true Centre, the heart of God out of which flows the impulse of an eternal generosity which creates and heals and promises. It is this generosity which sustains our mission and service in Our Lord's name. And it is this we are called to show to each other.


At the moment, we seem often to be threatening death to each other, not offering life. What some see as confused or reckless innovation in some provinces is felt as a body-blow to the integrity of mission and a matter of literal physical risk to Christians. The reaction to this is in turn felt as an annihilating judgement on a whole local church, undermining its legitimacy and pouring scorn on its witness. We need to speak life to each other; and that means change. I've made no secret of what I think that change should be — a Covenant that recognizes the need to grow towards each other (and also recognizes that not all may choose that way). I find it hard at present to see another way forward that would avoid further disintegration. But whatever your views on this, at least ask the question : 'Having heard the other person, the other group, as fully and fairly as I can, what generous initiative can I take to break through into a new and transformed relation of communion in Christ?'

Hate for Liberals and Gay People Drove Gunman, Police Say

Published: July 29, 2008
The New York Times

A man who the police say entered a Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday and shot eight people, killing two, was motivated by a hatred for liberals and gay people, Chief Sterling P. Owen IV of the Knoxville Police Department said Monday.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Knoxville Church targeted for liberal views on women's and LGBT rights

Check out THIS REPORT from Planet Out about the shooting in a Knoxville, TN Unitarian church. Several people were injured and two were killed.

The shooter described his frustration in securing employment and his anger about liberal political views as his motivation for going on the shooting spree.

This serves as yet another example of the profound need, both in the church and in the larger society, for a need to listen to and to understand the experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people. Moreover, it highlights the interrelatedness of a wide range of social justice issues, including gay rights, women's rights, and issues of economic justice.

BBC also has limited coverage of the event HERE

The Anglican Journal (Canada) on yesterday

Click HERE for The Anglican Journal's excellent coverage of yesterday's press briefing about the Windsor Continuation Group and the resulting fallout.

Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster is featured prominently throughout the article and offers several significant points including: "the suggestion of a pastoral forum 'institutionalizes external incursions into the life of our churches.'" In direct contrast to the stated goal of a "moratorium" on external incursions, Bishop Ingham reminds us that this proposal would make such incursions commonplace and the new way of doing business as Anglicans. This point, made in the article, is underscored by the language of the source document itself (CLICK HERE): "Such a scheme might draw on models [of]... family life (the way in which the extended family can care for children in dysfunctional nuclear families)...".

Archbishop Caleb Lawrence of the Diocese of Moosonee raised other concerns about the proposal released yesterday. He said, "Will it be used as an instrument to force people to conform and will it be another one of the situations where there is a right and wrong, black and white, and people will be divided from people even more? Will it be an instrument that will lead to a reconciliation or will it simply exacerbate the divisions we are in now?"

Read it all, HERE

Monday, July 28, 2008

Press Release

29 July 2008


CANTERBURY, UK—The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, bishop of the Diocese of California, USA, will host a second screening of "VOICES OF WITNESS: AFRICA"—a 20-minute preview featuring the stories of LGBT Africans—on Tuesday, 29 July, 9pm, at the K-Lounge of Keynes College as a fringe event.

"The response to this film has been so overwhelmingly positive and we've received so many requests for a second showing that we're thrilled to extend this preview to a wider audience," said the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Black, photographer of the documentary and one of the its producers.

Andrus, one of the major funders of VOWA, and his diocese are committed to making the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians of Africa heard.

Davis Mac-Iyalla, the Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, who has just been awarded asylum in the UK due to threats made against him because of his sexual orientation, says, "This project reveals that there are homosexual Anglicans in Africa and it highlights the violence and inhumanity waged against them. I urge as many people as possible to come and experience this preview."

All are welcome.

Press contact in the UK:
--Louise Brooks, Senior Press Officer, +44 (0)7503 695 579,

Press contact in the USA:
--Jan Adams, Field Organizer, +1-415-378-2050,

The Lambeth Witness #7

The Tuesday issue of The Lambeth Witness is now available here as a PDF.

