Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Importance of Telling Our Stories

In the award winning documentary VOICES OF WITNESS, the stories of the LGBT faitful in the Episcopal Church, Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire said,  "It is time we stop talking about being gay and start talking about God. That way, they will know, that the Jesus you and I know, is the Jesus they know."

He is right!

From a Letter to the Editor of the New York Times titled "An Openly Gay Bishop, and a Church’s Message" published March 23, 2010 in response to an article titled “Episcopalians Confirm a Second Gay Bishop” (news article, March 18)

"As an evangelical Christian, I once held the attitude that heterosexuality was the only sexual orientation sanctioned by God. But I have since met hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of all faiths who in their hearts and minds find great joy and peace in their spirituality. Their spiritual experience is as real as mine — and perhaps more profound considering how some people work so hard to turn them away."

Read the entire letter here.

Telling your stories does change hearts and minds. Keep it up!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bishops' Theology Committee Publishes Draft Report on Same-Gender Relationships

So, they have finally done the theology????? 

From Episcopal Life Online....

By Mary Frances Schjonberg, March 24, 2010

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops, concluding its six-day retreat meeting at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas, has posted a draft of the long-awaited 95-page report titled "Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church" on the College of Bishops' website here.

"For a generation and more the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion have been engaged in a challenging conversation about sexual ethics, especially regarding same-sex relationships in the life of the church," Theology Committee Chair and Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley wrote in the report's preface. "The hope of this work is that serious engagement in theological reflection across differences will build new bridges of understanding."

A notation on the report's table of contents page cautions that the report "has been edited in several places" following a discussion among the bishops on March 20. "The responses of several pan-Anglican and ecumenical theologians will be added to this study in the summer, along with some further editing, before a final edition is published," the note concludes.

The House of Bishops had asked its theology committee in 2009 -- prior to the 76th meeting of General Convention -- to study the theology of same-gender relationships. In its report to the convention the committee said that the study would be "designed to reflect a full spectrum of views and to be a contribution to the listening process of the Anglican Communion, as well as to the discussion of this subject in our province." The committee said the study would be "a long-term, multi-step project that is designed to be completed in 2011."

Read the rest of the story here:

Let us know what you think of the report. Post a comment here after you read it.....all 95 pages.

Registration Now Open For San Diego Believe Out Loud Provincial Workshop!

During the spring and summer of 2010, Integrity USA will be holding a series for workshops in every province of The Episcopal Church. They are designed to give local Episcopalians the knowledge and skills they need to help their parishes and dioceses become more welcoming and affirming of LGBT folk.

Below is info on the the first workshop--which will be held on May 7 & 8 in San Diego. Although primarily intended for those who live in the southern half of Province 8, participants from other areas are welcome. Additional workshop are currently being planned and will be announced in the near future.

May 7-8, 2010 | San Diego


Friday, May 7th

St. Paul's Cathedral
3505 5th Avenue
San Diego, CA

Saturday, May 8th

3634 Seventh Ave 
San Diego, CA


To give local Episcopalians the knowledge and skills they need to help their parishes and dioceses become more welcoming and affirming of LGBT folk.


  • The State Of LGBT Inclusion Within The Episcopal Church
  • Helping Your Parish Becoming More Welcoming And Affirming Of LGBT People
  • Reaching Out To The Unchurched LGBT Community
  • Organizing At The Diocesan Level For LGBT Inclusion
  • Building Or Strengthening An Integrity Chapter
  • Electing And Lobbying Bishops, Deputies, And Other Key Leaders
  • Submitting And Passing Diocesan Convention Resolutions
  • Working With Allies
  • Communicating Effectively With Marshall Ganz's Public Narrative Approach
  • Using Print and Broadcast Media
  • Action Planning


Friday, May 7th

12:00 pm Registration
1:00 pm Afternoon Session
6:00 pm Buffet Dinner [provided]
7:00 pm Evening Session
9:00 pm Compline

Saturday, May 8th

8:00 am Continental Breakfast [provided]
8:30 am Morning Prayer
9:00 am Morning Session
12:00 pm Boxed Luncheon [provided]
1:00 pm Afternoon Session
3:00 pm Adjourn


The workshop will be facilitated by Neil Houghton, Integrity Vice President for Local Affairs, and Matt Haines, Integrity's Province 8 Coordinator.

A courtesy block of 10 rooms has been reserved for May 7th at the following hotel.  The rate is $109--which includes free parking, breakfast, and WiFi.  You are responsible for making your own hotel reservations.  Mention "Integrity" when making your reservation.  Reservations must be made by April 16th to receive the quoted rate.

525 Spruce Street
San Diego, CA 
Reservations: 800-874-2649 or 619-291-0999

A few local Integrity members are willing to host guests in their homes at no cost.  If you are interested in this option, please contact...

Robert Heylmun 
Diocese of San Diego Coordinator


There is no registration fee for this workshop.  However, you are responsible for your own travel, lodging, and meal expenses unless otherwise stated.


A limited amount of $150 scholarships are available to help defray participant's travel and lodging costs.  If you would like to take advantage of this offer, please indicate this when you register.


The following meals will be provided:
  • Buffet Dinner on Friday, May 7th
  • Continental Breakfast on Saturday, May 8th
  • Boxed Luncheon on Saturday, May 8th

If you have special dietary needs or preferences, please indicate this when you register.


Meeting venues are wheelchair accessible.  If you require other accommodation [such as an ASL interpreter, please indicate this when you register.

Air Travel & Ground Transportation

San Diego International Airport is the most convenient.  Several budget airlines serve this location.

The Park Manor Suites does not provide shuttle service.  A taxi between the airport and the hotel or either meeting venue will cost about $10.



If you any questions, please contact...

Matt Haines
Province 8 Coordinator

Midge Costanza: Helped to Create an Inclusive Country and an Inclusive Church.

In Memory of Margaret "Midge" Costanza
The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle

Friday 26th March 1977 was an historic day for every LGBT American. It was the first time LGBT people were invited to the White House. Literally, we were invited to “sit at the table” with the elected leadership of this country. This momentous occasion marked the end of the first decade of the gay liberation movement begun by the Stonewall uprising of 1969. We owed this breakthrough to one person: Midge Costanza who died on March 23rd in San Diego. She was my neighbor and my friend.

