Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Making “All the Sacraments for All the Baptized” a Reality in 2011 and 2012

A Three-Part Series on Integrity USA

Part Three: How We Will Pursue Our Goals Through 2012
by Max Niedzwiecki
Executive Director, Integrity

Part One: What We Have Achieved

Part Two: Goals We Hope to Achieve

Integrity's goal is nothing short of all the sacraments for all the baptized in the Episcopal Church..

Here are some specifics on how we plan to achieve that audacious goal:

We plan to  increase our membership base, chapters, and partners. Integrity is proud to count 2,000 individual, dues-paying members; 60 chapters; and 500 allied parishes and other partners, including Proud Parish Partners (P3s) and Integrity Believe Out Loud Congregations. Growing our base of support will add to those already changing hearts and minds in the church.

We will communicate our successes on every level of the church. Our Walking With Integrity blog and weekly Friday Flash will tell stories of our growing membership and their progress in every diocese. Our revamped website will offer valuable and important resources for reconciliation, conversations across the divide, and getting our message out.

We will continue to recruit a strong network of volunteer leaders including Provincial Coordinators and Diocesan Organizers. Each of the eight domestic provinces of the Church will have a Provincial Coordinator who will coordinate activity among Diocesan Organizers in every diocese of the church. In time, all of the 100 domestic dioceses of the Church will have a Diocesan Organizer. This new level of diverse leaders will make a true impact on our mission and ministry.

For the first time, Integrity will provide financial assistance in the form of mini-grants and technical assistance to chapters and Proud Parish Partners. These grants are designed to help them champion full inclusion in the church, especially events that spread our message and generate media attention.  To date, we have $24,000 in grant money to spread among  those meeting the criteria for this work.

In 2011 and 2012, Integrity will train and resource our constituency. We will stage sixteen “Integrity Believe Out Loud” trainings (two per province), which educate members on how to be more effective at communicating the need for full inclusion in parishes and dioceses where we see the need. We will also stage eight media trainings equip people to stay on message, to share their personal stories in a way that changes hearts and minds, and to interact effectively with the media.

In the past, Integrity educated the church about the issues we support. In 2006, Integrity collaborated with Claiming the Blessing to produce Voices of Witness, the story of a parish beyond the inclusion struggles and what it looks like. The project, a DVD and a study guide, won the coveted Polly Bond Award for Excellence in the Episcopal Church. In 2009, Voices of Witness Africa was released to tell the stories of our African LGBT brothers and sisters. And for 2012, we will produce and release a DVD and study guide titled, Voices Of Witness: The Gender Continuum. This will be a joint project with TransEpiscopal to enlighten the church transgender persons. This will be distributed to all bishops and deputies prior to GC12.

Dr. Louie Crew is one of the great heroes of the Episcopal Church. He set the groundwork for the transformation of our Church into one of the most fully welcoming religious communities the world has ever seen, and he continues to be a leader for justice within the Church and beyond. In 1974, he founded Integrity USA, which since then he has been a central organizing force in the quest to make “all the sacraments for all baptized” a reality in every diocese. He has served on the Church’s Executive Council for many years, and been a friend, mentor, and inspiration to untold numbers of people who see that they follow in his footsteps. As Dr. Crew begins to withdraw from public responsibilities in 2011, Integrity USA is leading the charge to recognize his many accomplishments and tell him “thank you”! We will initiate the Louie Crew Legacy Tour to all the provinces. This event will be a major fundraiser for Integrity's work moving forward in Louie's name to complete his vision.

In August of 2011, Integrity will hold its first National Convention in several years. This event will bring together hundreds of Integrity members and allies for two days of strategy sessions, trainings, and relationship-building.

Integrity will identify, recruit and train over thirty volunteers who will join our team at General Convention in July of 2012. We hope to begin this process at the Integrity National Convention. These volunteers will serve in one of a number of capacities, following our successful experience from years past:
  • Legislative: Track status of LGBT resolutions, attend committee and house meetings, lobby bishops and deputies, recruit speakers, and suggest substitutions and amendments.
  • Communications: Write and disseminate press releases; interpret news for the press; write and publish newsletter articles, blog posts, Facebook posts, and Twitter tweets; produce daily video programs.
  • Booth: Greet and talk to visitors, distribute educational and advocacy materials, display videos.
  • Liturgy and Chaplaincy: Plan and implement public and private services, counsel volunteers dealing with stress, counsel visitors dealing with coming out issues.
  • Nerve Center: Provide administrative, technical, and logistical support for other teams (printing, computer networking, word processing, data entry and analysis, etc.).

