Monday, August 31, 2009

Congregation Supports Transgender Pastor

Born in Cleveland as a girl, [David] Weekley always knew he was different.

“I always saw myself as a little boy,” he recalls. “My best friend was Gary. I liked sports. At a very young age, it didn’t seem like it was any problem.”

Going to school was more troublesome, he says.

“The teachers didn’t like me — each year that got worse,” he says.

From being blamed by teachers for things she didn’t do, to being slapped across the face by her fourth-grade teacher, Weekley says he didn’t feel he received any adult support until 10th grade, after being referred to a school psychologist.

“I really wanted to drop out of school,” he says. “It was a horrible time. I didn’t fit in, I didn’t look like a girl, I was different.”

Just months after telling his own children that he was not their biological father, Weekley, who is in his late-50s, came out to his congregation of 221 members.

Standing behind his pulpit, Weekley began his usual worship service. About halfway through, he paused to share a personal message he called “My Book Report.”

He told them that in 1984, just nine years after undergoing extensive sex-reassignment surgeries, he was ordained by the Methodist Church without telling anyone of his original gender at birth.

Following his story, the congregation, who had remained silent throughout his talk, broke into thunderous applause. Church members then proclaimed their support for their pastor.

“It doesn’t change him; he’s still Reverend David, and that’s what counts,” says congregation member Robbie Tsuboi.

Read the full article at the Regal Courier here!
Or here:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

+Gene at Greenbelt

Reports of Gene Robinson at the Greenbelt Festival:

Solo Bass Steve liveblogged his sermon:
Gene is Bishop of New Hampshire, and I’ve really enjoyed all the writing of his that I’ve read. I’m really pleased he’s here at the festival.

Intro by Martin Wroe: there’ll be loads of time for questions at the end. “Rumour has it that bits of the church are upset that a Bishop can be called Gene – some people don’t think Bishops should have girl’s names” (laughter, followed by massive applause for Gene.)

Gene starts by praying – standard form for a Bishop

“I’d rather you thought of this as a conversation, what I’m going to say is my own experience. Your’s will be different, and your own. All we have is our own story. We get in trouble when we tell people what their story should be.”

Gene’s Story – how to stay calm in the eye of the storm. The storm in question is when Gene was put forward for ordination, and a load of lies were written about him being involved in porn etc.

“my spiritual director told me I talk to much in my prayers. Also made me aware of the possibility of impersonating God’s voice, to get the answers I want. I was encouraged to do nothing, but just imagine being a child of God, being loved, and feeling that love as warmth. Just allow yourself to be loved, let God do what God does best”.

God want to love. all of us. And wants us to love the rest of us. We live our lives with a line drawn around us, separating us from them. What God wants for us is to draw the line ever-further away, until there is no ‘them’ only us. The christian life calls us to treat our enemies like that. to never allow ourselves to treat them as a child of God, no matter how much I disagree with them.

“Our job is to be continually be reaching out to those who’ve been marginalised, disrespected, abused, disregarded, vilified. God is not there to make it easy, but will be with you. There’s no greater reward than that” (massive applause).


[Steve's note] – Gene talks the language of a bishop, but he brings a message that has its roots as much in the experience and history of Ghandi, MLK, Wilberforce etc… The call within the God-stuff for respect to be extended to those we hate, for dialogue to continue, for acceptance, respect, grace, is SO vital, so important, for all of us, believers, or not, sceptics, doubters, atheists… He’s a pretty radical voice, but one with a soft tone, and an amazing gentle soul. It’s been a privilege to listen to him.

More here and here with photos of the line waiting to hear Gene.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

+Barbara Harris an Anaheim ratings hit!

Loved reading this in the just-released bulletin inserts for August 30 from the Episcopal Church Center:

As of August 1, the Media Hub — nicknamed "gee-chub" for its web address, — logged more than 90,000 visits. Those visitors viewed roughly 50,000 videos on demand.