She often talked about her life as a special aide to President Carter. He called her his “window from the White House” to make government more accessible to women, communities of color, the LGBT community, workers and the marginalized. Midge invited all of us to the table. The dignity and place of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans was to change forever after Midge called the first meeting of 14 representatives of the gay community to the White House thirty three years ago.

Together with Jean O’Leary and others, Midge not only created a plank in the Democratic Party’s platform that included LGBT people for the first time, but she was the catalyst to begin the process of reconciliation of millions of Americans with their gay family members and colleagues. Her actions brought dignity, and affirmation and recognition of LGBT people as full citizens of this great nation. It took the courage and conviction of a great American leader in Midge Costanza to initiate this conversation. And while LGBT issues are still controversial some forty years hence, we have come a long way from those early days and we cannot forget the brave shoulders we now stand upon.

This nation owes Midge a great debt for making our country more inclusive. The LGBT community has lost a great advocate and visionary who imagined a more equal America, decades before issues of marriage equality, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and the international criminalization of homosexuality surfaced in the public square. May she rest in Peace. We are a better country because of her commitment to diversity and inclusion. A funeral service is being planned in San Diego and a requiem in Rochester New York. Remember her and the great work that has gone before us on March 26th.

Rev. Canon Albert Ogle is VP for National and International Affairs with Integrity USA and is Priest Residentiary at St. Paul’s Cathedral San Diego

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"We pray for the Integrity Organization......

From Louie Crew.......
The late Rev. David Tarbet, a former Integrity Board  member, wrote these intercessions to be prayed at his funeral:

From "A Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of David Blalock Tarbet
 March 6, 1941 -- March 4, 2010" at Trinity/Houston on March 11, 2010.

We pray for the Integrity Organization and all Christian gay people, that we
may have courage, integrity, and love; that we may meet our enemies with
dignity and win them as friends; that we may have strength to withstand the
temptation of wealth, power and lust; that we may be unselfish, loyal and responsible in all our relationships; that our people may be free from fear,
prejudice and oppression; and that you may abide with us and share with us
the love and joy no one can take away from us.

Hear us, Lord

Thanks be to Almighty God, our heavenly Father, the fount of eternal joy,
for in his love and mercy, he created David a gay person, to experience his
love and joy and to see his dear son Jesus in those with whom he shares this

Hear us, Lord


Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Beautiful, Irreversible Crack

A Personal Reflection from Rachel Swan

The news came in on an already favorite day, St. Patrick's Day. We could now call her Bishop Elect Mary Glasspool.

Let me start by saying I am not a cradle Episcopalian. As a matter of fact, I came to the Episcopal Church the Monday after Easter in 2003, just 3 months before the 9000+ people making up the General Convention of the Episcopal Church would descend into Minneapolis. I am from Minnesota--born and raised--so its perhaps without much shock to you that my immediate faith background was Lutheran. My recent past with the ELCA at that point was a bit, well rocky; so much so that I had sworn off the idea that I could ever be a part of the Body of Christ again. I had sworn off being a part of an institution that preached about God's love, then after worship, glad handing the exiting congregation, would refer to my partner as the wrong gender (he, his and him) and refuse to reach out and shake our hands. No thank you God, I'll pass on that version of love.

Its been said that God has quite a sense of humor--and my journey back to the church, the faith, is no exception to this saying. Never say never, right?

So it was that God would call me back into ministry, this time working for the Episcopal church. Who were these people, and what did they believe about people like me? Would I be stopped from working with young people as I had been stopped before? What would happen if they found out I was in a relationship with a person of the same gender as me?

In late July 2003 the lens of the whole religious world came into focus on my little town, looking at what the Spirit was doing amongst the gathered in Minneapolis. CNN, CBS, all the big networks were covering the story: would an openly homosexual man be elected Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire? We learned at the end of those hot summer days that yes, yes he would. I had come a ways since feeling like modern day leper in God's church.

This week I have spent a lot of time thinking about what it felt like in 2003--newly Episcopalian. I have wondered about all those people hearing this news, and finding themselves in the story of Bishop Elect Glasspool. Women who are not allowed to serve at the altar in their own faith traditions, LGBT people who have only known being called sin and sickness, not love and gift. I think about all of the upcoming Mary and Gene's--those who are called to serve in God's church, in ways we have not yet to begin to imagine. Who is hearing this news and thinking to themselves "perhaps I can too?" Only God knows.

Some call what has been happening a fracture. I agree. It has been a breaking open, an irreversible crack. A further breaking open in the Body of Christ that perhaps when Jesus said take this, all of you, perhaps all truly does mean ALL. I believe we still have a ways to go, however I cannot ignore this clear and visible sign of God's wild, messy, unsuspecting, outcast including, upside-down inclusive love, faith and trust in people like Bishop Robinson, Bishop Elect Glasspool, and even someone like me.

This week I remembered again God's crazy sense of humor whispered to me that day in 2003, and again this week, THY will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Rachel Swan is a volunteer for IntegrityUSA and was a member of the communications team for General Convention in Anaheim California. She and her partner live in Minneapolis, MN. Rachel can be found blogging at The Sweet Bi and Bi and The Swandive.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pride and Shame in the Anglican Communion.

A personal reflection from Integrity Province II Coordinator
 Chap James Day

I remember when Bishop Robinson received the consent to be bishop at General Convention. I was studying abroad with about two dozen or so students from my college at Corpus Christi College in Oxford. I had followed the newsfeeds through the whole debate at convention, sharing the news with the others, most of whom were Presbyterian (PCUSA) and though sympathetic to my hopes, did not have a dog in the fight. Still they joined me for a pint at one of the pubs to toast what would be one of the first pivotal moments for GLBT Christians in the 21st century. After the pint, we went to evensong at Christ Church Cathedral, and later spoke with some of the clergy who told us how proud they were for the Anglican Church, especially in light of what had happened with Jeffery John just months before. It was a day to be proud to be an Episcopalian and an Anglican, and a newbie openly gay person.

