Thursday, January 28, 2010


In a meeting yesterday (1/27/2010) with Archbishop Rowan Williams and Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori reports that they discussed Haiti, Sudan, Liberia, Rwanda and the Millennium Development Goals. Integrity USA was stunned by the omission of any mention of the draconian anti-gay legislation pending in Uganda.

"We view this as a huge missed opportunity to dialogue on an issue that has galvanized international human rights leaders," said the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, Integrity's Vice President for National & International Affairs. “Since the Presiding Bishop has stated in the past that the proposed Ugandan legislation is a "potential impingement on basic human rights,' we cannot understand her reticence to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves in Uganda.”

The Presiding Bishop stated that the meeting was 'marked by openness to partnership and a respect for the large role that faith communities play in healing the world today.' Integrity regrets that neither the Presiding Bishop nor the Archbishop of Canterbury stepped up on the role that faith communities can play in healing homophobia – and we believe it is never too late to do the right thing.

Integrity calls on our Presiding Bishop to utilize every opportunity to speak out against the draconian efforts in Uganda to criminalize the LGBT community -- especially when she has the ear of the Archbishop of Canterbury. We remind her of her investiture challenge to the church "to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor ... " And we invite her to join with us as we continue to work with a network of national and international human rights organizations and LGBT leaders to speak out, raise awareness and take action on this issue.

100,000 Blessings Update

Dear members and friends:

Epiphany is the season we celebrate the manifestation of God made human in the person of Jesus Christ—the dawning of divine light into a benighted human world.

During the past 35 years, Integrity USA has been a manifestation of God's inclusive love to The Episcopal Church and has illumined our denomination with the truth that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender baptized are entitled to all the sacraments.  As a result of Integrity's faithful witness, The Episcopal Church has made profound progress toward welcoming and affirming all of God's children.  

We rejoice, yet there remains much work to do at all the levels of The Episcopal Church!  We need to turn the legislative milestones achieved at Anaheim into living realities across the church.  In order to do that, we need your help.  In particular, we must raise sufficient funds to support a full-time, permanent Executive Director to lead us in our continuing outreach.

To support our advocacy and education efforts during this triennium, Integrity USA recently launched the 100,000 Blessings campaign.  Over $27,000 from 110 donors has been received so far.  If you have already given, thank you!  If you not yet given, I invite you to join me and all the others who have already participated generously.


The Rev. David Norgard

P.S. A contribution of $1000 or more will qualify you for lifetime membership. Remember that donations to Integrity are tax-deductible.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Presiding Bishop meets with UN Secretary General & Rowan Williams

[January 27, 2010] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori met with Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The following are comments from the Presiding Bishop about the meeting.


The meeting on Tuesday, January 26 with the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was marked by openness to partnership and a respect for the large role that faith communities play in healing the world today.

We talked about the devastation in Haiti and the resulting vulnerability of all people there, and most particularly the very disturbing stories that are emerging about human trafficking of children.

The Episcopal Church has been in Haiti for 150 years – working in schools, universities, hospitals and churches. We will be there for many years to come. I know that the whole Church shares my concern for the welfare of Haiti’s most vulnerable.

Our conversation also included a discussion of Sudan and upcoming elections there. I asked what lessons had been learned from Liberia and Rwanda. What can we do now to prevent further instability and violence? The Secretary General is working to insure that the outcome in Sudan is different this time.

We discussed progress made toward the Millennium Development Goals. Although there has been progress, it is sad to note that only one other developed nation has provided less of its committed funding than the United States. While all of the goals will not be achieved by 2015, now is the time to consider what the next phase will entail. We understand a great deal about what works and what still needs work, and it is time to develop the plan for carrying the goals forward to and beyond 2015.

I was heartened by the substantive conversation and grateful for the time spent with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General. I am hopeful for further conversations and partnerships to come.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop
The Episcopal Church

Hmmmmmmm - Not a word about Uganda! Very disappointing!!

Integrity Board News

Integrity's Board of Directors met in Pasadena, CA. from January 14th thru the 16th at All Saints Church.

Front row: David Norgard & Albert Ogle

Back row: David Cupps, Neil Houghton, Louise Brooks & Gretchen Renfro

The Board worked very long and hard and adopted a new strategic plan which is designed to take the victories from General Convention 2009 and make them a reality in each and every diocese in the church.

Other big news was from Integrity Vice President of Local Affairs, Neil Houghton (upper right) as he reported back from his trip to visit Integrity Puget Sound on his way to Pasadena. Neil has joined the blogoshere with the creation of his new blog: Many Things to Say. You can read detailed versions on his trip there but he wished to share some of his story with Walking With Integrity.

Above the Integrity Puget Sound group that gathered to meet with Neil.

Neil joined the group in a review of what is happening now, a thorough look at the group's goal goals and then they began to prioritize how mission is put into action.

The meeting was aptly facitiliated by Matt Haines, the Provincial Coordinator of Province VII.

Houghton reported that this Integrity chapter clearly has something to celebrate: their active involvement in Lambert House, a drop-in center for LGBT Youth. They fund meals twice a week. The members spoke of this with a sense of joy in what they are doing and how it involves them in the community.

Part of Neil's plan as Vice President of Local Affairs is to travel to all the provinces and meet with many Integrity chapters throughout the country. To follow more about Neil's plans and travels and musings, be sure to check out his new blog; Many Things to Say.

Integrity USA Seeks Executive Director

Integrity USA, a non-profit organization working for full inclusion of LGBT persons within the Episcopal Church, seeks qualified candidates for the position of Executive Director.  The person who fills this full-time position may be located anywhere in the United States and will work from his/her own city.
In concert with the Board of Directors, the E.D. leads the organization strategically in advancing its mission and in sustaining its support, tangible and intangible.  He or she serves as spokesperson, development officer and administrator.  The Executive Director is responsible for the day-to-day management and execution of all aspects of the organization’s operations, including programs, resource development, and administration. 
The Executive Director of Integrity must be knowledgeable about the Episcopal Church and its people.  He or she must be knowledgeable about the struggle for the moral equality of LGBT people in the church and society.  He or she must have demonstrated experience, knowledge and skills in church and/or nonprofit management, development, and governance.  An individual who has earned a bachelor’s degree is preferred.  Compensation will be commensurate with experience and qualifications.
Click here for more information on the requirements and responsibilities of this position. To apply or for more information, contact board president David Norgard at  Application deadline is February 21, 2010.  For more information about Integrity USA, go to

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Multi-City Prayer Hour Offers Alternative to the National Prayer Breakfast Whose Leaders Have Apparent Ties to Uganda’s Draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill

What:  On Tuesday, February 2, 2010, key religious leaders will hold a press conference to announce the formation of The American Prayer Hour, a multi-city event on February 4, 2010, with key events in Washington, DC, Dallas, Chicago and Berkeley.  The American Prayer Hour events will affirm inclusive values and call on all nations, including Uganda, to decriminalize homosexuality. We also want to spotlight the National Prayer Breakfast, which is sponsored by The Family (aka The Fellowship), a group with disturbing ties to those spearheading Uganda’s oppressive Anti-Homosexuality Bill. 