Make sure to read the supplement here--which responds to the Windsor Continuation Group's recommendations for moratoria!

Press Release

28 July 2008


CANTERBURY, UK—The Rev. Susan Russell, President of Integrity USA, issued the following statement after today's release of Part Three of the Windsor Continuation Group's Preliminary Observations:

"LGBT Anglicans are back on the chopping block based on the work of the Windsor Continuation Group. While we recognize that this is a long-term process, sadly, what was continued today was the process of institutionalizing bigotry and marginalizing the LGBT baptized. Acceptance of these recommendations would result in de facto sacramental apartheid.

"We applaud the strong testimony in today's hearings from TEC bishops who are committed to be pastoral to all the sheep in their flock, not just the straight ones. We call on them to take that witness to their Indaba groups. We ask them to remember the 1976 commitment of the Episcopal Church to 'full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church' for the LGBT baptized.

"It is a sad thing indeed that the message today's report sends out from the Anglican Communion to the world is that homosexuals getting married in California are of more concern to the church than are homosexuals being mugged in Nigeria.

"As Integrity continues to offer our witness here at Lambeth Conference, we demonstrate our deep commitment to our ongoing relationship with the rest of the global Anglican Communion. At the same time, we will witness to our conviction that the vocations and relationships of the LGBT baptized are not for sale as bargaining chips in this game of global Anglican politics. At the end of the day, too high a price to pay for institutional unity."

The Rev. Susan Russell is available for interviews and comment.

Press contact in the UK:
--Louise Brooks, Senior Press Officer, +44 (0)7503 695 579,
Press contact in the USA:
--Jan Adams, Field Organizer, +1-415-378-2050,

Windsor Continuation Group--Preliminary Observations to the Lambeth Conference

This afternoon the bishops attending the Lambeth Conference were presented with a document containing observations and recommendations for continuing the Windsor Process. On the minus side it reiterated a call for moratoria on public rites for same-gender blessings. On the plus side a separate page [that for some reason is missing from the online version] reiterated a call for a pastoral and sensitive response to gay and lesbian Anglicans and condemned homophobia and victimization of gay and lesbian people.

Anecdotal reports indicate that a number of American bishops spoke against moratoria.

A response from Integrity USA will be released shortly.

Listening through Theatre

The constituent groups of the Inclusive Church Network, working collaboratively at the Lambeth Conference, continue to work toward contributing to the listening process that has been called for by the Anglican Communion since 1978.

As another opportunity for the Anglican Communion to listen to the stories and experiences of LGBT people, "Seven Passages", a play about the experiences of gay Christians, will be performed this week at the Lambeth Conference by a student group from Western Michigan University.

For more information, read THIS ARTICLE from

There will be two performances in Kent University's Aphra Theatre:
Wednesday, 30th July at 20:00
Thursday, 31st July at 20:00

Heard on the Street

Posted this afternoon on The Gene Pool, ordinary people strolling on High Street in Canterbury are asked if they recognize a photo of +Gene and about their opinions on gay bishops...

Family Feud: The Lambeth Version

It struck me this morning that there are some who are eagerly awaiting the Lambeth Conference equivalent to that moment on the television game show "Family Feud" when the host would turn to the scoreboard and announce ... with great drama ...

AND THE SURVEY SAID ...!!! [fill in the blank]

And one family would win and go onto the bonus round and the other would slink off with a case of Rice-a-Roni amongst their consolation prizes.

But I'm thinking this morning that what made for a long running game show does NOT necessarily make for a life-giving communion of faith.

Here's the "survey" that prompted my Monday Morning Musings: Ruth Gledhill's report in today's TIMES that (a survey says) "Four in five protestants believe gay sex is a sin and that practising gays should not be ordained."

Goodness. Forgive me if I'm not shocked, surprised, horrified or otherwise convinced that what this "survey says" has any value for the work our bishops are about at this Lambeth Conference.

For one, I cannot help but imagine if such a survey was taken in 1950's Topeka, four in five residents would have believed that segregation was perfectly OK and that the Brown v. Board of Education decision to integrate public schools was in error.