The three most watched sermons were: Bishop Barbara Harris, retired suffragan of Massachusetts, at the July 10 Integrity Eucharist; Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori at the United Thank Offering Ingathering on July 12; and Brian McLaren at the July 16 Eucharist.

Go, +Barbara!

Monday, August 24, 2009

October National Equality March

On October 10 & 11, 2009 all across the nation people will take to the streets to demonstrate for equality for LGBT Americans. Integrity endorses this and other grassroots demonstrations to promote equal protection under United States law for all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender citizens.

“Episcopalians claim a baptismal covenant that calls us to ‘respect the dignity of every human being,’” says Neil Houghton, Vice President-elect for Local Affairs. “One of the ways we live out that mission is to support local and national demonstrations of support for the full inclusions of LGBT people."

Religious communities were key to the success of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. The forward movement at our General Convention on LGBT inclusion as well as the recent actions by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American signal a larger shift in many faith communities that putting faith into action includes advocacy for LGBT equality. The time is now to show that support for family values means protecting ALL families -- and that includes LGBT families.

We encourage our local organizations to participate in activities such as the March for Equality in Washington -- as well as to promote local actions -- using existing communication structures.

We encourage Integrity Chapters, Network Coordinators, Proud Parish Partners and our justice allies throughout the church to claim this October opportunity to be a visible witness to the inclusive love of God in Christ Jesus.



from Metropolitan Community Churches

For Immediate Release: 24 August 2009

Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches

Celebrates Decision of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

to Extend Equality to Lesbian and Gay Clergy and Lay Leaders

Remarks by

Rev. Nancy L. Wilson

Office of the Moderator

On Friday, August 21st, delegates to the National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to "find a way for people in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationship" to serve as offcially recognized ministers of that church body, effectively equalizing the norms and standards applying to heterosexual and homosexual clergy alike.


"We rejoice with our brothers and sisters in the Evangelical Lutheran Church who have prayed, worked and witnessed for this day," said The Rev. Nancy Wilson, Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches. "Though many have raised concern that this vote for inclusivity and equality will either split the denomination or lead to a mass exodus of those who disagree with the vote, I believe it speaks to the truth that equality is not a 'liberal' or 'conservative' issue, but one of justice, and justice, as our sister Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook has so aptly put it, 'cannot be partitioned.' I believe that the ELCA and the Chritian Church at large will be stronger and more unified for this vote of conviction."


The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the largest Lutheran body in the United States, with an overall membership of 4.6 million people. The vote by its predominantly Mid-western constituency may signal an overall movement in the nation toward wider acceptance and support of LGBT equality among middle Americans.


The Lutheran body joins the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ as mainline denominations extending equality in the ministry to its straight and gay leadership alike. While the vote upholds the primacy of conscience, allowing individual congregations to decide whether to call gay clergy or lay leaders into active service, it nonetheless "affirms the vision of Scripture and its prophets: a house of prayer for all God's people," said The Rev. Wilson. "The ECLA has joined a growing movement of the faithful who understand and affirm that sexual orientation and gender identity are gifts of God intended to be celebrated and affirmed."


"We welcome our brothers and sisters in the Lutheran Church," she continued, "who now stand with MCC in praying for the day when the church of Jesus Christ will be one family of equals."

+ The Rev. Nancy L. Wilson


Metropolitan Community Churches

For Additional Information, contact:

Metropolitan Community Churches
Kathy Beasley

PO Box 1374
Abilene, TX 79604

More On ELCA Advances

Gay Lutherans celebrate
Washington Times - Washington,DC,USA
... for peace and justice and are committed to respecting the dignity of every human being,” said the Reverend Susan Russell, president of Integrity USA. ...

ELCA Assembly approves ministries of gays and lesbians in ...
Episcopal-Life - New York,NY,USA
Susan Russell, president of Integrity USA. "For decades the faithful have prayed for justice to roll down like waters for the LGBT baptized in the Lutheran ...