When: Tuesday, February 2, 2010 – 10:30 a.m. (EST)

Where:                The National Press Club (Washington, DC) Murrow Room
529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor - Washington, DC 20045

Who:   Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church
Frank Schaeffer, author, “Crazy For God: How I Grew Up As One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right and Lived to Take All Back.”
             Harry Knox, The Human Rights Campaign, Director of Religion and Faith
Moses, A gay Ugandan man seeking asylum in The United States
Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, Metropolitan Community Church, Board of Elder
Bishop Carlton Pearson, Senior Interim Minister at Chicago, Illinois’s
Christ Universal Temple

Background: Uganda is considering the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, put forth by parliamentarian David Bahati and initially backed by President Yoweri Museveni. If passed, the new law would unleash a vicious campaign of persecution against LGBT citizens. Bahati and President Museveni are members of The Family and are among their “key men” in Africa. The Family hosts the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.  The American Prayer Hour will show that such cruelty and extremism does not represent most people of faith.

God's Call and Our Response: New Publication from the Chicago Consultation

January 25, 2010

Dear Chicago Consultation friends:

Earlier this month, diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction were formally notified of the election of the Rev. Mary Glasspool as bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Bishop-elect Glasspool is the second openly gay, partnered person to be elected bishop in the Anglican Communion.

The 2009 General Convention of the Episcopal Church affirmed, through Resolution D025, that God calls partnered gay and lesbian people to all orders of ministry in the Episcopal Church. The Chicago Consultation believes that this position is consistent with traditional Anglican polity and theology. To aid standing committees and bishops with their role in the consent process, we have published a collection of essays by eminent theologians across the Episcopal Church.

Our new publication, God's Call and Our Response, is edited by the Rev. Dr. Ruth A. Meyers, Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. God's Call and Our Response includes essays by:

·      The Rev. Canon Gary R. Hall, Ph.D, Christ Church Cranbrook, Bloomfield
       Hills, Michigan

·      The Rev. Jay Emerson Johnson, Ph.D., Graduate Theological Union,
       Berkeley, California

·      The Rev. Dr. John Kater, Professor Emeritus of Ministry Development,
       Church Divinity School of the Pacific

·      Dr. Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Mary Wolfe Professor of Historical
       Theology, Episcopal Divinity School

We invite you to download God's Call and Our Response and share the link with anyone you know who might find it useful. Please also visit the Chicago Consultation's website and join us on Facebook to learn more about our work.

If you have questions, please email us at Thank you, as always, for your prayers and support.


The Chicago Consultation


The Rev. Jennifer Adams, Grace Episcopal Church, Holland, MI

The Very Rev. Dr. Brian Baker, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Sacramento, CA

The Rev. Lowell Grisham, St. Paul's Episcopal Church Fayetteville, AR

The Rev. Bonnie A. Perry, All Saints' Episcopal Church, Chicago, IL

Monday, January 25, 2010

God’s not dead: How LA fills the pews ... and we don’t

From Ruth Gledhill's column in The Times......

Lucy Broadbent

It’s not that I am especially pious. Believe me, I was mostly praying for cashmere this Christmas. As the old joke goes: Am I religious? No, I’m Church of England. But I have a confession to make: I do go to church, and not just at Christmas either. I go all the time. Even on weekdays sometimes.

I’m aware that such an admission is rather like owning up to being a trainspotter these days, but then I don’t have to put up with the desolate aisles and empty pews that most of you have become familiar with in Britain — where the best that can be hoped for on a Sunday is a faint whiff of incense and three old ladies and a homeless person singing watery hymns.

According to a report published tomorrow there is a sharp decline in religious belief in Britain. Half the population now calls itself Christian, down from two thirds in 1983. At the same time, the proportion who confess to “no religion” has increased from just under a third to more than four in ten. If Jews and Muslims are included, non-Christians now represent 7 per cent of the population, up from 2 per cent 25 years ago.

I hate to sound as if I’m boasting, but at the Anglican church my family attends in Los Angeles, you have to go early if you want a seat. Rather like being at a football match when your team has just won, the sheer numbers alone leave you with a spring in your step and a song on your lips.

St James Church, which sits at the intersection of an affluent middle-class neighbourhood, and many poorer communities in LA, is an Episcopal Church, that is the American equivalent of the Church of England. But, unlike its British cousins, it is packed because it goes out of its way to create a community in a big, sprawling city. There’s a supper club on Wednesday nights, set up with the intention of giving mums a night off, and a chance for families to make friends.

There is also an elementary school, a nursery school and a reasonably priced child-care centre for working families. Then there’s the aerobics classes in the church hall — always popular; boy scout meetings — my son won’t miss one; and a soup kitchen for the homeless. Sometimes, if you are trying to raise a family, it’s hard to stay away from the place.

When I moved to LA a dozen or so years ago, religion was incidental to my life. Unless on a turbulent aircraft, indifference beckoned. There were a few childhood memories of Sunday school and sitting in a pew with a children’s Bible. But religion had slipped into cobwebbed disuse as soon as the teen years took over. Spirituality? Well, I listened to reggae music at parties. If I’d stayed in Britain, I’d probably have become another of the lost Christians.

But the combination of having children and moving to the US changed everything. It led to finding a school for my boys that happened to be attached to an Episcopal church, which meant there were all-school chapel services, and care for the spiritual well being of a child, not just academic achievement — something with which we were familiar from our own childhoods. Subconsciously, my husband and I were probably seduced by the similarities the school had with memories of England.

We started attending the church. Our eldest joined the choir. The hymns were the same, even if they got the tunes wrong, and the words of the service were as I remembered them growing up in a village in Hertfordshire 40-odd years before.

While churches in England have, for the most part, modernised their services in an attempt to attract bigger crowds — some of them becoming painfully evangelical and happy clappy — the Episcopal church in the US still uses the older, traditional liturgies, the ones that I remember nostalgically. It was these superficial trappings that appealed to us originally. My husband, who writes music for a living, is a sucker for a choir — but it is the values that we found there that has really kept us coming back.

At our church, it is not unusual to see children with two mums or two dads, sitting next to Koreans, African-Americans, Hispanics, as well as many white middle-class families. There are monied people from Beverly Hills, rubbing shoulders with artists from downtown. Gay people next to straight. It’s jolly, social and somehow has a relevance to everyone’s life. It reflects an acceptance of all, the kind of value I’d like my children to have. And it is a community. Spirituality, I believe, comes from acknowledging that we are part of something greater than just ourselves.