For another, I do not remember "Blessed are you who have complied with the will of the majority to exclude the minority" in any of the Beatitudes.

The American Episcopal Church has never maintained that it holds anything other than a minority opinion on full inclusion of the LBGT baptized in the life and witness of the church.

If the point of the Lambeth Conference 2008 game show unfolding on the Kentian campus is to come up with a "And the survey says ..." moment on Lambeth 1.10 or +Gene Robinson or the blessing of same sex unions in order to send the Americans off with their case of Rice-a-Roni, then we might all have save ourselves a lot of time and our respective churches a lot of money and stayed home.

The focus of the work -- so far -- at Lambeth Conference has been on how we are going to work together into God's future in SPITE of our differences ... not how we're going to vote some members of the Body of Christ off the Anglican Island BECAUSE of them. (I'm mixing my game-show metaphors but I think you get my point.)

Finally, just for fun, we've done our own survey. It wasn't of 517 "Protestant Christians" like the ComRes survey in Gledhill's TIMES article ... it was of 21 random folks wandering about the streets of Cantebury.

And OUR "survey said" that three-in-four people-on-the-street did not believe being gay should be a bar to ordination AND a significant percentage believed the church would grow and benefit from being more inclusive.

So here's MY survey question for the day:

If the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few, why is it that those who talk the loudest and jump up and down the most about evangelism are busier surveying those in the pews about who should be kept OUT of the church than they are getting out into the streets and taking to those who need to be gathered IN?

What does "the survey" have to say about that???? .

Inclusive Communion

On Saturday evening an "Inclusive Communion" was held on the campus sponsored by the Inclusive Church Network--the alliance with which Integrity USA is working during Lambeth. It was held in a lecture theatre. About 150 people attended. The Archbishop of Mexico--Carlos Touche Porter--presided and Lucy Winkett--a controversial female canon at St Paul’s Cathedral in London--preached.

The Lambeth Witness #6

The Monday issue of The Lambeth Witness is now available here as a PDF!

Press Release

28 July 2008


CANTERBURY, UK—The Alongside Lambeth programme continues for everyone including those who are not official 'conference participants'. Bible Study takes place at 11am in the Marketplace Viewers Balcony

Talks are also being held in St Stephens Church, on Hales Drive at 4pm…

Monday: July 28 Anglican Covenant—The Way Forward?
Two speakers share their differing perspectives on the Anglican Covenant:
--Paula Nesbitt is Visiting Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley. She has studied the effects of women's ordination on American churches and was at Lambeth 1998 researching the different leadership styles of male and female bishops. She is currently considering the Anglican Communion as a transnational organization during a time of social change and uncertainty.
--Jonathan Clatworthy is the General Secretary of the Modern Churchpeople's Union. Previously he worked as a parish priest, university chaplain and lecturer in Ethics. He is a member of the leadership team at St Brides, Liverpool.

Wednesday July 30 The Windsor Process—Where Are We?
A conversation with:
--Jenny Te Paa, who lectures in Global Anglican Studies at The College of St John the Evangelist, Aotearoa, New Zealand and was involved in the development of the Windsor Report.


Press contact in the UK:
Louise Brooks, Senior Press Officer, +44 (0)7503 695 579,

Press contact in the USA:Jan Adams, Field Organizer, +1-415-378-2050,

The proposed curia?

The Guardian, UK has THIS STORY about Friday's press conference in which the Archbishop of Canterbury was "enthusiastic" about the energy he senses around the proposed "Faith and Order Commission" (a body which the Guardian compares to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).

Archbishop of Dublin supports Bishop Robinson

The Irish Times is reporting a conversation with the Archbishop of Dublin at the Lambeth Conference.

Archbishop Neil was at last week's event for bishops to meet with Bishop Robinson.

On Robinson's exclusion from the Lambeth Conference, Neil said, "I am just sorry he is not part of this conference."

