Saturday, January 31, 2009

Integrity at Creating Change, January 31
Story telling time

by Jan Adams, Claiming the Blessing Field Organizer 415-378-2050

At the opening plenary here at the NGLTF's Creating Change conference, there was a free hardcover book waiting on every seat. I can't say everyone was looking for weighty reading material, but I picked it up and have been browsing through to it each day when I needed to get away from the crowds.

Furniture entrepreneur Mitchell Gold, along with co-editor Mindy Drucker, has collected 40 stories revealing the personal, social and religious trauma of growing up gay in America. In Crisis. Gold asked his interviewees questions like: "What is it like to grow in fear that you'll lose your family's love? What is it like to lie to everyone about who you love? What is it like to be called an abomination by your religious leaders?"

That last question evoked answers that chill the soul.
"Put all the the queers on a ship, cut a hole in the side and send it out to sea," my pastor said with a half smile and eerily happy eyes.

Q Notes editor Matt Comer

"I ain't raising no goddamn bulldagger up in my house. Before I do that I'll send your ass right back to that damn agency where I got you." Whenever my behavior revealed the slightest hint of masculinity, my foster mother always used those words to threaten me with expulsion from her house.

Theologian Irene Monroe

Michell Gold writes that "as a closeted young gay man, I experienced the effects of prejudice and ignorance. And now I see how bigotry disguised as religious truth has affected people like my friend Jeff and the men and women who share their stories [here]. Making sure their stories get told so that the millions of others who come after them do not have to repeat their experiences was the inspiration for this book."

Integrity members might be particularly interested in boyhood narratives from Dan Karslake who made the film For the Bible Tells Me So, the Rev. Mel White, founder of Soulforce, and our own Bishop Gene Robinson.

The lesson that the LGBT movement in all its facets is taking to heart at the present time it is that we move our neighbors toward equality when we lovingly tell our personal stories. Crisis is full of examples of story telling that remind those who will listen of the dignity that a loving God means for us all to share.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Integrity at Creating Change, January 30
ENDA for all

by Jan Adams, Claiming the Blessing Field Organizer 415-378-2050

Great workshop this morning about on-going work to pass a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in Congress this year. Presenters were Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and Becky Dansky of the NGLTF with help from organizers from PFLAG and the NGLTF Transgender Civil Rights Project. (Sorry, I didn’t catch their names.)

ENDA is the current version of a decades long struggle to get protection from discrimination against LGBT people written into federal law. We haven't got that -- yet. The early rounds began in 1974! Since the 1990s, the effort has focused solely on employment. Not surprisingly, the effort was completely stalled during the period of Republican/Bush rule.

But now we once again have a chance to win -- and this year's version of the law is fully inclusive, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity (that means it covers transpeople and all variants of gender non-conformity) as well as sexual orientation. If we can get it through Congress, President Obama has said he'll sign it. In the workshop, we were told it would go to the House of Representatives in the spring. Once it passes there, if it does, it will go to the Senate in the fall.

Whether we once against get lost in the legislative shuffle or instead finally win this important piece of anti-discrimination law will depend on us.

Our own community needs education about ENDA. Why we need it isn't so hard for any of us who've ever had an employer look at us funny. But how we get it takes some work. Of the folks who attended the workshop on this law, only about 25 percent knew the name of their Congressperson. Yet this is only going to happen if people work at educating our Congresspeople about our LGBT lives. They still don't necessarily know why we need this law. It is up to us to expose them to our stories, to write, to ask for meetings, to network with others to encourage them to extend legal protections to all LGBT people.

One thing I learned in the workshop was that we have very accomplished lobbyists in Washington on our side. Becky and Mara are impressive. They need us to have their backs.

Do you know who your Congressperson is? You can easily find out at this link. Might as well write her/him a letter while you are at it...

Weekly Witness For 30 January 2009

Integrity Goes To Creating Change, January 29
by Jan Adams, Claiming the Blessing Field Organizer 415-378-2050

Caption: The Rev. Rebecca Voelkel of the Institute for Welcoming Resources and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force introducing the day's program at the annual Creating Change conference. Panel member Urvaishi Vaid of the Arcus Foundation looks on.

Today's opening plenary session at the huge LGBT activist meet-up in Denver bore the unwieldy title: "New Movement Messages and Strategies and Empowering People of Faith Institute." Fortunately, a truly distinguished panel rose to the challenge of speaking to the diverse group assembled for a day with many tracks. There's no way to adequately summarize their thoughts, but I'll pass along some highlights...

John D'Emilio, one of the founders of the academic discipline of gay and lesbian studies, reflected on the amazing reality that we now have an Obama presidency. He reminded the assembled queer audience that we've been a movement that projected a politics based on identity for 40 years, made great gains, and now we have a President who neither speaks nor apparently thinks in identity politics terms. Our opponents have also mobilized on identity lines, perhaps more successfully than we have, activating two groups: "evangelical Christians and the filthy rich." Instead of identity, President Obama appeals to the "the common good" and shared values. As LGBT people move forward, we need to understand our identity as contributing to a shared common good.

The Rev. Deborah Johnson of Inner Light Ministries knows how to preach it. She's convinced we're coming into a new time and we must not try to put new wine into old wineskins. So she brought some admonitions.