My father, who lives in London and used to take me to church as a child, no longer attends church. He compares sitting in an empty church with being a sole diner in a restaurant — miserable. What’s on offer in church has no connection to his life any more. Instead he goes to a business networking group to find community and carries his own ideas of spirituality inside his head. My mother (now separated from my father) still attends church, but she is one of only seven who attend regularly in her village. There are so few in the congregation, they all sit in the choir stalls.
I am now largely embarrassed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who took it upon himself to advise the bishops of the diocese of LA against electing the Rev Canon Mary D. Glasspool to be a bishop, because she happens to be openly gay.

I asked our rector, the Rev Paul Kowalewski, why his church was always full. “We are part of a community,” he says. “In a big city like Los Angeles, people are looking for a community. We give them the welcome they are looking for.”

Hope in SW London

Tomorrow’s report will make grim reading on the decline of faith in Britain. The analysis by Professor David Voas, for the National Centre for Social Research of the 4,486 interviews in the 2008 British Social Attitudes survey, points to the steepest fall being among those who attend worship ceremonies in the Church of England.

Average Sunday attendance in 2007 fell to 978,000 compared with 1.2 million in 1983.

Voas says: “The declining Christian share is largely attributable to a drift away from the Church of England.” In church circles the accepted wisdom is that the decline can be linked to a move in liberal congregations away from biblical orthodoxy.

Figures from organisations such as Christian Research support the widely accepted thesis that all the growth is at the evangelical end.

But closer examination of thriving churches, such as the Los Angeles church profiled here by Lucy Broadbent, show that this need not be the case.

Canon Giles Fraser, Chancellor of St Paul’s, was until recently vicar of St Mary’s, Putney, in which there is hardly enough space in the church to hold the 350 Sunday worshippers, including 100 children.

What marks this church and many others in southwest London is that they are far from evangelical, unless that is taken in its original Greek and, ironically, biblical sense of being messengers of good news.

Canon Fraser’s “gospel” for success was a book by Dr Jeffrey John on how to do church well. Dr John is now Dean of St Albans having been forced to resign as Bishop of Reading because of his sexuality.

The Anglican Communion’s first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, preached at St Mary’s at the start of the 2008 Lambeth Conference in Canterbury. The Inclusive Church movement that campaigns for equality for gays in the church was started there by Canon Fraser. And the motion that eventually saw the General Synod agree in 1992 that women could be ordained to the priesthood began life with a motion from the parochial church council at St Mary’s.

St Mary’s has a café on the premises and a heavily oversubscribed church school near by. Just a dozen or so children from the congregation are admitted there each year — so the school does not explain the overflowing pews, or why so many families stay even when their children don’t make it through the admissions process.

What St Mary’s and its other local thriving churches do prove is that it is possible to be inclusive as a church in England, and not only survive but thrive. Canon Fraser says: “It is just a question of doing the basics and doing them well. It is caring for people, preaching good sermons, making sure to be organised. There is a huge children’s programme with Sunday school teachers trained in what is called Godly Play. A lot of churches in that area are not evangelical but they are full.”

Holy Trinity Brompton, in Knightsbridge, southwest London, is packed with thousands of young Christians each Sunday and is the church where the successful Alpha course began. It is another example of a growing church.

From the opposite end of the evangelical spectrum to St Mary’s Putney, HTB has a more conventional approach to church growth, which includes “planting” or founding dozens of new congregations in London, many of which also flourish and to go on to plant yet more churches.

Since the 1960s it has been part of the secular creed that “God is dead”. But in spite of surveys such as tomorrow’s, the evidence is that belief in God is anything but dead. Churches and other religions across the spectrum have continued to defy prophecies of their imminent demise and, against the statistics, the signs are that they will continue to do so.

Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"Fear Not" -- A Report from the Massachusetts Front

From The Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39

A lobby day for transgender equality yesterday capped off what has been, to put it mildly, an extraordinarily intense week here in Massachusetts.

I attended the lobby day in support the H1728/S1687 “An Act Relative To Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes” bill with my partner and our three-month-old son, and delivered a brief invocation at the end of the speeches in my capacity as Co-Chair of the locally based InterfaithCoalition for Transgender Equality.

The mood in the historic Nurses Hall at the State House was tense, energetic, and laced with anger in the wake of Republican Scott Brown’s Tuesday defeat of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Martha Coakley. Brown’s win removes Senate Democrats’ sixty-vote supermajority and imperils the passage of national health care reform legislation.

Coakley had been widely backed by the state’s transgender community, as Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Executive Director Gunner Scott forcefully expressed in a Bay Windows opinion letter last September: “as State Attorney General, Martha Coakley came out early for transgender civil rights as the first statewide elected official to publicly support ‘An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes.’” Coakley also “sought civil rights injunctions in numerous cases involving hate crimes against LGBT victims” including one “against two men who attacked a transgender teenager in a Dorchester pizza shop.”

Meanwhile, as Chuck Colbert reported in Bay Windows yesterday, the Massachusetts LGBT community was angered this election by “anti gay-baiting robo calls” that began plaguing Massachusetts phone lines three days before voters hit the polls. Originating “in a 202 area code from the Washington, D.C. [area], a recorded male voice asks residents if they view marriage defined as ‘only between one man and one woman.’ If they indicated ‘Yes’ they were urged to vote for Brown, ‘the only candidate with a proven track record’ of supporting traditional marriage. The call also labeled Coakley as a ‘radical’ same-sex marriage supporter who opposed letting the people vote on the issue and who used taxpayer dollars to support a same-sex marriage ‘agenda.’”

With the Supreme Court just yesterday approving by a 5-4 margin that corporations and labor unions can spend unlimited amounts on federal elections, the floodgates of such robo-calls and other methods of bombardment would appear to be opening at the national level.

The majority opinion, penned by Justice Anthony Kennedy, argued that to prevent such spending is to censure free speech. “When government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought,’’ he wrote.

Add to this mix the continuing cloud of grief and anxiety hovering over the many intersecting communities devastated by last week’s 7.0 earthquake in Haiti. Numerous people in New England had connections to the events in Haiti, including members of the large Boston Area Haitian community, the Sisters of Saint Margaret, and medical teams from Boston based Partners in Health.

And add to that list the trans community which learned last weekend of the death of Flo McGarell, a visual artist and transman from Newbury, Vermont, who lived in the city of Jacmal for the past six years, serving as director of the FOSAJ, a non-profit art center. The New England Cable News did what struck me as a very respectful interview with McGarrell’s grieving parents and, perhaps without meaning to, gestured toward the complexity of McGarrell’s gender identity and expression.