At General Convention, Integrity will advocate for a legislative platform in partnership our social justice partners, including The Consultation, Claiming the Blessing. the Chicago Consultation and TransEpiscopal.

As always Integrity will stage a number of public events at General Convention. In 2012, these will include the hugely popular Integrity Eucharist (with Bishop Gene Robinson preaching and Bishop Mary Glasspool as the celebrant). We will hold a special screening of a new film about Bishop Robinson called The Truth Will Set You Free, with Auburn Media; and we will honor Dr. Louie Crew at what he claims may be the last General Convention he will attend. (That remains to be seen!)

Following General Convention Integrity will strategize how to make the successes of General Convention 2012 a reality on the local levels.

Please consider making a contribution to our important work. Click here to make a donation.

Join with Integrity to make all the sacraments for all the baptized a reality in every diocese!

If you are not yet a member, join Integrity. Membership rates begin at $25.000 per year for students, seniors, and people with low incomes; $50 for individuals; and $75.00 for households

If you are already an Integrity member, make an additional donation, or become a Lifetime Member for a donation of $1,000.

If your church or organization is not yet a member of Integrity, become a Proud Parish Partner (P3) or Proud Partner (P2) for as little as $100.

If your church or organization is already a Proud Parish Partner or Proud Partner, consider increasing your commitment.

Make your contributions online at http://www.integrityusa.org/.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Integrity Province Coordinators Map Out Strategy for 2011 and 2012

By Max Niedzwiecki

Five Integrity Provincial Coordinators (Chap James Day, Lauren Gough, John-Albert Mosley, Dean Donovan and Matt Haines) met with Integrity's Executive Director Max Niedzwiecki and Vice President of Local Affairs Neil Houghton in New Orleans last weekend. High on the meeting agenda was to firm up plans for the BOL and media trainings throughout the Church as well as look at various other programs and opportunities Integrity will offer across the country through the summer of 2012.

Integrity's continued work on the national level of the Episcopal Church is crucial: rites and resources for blessing unions, more LGBT ordinations to every office of ministry and a radical welcome for transgender people into the Body of Christ. We will work to oppose the Anglican Covenant and continue to proclaim that all people deserve full civil rights, no matter where they might live or whom they might love.

Provincial Coordinators in New Orleans, March 2011
Top Row (L-R): Dean Donovan (Province III), Matt Haines (Province VIII)

Bottom Row (L-R): Chap James Day (Province II),
John-Albert Moseley (Province I), the Rev. Lauren Gough (Province VII)
At the same time, Integrity is equally committed to bringing the national victories of GC09 to every parish and diocese. That goal was also the focus of the meeting in New Orleans We spent most of our time strategizing ways to integrate Integrity’s network of about 2,000 active individual members, 500 churches, and 60 chapters. Our mission is for the motto, “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You,” to really mean ALL.

Here are just a few of the events and programs we are planning to focus specifically on helping Integrity members in their local communities:

  • Integrity’s first National Convention in several years. Stay tuned for more information to come.
  • At least sixteen Integrity Believe Out Loud Trainings, to resource members and friends to be provocative witnesses in parishes and dioceses and to gracefully engage those across the divide.
  • At least eight media trainings will equip attendees to speak out, to share personal stories in ways that move hearts and minds, and work with the media more effectively.
  • Sixteen financial "mini-grants" will be given away to support the work of chapters, Proud Partners (P2s) and Proud Parish Partners (P3s) as they proclaim our gospel imperative to settle for nothing less than all the sacraments for all the baptized.
  • Rebuilding our website and adding much more new content and resource materials.
  • Growing our network of Diocesan Organizers who coordinate Integrity's vision and mission at the diocesan level.
  • Providing individualized mentoring by Integrity's Legislative Task Force on diocesan resolutions, by our media strategist on communications, by past and present chapter leaders on how to grow our organization, by our past leadership and our allies, especially straight allies on how to move parishes forward on our issues.
  • Louie Crew’s Legacy Tour across the country which will provide hundreds with the opportunity to meet and great him in person and be inspired by his wit and wisdom.

To find out more about Provincial Coordinators and which province you live in, follow this link .

There are openings for leadership in Integrity. If you are interested in learning more about the vacant Provincial Coordinator and Diocesan Organizer positions, email Neil Houghton, Vice President for Local Affairs, at neil@integrityusa.org.