"There are no gay issues -- there are simply justice issues."
"If we are gay by nature, it is by God's design and it is good."
"I did not join this movement to get heterosexual privilege!"
On the last point, she urged us to remember that we face discrimination because we don't conform to "the rules" of gender and we should not be hoping to become insiders--we need to understand ourselves as being about destroying gender-based privilege, along with other forms of power over each other. She concluded:

"The world, the planet, is waiting for America to come to grips with its privilege!"
Urvashi Vaid, a former executive director of the Task Force now with the Arcus Foundation, ran through a list a ten points from which I'll only pass on a few that I caught.
  • Elections matter; we have to continue to work in them and win them.
  • Though Obama was elected, the right wing is not dead. In particular, our straight allies may not understand LGBT people still live under right wing threat.
  • The gay movement needs to adopt some new principles. "The LGBT movement must be green." We must stand against all violence, including our own nation's wars. We must stand for choice, not coercion--and that implies that we can't just say were are gay by birth--we have to affirm sexual orientation by choice as well as by nature.
  • We're not just in a struggle for civil equality; we want "moral equality." We really are a people who demonstrate that there are alternative ways to love and make families and that's good. In that sense, it is good to be against "tradition."
  • We can never give up on dismantling white supremacy in all its manifestations.
  • Let's be real: they discriminate against us because of how we have sex. We need to be able to talk about sex.
  • Members of LBGT communities suffer costly economic consequences when we are open about our orientations.
  • The LGBT movement is global--we cannot just be U.S.-centric.
  • Movements don't just happen--they advance because they get organized. LGBT organizations have email lists of some 3 million people; of these about 300,000 contribute to their groups in some way. We are many, but we are not currently all engaged in working for what we deserve. It's time to get more people moving!

Not a bad send off for a long, educational day!

Neil Houghton, Integrity's Northeastern Regional Vice President, is also attending Creating Change. You can read his reflections at

Action Alerts!

2008 Welcoming Church Survey

A new report from says there were 823 Episcopal congregations listed on their welcoming church directory at the end of 2008, a 10% increase from 2007.

Is your parish listed? If not, click here to send an e-mail message to those who maintain the database. Include your congregation's name, physical, denomination, web site URL [if you have one] and a contact email address. You can also use this eddress to update your current listing.

FYI: Unlike other denominational advocacy groups, Integrity has never launched an open and affirming parish program. The rationale of previous boards of directors has been that our goal is for ALL parishes to be welcoming and inclusive. However, the current board of directors is in conversation with the Institute for Welcoming Resources about starting a program by the end of this year.

Have You Accepted The P3 Challenge?

Speaking of welcoming congregations...

  1. Is your congregation a Proud Parish Partner [P3] of Integrity? Click here to find out!
  2. If your congregation is NOT a partner, click here to view and print a PDF invitation, share it with your rector, and ask him or her to complete and mail the response form.
  3. If your congregation IS a P3, ask your parish web editor to put a banner or button ad on your congregation's website to let readers know about your support of Integrity.

Presiding Bishop Recommends Gulick as Provisional Bishop for Fort Worth

On Thursday evening, January 29, it was announced that the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, has recommended the Rt. Rev. Edwin "Ted" Gulick, Bishop of Kentucky, to be the Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth. If elected by the special reorganizing convention on February 7, he will be installed at that time.

You can read more on the new Fort Worth diocese website here (scroll down).

You can read how Bishop Gulick voted on LGBT issues here.

You can read the bishop's short bio here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Susan Russell On Headline News Tonight

Integrity President Susan Russell is scheduled to be on the CNN Headline News show "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell" this evening [Wednesday, January 28th] talking about the church's hypocrisy regarding LGBT issues in general and Ted Haggard in particular. Scheduled for 7:40 Eastern/4:40 Pacific.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Coming Attractions:

Equality Forum is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance national and international gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) civil rights through education.

Their annual Forum event is April 27 - May 3 this year Integrity President Susan Russell has been invited to preach at Christ Church, Philadelphia at the Interfaith service on Sunday afternoon, May 3rd.

Check out the program ... looks like there's something for just about everybody! ... and consider putting a trip to Philadelphia on your "to do" list for 2009!

Monday, January 26, 2009

From TEC's News Clipping Service

Jackson Clarion,  MS 

'For years, we didn't tell': Family deals with homosexuality   


The Reading Eagle, PA

Clergymen at inauguration set a tone of inclusivity



Sunday, January 25, 2009

Diocese of Virginia: Inches Closer to Blessing Same-Sex Unions

The Washington Times
Sunday, January 25, 2009
by Julia Duin

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia inched closer to blessing same-sex unions Saturday when delegates approved a resolution affirming "the inherent integrity and blessedness of committed Christian relationships between two adult persons."

The resolution, which passed by an uncounted show of hands by the 700 or so Episcopalians meeting at the Reston Hyatt, first recommended the diocese respond "to the pastoral needs of our faithful gay and lesbian members."

"There is a time to take that step and follow Christ," said Matt Johnson, a delegate from Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, Va. "I think this is one of those times. Yes, these relationships have integrity and are blessed. For 20 years, we have been talking about this. Let's go do it."

Read the rest here!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

+Gene videos from Washington Post

The Washington Post's On Faith Web site offers two new interviews with Bishop Gene Robinson.