In an in-depth interview with the art 21 blog about his wildly creative art, Flo described himself as “a total gender mash up” which was “a constant and humorous topic of discussion” in Jacmal. When asked about what guided his artistic vision, Flo answered:

“Don’t hide, don’t lie.
Do that which scares me.
Resist the urge to settle.
Be as many things as possible in this lifetime.”
His loved ones are organizing memorials and tributes at this site.

With such losses along with the sour economy on the minds of lobby day attendees yesterday, a fundamental question emerged: how can we help return a sense of confidence to lawmakers who may be afraid to fight for any legislation considered “controversial” right now? How can we break through this late-January crust of fear?

Fear may be eroding Massachusetts’s transgender nondiscrimination legislation, just as it is at work in the stalled Employment Nondiscrimination Act in Washington. D.C. How is it that over 105 state lawmakers (out of a total of 200) have signed on as co-sponsors of the MA bill, that a poll conducted last November by Lake Research Partners showed that 76% of Massachusetts residents and 80% of Massachusetts women support it, that Governor Deval Patrick has signaled his enthusiastic support, and still this bill has not gotten out of committee? We cannot let the events of this week, devastating as they are, deter us from this crucial task.

As I think and pray about all of these swirling currents, as I watch the dynamics of fear playing out all around me, I can’t help but think of McGarrell’s conscious ethic of fearlessness. And that sentiment, in this week’s context, draws my mind to the Apostle Paul writing to communities in Rome about the eager longing with which creation waits to be set free from its bondage. We may groan inwardly now, he says, and we may feel alone in our labor, but the Spirit indeed intercedes for us, and urges us onward, never, ever separate from the love of God, as we collaborate in building God’s glorious dream.

As the three of us emerged from the State House, we were dazzled by a brilliant, cold blue sky and streams of sunlight.


Here is the invocation, which uses language tailored for a group of numerous religious (and nonreligious) traditions:

Nurses’s Hall, State House ~ Boston, Massachusetts
January 21, 2010

An Invocation for Transgender Lobby Day

May the Holy One of all our traditions bless, protect and empower us, illumining us with insight, calm and unfathomable fortitude.

May we be reminded of the remarkable strength that lies within us, urging us onward even in face of the steepest odds.

May our hearts be filled with gratitude and awe for the sacred community gathered here today: trans people, partners, allies, families of all configurations, people of all races and ethnicities, sexual orientations, national origins, religious and spiritual traditions, professions and vocations.

May the Divine Spirit flowing among us stir up our prophetic anger at the evils of apathy and expediency as much as of bigotry and ignorance.

And may we go forth with boldness, empowered to bear witness to the truth of our lives and the birthright of our human dignity.

All this we ask in the name of the All-Holy One who urges us into life and love, and sets us free. Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge is Vicar of St. Luke’s and St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Allston, MA and an academic whose scholarly interests center on the history of Christianity and theological constructions of sex/gender/sexuality. A transgender man, Cameron is a member of TransEpiscopal, Integrity USA, and co-chair of the Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

" inescapable network of mutuality."

A Sermon by the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
St. Andrew and Holy Communion, South Orange, NJ
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 17, 2010

A few minutes ago we gave thanks for the many saints who have come before us, for our ancestors and our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, for all who have toiled to build the world we have dreamed of, the dream the prophets continue to hold before us, of that world we have not yet seen in its fullness.

Moses led his people out of Egypt in search of that dream, of a land of milk and honey, where slavery would be left behind, and no one’s labor would be stolen by the powerful, where God’s children might live in peace and abundance. It’s the same dream that the prophet Martin Luther King held before us – a world where no one goes hungry, where each one has a decent shelter at night, where all have an equal claim on justice. It is the eternal dream of God’s spirit within us, and the vision that Jesus urges on his followers. This dream is not just a dream for the end time. This dream comes among us like a thief in the night, it sneaks up on us when we’re not paying attention, and this dream lives within us.

We’ve confronted that dream this week as we’ve seen the terror of Haiti, a land shaken by the impersonal forces of an ever-changing globe. It’s also a terror in which human forces play an enormous role. The dream of God is evident in the care of one Haitian for another, and in the care of the world’s urgent response.

We know that most of the buildings of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti in and around Port-au-Prince have been destroyed. Two of our young adult missionaries who’ve been teaching theology there are on their way home. I have not been able to reach the bishop yet, but one of those young adults reports that Bishop Zaché Duracin has organized a camp of several thousand persons, caring for those with nowhere else to go. This includes the bishop, whose own home has been destroyed. They have water and some food, and a purpose – to care for each other and for the suffering around them. The dream of God is becoming real on that soccer field, in small and hidden ways.
At the same time our hearts are breaking as we see the bodies and hear the stories about not knowing where family members are. Those with experience in disasters, whether you lived through the aftermath of 9/11 or Katrina, or the professionals, who do this compassionate work for a living, know that the recovery and rebuilding will take a very long time. The damage in Haiti is far worse than it was when an equivalent earthquake hit San Francisco 20 years ago, when only 62 people died – it’s worse because the infrastructure in Haiti is so poor, and the buildings there so fragile. It is a result of poverty.

And that poverty is what the prophet Martin would challenge us about. Haiti has its roots in a history of slavery. Spaniards first imported Africans as slaves to the island on which Haiti sits in 1517. The island went back and forth between Spanish and French control over the next two centuries, with the French eventually colonizing the western part. In 1804, a slave revolt led to the first independent nation in Latin America, the second independent nation in this hemisphere after the United States, the first post-colonial black-led nation anywhere, and the first nation established as the result of a successful slave rebellion. If that isn’t an Exodus story, I don’t know what is. The Haitians were delivered from Pharaoh, led by their own team of Moseses. Yet they have never tasted much milk and honey.

Martin the prophet would remind us that there are still slaves around us – those who live in thralldom to grinding poverty, like the 80% of Haitians who live on less than $2 a day. That’s the kind of poverty that the first of the Millennium Development Goals is meant to relieve. Martin the prophet would remind us that there is no justice when some live in that kind of poverty. And Martin the prophet would remind us that the people of Haiti are our brothers and sisters. Did you hear his words?

How can one avoid being depressed when he sees with his own eyes evidences of millions of people going to bed hungry at night? How can one avoid being depressed when he sees with his own eyes God’s children sleeping on the sidewalks at night? Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are tied together in a single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.

Martin Luther King’s ministry was focused on liberating the people of these United States, but his message pointed toward the universal liberation of all people, all God’s children, here and around the globe. The work he began here helped to liberate the people of South Africa. The ways in which Americans and faithful people around the world began to hear that universal message have made us conscious that oppression, and discrimination, and injustice anywhere are indeed our problem. We are most certainly “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”

This congregation is abundantly aware of that reality – it shows in your care for, and your ministry with, so many who suffer in want of food, and clothing, and shelter, and education. Your particular focus on children reminds us all that Jesus came among us as one of them, and maybe we can remember that we’re all God’s children, and that Jesus is still present among us in the most vulnerable.