I had heard that this would cause the Church to split—that the Communion would crumble, and I watched for the signs of it. I read of the grumblings of more traditional Anglicans—many of which joined voices with other splinter groups that had left well before Robinson was called to be bishop. I also heard the positive voices and Alleluias from the progressive Anglicans who were taking ownership of this time for the achievement that it was in reclaiming our place at the Table.

As the consecration played out, and the Lambeth Commission was called to review what had happened in the Church, we saw people coming in who had felt disenfranchised and unwanted. We also saw many so obsessed with this one issue leave, and the start of many more battles over property and the very soul of the Church. I was blessed to meet the members of the Lambeth Commission while working at Kanuga. I overheard their conversations as I served them food and drink while they stayed there, and I observed their devotion as they prayed at the Chapel of the Transfiguration each day. I also remember the results of their recommendation in the form of the Windsor Report.

I read the report, and many commentaries trying to explain what it meant, and what the implications of the report were for the GLBT members in the Anglican Communion as well as those traditionalists that felt disenfranchised. I felt shame. The GLBT clergy had begun to “come out” and the greater Communion family just did not want to hear it—they did not want to accept that there was a Gay Son among the Bishops, and they sure as hell did not want any more.

Just like a family, some shunned our new bishop, some accepted, some disowned, and some celebrated. More importantly, some tried to reconcile and to educate on why the family needs to accept. There were family members like those involved in Integrity and CFLAG that knew that our Communion-wide need to accept it’s GLBT sons and daughters was important beyond pious notions of what is a sin or not a sin. It was about restoring life to the outcast and unwanted—saving lives and restoring lives—healing the broken hearted—and strengthening the strained “bonds of affection”.

In Columbus we saw the election of the first female Primate in the Anglican Communion—proof of how the need and push for acceptance and equality shows progress in momentous achievements like that. We also saw one of the more ghastly calls for restraint that made no one happy with regards to the still outcast GLBT members of the Church. It is hard to celebrate the achievements of an oppressed sexual minority with the shadow of continued oppression of another minority.

It was at that point that I joined Integrity. I wanted to join the fight that celebrated the achievements of women in the Church and said “And ALSO now GLBT!” The first hurdle was to deal with the restraints that were asked and later confirmed in New Orleans. One of the most disturbing images of these restraints was our new Presiding Bishop’s image of a Lenten fast on continued consecrations. I had had always heard of the fast as giving up something that was bad for you and taking on something good for the world. That sure did not seem like the case with regards to GLBT Episcopalians.

In Anaheim, we moved forward, pushed by Integrity and the many, many allies that also saw this restraint as antithetical to what it means to be a Christian family—another day to be proud to be an Episcopalian. The legislation that was passed was eyed by the patriarch of the family suspiciously… some of our more distant cousins wished to disown us even further claiming that we had gone our own way to ruin. We had whole dioceses vote to disassociate themselves with the Church, often supported by our cousin provinces.

This week we saw yet another momentous day for GLBT Episcopalians—one that will surely continue to rock the boat—in the consent to the election of Mary Glasspool . Again, it happens legally under the cannons of the Episcopal Church that were strengthened by the legislation in Anaheim last year. Again, it has caused the head patriarch of the family to eye us with suspicion. And Again I am proud—but this time I have a huge amount of Shame.

The shame has nothing to do with the great news of LA, but with the disturbing response of Archbishop Rowan Williams. I do not presume to understand what it is like to be a titular head of a denomination so vastly spread across the world, socio-economic strata, and political and theological spectrums. What I do not hear is the same response at words of hatred against us his GLBT members, or the continued efforts of foreign provinces to usurp property in the Episcopal Church. Most deeply ashamed am I of his restrained responses towards the near holocaust-level hatred that is fueling the “Kill Gays Bill” in Uganda.

One of the signs of the Spirit moving in the Church is that this consent comes on the heels of statements of inclusion and support from a Patriarch so wise that non-believes will turn to listen to him, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He is like that wise old family member that knows that the love of the God and the true bonds of affection that bind a family together are stronger than sexuality or morality. He understands that it is crucial to our faith to accept GLBT Christians into the fold and to celebrate with Easter joy when one like Mary Glasspool is called to be a Bishop among us. He warns us of the demoralizing and demonic destruction that awaits those who shun the outcast, hate those who differ, and seek legislation to exterminate that which we do not want to understand.

I only wish Archbishop Williams would listen to Archbishop Tutu and realize that we too are God’s loved children, that we too are called by the Spirit to serve and lead the Church, and that we deserve to solemnize our love in the Church’s sacraments. Williams, it seems, does not see this, Uganda does not want to see this…and that should make us all ashamed and outraged.

Tutu sees this—Los Angeles sees this—and those that consented to Mary Glasspool’s election see this, and that should make us all proud and filled with an Easter joy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

WE ARE NOT AMUSED..................


From Ruth Gledhill's Column
Times Online March 19, 2010

The Archbishop of Canterbury's office today described the election of an openly lesbian bishop in the United States as "regrettable" and warned that it could further threaten the unity of the Anglican Communion.

The London office of Dr Rowan Williams responded to the election of Canon Mary Glasspool to a suffragan see in Los Angeles by warning of "important implications". The statement from Lambeth Palace said that further consultations will now take place and regretted that calls for "restraint" had not been heeded.

The Episcopal News Service reported that Canon Glasspool, who held from the start that her sexuality was "not an issue", had received the necessary consents from bishops and standing committees in the US for her consecration by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to go ahead in May.

Her election comes after that of the Anglican Communion's first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, whose election in 2003 took the worldwide Church to the brink of schism, where it remains. Both Bishop Robinson and Bishop-elect Glasspool have been with their current partners for many years.

Read the rest of Ruth's story here.


Posted on Integrity's ListServ
March 18, 2010
Reposted by permission.