Friday, August 21, 2009

More news from the Lutherans

The ELCA Churchwide Assembly just voted on the third-of-four resolutions on human sexuality and minsitry:

RESOLVED, that the ELCA commit itself to finding a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church.

It passed: 559 to 451.

Integrity president-elect to preach this Sunday in Pasadena

From the All Saints Church, Pasadena newsletter:

We welcome to the pulpit this Sunday our friend David Norgard. A native of Minnesota and a former president of NEAC (National Episcopal AIDS Coalition) David is a noted preacher, speaker and organizational development consultant. He served as rector of St. John the Evangelist, San Francisco; and as an associate rector at the Church of the Apostles, NYC.

Recently he was elected to succeed Susan Russell as the president of Integrity and will bring his vision, passion and organizational clarity to that important national work beginning October 1st. Don’t miss this chance to hear one of the finest priests and preachers in the Episcopal Church on Sunday, August 23 at 7:30, 9:00 & 11:15.

Update on the ELCA

From Episcopal Cafe:

Breaking Today the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church is voting on a major piece of legislation that modifies their ministry policies. If passed in its entirety then the ELCA will allow people "in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church."

The proposal may be found here. They are voting on each section one-at-a-time that is listed in bold type. There are four resolutions:

1. Step one asks the assembly whether, in principle, this church is committed to finding ways to allow congregations and synods that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships. (Passed)

2. Step two asks the assembly whether, in principle, this church is committed to finding a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as professional leaders of this church. (To resume later today, 2 pm CST)

3. Step three asks this church whether, in the future implementation of these commitments, it will make decisions so that all in this church bear the burdens of the other, and respect the bound consciences of all. (Passed)

4. Step four proposes the specifics of how this church can move toward change in a way that respects the bound consciences of all. (To resume later, time unknown yet.)

You may follow the debate via live video stream here.

Read the rest here.

Updates on can be found on our Facebook page and on twitter. You may also follow along, how to found here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Minnesota Independent reports that 95 clergy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have "come out."
As the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) meets in Minneapolis to vote on the inclusion of openly gay and lesbian clergy, proponents are making sure the stories of gay and lesbian pastors are heard. Advocates are distributing a document in which 95 members of the Lutheran clergy — a number that references Martin Luther’s 95 Theses — announce that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The booklet, “One Table, Many Blessings” (pdf), shares how the ban on openly gay clergy has affected their lives.

Currently church rules state openly gay or lesbian clergy should remain celibate and not enter into same-sex relationships. A vote later this week could change those rules to allow clergy who are in committed, life-long same-sex partnerships.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

On the Radio

Click here for a 60 minute segment from this morning's MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) "Midmorning" featuring Titusonenine's Kendall Harmon, Religion News Service's Kevin Eckstrom ... and Integrity's Susan Russell.

From the MPR website:

Evangelical Lutherans are gathering in Minneapolis to consider whether to permit gay and lesbian ministers to lead churches if they are in a committed relationship. Midmorning discusses the tension this issue has created regarding inclusion and unity among other mainline Protestant churches.


Susan Russell: is president of Integrity USA, an Episcopal gay advocacy group and Senior Associate at All Saints Church in Pasadena.

Kendall Harmon: is a priest of the Episcopal Church USA and Canon Theologian of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

Kevin Eckstrom: editor of Religion News Service.

Watch ELCA live

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Churchwide Assembly meeting in Minneapolis is live streaming its sessions this week. The church is considering change in their policy on gay and lesbian clergy who are married or in domestic partnerships.

Watch here. A report on other media options is here including Twitter and Facebook.

Their schedule is here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mainline Protestant groups weigh policies affecting gay people

New Jersey Real-Time News is reporting:

It was Aug. 5, 2003, and bishops at the triennial General Convention of the Episcopal Church had just voted for the first time to let an openly gay man become a bishop. Louie Crew of Montclair, active in Episcopal Church politics for decades, was there in Minneapolis and vividly remembers trying to hide his jubilation when Gene Robinson was made bishop of New Hampshire.