Read it all HERE

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dobson to be inducted into Radio Hall of Fame

Dobson's Nomination to Radio Hall of Fame Protested

Truth Wins Out, a gay rights advocacy group, launched a campaign Thursday protesting the recent nomination of Focus on the Family founder and president James Dobson to the Radio Hall of Fame.

“It is outrageous and insulting that James Dobson would be nominated,” Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, said in a press release. While the Hall of Fame criteria for nominees does not address content or character, the LGBT advocacy group is demanding that Dobson’s name be removed from consideration because of homophobic and antigay comments made in articles, books, and on the air.

“I’m not surprised,” Besen said of Dobson’s nomination. Besen is, however, outraged: “[Dobson] is a very accomplished broadcaster, but I think it’s offset by the fact that he’s a very accomplished liar.” Truth Wins Out also maintains that Dobson has a history of distorting scientific research to defend his faith-based claims.

Here's the AP feed story on Dobson's nomination.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Class Photo

This was photo day at the Lambeth Conference. Here's one of all the bishops...

© 2008 by Cynthia Black

and here's one of all the women bishops...

© 2008 by Cynthia Black

Press Release

26 July 2008


CANTERBURY, UK— Davis Mac-Iyalla, a gay Anglican and activist who fled Nigeria in 2006 following death threats, has been granted asylum in the UK. "LGBT Nigerians live in fear of their lives once they come out of the closet," said Mac-Iyalla. "Now I can work on their behalf from the safety of a base in London."

Mac-Iyalla first sought safety in Togo where he was the victim of a violent assault. On the same day as this attack, a friend and fellow gay Anglican activist was severely beaten while representing Davis at his sister's funeral in Nigeria. Mac-Iyalla then sought refuge in the UK where even more threats followed him. Once British police determined the threats were from outside the UK, Mac-Iyalla decided he had no option but to seek asylum in Britain.

Mac-Iyalla is at the Lambeth Conference to share his and other stories of gay Anglicans in Africa.

Davis Mac-Iyalla is available for comment and interviews.

Press contact in the UK:
Louise Brooks, Senior Press Officer, +44 (0)7503 695 579,

Press contact in the USA:
Jan Adams, Field Organizer, +1-415-378-2050,

Process, process, process - and not a story in sight!

It seems that about the only news coming from the Lambeth Conference is from Fringe Events like the ones we at Integrity and our allies in the Inclusive Church Network are hosting. Tonight's Eucharist hosted by the Inclusive Church Network promises to be a big point of interest. The Most Rev. Carlos Touché-Porter, Archbishop of Mexico, will preside, and the Rev. Canon Lucy Winkett of St. Paul's Cathedral, London will preach.

Aside from that, process stories about the lack of news coming out of Lambeth continue to waft from the secular press.

Alex Beam of The Boston Globe had this to say:
Unfortunately, snubbing Robinson didn't have the desired effect, as hundreds of bishops are staying away, to avoid rubbing shoulders with the men who consecrated bishops like Robinson and Schori. No delegates from Nigeria, Uganda, and Rwanda are attending. Even Michael Nazir-Ali, the bishop of Rochester, England, is boycotting the event. "Those who have gone against church teaching" - he means the Yanks - "should not attend representative Anglican gatherings," Nazir-Ali said.
To read the rest CLICK HERE

If you're looking for substantive news about the Integrity team's work in Canterbury, and that of our allies, be sure to read The Lambeth Witness, a daily publication about issues of interest set in the context of each day's theme.

To access The Lambeth Witness CLICK HERE

Press Advisory

26 July 2008


CANTERBURY, UK—Claiming the Blessing presents "SEVEN PASSAGES: The Stories of Gay Christians"—which tells the true stories of more than 100 gay and lesbian Christians and their relationship to the Christian faith. It is an ethnographic play: a play that is composed of text that has been directly transcribed from real people. The title "SEVEN PASSAGES" refers to the seven biblical passages often used to condemn homosexuals. The production aims to facilitate a dialogue and a listening process with the Christian community.

Claiming the Blessing, the sponsor of this event, is an association of Episcopalians advocating for the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments of the church.