What do you do when you encounter someone who is particularly vulnerable? You’ve probably heard and seen the stories about trying to get still-living people out of ruined buildings in Haiti. One man was sedated before they dragged him through a very tight spot. Others have had water piped to them through tiny hoses. Some of them had to have limbs amputated in order to deliver them from potential tombs. Rescuers do what is most needed to sustain life.

I’m struck by the image of a tiny child, newly born, newly delivered, perhaps the most vulnerable life most of us ever meet. What do we do with a child like that? Wrap it up and keep the child warm. Martin invited us as church to become a thermostat, rather than a thermometer, to be an instrument that changes the temperature of the society around us. Well, my friends, it’s time to turn the heat up. Babies are dying out there. God’s children, our brothers and sisters, are dying of neglect – our neglect to work for justice both here and around the globe. Haiti is also a child of God, teetering on the cusp of life. She needs water, food, solidarity in prayer, work for justice, redevelopment, she needs milk and honey.

Haiti is a bellwether for all the world’s children, for all God’s children, caught in that network of mutuality. None of us will arrive in that land of milk and honey of which we have dreamed for eons, none of us will enter that land until and unless we cross the river together. Only hand in hand with our neighbors, poor, hungry, thirsty, only when we keep on building that network of mutuality. Take my hand, precious Lord, and put it in the hand of my sister and my brother. Take my hand, take all our hands, and together – together - we shall come into the promised land.

Episcopalians @ Creating Change

Creating Change 2010

Meet with other Episcopalians during Creating Change for conversation, dinner, and Compline. Saturday, February 6, 6:30 pm, Kitchen Table Restaurant & Lounge in the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, 400 North Olive Street. Organized by Integrity's Acting Executive Director John Clinton Bradley and Vice-President for Local Affairs Neil Houghton. Each person will be responsible for his/her own meal costs. RSVP at

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


By Katharine Jefferts Schori, January 19, 2010

[Episcopal News Service] The world has been turned upside down, as the bones of the earth have shifted underneath Haiti. We are reminded of life's fragility and unpredictability as we watch the news reports and see the devastation of human lives.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere; 80 percent of her people live on less than $2 a day. Even before this earthquake, she struggled to provide for her poor.

Since its founding in 1804 as the first African-led nation in the Western Hemisphere, and the first resulting from the rebellion of former slaves, Haiti has experienced disaster after disaster, both natural and political. Until now, hurricanes have been the most frequent riders of the apocalyptic horse.

The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti is among the largest in our church. Before this disaster, the diocese counted between 100,000 and 120,000 members in 169 congregations served by just 37 clergy. The diocese has been a major force for human well-being in all senses – spiritual, emotional, intellectual, cultural and physical.

Resourceful and spirit-filled Haitian Episcopalians served more than 80,000 children in 254 diocesan educational institutions, from preschool to college. The diocese sponsored Haiti's only philharmonic orchestra and its only schools for disabled children and nursing. The Hôpital de Sainte Croix provided community health services for the Leogane region. Two vocational training institutes supplied Haiti with auto mechanics, computer technicians and business managers. Development programs helped rural communities toward food security by raising rabbits and sharing plows.

This earthquake flattened the cathedral and its surrounding buildings, including schools and a convent; it destroyed the bishop's home and the diocesan offices. One of the diocese's institutions of higher education is gone. We don't know the condition of other institutions. Several churches were destroyed.

The work of rebuilding lives, diocesan institutions and the fabric of the nation will take years. The Episcopal Church – all of it – will be vital in that effort.

Likewise, the Diocese of Liberia, once a part of our church and now a member of the Anglican Province of West Africa, grew to serve God's people in a nation founded by freed slaves. The country is recovering from years of civil war. Everywhere there is evidence of violence – burned-out automobiles and trucks, decaying buildings, impassable streets and roads, limited and intermittent electricity and a lack of basic services. Despite those realities, the Liberian people are filled with hope. They are rebuilding their homes, their lives and their nation with creativity and will.

The Episcopal Church in Liberia has a long and honored place in the life of the nation. Since 1889, Cuttington University has trained many of the nation's leaders. Diocesan schools provided much of the best elementary and secondary education available. The sad reality is that most diocesan institutions were damaged or destroyed in the unrest, and many still are trying to rebuild.

In the immediate aftermath of the Haiti disaster, cash donations are the most effective and essential way to help. Episcopal Relief & Development is working with its partners there, especially a network of community-development agents it has trained over the last few years. Together they will connect need with resources.

Rebuilding the diocese must be directed by its people. Only the bishop and leaders there can tell us where and what aid is most needed. The people of Louisiana and Mississippi know what this is like, and those who have partnered with them know the blessing of being vulnerable enough to listen to and take direction from those who are suffering.

As time goes on, the world will forget the extent of this devastation. Our task will be to listen, remember and respond.

Indeed, we have seen that the world's attention, once riveted by Liberia's violent unrest, has turned away. Yet, the church there desperately needs partners in its rebuilding work. Dollars are needed, but that need is secondary. There is enormous hunger for, and pride in seeking, self-sufficiency. Liberian Episcopalians need trainers of teachers. They need hospital administrators and medical personnel. They need missionaries who are willing to train Liberians to train others. The Episcopal Church has the human resources they need.

In our urge to be compassionate in the aftermath of such disasters, I pray that we discover that we are so interconnected that we no longer can simply talk about the poor of Haiti and Liberia. I pray that we will tell the story of all the suffering in our midst, about the poor and bereaved members of the entire human family. Truly, when disaster strikes one of the least of these, it strikes all of us.

Together we can bring a measure of healing to Haiti and Liberia. May the result be much closer to the dream we share for the reign of God.

-- The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori is presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

DO YOUR PART: Give Generously to ERD's HAITI Relief

Integrity's Board of Directors urges Integrity members to join the Rev. Lauren Stanley, Episcopal missionary to Haiti, in her plea to help those suffering from last week's devastating earthquake.

"God has always done God's part and the Episcopal Church of Haiti has always done its part" for that last 150 years, forming Christians, teaching the children of the country, healing the sick, aiding the hungry and thirsty, helping the lame to walk by way of prosthetic limbs, she said."And we are prepared to do our part again and what we ask of [U.S.-based Episcopalians] is that they do their part because we are brothers and sisters in Christ, related not by the blood of our birth, but by the waters of our baptism," said Stanley

Episcopal Relief & Development has said that, at this point in the relief effort, monetary donations are the best way for most individuals to partner with Haitians. Independent volunteer travel to Haiti is being discouraged for the foreseeable future given the country's instability.
To donate to Episcopal Relief & Development go to; call the agency at 1-800-334-7626 ext.5129, or mail a gift to Episcopal Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058. Please write "Haiti Fund" in the memo of all checks.