Dear Lightspeeders,

For those of you who have walked with Integrity these decades
since the 1970's, I have to thank first of all Louie Crew, Paul
Woodrum, Kim Byham, the women including Ellen+ Barrett, those
in-between including Carter+ Hayward, +Barbara Harris, Susan+
Russell and ALL THE REST, some of whom have long since
passed away, of those moved by the spirit to work for the changes
in our church, to work for inclusion. For me, there is a direct line
of change from the first issue of the Integrity Forum, edited in
those days, if I am not mistaken, by Grant+ Gallup, to the election
and consents of Mary+ Glasspool. There is very much to be
grateful for, I want to forget no one, thank you, thank you.

 John Poynter

From the NY Times: Episcopalians Confirm a Second Gay Bishop

March 17, 2010

A majority of bishops and dioceses of the Episcopal Church have approved the election of the church’s second openly gay bishop, the Rev. Mary D. Glasspool, a decision likely to increase the tension with fellow Anglican churches around the world that do not approve of homosexuality.

The worldwide Anglican Communion, the network of churches connected to the Church of England, has been in turmoil since the Americans elected their first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, in New Hampshire in 2003. Theological conservatives in the Communion say the Bible condemns homosexuality, while liberals say the Scripture is open to interpretation.

Bishop Glasspool, 56, is to be consecrated as one of two new assistant bishops, known as suffragan bishops, in Los Angeles on May 15. Both elected suffragan bishops are women — the first ever to serve in the diocese.

Both were elected at a convention of the diocese in December, but according to church rules had to win the approval of a majority of the bishops and standing committees (made up of clergy and laypeople) of the church’s 110 dioceses. Bishop Glasspool’s confirmation was never certain.

Bishop Glasspool, who has been serving in Maryland as an adviser to the bishops for nine years, said Wednesday in an interview: “I feel overjoyed. I feel relieved. I’m breathing again.”

Read the rest of the story here.


Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno invites all in the Diocese to the May 15 rites of ordination and consecration set for two new bishops suffragan, the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce and the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool.

“I encourage everyone in the diocese and the wider community to come and share in this historic celebration,” the bishop said in announcing the Saturday-afternoon rites. “Plan now to get there early, find your seats, and feel the wave of the Holy Spirit as it moves across the room.”

Seating for at least 9,000 will be available at the Long Beach Arena, where doors will open at 12 noon. A celebration gathering featuring music and dance will begin at 12:30 p.m. and the liturgy itself is set to begin at 1:30 p.m.

For more information go the Diocese of Los Angeles website.

Want even more news affecting LGBT Episcopalians?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010



Integrity joins with the Diocese of Los Angeles in celebrating today's announcement that sufficient consents have been received from both Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to the election of the Reverend Canon Mary Glasspool as a bishop suffragan. We look forward to the May 15th ordination service where Canons Bruce and Glasspool will become the 16th and 17th women bishops in the history of the Episcopal Church and to the work and witness they will offer on behalf of the gospel, not only for the Diocese of Los Angeles but for the whole church.

"Integrity continues in its commitment to turn the resolutions of General Convention into realities on the ground for Episcopalians in every diocese," said the Reverend David Norgard, Integrity President. "Today's affirmation of the election of a superbly qualified candidate as a bishop in the Episcopal Church is good news not just for those who work for the fuller inclusion of the LGBT baptized, but for the whole church."

"Today the Episcopal Church said 'Amen' to what the Holy Spirit did in Los Angeles in December when we elected Mary Glasspool," said the Reverend Susan Russell, chair of the Diocesan Program Group on LGBT Ministry and Integrity's immediate past president.. "I've never been prouder to be an Episcopalian or a daughter of the Diocese of Los Angeles--where we are ready to turn this election into an opportunity for evangelism."

"Integrity is part of a nationwide campaign called 'Believe Out Loud'--resourcing congregations to explicitly welcome LGBT people into their work and witness" said Louise Brooks, Integrity's Communication Director and a resident of the Diocese of Los Angeles.  "We are proud to be partners with those across this church and across the country committed to working on both national and local levels for full inclusion. And we believe the election of Mary Glasspool will be an inspiration, not just to those working in our churches, but to those standing outside of them wondering if they are truly welcome. The answer is, "Yes--come and see!"

"As openly gay and lesbian people become a common and unremarkable aspect of the cultural landscape," said Norgard, "more and more bishops will ordain LGBT persons, more vestries will elect them to serve as rectors, more congregations will elect them to vestries, and most importantly, altar guilds will be setting up weddings for two grooms or two brides. We are past the turning point and the forecast for full inclusion in the Episcopal Church is brighter than ever before."

The ordination service for the new bishops suffragan will be held on Saturday, May 15, 2010 beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the Long Beach Arena in Long Beach CA. For more information, contact:

Louise Brooks
Director of Communications, Integrity

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


From Episcopal News Service

By Pat McCaughan

A discussion of same-gender relationships will be on the agenda when more than 115 bishops of the Episcopal Church gather March 19-24 for their spring retreat meeting in Camp Allen, Texas.

Bishop Henry Parsley of the Diocese of Alabama, who chairs the House of Bishops' Theology Committee, said two major papers will be
presented from the study "Same Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church."

"One paper represents the church's traditional view and the other a
proposal to revise the tradition, and there's a response to each
paper," Parsley said in a March 16 telephone interview from his
Birmingham office.

"We'll have a discussion of the paper and see what questions it raises and what we can learn from each other and how this kind of theological dialogue can be advanced," Parsley said. "The purpose was to prepare theological papers by academic theologians so they focus on the classical theological approach to the question."

The study was commissioned in 2008 and authored by a diverse group of theologians to represent a wide range of views. Included in that group are:

• Dr. John Goldingay, the David Allan Hubbard professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California;

• Dr. Deirdre Good, professor of New Testament at the General Theological Seminary in New York;

• Dr. Willis Jenkins, Margaret A. Farley assistant professor of social ethics, Yale Divinity School;

• The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Kittredge, Ernest J. Villavaso Jr. chair of New Testament and dean of community life at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin;

• The Rev. Dr. Grant LeMarquand, academic dean and associate professor of biblical studies at McGill University in Toronto;

• Dr. Eugene Rogers, professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro;

• The Rev. Dr. George Sumner, principal and Helliwell professor of world mission, Wycliffe College, Toronto; and

• The Rev. Dr. Daniel Westberg, research professor of ethics and moral theology, Nashotah House, Nashotah, Wisconsin.