There will be a question and answers session with the cast following the play.

Show Dates: Wednesday, July 30th and Thursday, July 31st
Start Time: 20:00
Venue: Aphra Theatre, University of Kent

Made possible through a generous grant from the Arcus Gay & Lesbian Fund

For more information contact:
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Black, +44 (0)7503695582,

Press contact in the UK:
Louise Brooks, Senior Press Officer, +44 (0)7503 695 579,

Press contact in the USA:
Jan Adams, Field Organizer, +1-415-378-2050,

A friend among the stewards

Check out THIS POST from Allie, one of our friends among the Conference Stewards.

In her brief post, Allie is contributing to the conversation about the two Eucharists that happened on Sunday. In addition to the great pictures of both events, the post is worth your time just for this line:

"During the first [Eucharist] we sang that 'all are welcome in this place,' in the second we showed it."

Thanks, Allie!

LGBT Episcopalian Team

It occured to us that we never formally introduced the team of LGBT [and straight!] Episcopalians who are sharing the good news of God's inclusive with the bishops attending Lambeth.

Representing Integrity USA is...
  • Susan Russell--president of Integrity USA, who is coordinating strategy and tactics with the leaders of allied LGBT and justice organizations during Lambeth
  • Louise Brooks--award-winning television and film producer, who is serving as our senior press officer during Lambeth
  • John Clinton Bradley--acting executive director of Integrity USA, who is managing the Canterbury communications Centre [3C] during Lambeth
  • Jon Richardson--a candidate for holy orders in the Diocese of Newark who volunteered with Integrity's legislative time during the last General Convention, is staffing the 3C during Lambeth. Jon is working closely with John to provide a multitude of support services.
  • Phil Nicholson--a former northeast regional vice president of Integrity USA and a veteran of several General Conventions, is managing our booth during Lambeth
  • Katie Sharrod--a long-time straight supporter of Integrity USA and award-winning journalist, who is editing our daily newsletter.
  • Michael Bell--a leader of the Bishop's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Ministry in the Diocese of Los Angeles, who is serving as our graphic artist. Michael is working closely with Katie on the newsletter.
  • Caro Hall--Integrity's director of Anglican Communion affairs, who is serving as our team chaplain and coordinating a number of "Alongside Lambeth" offerings.

Representing other LGBT organizations [but working closely with Integrity USA] are...

  • Cynthia Black--is serving as team videographer on behalf of Claiming the Blessing
  • Tom Jackson---is working with Caro on Alongside Lambeth offerings on behalf of Oasis California
  • Cameron Partridge--is speaking and writing on behalf of TransEpiscopal

Please keep these dedicated volunteers--and their significant others from whom they are parted--in your prayers.

UK grants asylum to Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria

Friday, 25 July 2008
by Colin Coward

Davis MacIyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, has been granted asylum in the UK.
MacIyalla fled Nigeria in 2006 following a series of death threats. After settling in Togo a brief period of calm was followed by further intimidation, culminating in a violent assault in April of this year. In the same week a fellow gay Anglican activist was severely beaten while representing Davis at his sister’s funeral in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Following his arrival in the UK, to help contribute to the Listening Process ahead of the Lambeth Conference, MacIyalla and the Director of Changing Attitude England, Colin Coward, both received more death threats. British police established that the threats originated outside the UK and MacIyalla decided that he had no option but to seek asylum in Britain.

This afternoon MacIyalla said 'This is a huge relief. This morning I wasn't a free man – now I'm safe. My great sadness is for all my brother and sister LGBT Christians back in Nigeria whose lives are still limited and sometimes endangered, just because of who they are.'
The Revd Colin Coward, Changing Attitude's Director in England said 'We're very grateful that the Government has taken seriously the threat to Davis’ life were he to return to Africa. Thanks to his refugee status he can continue to work for LGBT Nigerian Anglicans, along with friends and colleagues from many parts of Africa, from the safety of a base in London.'
The UK Government's recognition that Nigeria can be a dangerous place for gay Anglicans sits in stark contrast to the view of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) leaders who until recently denied that that homosexuality existed within their church. They still refuse to condemn violence against LGBT people and continue to deny them a place within the body of the Church.
For further information contact:
The Reverend Colin Coward
Director of Changing Attitude England
Mobile +44 (0)7770 844302
Notes: Changing Attitude is a charitable organisation that works for the full inclusion and affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in the Anglican Communion.