"We were under strict orders not to cheer," said Crew, who is gay, recalling the scene in the auditorium that day at the Minneapolis Convention Center. "We all respected the fact that it was a momentous decision that would be very painful to a large minority of the persons present. I don't think there was anybody that disrespected those restraints."

Still, to no one's surprise, keeping the Church together afterward has been a struggle.

* The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (4.7 million members), whose weeklong meeting in Minneapolis begins today will vote on whether non-celibate gay people can be ordained as Lutheran clergy, and on a statement saying same-gendered relationships have a place in the church.

* In July, the United Methodist News Service announced that the United Methodist Church (11 million members, 8 million of whom are Americans) is on track, based on early voting results, to reject an amendment that would let any professed Christian become a church member. Conservative opponents viewed the proposed change as implicit acceptance of homosexuality.

* Last month, the Episcopal Church USA (2.1 million members) rescinded a moratorium on electing gay bishops, a moratorium imposed under Anglican pressure three years after Robinson's election. It also said clergy can bless same-sex unions.

* In June, the Presbyterian Church USA (2.3 million members) announced the rejection of an amendment that would have let non-celibate gay people become clergy.

The four mainline groups, which have about 360,000 members in New Jersey, have been losing members nationally for decades. Mainly because of conservative furor over Bishop Robinson's election, the infighting of Episcopalians has received the most attention.

Read the rest here.
Or here:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fan Mail

Susan and Louise:
You know, every now and then you donate to a cause and wonder if your money
was well spent or frivolously wasted (e.g., the various Prop. 8 causes).  I
donated to the Integrity convention fund at the Bishop's Garden Party, and
I'm so pleased with Integrity's work at the General Convention.  What a good
investment it was!
You all were amazing and indefatigable.  I'd be surprised if any other
organization's efforts were as complete, as innovative, and as informative
as was Integrity's.

You done good!

Weekly Witness For 14 August 2009

Have You Registered for "After Anaheim?"

About 40 people have registered so far for Integrity's "After Anaheim" leadership conference--which will be held September 9-11 at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis. We still have space for YOU! The only catch is that you will have to make your own lodging arrangements at this point.

Although this conference is geared for local, provincial, and national Integrity leaders, anyone who wants to become a more effective inclusion activist is welcome to participate. The core of the conference will be the Faith-Based Community Organizing curriculum taught by the Institute for Welcoming Resources.

Thanks, Jan!

After a job well done, Jan Adams, Integrity's half-time field organizer for the past 1.5 years, ended her employment with us at the end of July. Through Jan's labors we...
  1. Held Inclusion Activism workshops in San Francisco, St. Louis, Atlanta, Newark, and Minneapolis. A total of 90 inclusion activists from 35 dioceses were trained.
  2. Elected more LGBT and LGBT-friendly General Convention deputies than ever before.
  3. Discussed LGBT issues with deputies at 7 provincial synods.
  4. Worked with the Chicago Consultation to organize progressive bishops and deputies for the General Convention.
  5. Passed 40 LGBT-positive resolutions at diocese conventions.
  6. Published 6 ads in Episcopal Life on LGBT issues in the months leading up to General Convention.
  7. Produced a DVD containing 2 videos--"With God's Help" and "Becoming an Ubuntu People"--that was mailed to all deputies and active bishops.
  8. Passed Resolution D025 in Anaheim, which moves the Episcopal Church beyond discrimination in the Episcopate.
  9. Passed Resolution C056, in Anaheim, which moves the Episcopal Church forward on marriage equality for same-gender couples.
Thanks for your tireless and brilliant work, Jan! We wish you well in you continuing ministry of political activism.

It's Grant Season!