Parsley said that Dr. Ellen Charry, associate professor of systematic and historical theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and editor of Theology Today, served as editor.

Read the rest of the story here:


ATTENTION SEMINARY STUDENTS, INTEGRITY MEMBERS, FRIENDS & ALLIES: Every now and then something comes along that you don't want to miss: 

On March 4, 2010, the Rev. David Norgard was invited to address the students and faculty of Virginia Theological Seminary. Norgard is the President of Integrity USA. His topic was "THE FUTURE OF INCLUSION." Integrity USA has been an advocate for full inclusion in the Episcopal Church for 35 years. Norgard's historic address focuses on how far we have come and where Integrity and the Episcopal Church are heading. This address was published in two parts. It is a must-read for anyone who believes that nothing short of full inclusion is good enough for Jesus or for the church.
Read PART ONE here.
Read PART TWO here.
Open up the conversation about the future of inclusion at your school. If you are a faculty member, administrator, student, or alum of any one of the Episcopal seminaries, Integrity President David Norgard is available to speak at your school. To inquire about this possibility, please contact him at


An OpEd from the Washington Post
By Desmond Tutu
Friday, March 12, 2010

Hate has no place in the house of God. No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity -- or because of their sexual orientation. Nor should anyone be excluded from health care on any of these grounds. In my country of South Africa, we struggled for years against the evil system of apartheid that divided human beings, children of the same God, by racial classification and then denied many of them fundamental human rights. We knew this was wrong. Thankfully, the world supported us in our struggle for freedom and dignity.

It is time to stand up against another wrong.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are part of so many families. They are part of the human family. They are part of God's family. And of course they are part of the African family. But a wave of hate is spreading across my beloved continent. People are again being denied their fundamental rights and freedoms. Men have been falsely charged and imprisoned in Senegal, and health services for these men and their community have suffered. In Malawi, men have been jailed and humiliated for expressing their partnerships with other men. Just this month, mobs in Mtwapa Township, Kenya, attacked men they suspected of being gay. Kenyan religious leaders, I am ashamed to say, threatened an HIV clinic there for providing counseling services to all members of that community, because the clerics wanted gay men excluded.

Uganda's parliament is debating legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment, and more discriminatory legislation has been debated in Rwanda and Burundi.

These are terrible backward steps for human rights in Africa.

Our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters across Africa are living in fear.

And they are living in hiding -- away from care, away from the protection the state should offer to every citizen and away from health care in the AIDS era, when all of us, especially Africans, need access to essential HIV services. That this pandering to intolerance is being done by politicians looking for scapegoats for their failures is not surprising. But it is a great wrong. An even larger offense is that it is being done in the name of God. Show me where Christ said "Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones." Gay people, too, are made in my God's image. I would never worship a homophobic God.

Read the rest of the Op Ed here.

The writer is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

Monday, March 15, 2010


On March 4, 2010, the Rev. David Norgard was invited to address the students and faculty of Virginia Theological Seminary. Norgard is the President of Integrity USA. His topic was "THE FUTURE OF INCLUSION." Integrity USA has been an advocate for full inclusion in the Episcopal Church for 35 years. Norgard's historic address focuses on how far we have come and where Integrity and the Episcopal Church are heading. This address will be published in two parts. It is a must-read for anyone who believes that nothing short of full inclusion is good enough for Jesus or for the church.

Part One posted yesterday is here.

Virginia Theological Seminar
Alexandria, Virginia
March 4, 2010
The Rev. David Norgard
President, Integrity USA

PART TWO begins after John Spong's Statement of Koinonia caused a turning point in the church's history of inclusion.

Still, skirmishes continued through the rest of the decade. Between General Conventions, the Episcopal Church caught the attention of our nation’s secular media by the novelty of conducting a heresy trial, namely that of the Rt. Rev. Walter Righter for ordaining a gay man named Barry Stopfel. As anachronistic – can I say medieval? – as it appeared to many reporters, several were nonetheless kind enough to note how the Episcopal Church maintained its sensibility throughout the ordeal. The Wall Street Journal, for example, noted that afternoon tea was served to the journalists and from a proper silver service.

The new century and the new millennium arrived…but not the end of the conflict. The story picks up in Minneapolis in 2003. That bastion of radical liberalism, New Hampshire, had the audacity to elect Gene Robinson, a gay man with a partner, as its bishop and, because of the timing; it was up to the General Convention to consent to the election. The line of people rising to speak their mind, pro and con and sometimes both in truly Anglican fashion, stretched all the way to the back of the huge hall. The testimony was variously emotional, logical, political, personal, and theological. Frankly, it was probably also unnecessary. Most people knew how they were going to vote before they ever entered the room. Nevertheless, the debate ran its full allotted time and then the House of Deputies voted. With a majority that was neither vast nor slim, it confirmed the election of the church’s first openly gay bishop in the church of God and the bishops did likewise, with the added dramatic flourish of a score of them abruptly walking out upon announcement of the results. Eventually, Gene tied with Desmond Tutu as the most recognized Anglican bishop in the world. (Sorry, Rowan.)

With the advent of a gay bishop, a reasonable outside observer might have expected the Episcopal Church finally to get on to other business. It had now been debating essentially the same subject for three decades. The Nicene Creed had been produced more quickly. Yet in 2006, at the proverbial eleventh hour, the same Presiding Bishop who had presided at Gene’s consecration pushed through a resolution designed to ensure that what had happened in New Hampshire stayed in New Hampshire. Although couched in sober and pious phrasing such as “exercising restraint,” Resolution BO33 basically called for a moratorium on the consecration of any more gay bishops.

That brings us close to the present moment and to Disneyland, or, I suppose I should say, to the 2009 General Convention in Anaheim, California. The passage of two resolutions by the convention brought the saga that had lasted nearly as long as “Days of our Lives” to its long-awaited conclusion. The resolution finally came.