In the second Bishop Robinson talks about his faith journey and his beliefs.

h/t to Episcopal Cafe

Friday, January 23, 2009

Weekly Witness For January 23rd

Calling Volunteers for General Convention!

by Michael S. Bell
GC2009 Project Manager/Meeting Planner 310-591-8109

Want to be part of our faithful witness and work toward full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments? We're seeking passionate and committed hearts, minds, and hands to join with us in our mission at General Convention in Anaheim. Whether you expected to have a few hours one day or know that you are available full-time for the entire two weeks of Convention, we welcome your time and talent on our team. We're interested in engaging people who have had Convention experience as well as "newbies" who are emerging as the next generation of leaders in our community. You can express interest in one our specific teams or in serving as a general volunteer. A volunteer application forms can be found on our General Convention website: This site will continue to evolve as our official hub of information about our work at Convention, so bookmark it in your browser. If you’re not sure if you’ll have time to be active with us, but want to stay informed about what we’re up to, please complete and submit this form anyway--we’ll keep you posted. Please forward this information to others in your communities/networks.

All applications will be acknowledged. Applications received before the end of February will be considered for a limited number of "supported" volunteer roles, for which lodging (two volunteers per room) will be available in our hotel block in Anaheim.

Thank you for considering this opportunity to realize our future!

Speaking Of General Convention...

As announced earlier this month, we have launched our campaign to raise $80,000 for Integrity's witness as General Convention.

As an individual, click here to make a secure, online contribution using your debit or credit card.

As a chapter, network, circle, or congregation, please consider hosting a fundraising event in your area. We plan to hold at least 10 event across the country. Each event is typically two hours in length and takes place at a church fellowship hall or private residence. The function usually begins with a reception, which is then followed by a presentation from the President or another board member, and time for questions and comments. We ask that the local hosting group be responsible for invitations to local individuals and for the expenses and arrangements related to hospitality. The national office will send invitations to everyone in the area and make special e-mail announcements to the entire membership. We can also provide blank invitation post cards to the host. The national office will cover any travel expenses of the board member attending. Please help us schedule these events as soon as possible so that we can aim for the best turnout possible. Contact Bruce Colburn, Integrity’s Development Coordinator, at 800-462-9498 or and he will gladly answer any questions you have and help in any other way possible.

Change Has Come To The White House Website

Immediately after the Inauguration on Tuesday, the administration of President Obama launched a completely overhauled White House website with the stated goal of being more communicative, transparent, and participatory. The site includes a comprehensive agenda of support for the LGBT community. Take a look at!

News You May Have Missed

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

+Gene with Jon

Jon and +Gene on the Daily Show. Also Gene blogs about his inauguration day experiences here.

H/T to Episcopal Cafe

Utah Poll Backs Gay Rights

A new statewide poll seeking to debunk the gay-Mormon divide shows substantial support -- 63 percent -- for additional legal protections for gay and transgender people.

And 66 percent of the Utahns polled characterize their religious beliefs as LDS.

The survey, conducted Jan. 8-14 by Ogden-based Information Alliance and commissioned by Equality Utah, also shows wide margins favoring workplace and housing protections for gay or transgender residents as well as health-insurance availability for same-sex partners.

Those results echo a recent Salt Lake Tribune poll that reveals most Utahns (56 percent) back legal protections -- such as hospital visitation, inheritance rights and job safeguards -- for same-sex couples.

Equality Utah's figures -- released on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the White Memorial Chapel across from the Utah Capitol -- were unveiled by representatives of more than 30 organizations comprising the Common Ground Coalition.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gene & Jon

The Bishop of New Hampshire is the scheduled guest on Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" tonight [Tuesday] at 11 pm EST!

But Wait, There's More!

From 815's Daily Scan...

NY Times
Repeats of ‘We Are One’ Event Will Include Bishop, HBO Says

Foster's Daily Democrat - Dover, NH
N.H.'s gay Episcopal bishop to meet evangelical pastor

USA Today
Gay bishop to pray today 'before' Rick Warren

Seattle Times
Religion plays controversial role in inauguration

Chicago Sun Times
Gay bishop's prayer deserves to be heard,cathleen-falsani-column-bishop-invocation-012009.article

Boston Globe
'Bless us with anger,' Robinson prays

DALLAS Morning News
Bishop Robinson's inaugural prayer

Union Leader
NH's Bishop Robinson prays for unity

USA Today
Bishop asks God to keep Obama safe, give him joy

Robinson 'Delighted' To Be Part Of Inauguration

HBO Blames Obama Transition Team for Robinson Blackout

The Advocate
January 20, 2009

When Rev. V. Gene Robinson took to the stage at a star-studded, pre-inauguration event Sunday afternoon in Washington D.C., millions of LGBT Americans eagerly anticipated what the openly gay bishop would have to say about equality in America.

But Robinson’s invocation never aired on television – he was cut from the telecast of the Lincoln Memorial event.

In a call placed to HBO, the premium pay channel on which the Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial aired, a spokesperson told After Elton the decision not to air Robinson’s prayer was made by the Obama transition team.

Click here to read the rest.

Video Of +Gene's Prayer

Courtesy of Sarah Pulliam on the Christianity Today Politics Blog...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Integrity Celebrates Bishop Gene Robinson’s Historic Presence In The Inaugural Celebrations

January 19, 2009

LOS ANGELES--"There are miles to go before we rest in this journey toward being truly a nation of liberty and justice for ‘all,’” said Integrity President Susan Russell, “but when Bishop Gene Robinson took his place at the podium at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday we all moved closer toward realizing that goal. In addition to offering the invocation at Sunday’s Inaugural Concert, we are thrilled that Bishop Robinson will be among the invited guests at the prayer service on the Tuesday morning, will attend the swearing in ceremony, will view the Inaugural Parade from the Presidential viewing stand, and will attend the National Prayer Service at National Cathedral on Wednesday.