GLAAD Demands and Receives an Apology from Notre Dame and The Observer

January 19, 2010 by

On January 13, The Observer, the student newspaper at the University of Notre Dame ran an incredibly offensive and dangerous cartoon. In the cartoon, two characters have the following dialogue:

“What is the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?”“No idea”“A baseball bat.”

According to the cartoonists’ now-defunct blog, the original version had used the punch line, “AIDS,” instead of “A baseball bat,” but editors of the school paper had decided that was too problematic.

GLAAD immediately reached out to the student paper and demanded an apology and action be taken to prevent this type of thing from happening again. GLAAD also contacted the office of the President of Notre Dame to insist that the administration denounce the cartoon and its message of violence.

The Observer acted quickly, publishing an editorial retracting the cartoon and apologizing for it in the following day’s edition. The cartoonists issued an apology in the form of a letter to the editor – they also pulled down their blog entirely. The Observer provided space for guest columns about the cartoon to a professor of sociology, the school’s “Core Council,” Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College, as well as GLAAD. GLAAD’s op-ed will be submitted this week. The editor that made the dangerously misguided decision to publish the cartoon resigned from the paper, and the Editor in Chief has decided to cancel future publication of the cartoon.

Additionally, the President of the University of Notre Dame issued a statement about the cartoon: “The University denounces the implication that violence or the expressions of hatred toward any person or group of people is acceptable or a matter that should be taken lightly.”

The Editor in Chief of The Observer is revising internal policies to avoid this type of dangerous content from being published again. One of the very first actions she took was to place a copy of GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide at every work station at the paper.

GLAAD will continue to work with The Observer to foster fair, accurate and inclusive future coverage of LGBT people and issues.

Kudos to Ann Craig and her colleagues at GLAAD for their great work on this story!!!

Homophobia Still a Huge Issue at Notre Dame

From Open Economics.... a blog administered by a group of students and alumni from the University of Notre Dame who are interested in engaging and debating the world of economic phenomena we face, everywhere and everyday.

One of the giant elephants in the room at Notre Dame is that for a campus that espouses social justice and equality, it has not made much progress on creating a sexual orientation-neutral culture on campus. In many ways, it has directly stifled it, by rejecting non-discrimination language intended to welcome homosexuals, and also by repeatedly stonewalling requests for club recognition by AllianceND, Notre Dame’s unofficial gay-straight alliance. Anecdotal reports of homophobia are rampant, and the campus has rightfully earned itself the #5 ranking in Princeton Review’s “Alternative Lifestyle Not an Alternative” list.

Read the rest of the blog here.

Integrity applauds this group for speaking out!


The Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton offers an insightful and faithful commentary on the University of Notre Dame's shockingly offensive cartoon advocating gay bashing that made the news last week. Integrity joins with all those voices lifted in outrage -- and will be working with allies to call the University to greater accountability in the days and weeks ahead.

The Road Back

by Elizabeth Kaeton

I was watching a rerun of one of my favorite movies, "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" the other night. I know. A real "chick-flick." Mother-daughter stuff. The way women relate to each other.

Stay with me, now. It's not what you think.

It was a throw-away line in a scene between Siddalee Walker, played by Sandra Bullock, and Shep, her father, played by James Garner.

I can't even remember the context - I think Siddalee is just learning the extent of her mother's mental illness and is coming to terms with their rocky relationship.

Her father says, "Ah, the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

She laughs and asks, "Yeah, well what's the road back paved with?"

"Humility," he says.

That's more than just a great line, you know?

I have come to learn that the most powerful words in the English language are these, "I'm sorry."

If said with authenticity and true humility, they can begin to mend a broken heart, heal a broken relationship, or place one on the path toward reconciliation.

If it is not, however, if it is said in a perfunctory or insincere manner, it can make matters worse. Much, much worse that whatever the initial situation involved.

I'm not talking about the kind of apology you probably gave to one of your siblings when your mother forced you to, "Say you're sorry. Now. Right now."

I remember those. Hand on hip. Left foot tapping. Shoulders slumped. Looking off into the distance. Barely audible. "So'reeeee . . . ."

I'm not sure how I feel about the apology that was issued by the student newspaper at Notre Dame. The viciously anti-gay "cartoon" above appeared in last week's edition and the editor has apologized.

If you can 't read it, it says, "What's the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?"

"No clue," says the guy in the second frame.

The answer is in the third frame: "A baseball bat." The punchline in the cartoon was originally going to be "AIDS," but the artist "didn't want to make fun of fatal diseases."

Right. GLAAD is on the case.

The Observer’s editor, Jenn Metz, relayed a tearful apology by phone to the folks at GLAAD. She explained that she was not present when the decision to run the cartoon was made, and that she was incredibly upset that others on staff had made that decision.

An apology printed in the paper included the following:

The editors of The Observer would like to publicly apologize for the publication of “The Mobile Party” in the Jan. 13 edition. The burden of responsibility ultimately lies on us for allowing it to go to print. 
There is no excuse that can be given and nothing that can be said to reverse the damage that has already been done by this egregious error in judgment. 

Allowing this cruel and hateful comic a place on our pages disgraced those values and severely hurt members of our Notre Dame family — our classmates, our friends. For this, we sincerely apologize. Unfortunately, the language of hate is an everyday reality in our society.”

Makes me think of myself when I said, "So'reeee" when my mother was standing over my shoulder.

". . . no excuse that can be given . . ." Well, that's right. Unfortunately, however, one was given in the last sentence. " . . ."the language of hate is an everyday reality in our society."

That's a true enough statement, but I think it diminished the "sincere apology" in the immediately previous sentence. Sometimes, you should just let an apology be sincere and let it go, because, as the statement also says . . .

". . . noting that can be said to reverse the damage that has already been done . . ."

Well, I'm not so sure about that.

Now that the "cartoonist" (who has not yet been named) whose not-so-good intentions have nevertheless dug himself and the university into some fresh hell, the only road back is one paved with humility.

Actions speak much louder than words. The President and Dean of the University of Notre Dame - a Roman Catholic school NOT run by the Jesuits, by the way, but an "independent Catholic university" founded by the order of the Congregation of the Holy Cross - needs to put some Christian principles into action.

Some questions need to be seriously explored and prayed over. Like:

How can a school whose founder, Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., said, “This college will be one of the most powerful means for doing good in this country,” actually embody that vision?

How can a school, a university of higher education which espouses Christian values, create an environment where that kind of attitude is simply not tolerated and a "cartoon" like that would never "slip by" when the editor wasn't looking?

Can a Roman Catholic institution which holds a theology that homosexuality is "inherently disordered" still take responsibility for the violence that position can produce while maintaining its theological position with integrity? How can they use their "independent" status to do some good?