Resolution #C056, originating from the Diocese of Missouri (whose Standing Committee just consented to the election of Mary Glasspool), moved the Episcopal Church decisively toward recognizing – and solemnizing – same-sex unions. Specifically, it acknowledged the changing legal landscape with respect to marriage and called upon our bishops to provide for generous pastoral response, especially in those places where civil unions of one sort or another are now permitted. Furthermore, it mandated the Standing Liturgical Commission “to collect and develop theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same-gender relationships” while, it added, “honoring the theological diversity of this Church in regard to matters of human sexuality.” In other words, we recognized that not everyone is happy about the emerging reality but it is what it is and we are moving forward.

The other landmark resolution, #D025, unequivocally affirmed that God has called and may call LGBT individuals to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church. In other words, the de facto moratorium of 2006 on gay and lesbian bishops was lifted and what was characterized as “inappropriate” and untimely back in 1979 was at last found to be entirely appropriate and indeed timely.

That brings us to 2010, to the present day, which is by definition of course, the threshold of the future. Looking across the ecclesiastical landscape now from the perspective of the history I have just recounted, I believe the direction that this church is headed is clear. Collectively, we are now moving in the direction of transforming the legislative victories attained at the national level into living realities at the diocesan and congregational levels. We have decided, finally and unabashedly, in favor of being the kind of faith community in which lesbian and gay people are truly part of the family. We have become a “Modern Family,” to borrow another TV show title, and Mother Church, if you will, has come out. She has come out as a “P-FLAGer.” As an individual Episcopalian and as President of Integrity, my outlook is both hopeful and optimistic because once you have come out of the closet, friends, it really is not all that easy to go back in.

Having said that, I hasten to add that, as it is with the stock market, so it is in politics: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Even the freshman student of history knows that human progress is not inexorably linear. History is littered, in fact, with examples of progress not merely coming to a halt but taking a violent u-turn. The “war to end all wars,” World War I was followed by World War II. In China, the move toward a free market was followed by the brutal clampdown of free expression in Tiananmen Square.

Nevertheless, there are multiple sound reasons for optimism. Let me cite just a few. Just recently, the Attorney General of Maryland announced his official opinion that his state should recognize same-sex unions performed elsewhere. The nearby District of Columbia, of course, just became the latest civil jurisdiction to allow such unions and even though the city has long been regarded as a bastion of liberalism (like New Hampshire), the symbolic value of the nation’s capital city doing so is potent. Likewise with Iowa: Today, in the Midwestern heartland, same-gender marriage is the law of the land and a fact of life. Looking northward from here, the Bishop of Massachusetts, Tom Shaw, has granted his clergy permission to perform marriages for same-sex couples in the churches of that diocese, C056 being his justification. And across the country in my new home diocese of Los Angeles, the convention elected the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, to serve as one of its two bishops suffragan. As of yesterday, 55 of 56 required Standing Committee consents have been received and her consecration is tentatively scheduled for May 15th.

Why all this movement in a forward direction? Fundamentally, I believe it is because nearly everyone today knows someone who is dear to them and lesbian or gay: a brother, sister, son, daughter, father, mother, neighbor, teacher, student, judge on “American Idol.” This increasing familiarity has brought contempt some places, to be sure, but mostly, to know us has been to love us.

My primary ministry these days is as an organizational development consultant to churches and nonprofits. In that work, I spend a fair amount of time helping leaders articulate mission and vision statements for their organizations and communities. A vision statement is essentially an articulation of what you want to be true when you have succeeded in your mission. It implies a commitment to do whatever is possible toward making that preferred future the reality. If I were to draft the de facto vision statement of the Episcopal Church, it might read, in part, something like this: “The community and its leadership are diverse in age, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and familial constellations. This fact is a great blessing and is nurtured in the way we live together.” If this phrasing sounds familiar to you, it should be. I adapted it from the student body section of the VTS website.

As with any great cultural shift, this one will too will continue to meet resistance. A review of the national church’s website illustrates the point. There is an extensive section on diversity that includes a, b, c, d, x, y, and z…but not l, g, b, or t. Thinking historically again, just consider the Ordination of women or the adoption of the current Book of Common Prayer. Years after the formal actions were taken at General Convention moving the church forward on these matters, battles still raged on. Every great struggle, it seems, is defined by and motivated in part by the resistance with which it must continue to contend. And in this vein, I see the struggle for a diverse faith community as no exception to that historical rule. Three challenges in particular are possible and substantial enough to merit specific mention.

First is the desire for a scapegoat, a common temptation in community life. Whenever some crisis occurs or some unforeseen disaster descends upon the scene, it can seem expedient or advantageous to cast blame upon a vulnerable target. Jerry Falwell blamed AIDS on gay men, for instance. Never mind HIV. The only necessary ingredients for combustion are some inflammable scandal or incendiary economic friction coupled with invidious rhetoric.

Another viable force of resistance to a diverse church is the temptation of political expediency. It is well within the realm of possibility that the Episcopal Church might persuade itself to do the wrong thing (in my view) for the right reason. For instance, it is not implausible to imagine a scenario in which our church moves toward a recognition of global interdependence and, in the process, negotiates away aspects of its own identity or polity.

The third challenge I would name is perhaps the most worrisome of all because it pertains to our very viability as a community. I speak of the challenge of our own apparent irrelevance in the sight of the world around us. What if we Episcopalians finally do invite all the gays and lesbians in our neighborhood to our party…and they don’t to show up? What if what we have to offer is just not seen as being all that appealing? I do wonder: Have we fought for two generations to be included in a community that our younger gay brothers and lesbian sisters will simply regard as unimportant?

This question, it seems to me, leads to an even larger one: In an increasingly complicated world…one in which individuals are at once bowling alone and inextricably interdependent…one in which many doubt the primacy of any one theological narrative just as others defend their one true faith ever more militantly…one in which the strongest trend is identifying as “spiritual” and not “religious”…in such a world as this, is what we have to offer sufficiently authentic and compelling to appeal to those we would welcome?