"Any disappointment that Bishop Robinson’s powerful opening prayer was not part of the HBO broadcast pales in comparison to the power of his iconic presence at the Lincoln Memorial on this historic occasion. Bishop Robinson’s invocation included prayers for patience, safety, and compassion, and to 'Bless us with anger--at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.' It will echo through the ages as words of hope, vision, and promise.

"We look forward to both the opportunities and challenges ahead as we enter a new era of partnership in our common commitment to overcome bias, bigotry and discrimination for all Americans."

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

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gene+ Robinson's Prayer for President Obama

Excerpts below; the full text is posted on the Diocese of New Hampshire website.

More about the Lincoln Memorial concert/event is available from the Toronto Star.

God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States....

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people....

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims....

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Weekly Witness For January 17th

Making The Most Of This "Movement Moment"
by John Clinton Bradley
Acting Executive Director

I had the privileged this week of attending an annual retreat for the executive directors of LGBT Christan organizations. It was hosted by the Institute for Welcoming Resources and was held on the campus of California State Polytechnic University in warm and sunny Pomona. We spent two full days learning about effective movement building from LGBT activist and organizational development expert Beth Zemsky of One Ummah Consulting. Below are a few gems of wisdom I gathered from Beth. [WARNING: Some of these insights may be contrary to your current believes and actions!]

Good intentions do not necessarily equal effective impacts. For example, the recent Fight the H8 rallies held across the country may have given us an outlet for our anger, but did they actually advance marriage equality? We must wisely engage in campaigns that will move our social goals forward.

Social movements are like waves--with beginnings, peaks, and troughs. After being in a trough for several years, the progressive movement in general and the LGBT rights movement in particular is currently at the beginning of a new wave. We must recognize and leverage this "movement moment" to achieve our social goals.

Every social movement wave is defined by a "frame," or an overarching message that articulates a world view. "Rights" was the frame for the last wave of the progressive movement. Over the last 50 years this frame has been used by every group that is part of the progressive movement—civil rights, women's rights, gay rights, immigrant rights, animal rights, environmental rights, etc. However, the effectiveness of the rights frame waned along with the last progressive wave. That is the main reason why Prop 8 passed in California. Continuing to use the rights frame will not grow our movement.

The new progressive wave needs a new frame. That frame will be defined by members of the movement. However, the emerging frame is likely to stress the common good, interdependence, and community. For example the Renew America Together website says, "President-elect Obama believes that we, as Americans, have a responsibility to help our communities and fellow citizens. In summoning a new spirit of service, he is calling on us to make an enduring commitment to our neighborhoods." In another example, the theme for General Convention 2009 is "Ubuntu," which is an African philosophy focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other. Archbishop Desmond Tutu defines it this way: "A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed." Using the interdependence frame is likely to grow our movement.

Every social movement has "we" and "they." There are those who are part of the movement and those who are not. "We" must include not only the oppressed, but the allies of the oppressed. To grow our moment we must increase the size of "we" and decrease the size of "they."

Every individual has multiple social identities. For example, I am a middle-class, gay, white, male, Episcopalian [among other things]. Environmental context and stressors influences which social identity is most important to me any particular time. For example, when I am preparing my tax return, my middle-class identity is paramount; but when I am attending diocesan convention my Episcopalian identity is foremost. Our movement's definition of "we" must be broad and flexible enough to encompass multiple and fluctuating social identifies.

There is a dynamic relationship between a social movement and each constituent. Communication and action must be circular and continuous in order for an individual to remain connected to the movement. Networking sites like Facebook are a great tool for maintaining such a dynamic relationship. Our movement must keep constituents informed and provide opportunities for action; conversely the constituent must provide our movement with information and participate in movement activities.

Increasing the power of a social movement is a spiral process. Step 1 is to organize and win a campaign. Step 2 is to build and maintain infrastructure resulting from step 1. Repeat as often as possible. Our movement must be constantly in the process of winning and building, winning and building.

I will be discussing these insights with national Integrity's board and staff and identifying concrete ways our organization can make the most of this movement moment. I encourage local Integrity leaders to do the same.

Ask Obama to support the Blueprint for Positive Change

From the Human Rights Campaign...

President-elect Obama's inclusion of Rick Warren at his inauguration prompted outrage in the LGBT community.

President-elect Obama has most recently reasserted his commitment to LGBT equality. He invited the Episcopal Church's first openly gay Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, to speak at the opening inaugural event at the Lincoln Memorial.

Help Bishop Robinson ensure that his historic appearance tangibly advances LGBT rights by declaring your support for HRC's Blueprint for Positive Change, and help keep the new administration focused on equal rights for all.

Don't Forget To Vote On National Bylaws

On December 15th an electronic referendum began on proposed amendments to Integrity's national bylaws. If approved, these changes will significantly alter the structure of the board of directors and add a "stakeholders" council." Visit to learn more what what is being modified and why.

To date, only about 13% of eligible members have cast their ballot. We need your vote! Polls close on February 15th.

If your membership dues were current as of November 25th, you should have received voting instructions by email or postcard. If you believe you are eligible to vote but did not receive voting instructions, please contact John Clinton Bradley at

New Transgender Resources

The Human Rights Campaign recent launched two new faith-based transgender resources...