Although summer is down-time for many organizations, its prime time for Integrity's grant writing. In the past couple of weeks, John Clinton Bradley, our Acting Executive Director has...
  • Provided to the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund a progress report for the past 12 months and performance objectives for the next 12 months. We received half of a $50,000 grant from them this week for ongoing operations and organizational improvements.
  • Submitted a letter of inquiry to the Arcus Foundation to underwrite the Expanding the Circumference project --which is designed to translate the policy changes implemented during General Convention into common practice at all levels or the Episcopal Church over the next triennium.
  • Applied for funding from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation to conduct 8 Inclusion Activism 2.0 provincial workshops during the spring and summer of 2010.

Unblogged News

San Francisco Chronicle
Gay bishops may further divide Episcopal Church

Episcopal News Service
Resolutions concerning ordination process, same-sex blessings are topic of August 16 bulletin insert

Religious Intelligence Ltd
Liberals question Archbishop on gay response

Wall Street Journal
Episcopalians Nominate Gay Clergy for Bishop in Los Angeles

USA Today
Episcopal dioceses are fast to list gay nominees for bishop

Episcopal News Service
Six nominees for December election of two bishops suffragan announced

Episcopal News Service
MINNESOTA: Diocese announces three candidates for bishop

Los Angeles Times
Gay, lesbian priests among bishop nominees by L.A. Episcopal diocese,0,116157.story

Associated Press
Episcopalians nominate gay clergy for bishop in LA

Jacksonville Times-Union
Episcopal Church weighs same-sex union issue
Appleton Post Crescent
Episcopal Church makes steps toward inclusivity

Monday, August 10, 2009

Help Wanted!

More Light Presbyterians
Operations Coordinator
Reports to Executive Director

More Light Presbyterians is a 501(c)3 non-profit religious organization affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Founded in 1974, MLP is committed to the achievement of spiritual, ordination and marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and equal rights in civil society.


Following the risen Christ, and seeking to make the Church a true community of hospitality, the mission of More Light Presbyterians is to work for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Job Overview and Duties

The MLP Operations Coordinator will be responsible for coordinating the day-to-day administrative operations of More Light Presbyterians. Duties will include:

·         Oversight and maintenance of the MLP website in collaboration with board members and staff.

·         At the request of the Executive Director, work with the Development Team to create financial and other reports for the Board and staff.

·         Develop and implement systems, processes and policies that assure that bylaws, board minutes, relevant financial information, board statements and other official documents and records are accurate, up-to-date, complete and readily available to board members, staff, churches, chapters and individual members.

·         Maintain and enhance the donor database

·         Provide reminders and support to the Board on projects, board operations and bylaw requirements.

·         Maintain board member contact information, committee assignments and responsibilities and terms of service.

·         Maintain the SharePoint site which accommodates the online sharing of documents and files needed for the work of the Board and staff.

·         Create electronic and hard copy filing systems to assure that historical records are in place and secure.

·         Manage and maintain inventory of MLP educational resources and marketing materials.

·         Assist with logistics arrangements for conferences, events, board member and staff travel, as requested.

·         Arrange shipping for displays, educational resources and other materials as needed.

·         Manage registrations for conferences and events. Create spreadsheets, databases, and documents as needed to assist board members in managing conferences and events.

·         Revise, update and manage database systems for the Board and staff.

·         Coordinate the printing and distribution of MLP mass mailings, including the More Light Update, quarterly appeal letters, and other documents as requested.

·         Attend MLP Board meetings and other events as requested by the Executive Director and/or the Board.

Minimum Qualifications

·         Five years experience in operations management.

·         Experience in website management

Required Skills and Knowledge

·         Excellent organizational and communication skills

·         Attention to detail, accuracy and completeness

·         Ability to create and maintain efficient work processes and systems

·         Website maintenance expertise

·         Strong working knowledge of MS Office Suite

·         Expertise and experience in database development and management

·         The ability to work collaboratively with board members and staff

·         A solid understanding of financial statements

·         Understanding and commitment to LGBT, justice and equality

·         Knowledge of the Presbyterian Church is desired

·         Sense of humor extremely helpful!