The Lambeth Witness #5

The Saturday issue of The Lambeth Witness is now available here as a PDF!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Gene interviewed by Washington Post

Bishop Gene Robinson interviewed in video by Washington Post:

Proposal Calls For Creation Of Faith And Order Commission

a c c w e b n e w s
The Anglican Church of Canada


Jul 25, 2008

Canterbury, England
The Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) has put before the Lambeth Conference
of bishops here a proposal to set up an Anglican Faith and Order Commission
that could "give guidance on the ecclesiological issues" raised by the
current "crisis" in the Anglican Communion - the focus on human sexuality.

The WCG suggests that the approval of the proposed Anglican Covenant among
provinces and churches "needs a definite timeline to ensure confidence that
the process has credibility."

In a press conference, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams would not go
into detail about the proposal, saying only that "there is a very strong
feeling that we need another level of structure to have a clearing house for
some of these issues." He added: "I don't want to say anything about the
detail because it's a flag raised to see who salutes it." He said the
proposal was being discussed by bishops in their indaba groups today. "We'll
see how it flies."

Already some questions are being raised as to whether such a commission
would be equivalent to the powerful Pontifical Biblical Commission of the
Roman Catholic Church, composed of cardinals who meet in Rome and whose
duties include protecting and defending "the integrity of the Catholic
faith" and deciding on "controversies on grave questions which may arise
among Catholic scholars to ensure their proper interpretation."

To read the rest of the story, please visit the Anglican Journal Website,

Listening To Trans People

This afternoon 5 transgender people (3 Anglicans, 1 Methodist, and 1 Buddhist) shared their stories and perspectives during a fringe event at the Lambeth Conference. Four bishops--including the Rt. Rev. Tom Shaw of Massachusetts--attended. +Tom gave a very meaningful blessing at the end.

Below is the testimony by the Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge.

We've hit the big time now

Check out this coverage of the Lambeth Conference, courtesy of The Colbert Report.


What I've learned from watching the West Wing

When there's no news, we move on to "process stories".

Theo Hobson, of The Guardian, UK, has written this review of the Indaba process - the process by which the bishops of the Communion are attempting to engage in structured listening around the issues being addressed by the Lambeth Conference.

Hobson's analysis is particularly interesting because it review's the process in the context of the pre-existing partisan divides, as he perceives them.

You can read it all HERE

Coverage of opening Sunday

Here are two views on the first Sunday in Canterbury.

First, from The New York Times, an overview that includes coverage of both the Opening Eucharist at Canterbury Cathedral and the Integrity/Changing Attitude Eucharist at St. Stephen's Field. Despite a few factual errors (it's Bishop Robinson, not Archbishop Robinson, and Bishop Katharine is not from Boston, etc.), it is a rather well-balanced look at the activities of the day.

Read it all HERE

Also, Episcopal News Service included the Integrity/Changing Attitude Eucharist in its coverage of opening Sunday activities.

Read it all HERE

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bishop Frade carries rainbow flag in MDG March

+Leo Frade, bishop of Southeast Florida wrapped his sign in a rainbow flag at the march today. See him here at about 2:04+.

The bishops carried placards with messages dealing with the fight against hunger, the challenge to halve world poverty by 2015 and also Micah’s message reminding us that what God demands from us is to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.” I carried a sign with that message from Micah 6:8, to which I added a rainbow flag to make sure that those who saw it that justice and mercy are not just for a few, but should be extended to ALL human beings regardless to their race, religion, national origin, social class or sexual orientation.

Read it all here.

The Lambeth Witness #4

The Friday issue of The Lambeth Witness is now available here as a PDF!