I'm not talking about 'humiliation'. I'm not talking about 'shame and blame'.

I'm talking about humility. Big difference. Humility means accepting the truth about yourself - warts and all - the good, the bad and the ugly.

I don't know about you, but it takes an enormous amount of humility to admit the truth about something good about myself - sometimes more humility than it takes to admit the truth about the bad stuff about myself.

It's a long road back from the hell that was created by this vicious assault on the children of God as well as the image of God we have in Christ Jesus.

It begins with "I'm sorry." But, I think, it continues from there.

Actions speak much louder than words. The actions taken by Notre Dame in the weeks and months ahead will demonstrate the kind of humility required to follow the commandment given to us by Jesus:

"Love one another as I have loved you."


The Reverend Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton is the rector of St. Paul's, Chatham NJ, the president of the Episcopal Women's Caucus and a past-member of the Nat'l Integrity Board. She blogs at "Telling Secrets"

Monday, January 11, 2010

Report from the Prop 8 Front: Susan Russell on today's Supreme Court decision

Disappointed in today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court to block the broadcast of opening arguments in the Prop 8 trial, I am nevertheless convinced that the landmark case will help move California to the right side of history on the issue of marriage equality.

I was at the Pasadena Federal Court building this morning, hoping to hear opening arguments from the San Francisco trial. When word that the Supreme Court had temporarily ruled in favor of the argument that witnesses opposed to marriage equality could be victims of harassment and intimidation, here are the comments I made:

“The only potential victims here are fair minded Californians who deserve to have the important issue of marriage equality tried on its merits – not tried in the court of public opinion in political campaigns designed to tell lies, distort facts and distract the voters from the real issue at hand. And that issue is whether or not we are going to continue to strive to be a nation of liberty and justice for all – not just some – Americans.”

“This last ditch effort by supporters of discrimination against gay and lesbian families is nothing less than another smokescreen fueled by the flames of homophobia.”

“As a person of faith, one of the core biblical values I claim is ‘the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). Those who argue against marriage equality should have nothing to fear from the truth – and if their arguments do not stand up to the scrutiny of our legal system then the people of California deserve to know that.”

“As a member of California Faith for Equality I stand with over 6000 faith leaders across the state who ask our courts to do the job our constitution expects them to do, and that is to preserve equal protection for all Americans.”


The Courage Campaign is providing live blogging from the trial in San Francisco.

Gay Marriage Ban Goes On Trial In Cali

From NPR News/The Associated Press

The first federal trial to determine if the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from outlawing same-sex marriage gets under way Monday, and the two gay couples on whose behalf the case was brought will be among the first witnesses.

The proceedings, which are expected to last two to three weeks, involve a challenge to Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban approved by California voters in November 2008.

Regardless of the outcome, the case is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it ultimately could become a landmark that determines if gay Americans have the right to marry.

The judge who will render a decision, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, has asked lawyers arguing for and against the ban to present the facts underlying much of the political rhetoric surrounding same-sex marriage. Among the questions Walker plans to entertain are whether sexual orientation can be changed, how legalizing gay marriage affects traditional marriages and the effect on children of being raised by two mothers or two fathers.

While other courts have wrestled with the constitutional issues raised by prohibiting same-sex marriages - the Supreme Court last took a look at the issue 38 years ago - Walker's court is the first to employ live witnesses in the task. Among those set to testify are the leaders of the Proposition 8 campaign, academic experts from the fields of political science, history, psychology and economics, and the two plaintiff couples - Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier, who live in Berkeley, and Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo, who live in Los Angeles.

Read the rest here:

Sunday, January 10, 2010


California Faith for Equality Interim Executive Director Pastor Samuel M. Chu announces prayer vigil:

Monday, January 11, 2010
Time: 6:30am - 8:30am
Federal Court
450 Golden Gate Ave.
San Francisco, CA

Join us in a vigil for equality on the morning the federal courtbegins hearing the challenge against Prop 8. Together we will sharethe spirit of courage, hope and strength that will herald in the lighton this important next chapter of our civil rights movement.

There will be LOTS of strong coffee provided to those willing to getup that early and join us. Couples are encouraged to bring copies oftheir marriage licenses, photos from their weddings or anything thatmight help illustrate the importance of marriage equality and/or ourexperiences of getting married.

Perry v Schwarzenegger, the federal trial challenging Prop 8, isscheduled to begin on Monday January 11, 2010 at 8:30am in Courtroom 6 on the 17th floor of the Phillip Burton Federal Building at 450 GoldenGate Ave. in SF. There will be very limited seating available in thecourtroom. There will be an overflow room on the 19th floorbroadcasting the proceedings.

If you can't attend, there will be a camera in the courtroom and the proceedings will be uploaded to YouTube for delayed viewing.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Epiphany: Trans Folks “Among Us”

From The Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge

About a week ago I picked up a voicemail from my mom: “Sweetheart, I was wondering if you’ve heard about Amanda Simpson, the transgender woman who was appointed by President Obama this week?” I had indeed heard about Simpson whose appointment as Senior Technical Adviser for the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security rightly has been hailed as a milestone in the push toward full equality for trans people.

Then on Tuesday, January 5th, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration had “inserted language into the federal jobs Web site explicitly banning employment discrimination based on gender identity.” This move was hailed by the ACLU as “frankly a bigger deal” than the expected insertion of trans inclusive language into the federal handbook for supervisors and managers.

As we move into the season of Epiphany, my question is: what do these developments and the debates swirling around them, reveal about the place and progress of trans folks “among us”? Because if Epiphany – from the Greek epiphaneia, meaning manifestation or revelation – is a celebration of the light of Emmanuel, God-among-us, then part of this celebration requires our search for how God is revealing Godself among us and prodding us to move forward.

Of her own appointment Simpson stated, "I'm truly honored to have received this appointment and am eager and excited about this opportunity that is before me. And at the same time, as one of the first transgender presidential appointees to the federal government, I hope that I will soon be one of hundreds, and that this appointment opens future opportunities for many others."

Predictably, the religious right has received these developments as portents of doom . In response to the updated federal employment protections, Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council argued that trans people should be treated with reparative therapy. Simpson’s appointment prompted the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody to warn Obama not to alienate conservative Evangelicals with "the transgender thing”, while Peter Labarbera of Americans for Truth wondered, "Is there going to be a transgender quota now in the Obama administration?"

Simpson herself later gestured toward the difficulty of being a pioneer in a stigmatized group, remarking to, “I'd rather not be the first but someone has to be first, or among the first.” Yes, being among the first trans presidential appointees — and certainly the first to be publicly debated — has to be very tough, and she is certainly right to worry about being tokenized, scrutinized, or worse. Any trans person trying to build a career, including within the church, can attest to strains that fall on us. Indeed, a November 2009 survey jointly conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force revealed that 97% of respondents had been harassed or mistreated on the job and 26% had been fired simply for being transgender.