Terms of Employment

Part-time, contract position
Up to 80 hours/month - $25/hour

Application Deadline – September 1, 2009


·         Resume

·         Sample websites maintained

·         A list of databases developed/managed/maintained


Vikki Dearing, Co-moderator
More Light Presbyterians Board of Directors

Saturday, August 8, 2009

+Gene and +Jane on State of Belief

Tune in this weekend to Interfaith Alliance's weekly radio show and podcast State of Belief for a special edition featuring Bishop Gene Robinson and Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon for the full show.

Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire is the first openly gay man ordained in the Episcopal Church. He joins Rev. Gaddy to talk about the implications of the Church's decisions to lift a moratorium on ordaining gay clergy and to allow bishops to bless same-gender unions.

Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon, the second woman to be ordained as a bishop in the Episcopal Church joins the conversation to talk about the role of politics and outside forces in the Church's decision, how this controversy reflects and relates to the push for equal rights in society and the similarities between the current debate and the debate held previously on the ordination of women.

The podcast of this week's show includes 15 additional minutes of Rev. Gaddy's conversation with Bishops Robinson and Dixon not heard on the Air America broadcast.

This week's show is available online now--you can also check to see when it airs on an Air America station near you.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Integrity USA
620 Park Avenue #311
Rochester, NY 14607-2943

August 2, 2009

Integrity rejoices at the Diocese of Los Angeles' diverse slate of qualified candidates for the December 2009 election of two new bishops suffragan.

"Coming so soon after the slate announced by the Diocese of Minnesota," said Integrity President Susan Russell, "today's announcement by the Diocese of Los Angeles is another sign that the 'season of fasting' at the expense of the vocations of gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church is at an end."

"Just a few days ago we celebrated the 35th anniversary of the ordination of the first women to the priesthood in The Episcopal Church," said Russell. "Thirty five years ago it was hard to imagine that we would come to a place where the inclusion of gifted women on a slate of candidates for bishop would become the expected rather than the exception. And we believe that we are journeying to a place where the same will be true for gay and lesbian candidates."

"It is now up to the Diocese of Los Angeles to discern--together with the Holy Spirit--which of these excellent candidates will make the best bishops to lead them forward in mission and ministry. Integrity's hope is that in both Los Angeles and in Minnesota the work of discernment can proceed without outside interference and with the focus where it should be: on finding the bishop best suited to pastor the people and to proclaim the Good News of God in Christ Jesus to the church and to the world."


(The Reverend) Susan Russell, President
714-356-5718 (mobile)


Saturday, August 1, 2009


August 1, 2009

Integrity applauds the Diocese of Minnesota for the stellar slate of qualified candidates released today to replace retiring Bishop James Jelinek. "The Diocese of Minnesota is leading the way for the rest of The Episcopal Church," said Integrity President Susan Russell, "as they move us forward into a future where the resolutions we passed at our recent General Convention become a reality."

That reality--which was stated in Resolution D025--is "that God's call to the ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church is a mystery which the Church attempts to discern for all people through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church."

Integrity is delighted that The Episcopal Church has opened the way for dioceses like Minnesota to field the best possible slate of candidates for the episcopate. "We hope that other dioceses will recognize that "discern for all people" really means ALL" said Russell, "and that the actions of our General Convention will put a sad chapter of discrimination against the LGBT baptized behind us."

It is now up to the Diocese of Minnesota to do the discernment work they have been called to do. We extend congratulations to all the candidates--any one of whom will make a fine bishop for The Episcopal Church--and will pray for the Diocese of Minnesota as they discern together who God is calling to be their bishop.


(The Reverend) Susan Russell, President
714-356-5718 (mobile)