The first is a curriculum titled "Gender Identity and Our Faith Communities: A Congregational Guide for Transgender Advocacy" based on the contributions of transgender people, their families and clergy. The curriculum is edited by Rev. Chris Glaser with contributions by transgender educators. Drawing on a wide array of personal experiences, religious and cultural analysis, and diverse faith journeys, our hope is that this curriculum will empower people of faith with the knowledge and skills necessary to transform their communities and congregations into welcoming environments and will turn participants into advocates for transgender rights.

The second is commentary tiled "In Season: A Transgender Encounter with the Church Year." Through the Church Year, Christians - as individuals and communities of faith - remember and celebrate God's holy time of healing, freeing and reconciling. Year after year, Christians journey from the longings of Advent, the joy of Christmas and the depths of Lent to the good news of Easter hope. Here we explore that journey with transgender sisters and brothers. Through these commentaries you will discover fresh perspectives about the seasons of the Church Year from a wide-range of transgender experiences. Included are stories and reflections by eleven transgender laity and clergy. Together, prayerfully and imaginatively, they listened to their hearts and now let you in on what these days and seasons mean to them.

  • Read more and watch a video conversation between the editor and an author

News You May Have Missed

Denver Post
Episcopal Diocese ordains lesbian to serve Denver church

Associated Press
Colorado Episcopals end moratorium on gay priests

Seattle Post Intelligencer
Bishop: 'Church is starting to get it right'

USA Today
Can anyone be 'America's pastor' now?

Washington Post
Rick Warren Reaches Out to Gene Robinson

The Living Church
Separate Rights from Rites, Bishop Robinson Urges

Task Force responds to selection of Bishop Gene Robinson to deliver prayer at inauguration’s opening ceremony

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ed + Oprah

The Rev. Ed Bacon, Rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena, appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on January 12th...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Invoking Unity

President-elect Obama asked openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson to deliver Sunday’s inaugural invocation. Pastor Rick Warren, who openly opposes gay marriage, is still giving the invocation during the Inauguration on Tuesday. Was this a move to appease those who opposed Warren’s invitation? Rachel Maddow is joined by Bishop Gene Robinson...

Robinson 'Delighted' To Be Part Of Inauguration

Melissa Block interviewed Gene Robinson on NPR's "All Things Considered" yesterday [January 13th] ...

The first openly gay Episcopal bishop, Gene Robinson, has been chosen to deliver the invocation at Barack Obama's kickoff inaugural event Sunday. Robinson says he doesn't think Obama picked him to balance the selection of evangelical pastor Rick Warren, who angered gay-rights supporters with his support of the ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in California.

Click here to listen.

Gene + Rachel

The Bishop of New Hampshire is scheduled to be a guest on "The Rachel Maddow Show" today [Wednesday] at 9 pm EST.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Story Of The Day

USA Today
Activists cheer Obama's choice of gay bishop

Episcopal Life Online
New Hampshire bishop invited to offer prayers at inaugural kickoff event

NY Times
Gay Bishop Is Asked to Say Prayer at Inaugural Event

Boston Globe
Obama calls upon gay N.H. bishop

Chicago Tribune
Gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson to give invocation at Lincoln Memorial inaugural event

The Living Church
Bishop Robinson Plans 'Not Especially Christian' Prayer for Inaugural Event

God Bless, and Bless, and Bless, and Bless America

Community organizing trainings for people of faith

This past weekend, in conjunction with the Gay Christian Network annual conference, I was lucky enough to attend an abbreviated four session introduction to the community organizing curriculum developed by the Institute for Welcoming Resources. IWR teaches an organizing practice that helps activists communicate our values and assist parishes in becoming welcoming to all. The content is down to earth and, in longer workshops, you'll get to practice the techniques so you'll really be able to use the skills shared.

The workshops focus on learning to tell our stories, the truths of our lives, in a way the "grabs the gut" of hearers, in the words of trainer Vicki Wunsch. Once you can talk about what you hope for, you need to know how to listen to others in a structured way and to build teams that can support each other and move institutions. That's what the curriculum tries to offer.

IWR sponsors workshops all over the country. Wunsch emphasized that the training is ecumenical and very affordable. Learn more here.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gay church official to speak of civil rights and religious rites

By Janet I. Tu
Seattle Times staff reporter
Originally published Sunday, January 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Since the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson became the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church in 2003, he has come to symbolize different things to different people.

For some, the New Hampshire bishop is a symbol of gay rights, while to others he represents a church gone astray.

No doubt, he's become symbolic of the tensions within the denomination — both nationally and internationally — over issues such as homosexuality and the authority of Scripture. For that very reason, some local Episcopalians are inviting Robinson to Seattle this week.

"He gets talked about in such abstract ways, as a symbol or an icon," said the Rev. Peter Strimer, rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Seattle. St. Andrew's, along with the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and Integrity Puget Sound, a group for gay and lesbian Episcopalians, are sponsoring Robinson's visit.

But "we don't exist in the abstract," Strimer said. "As people are deciding about the role of gays in the church, rather than simply having an abstract discussion, I thought it was important that we met the person and heard his story."

On Monday afternoon, Robinson will preach at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral and give a talk on civil rights and religion that evening at Town Hall.

Click here to read the rest.

Displaced Anglicans Offered Refuge on Saddleback Campus

On Saturday, part of a letter from Rich Warren to breakaway Anglican leaders was published on the Christianity Today blog...

"[The Episcopal Church has] already considered me an adversary after partnering on projects with Kolini, Orumbi, and Nzimbi, and writing the TIME bio on Akinola.