I would like to offer two suggestions before I close. First, I believe we are perhaps uniquely positioned as a Christian denomination to offer to the spiritual seeker a community where a sense of mystery in life goes hand-in-hand with a respect for reason in the life of faith. As a communion, historically we have welcomed honest inquiry. To borrow words from the VTS website again, “our church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has been open to new truths discovered by reason and experience.” At the same time, it is a church that has generally also been open to the ineffable, especially through experience of the aesthetic. In short, we are equally comfortable with answers and questions, with art and science. In my personal experience, this perspective on the world resonates with individuals who identify as belonging to a sexual minority. It does so because, in a culture where gender roles are still defined by straight lines, they are outliers on the spectrum of conventional understandings of social reality.

Secondly, I believe we are necessarily yet nonetheless sincerely at last beginning to see ourselves not first and foremost as an institution to which people, if they have enough sense, will just join naturally. In our most vital congregations anyway, I see evidence of a very different self-understanding. Instead of institutions bound by law and dedicated to self-perpetuation, they see themselves as communities bound by love and dedicated to purposes beyond themselves. This also resonates with LGBT persons in my experience for it mirrors the story of LGBT families and communities. No social conventions have brought us together, let me assure you. It has been nothing other than the soulful desire to belong to a family of choice and a community of choice that allows us not only to be ourselves but also to be there for the other.

If we continue along these lines, I believe there is hope not just for the future of inclusion but for the future of our church over all. We will be a community whose appeal to all sorts and conditions of folk is neither a passing fad nor an artifice of political strategy but rather the natural further expression of a catholicity that stretches all the way back to the coming together of Jew and Greek.

Friends, in the first few years after the advent of the Ordination of women, I recall a question arising frequently in conversation: Do you believe in women’s Ordination? It was almost like out of the Baptismal Covenant. Whether it was intended to elicit an affirmation or a renunciation, you couldn’t always be sure. In either case, the most memorable response I ever heard came from a very sincere if somewhat naïve man who said, “Do I believe in them? I have seen them!”

As openly gay and lesbian people become a common and unremarkable aspect of the cultural landscape, I do believe that more bishops will ordain LGBT persons, more vestries will elect them to serve as rectors, more congregations will elect them to vestries, and most importantly of course, Altar Guilds won’t wince at the need to set up a wedding for two grooms or two brides. We are past the turning point. We have crossed the tipping point and the forecast is bright.

There will be resistance. The impulse to respond eagerly and faithfully to the emerging realities of each succeeding age is always met with the opposing impulse to preserve and hold fast to what has been familiar and comfortable. But as I see it, it’s not a matter of acquiescing to a more inclusive future for the sake of those who have been on the outside. It is rather a matter of embracing opportunities that give us all a future as a community – a community of mystery and reason, of determined commitment and unconditional love.

Thank you for your kind attention this evening and your willingness to reflect on these intriguing questions together. I dearly appreciate your hospitality and your openness to this conversation. I invite all of you – lay and ordained, straight and not-so-much, to walk with Integrity in your ministries going forward. It is, after all, by walking with integrity (small “I”) that we have arrived at the threshold of the future we behold, one that is bright precisely because it is blessed with a veritable rainbow of color.

Open up the conversation about the future of inclusion at your school. If you are a faculty member, administrator, student, or alum of any one of the Episcopal seminaries, Integrity President David Norgard is available to speak at your school. To inquire about this possibility, please contact him at

Sunday, March 14, 2010


On March 4, 2010, the Rev. David Norgard was invited to address the students and faculty of Virginia Theological Seminary. Norgard is the President of Integrity USA. His topic was "THE FUTURE OF INCLUSION." Integrity USA has been an advocate for full inclusion in the Episcopal Church for 35 years. Norgard's historic address focuses on how far we have come and where Integrity and the Episcopal Church are heading. This address will be published in two parts. It is a must-read for anyone who believes that nothing short of full inclusion is good enough for Jesus or for the church.

Virginia Theological Seminar
Alexandria, Virginia
March 4, 2010
The Rev. David Norgard
President, Integrity USA

Good evening. I want to begin by thanking the Dean for the invitation to be with you this evening. It was a most gracious offer that he made to me to come and speak here at the seminary and I am delighted to be doing just that. I also wish to thank you all for being here. I consider it both a great pleasure and a privilege to share with you my perspective on “The Future of Inclusion in the Episcopal Church.”

As you may be aware, the Dean issued the invitation to me to speak on this topic in my capacity as President of Integrity USA. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with it, Integrity is an organization dedicated to advancing the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons (LGBT) in the life and ministry of the Episcopal Church. Composed of individual members and parish partners from across the country, it has been engaged in its ministry of advocacy and education for thirty-five years now, ever since being founded by an Episcopal layman from Georgia, Dr. Louie Crew, in 1974.

When Mike Angell, a student here from the Diocese of San Diego and occasional preacher to the President, first contacted me about arranging this visit, he posed a straightforward yet intriguing question: What is the future of inclusion in the Episcopal Church? If I were someone who was prone to pithy answers, I would say “bright” and call for the next question. The very fact of my being here – at the Virginia Theological Seminary – as President of Integrity – provides strong evidence for the soundness of such optimism. There was a time within the living memory of some in this room (myself included), when such an occasion as this would not have been contemplated, let alone realized. This moment we are sharing right now, my friends, is in itself richly symbolic of the long road we have traveled together as Episcopalians over the past four decades. In fact, I believe that it is a directional sign toward where we are headed as a church….as you put it here, “orthodox and open”

I am not prone to pithy answers though, as you can already tell. So I would like to expand on my sunny forecast and give you a full report of the indicators as I read them. Speculating intelligently on the future is always first an exercise in interpreting history, particularly recent history. So let me begin there.

Recent history clearly has been a story of advances toward a more and more inclusive church, with only occasional setbacks. Looking at the issue broadly, we can see this progression a number of ways. For instance, we can observe how the role of women in the church has evolved and expanded. Thirty-five years ago, there were no women in the House of Bishops. Now there are sixteen. Thirty-five years ago, women were still somewhat new to the House of Deputies. Now a woman is President. In a similar vein, we can look at how the Spanish language has entered the life of the domestic Episcopal Church. Four decades ago, to hear Spanish in an Episcopal church was a novelty. Nowadays, many dioceses have at least one congregation where Spanish the primary language. We can look at various demographic trends and, generally speaking, they point to a denomination that is exhibiting more diversity in both its membership and leadership. My particular competence, however, lies in the area of the conscious inclusion of sexual minorities and, on the national level, that particular storyline begins in 1976.