Stories and statistics like these reveal how crucial it is to finally pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, which has stalled in congress and which President Obama has said he will sign. The Episcopal Church urged the passage of a fully inclusive ENDA at its General Convention last summer.

Meanwhile, even some defenders of trans equality – such as the January 9th piece by Christine Wicker, author of The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church – reveal by their held noses just how far we have to go.

Wicker argued that to oppose Simpson’s appointment for conservative Christian reasons is to “favor one religious view over all others.” As a thirty-year veteran of the aerospace and defense industry, Simpson is enormously qualified for the job, end of discussion. And yet Wicker could not resist distancing herself from a community that clearly makes her uncomfortable: “She was so unhappy as a man that she went through the horrific process of changing her gender. Most of us can't begin to imagine what would cause a person to do something so strange. Thinking about it gives us the queasy feeling that the world is changing too quickly, in the wrong direction.” And then, “So where should the rest of us come down on this issue? If Amanda Simpson is qualified for the job, she ought to get it – even if the rest of us think she's weird or don't even think she is a she.”

And while I do wonder who needs enemies with friends like Wicker, her comments raise a key point. Certain pathologizing terms from her piece -- “unhappy”, “horrific”, “weird”, “strange” – could have sprung from the pen of a religious right critic. But one seemingly innocuous phrase does much more damage: “the rest of us”.

Yes, it’s the old us-them thing. I could simply say that this distinction is fundamentally false, because on one level it is. But on another level, and more crucially, questions like “where should the rest of us come down on this issue?” have a performative impact—they create distinctions. They instantiate division under the guise of (reluctant) charity. That’s the kind of charity on which Epiphany should train our eyes.

And then open our hearts. Because, in an odd way, Wicker’s unfortunate commentary remind me of Simpson’s repeated statements of being “among the first.” “Among”, it turns out, derives from the Middle English “ongemang” which literally means “in the crowd or company of” and shares the same root with the verb “to mingle.”

In other words, Simpson is not alone. Trans people are “among us”. Trans people are us. May the God who is among us strengthen and inspire us to reveal that truth in our relationships, our communities, and in our advocacy this season.

The Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge is Vicar of St. Luke’s and St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Allston, MA and an academic whose scholarly interests center on the history of Christianity and theological constructions of sex/gender/sexuality. A transgender man, Cameron is a member of TransEpiscopal, Integrity USA, and co-chair of the Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality.

Friday, January 8, 2010


From The Times
January 8, 2010
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

The Church of England is to consider recognising a new conservative church in the US in a move that will place further pressure on the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, as he struggles to keep his fracturing Communion in one piece.

The General Synod will debate a private member’s motion next month calling for the Church of England to declare itself “in communion” with the Anglican Church in North America, formed in opposition to the pro-gay liberals in the official Anglican body in North America.

The synod, dominated by evangelicals, could pass the motion by a 50 per cent majority, adding to the pressure on the primates and bishops to recognise the new church.

The motion, put down by Lorna Ashworth an evangelical from the Chichester diocese, comes after The Episcopal Church in the US elected a lesbian priest, Mary Glasspool, to be a suffragan bishop in the Los Angeles diocese.

A former adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Gregory Cameron, told The Times that he feared that were Canon Glasspool’s election confirmed in May, there would be a serious disruption in the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion.

Bishop Gregory, one of the architects of the new Anglican Convenant, a new unity document now in its fourth draft, said: “We have succeeded in getting all the primates round the table at primates’ meetings so far,” he said. “I don’t think that would happen again if The Episcopal Church confirms the election of Mary Glasspool.”

The consecration of Canon Glasspool as a bishop would signal that The Episcopal Church (TEC) was not willing to sign up to the covenant.

Dr Williams said: “It’s quite important in this process to remember what the Covenant is and what it isn’t, what it’s meant to achieve, and what it’s not going to achieve. It’s not going to solve all our problems, it’s not going to be a constitution, and it’s certainly not going to be a penal code for punishing people who don’t comply.

“But what it does represent is this: in recent years in the Anglican family, we’ve discovered that our relations with each other as local churches have often been strained, that we haven’t learned to trust one another as perhaps we should, that we really need to build relationships, and we need to have a sense that we are responsible to one another and responsible for each other. In other words, what we need is something that will help us know where we stand together, and help us also intensify our fellowship and our trust.

“The last bit of the Covenant text is the one that’s perhaps been the most controversial, because that’s where we spell out what happens if relationships fail or break down. It doesn’t set out, as I’ve already said, a procedure for punishments and sanctions. It does try and sort out how we will discern the nature of our disagreement, how important is it? How divisive does it have to be? Is it a Communion breaking issue that’s in question — or is it something we can learn to live with? And so in these sections of the Covenant what we’re trying to do is simply to give a practical, sensible and Christian way of dealing with our conflicts, recognising that they’re always going to be there.”

The next primates’ meeting will be in 2011 and member provinces have until the next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in 2012 to sign up.

Dr Williams admitted: “The Covenant text itself does make it clear that at some point it’ll be open to other bodies, other Ecclesial bodies as they’re called, other Churches and communities to adopt this Covenant, and be considered for incorporation into the Anglican Communion.”
If TEC does refuse to sign the covenant, recognition by the Church of England of the Anglican Church in North America, led by Archbishop Bob Duncan, the deposed Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh, could be a first step towards admitting it as a parallel or even substitute church in the worldwide Anglican family.

Peter Frank of the Anglican Communion Network said: “The 100,000 people worshipping in the 765 congregations of the Anglican Church in North America know themselves to be faithful Anglicans. We are delighted that the Church of England Synod has a resolution before it to declare us as faithful Anglicans and to state its desire to be in communion with us.”

Colin Blakely, editor of the Church of England Newspaper, said: “Many members of the Church of England share the orthodox beliefs of the Anglican Church of North America and would welcome their involvement in the Anglican Communion. There is nothing in the doctrines or ordinals of the Church to exclude them. However, the Anglican Communion has to address the issues concerning Anglican groups that are outside the normal structures. This is the real challenge for the Archbishop of Canterbury in the months ahead.”

David Virtue, of the conservative website VirtueOnline, said: "If the Church of England recognises the new North American Anglican Province it will be a major slap in the face at the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, the Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori. It will send a signal to liberals and orthodox alike that The Episcopal Church is no longer the only Anglican player in North America and it will also signal to the Primates that Archbishop Robert Duncan’s consecration is legitimate and recognised by the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

Giles Fraser, founder of the pro-gay Inclusive Church and Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s, said: “I’m happy to be in communion with them. The question is, are they happy to be in communion with me?”