But since last summer... I’ve been on Gene Robinson and other’s attack list for my position on gay marriage. ....[Our] brothers and sisters here at St. James in Newport Beach lost their California State Supreme Court case to keep their property.

We stand in solidarity with them, and with all orthodox, evangelical Anglicans. I offer the campus of Saddleback Church to any Anglican congregation who need a place to meet, or if you want to plant a new congregation in south Orange County."

Click here for the original blog post.

In other news ...

Pasadena Pastor back on Oprah today to explain why "Gay is a gift from God"

Media Advisory: For Immediate Release
Monday, January 12, 2009

The Reverend J. Edwin Bacon, Jr., rector of All Saints Church, Pasadena will make an encore appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show today, Monday, January 12, to respond to the controversy around his statement in a January 8th segment on the Oprah Show that "being gay is a gift from God."

It was no surprise at All Saints Church that the show's producers asked for some follow-up time with Reverend Bacon. "The volume of email we're getting here in Pasadena tells us that Ed Bacon's message -- the good news that God loves absolutely everybody -- is one people are hungry to hear," said the Reverend Susan Russell, All Saints Senior Associate for Communication.
"We are deeply grateful for the national platform Ed Bacon's appearance on Oprah has given this message of love, inclusion and tolerance that we hear preached here in Pasadena 24/7. We look forward to welcoming those coming toward us who are hearing for the first time that the abundant, inclusive love of God includes them!"

For more information contact Keith Holeman, Director of Communications at All Saints Church, Pasadena, at, or 626.583.2739.

Integrity Applauds Robinson Inauguration Role

Integrity is delighted at today’s announcement of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson’s role in the upcoming Inaugural celebrations. Following on the heels of yesterday’s selection of the Rev. Sharon E. Watkins as the first woman preacher for the January 21st National Prayer Service, today’s news is yet another indication that we are entering an historic era of diversity and inclusion.

“Bishop Robinson’s selection by the President-elect to pray God’s blessings on the opening event of the Inaugural week is good news not only for gay and lesbian Americans but for all who share the audacious hope of a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal,” said Integrity President Susan Russell.

“It also gives us hope that the age of an ‘America’s Pastor’ is behind us and that we enter a new era where diverse voices of faith speak from the particularity of their own experience of God’s grace, love and power. While there are many miles to go before we are done with racism, sexism and homophobia in this country, we look forward to Barack Obama’s inauguration, to Sharon Watkins’ sermon and to Gene Robinson’s prayers as signs of great progress and profound hope.


For more details, see Episcopal Cafe.

Bishop Gene Robinson To Open Inaugural Weekend

By MIKE ALLEN 1/12/09

The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who was elected the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop in 2003, will deliver the invocation for Sunday’s kickoff inaugural event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the Presidential Inaugural Committee said.

President-elect Obama is scheduled to attend the afternoon event, which is free and open to the public.

“The president-elect has respect for the Rt. Rev. Robinson, who offered his advice and counsel over the past couple of years,” an inaugural official said. “It also has the benefit of further reinforcing our commitment to an open and inclusive inaugural.”

Many of Obama’s supporters were furious at the choice of Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor and best-selling author, to deliver the invocation at the swearing-in ceremony.

An Obama source said: “Robinson was in the plans before the complaints about Rick Warren. Many skeptics will read this as a direct reaction to the Warren criticism – but it’s just not so.”

Read the rest here!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Presiding Bishop Will Convene Special Fort Worth Diocesan Convention

By Mary Frances Schjonberg, January 08, 2009

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said January 7 that she will convene a special meeting of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth convention on February 7.

Jefferts Schori will ask the convention to elect a provisional bishop for the diocese. The agenda will include the election of lay and clergy representatives for various diocesan leadership positions and adoption of a budget. It will also include approval of governance and organizational resolutions, including ones that would declare null and void certain amendments to the diocesan constitution and canons that were advocated by former diocesan leadership as a means to take the diocese out of the Episcopal Church.

Jefferts Schori said that she would call the meeting because there is "no bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, or any qualified members of the Standing Committee." She said in the announcement that she had consulted with "faithful Episcopalians" who form the Steering Committee of North Texas Episcopalians, the group that has led the effort to keep the diocese aligned with the Episcopal Church.

See the Presiding Bishop's Letter here.

Read the rest of this article here.

Episcopal church sues anti-gay Pittsburgh parishes for $20M

Posted on
Reported by Associated Press
January 9, 2009

(Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) Episcopal leaders in Pittsburgh went to court Thursday seeking to recover $20 million in assets they believe were wrongfully taken when the conservative branches split from the liberal diocese in October.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh, which oversees the 20 local parishes that stayed with the U.S. Episcopal Church, said the breakaway group has no legal right to the assets since it is no longer part of the denomination.

Spokesman Rich Creehan said the church petitioned the Court of Common Pleas for the assets after its requests for them were “ignored” by the breakaway parishes.

The breakaway conservatives, who also call themselves the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, said they have a right to some of the assets because they helped develop them before the split.

“We would love to sit down and work out a mediated division where everyone involved has access to a portion of the assets because we think that’s fair,” said the Rev. Peter Frank, a spokesman for the conservative diocese.

Read the rest here!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Weekly Witness For January 9th

The Weekly Witness is back after its holiday vacation...

Make Every Day A National Day Of Service

Colin Powell formally announced today the Renew America Together initiative as part of President-elect Obama’s national call to service. Standing in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C., Powell exhorted all Americans to make an ongoing commitment to revitalize our local communities, starting on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

"The Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday is not only a day off but also for the last 14 years, it has been a day on. It’s a day to reach out to our fellow citizens in need."