That year General Convention debated a resolution which acknowledged and recognized homosexual persons as [quote] “children of God.” When you stop to think about that for a moment now, in 2010, to some of us it sounds just a little quaint…kind yet presumptuous in that old-guard, true-blue Episcopalian sort of way. That body of mostly churchmen, in all their magnanimity and sagacity, were moved to vote on the question of who was a child of God.

Thankfully – and to the great relief of many whose ontological validity hung in the balance, the vote was in the affirmative. (Don’t some of you feel much better now?!) Soon after that, presumably in the spirit of that declaration, the Bishop of New York, Paul Moore, ordained the first openly lesbian woman to the priesthood, Ellen Barrett, at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Manhattan.

The church at large was not at all amused, however. Mountains of letters of protest were delivered both to the parish rectory and the diocesan chancery, including (sadly) no small number of bodily threats and spiritual curses. Apparently, being a child of God was one thing; being a priest was entirely another. In a notable demonstration of elegant backtracking, another resolution passed at the next convention, declaring the Ordination of “practicing homosexuals” to be “inappropriate” at that time.

Permit me a personal excursus here. Despite the apparently ill-timed nature of my desire or desires (whichever), upon returning from the convention in Denver, I proceeded with my own plan of seeking Ordination and enrolling in seminary. It was a very big step for my home diocese, Minnesota, to sponsor an openly gay man. As a lot, Minnesotans are quite reluctant to be inappropriate; it’s just not in their nature. But the bishop, Robert Anderson, was a man of steadfast conviction and quiet courage. As the local process proceeded and the national debate intensified, he never wavered in his support. I recall one instance that might resonate especially with those here tonight. After receiving my admission application, the dean of the divinity school where I applied called my bishop to express his serious concern. He explained ever so delicately, almost apologetically, that I had listed Integrity – of all things – among my church involvements. The dean discreetly whispered over the phone to the bishop, “He is probably gay;” to which the bishop whispered back, “Actually, I have met his partner, and he is definitely gay…Is there some problem?” There was none for him if there wasn’t any for the bishop, the dean stuttered, leaving the bishop to wonder: Was it his chairmanship of the board or his matter-of-fact approach that had been more persuasive?

Back to the larger saga: For the next dozen years, no convention was without its resolutions about homosexuality. The topic seemed to move from being the love that dare not speak its name to the debate that would never end. Meanwhile, more and more lesbian and gay people, lay and ordained, lived on one side or another of an increasingly sharp and deep divide within the church. On the one side, more than one bishop prohibited any known homosexuals from serving at their cathedral’s Altar, unless they first took a vow of celibacy. At a prominent seminary, openly gay clergy were barred from serving as supervisors of field education. On the other side, another divinity school named a scholarship after Dr. Crew…and several bishops became increasingly vocal about their gay-supportive views, rejecting outright the argument that the church would fall apart if it accepted lesbian and gay people fully. Douglas Theuner, a predecessor of Gene Robinson in New Hampshire, coined the rallying cry of the whole movement. “There can be no unity without justice,” he declared emphatically to the House of Bishops. For years, his quote was displayed on the front cover of every Voice of Integrity magazine. And I dare say that it is still timely and pertinent today on an even larger plane.

By the start of the nineties, more than a decade of debates and studies and hearings and speeches had brought no resolution. They had brought dozens of resolutions actually but no solution to the controversy. So, what was an “Episcopal” church to do when confronted with such vexation? Turn to its bishops was the answer that came to the Phoenix convention in ’91. The theologians among them (“bishops” and “theologians” not being coterminous, you realize) would undertake another extensive study and report back at Indianapolis in ’94. If nothing else, we are a studious church. Just parenthetically, I do wonder about our bishops sometimes. They have studied homosexuality for years and some still claim to be perplexed. It only took me a summer to learn it…but I suppose that is a story for another time.

Back to Indianapolis: The bishop who succeeded Paul Moore of New York, a man by the slightly unfortunate name of Dick Grein, delivered the report to a packed and tense House of Bishops. The report started well enough from the perspective of those hopeful for a breakthrough in LGBT equality. It recognized that gay people existed, that they were in the church, that indeed they were children of God, that they did some good things, and that many of them were actually very nice…lovely, in fact…devoted to partners, devoted to church, great on the Altar Guild, etc., etc…but…But the report concluded, nevertheless, they still should not be ordained and we should not be marrying them either, particularly to each other.

That night everyone felt a pall hang over the entire convention. Liberals were in despair. Conservatives were anxious. What would happen next? It was not at all obvious. Integrity folk worried: Would these unfounded conclusions somehow end up enshrined in canon law? Had the struggles and efforts of so many of us for so long been for naught? As a church, were we about to retrench?

Well, perhaps I should have guessed what was coming, since I happened to know the antagonist so well. The next afternoon, a son of this very seminary, the famous or infamous Bishop of Newark, Jack Spong, stood to a point of personal privilege. Slowly, dramatically, he read what eventually became known as a Statement of Koinonia, i.e. of community. With forceful eloquence, he stated unequivocally that he would ordain whoever was fit and called, homosexual or heterosexual. He took a similar stand with respect to blessing the committed relationships of same-gender couples. Then, with savvy and audacity, he invited his colleagues with courage enough to share his convictions publicly to sign the statement along with him. That evening the special service sponsored by Integrity was overflowing…and so were the tears. By 7:00 o’clock, about five hours later, dozens of other bishops had signed that statement and by late the next day the number had reached 78. There could be no mistake. It was by no means the end of the struggle…but our church had reached a turning point. TO BE CONTINUED.........

Part II of The Rev. David Norgard's VTS address: The Future of Inclusion will be published tomorrow.

Open up the conversation about the future of inclusion at your school. If you are a faculty member, administrator, student, or alum of any one of the Episcopal seminaries, Integrity President David Norgard is available to speak at your school. To inquire about this possibility, please contact him at