He encouraged everyone to visit to find or host a service event. More than 4,000 service events are registered on the site already.

This is an opportunity for LGBT people of faith to shine! National Integrity encourages Integrity chapters, networks, circles, members, and congregations to host or participate in service events on January 19th. Please share your stories of service with Rebecca Voelkel of the Institute for Welcoming Resources [] and John Clinton Bradley of Integrity [].

How You Can Support The Anaheim Appeal

As announced earlier this week, we have launched our campaign to raise $80,000 for Integrity's witness as General Convention.

As an individual, click here to make a secure, online contribution using your debit or credit card.

As a chapter, network, circle, or congregation, please consider hosting a fundraising event in your area. We plan to hold at least 10 event across the country. Each event is typically two hours in length and takes place at a church fellowship hall or private residence. The function usually begins with a reception, which is then followed by a presentation from the President or another board member, and time for questions and comments. We ask that the local hosting group be responsible for invitations to local individuals and for the expenses and arrangements related to hospitality. The national office will send invitations to everyone in the area and make special e-mail announcements to the entire membership. We can also provide blank invitation post cards to the host. The national office will cover any travel expenses of the board member attending. Please help us schedule these events as soon as possible so that we can aim for the best turnout possible. Contact Bruce Colburn, Integrity’s Development Coordinator, at 800-462-9498 or and he will gladly answer any questions you have and help in any other way possible.

VOWA Update

Thanks to those who have responded to our recent call for donations to help finish the Voices of Witness Africa video. To date, more than $4000 has been contributed!

News You May Have Missed

The Advocate--Pepsi Targeted for AFA Boycott

The Huffington Post--The Choice is Ours--Melissa Etheridge

Seattle Post Intelligencer--Bishop Robinson comes to Seattle

USA Today--Year in religion: Political plays, papal visit and battle over gays

BBC--Gays welcome Uganda arrest payout

Relgion New Service--10 Minutes With Gene Robinson

New York Times--You’re Likable Enough, Gay People

Kalamazoo Gazette--Religious opposition to Human Rights Ordinance dismaying--The Rev. Beth A. McLaren

Just a Paycheck Away

Forward Movement has just released a new booklet by the Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton, a former national board member of Integrity...

As our economy continues its bumpy road to recession, E. M. Kaeton offers a much-needed glimpse of hope. In this story of a man making the most out of what little he has, we see what is clearest in times in crisis: that a little bit of hope goes a long way.

We're all just two or three paychecks away from living with the anxiety that steals any moment of joy you may find in the midst of your search for "normal," or "stable," or, well, just not being in desperate need any more....We are all just two or three paychecks away from losing it all, and the church stands guard there, at the brink of isolation and fear, offering relationships and hope.

Click here to order!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sex in the Seminary: New Study Released Today


New Study Reveals a Disturbing Lack of Sexuality Training in Seminary

CHICAGO, January 8, 2009 - United States seminaries and rabbinical schools
are failing to prepare the next generation of clergy with the training they
need to address sexuality issues in ministry, according to a study released
today by the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing
and Union Theological Seminary.

The study, titled Sex and the Seminary: Preparing Ministers for Sexual
Health and Justice, reports that sexuality courses are largely absent from
most seminary curricula and degree requirements. At most institutions,
students can graduate without studying sexual ethics or taking a single
sexuality-based course.

"With so many congregations embroiled in controversy over sexual orientation
issues, or struggling to address teenage sexuality, or concerned about
sexual abuse, there is an urgent need for ordained clergy who understand the
connections between religion and sexuality," said the Rev. Debra W. Haffner,
director of the Religious Institute. "Seminaries must do more to prepare
students to minister to their congregants and be effective advocates for
sexual health and justice."

Sex and the Seminary is based on a survey of 36 leading seminaries and
rabbinical schools of diverse size and geographic location, representing a
range of Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalist traditions. Each
institution was evaluated on criteria for a sexually healthy and responsible
seminary. These criteria measure sexuality content in the curriculum;
institutional commitment to sexuality and gender equity (e.g., the existence
of anti-discrimination, sexual harassment and full inclusion policies); and
advocacy and support for sexuality-related issues. The criteria were
developed by an advisory group of seminary deans, faculty and clergy with
expertise in sexuality. The survey and final report were authored by Dr.
Kate Ott, associate director of the Religious Institute.

The survey revealed that:

. More than 90% of the seminaries surveyed do not require full-semester,
sexuality-based courses for graduation.
. Two-thirds of the seminaries do not offer a course in sexuality issues for
religious professionals. Three-quarters do not offer a course in lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) studies.
. Seminaries offer three times as many courses in women's and feminist
studies as they do in LGBT studies or other sexuality-related issues.
. The next generation of scholars is not addressing sexuality issues.
Sexuality-based courses are taught by senior professors or adjunct faculty,
not by upcoming faculty seeking tenured positions.

The study also noted a "stained glass ceiling" in seminaries and a lack of
policies on full inclusion of women and gay, lesbian and transgender
persons. Two-thirds of the seminaries surveyed have fewer than 40% women
serving in faculty, senior administrative and trustee positions, in contrast
to student populations that are frequently more than 50% women.

"Religious leaders have a unique opportunity, and moral obligation, to help
congregations and communities wrestle with the complexities of sexual health
and justice," said Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological
Seminary in New York. "Is there any subject more important and more
on-the-ground crucial than sexual health and human flourishing? This study
challenges all of us who are charged with ministerial formation to look
closely at the institutional environment we create to prepare our students
to be active and informed - and hence to effect people from the pulpit and
in the public square."

Sex and the Seminary recommends that seminaries and religious denominations
develop and require competencies in sexuality for ordination to ministry.
Most denominations currently do not require ministerial candidates to be
competent in sexual health and education beyond sexual harassment
prevention, the study noted.

The study also recommends that the Association of Theological Schools, the
accrediting body for U.S. seminaries, integrate sexuality education into its
standards for ministerial formation. It calls on seminaries to strengthen
their curricular offerings and inclusion policies, invest in faculty
development and continuing education, and pursue collaboration with other
institutions and advocacy groups to expand educational opportunities for
seminarians regarding sexuality issues.

The Religious Institute will send copies of the Sex and the Seminary report
to every seminary and rabbinical school in the U.S. The report is available
online at

The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing, based in
Westport, CT, is a nonprofit, multifaith organization dedicated to
advocating for sexual health, education and justice in faith communities and
society. More than 4,400 clergy, seminary presidents and deans, religious
scholars and other religious leaders representing more than 50 faith
traditions are part of the Religious Institute's national network.

Union Theological Seminary, founded in 1836, is an independent, ecumenical
graduate school of theology with the mission to educate men and women for
ministries in the Christian faith, service in contemporary society and study
of the great issues of our time. Located in New York City--where the local
and the global intersect daily--the Seminary believes that the city remains
a critical training ground for facing such issues.

Do gay-straight alliances make a difference?

by Joanna Broder
January 8, 2009

High schools with gay-straight alliances may be safer places for homosexual, bisexual and transgender youth, new research suggests.

The 2007 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in Our Nations Schools was conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network known as GLSEN, a New-York-based national education association.

This survey found that when high schools had such alliances, these students reported hearing fewer homophobic comments and experiencing less harassment or assaults because of their sexual orientation or gender expression than students attending schools without gay-straight alliances. They also said they felt more of a sense of belonging to their school. Yet only just over a third of surveyed students surveyed reported that they had such an alliance at their school.

Read more here ...
Or here:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Anaheim Appeal Announcement

Epiphany 2009

Dear Integrity members & friends:

I am writing to announce the launch of "The Anaheim Appeal," the fundraising effort to support our work in and around General Convention this summer. As with the Canterbury Campaign, our goal is to raise all anticipated expenses to support our presence at and participation in the convention—from the exhibit hall to the press room to legislative sessions.

To provide the support we desire to give to our volunteers, and to equip the convention team with what it needs to be fully effective, we have set a goal of $80,000. We are aware, of course, of the many troubling indicators about the present state of the country's economy. So, please be assured that we are making every effort to keep the costs of our ministry in Anaheim as modest as possible without sacrificing either the effectiveness of the effort or the level of support our hard-working volunteers deserve.

I hope you will join me in supporting this appeal. I invite you to make an online contribution by clicking here and designating your gift for the "Anaheim Appeal." Your early donation will help us keep costs as low as possible.

You can find out more about our General Convention needs at As the campaign moves forward, Bruce Colburn, our Development Coordinator, will provide occasional updates. You are also welcome to contact him with any particular questions or suggestions you might have. Bruce can be contacted at or 800-462-9498.

Thank you for what you do to help our church understand that all the sacraments are for all the baptized. No doubt, our collective ministry has an impact on more lives than we can either ever know or count.


The Rev. Susan Russell

California high court: Episcopal Church owns buildings and property of breakaway congregation

Susan Russell writes more about the California Supreme Court decision at HRC Back Story.

Integrity Applauds California Supreme Court Ruling for Diocese of Los Angeles

January 6, 2009

Monday’s unanimous Supreme Court decision is a landmark ruling that states – once and for all – the reality that individuals may choose to leave the Episcopal Church but they cannot choose to take the property that belongs to the diocese with them.

The truth is, in spite of all the efforts to spin the story otherwise, the current departures from the Episcopal Church amount to a splinter … not a split. A relatively small but vocal minority of Episcopalians have chosen to leave over the inclusion of gay and lesbian people more fully in the life and work of the church but the vast majority of Episcopalians remain committed to moving ahead with our mission and ministry, in spite of their differences on this and many other issues.

In the 1970’s here in the Diocese of Los Angeles four congregations attempted to “leave the Episcopal Church” over the ordination of women. There were law suits and property challenges and – at the end of the day – two of them left and two of them ended up staying.

Now in 2009 we have four congregations seeking to “leave the Episcopal Church” -- ostensibly over the ministry of gay and lesbian folk in the church. This is not the greatest schism in the history of Christendom – it is the cost of discipleship we pay as a church willing to follow the Jesus who called all people into God’s loving embrace. We paid it in the 70’s over the ordination of women and we’re paying it now over the full inclusion of the LGBT baptized. And we will be a stronger church as a result.

While we believe it grieves the heart of God whenever there is a split in the fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ, at the end of the day what matters more than those who choose to leave the Episcopal Church because they’re disagreed with are those who will COME to the Episcopal Church because of our policies of welcome, inclusion and our message of love and tolerance.

That’s the good news we have to proclaim as Episcopalians in this New Year and the welcome decision of the California Supreme Court is going to help us do precisely that.

(The Reverend) Susan Russell, President