Keep watching Walking with Integrity for updates on trainings and other opportunities.

Many thanks to Trinity Episcopal Church, St. Anna’s Episcopal Church, and Integrity/New Orleans for hosting this meeting.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Get Involved With LGBT Immigration Reform

Connie Utada, Esq.
Policy Counsel
Immigration Equality Action Fund

Every day, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) binational families face separation or are forced into exile because of our country’s discriminatory immigration laws. For tens of thousands of families, the inability for someone in this country to sponsor his or her immigrant partner and children for residency means that families are torn apart and children are separated from their parents. There are no options. Faith traditions teach the values of welcoming and caring for all families, neighbors and communities with love and compassion. Families are the bedrock of any community and it is vital that they remain together.

Immigration Equality, an organization dedicated to ending discrimination in U.S. immigration law, has convened the Faith Coalition for the Uniting American Families Act. Member organizations represent a diverse group of local and national religious groups and faith leaders who believe that any immigration reform effort must also end discrimination against LGBT families. The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would end this discrimination, allowing LGBT American citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor their foreign born partner for citizenship. The Faith Coalition for UAFA works for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform that includes and treats all families equally under our immigration laws. As a person of faith, you can take action to keep families together and act for what is just. Please See the List of Actions Below.

In the last Congress, UAFA made great strides by being included in the House version of the Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 2709); the immigration reform framework submitted by the Senate Democratic leadership of Reid, Schumer, Durbin, Menendez, Leahy, and Feinstein; and, was most recently included in the Menendez-Leahy Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010, S 3932. As a stand-alone bill, the UAFA gained more than 160 co-sponsors in both the House and Senate and we expect that it will be included in any future comprehensive immigration reform package. Still, as Ana White, Immigration and Refugee Policy Analyst with The Episcopal Church, wrote:

The route to immigration reform is not an easy one. Divisiveness and extreme positions are hurdles that we willhave to overcome. …How can we compromise what is the right thing to do? Again, we are committed to policies that treat ALL with dignity. We call for a just world for ALL people and will continue to work for an immigration system that treats ALL families with respect.(link to previous blog post)

Please join us, and be part of our work to ensure that no one is forced to choose between family and country.

Sign onto the Faith Coalition for UAFA letter today, by clicking here.

Present the letter to your congregation and ask members to sign on individually, too. To download and print the letter.
Become a faith spokesperson. If you are interested in speaking to the media about your support for UAFA, email us at: sralls@immigrationequality.org

Contact your Member of Congress and let them know that you support UAFA and the Senate Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 and its inclusion of the Uniting American Families Act.

Ask binational families in your congregation to share their stories with Immigration Equality.

Promote UAFA in your church bulletin or newsletter, and send letters to the editor of your local papers.

Show your support by displaying pro-UAFA placards and signage at public rallies and events. To request placards, email us at: cutada@immigrationequality.org.

Connie Utada, Esq.
Policy Counsel / Immigration Equality
Action Fund
920 U Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
phone 202.347.0908 x115

Immigration Equality is a national organization that works to end discrimination in U.S. immigration law, to reduce the negative impact of that law on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive people, and to help obtain asylum for those persecuted in their home country based on their sexual orientation, transgender identity or HIV-status. Through education, outreach, advocacy, and the maintenance of a nationwide network of resources, we provide information and support to advocates, attorneys, politicians and those who are threatened by persecution or the discriminatory impact of the law.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Justtice Delayed is Justice Denied in California

From the Los Angeles Times

Gay marriage in California won't resume for now, appeals court rules

March 23, 2011
1:06 pm

Gay marriage won't be allowed to resume until state and federal appeals courts decide the fate of Proposition 8, the voter initiative that limited marriage to heterosexual couples, three federal judges ruled Wednesday.

Gay-rights advocates had asked the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the hold put on a San Francisco federal judge's ruling last year that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional and said California authorities should cease enforcing it.

That ruling was stayed by the judge who made it, U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, and the injunction was kept in place when the 9th Circuit said last fall that it would put the appeal by Proposition 8 backers on a fast track.

But the appeals court in January turned to the California Supreme Court with a question about whether those who drafted the initiative banning same-sex marriage have the right to appeal Walker's ruling in place of the original defendants, the governor and attorney general, who have refused to defend the ballot measure, which they deem discriminatory.

The state high court has indicated it won't hold hearings on the question of standing until at least September, meaning that the 9th Circuit won't address the case again until the end of the year or later.

In a terse denial of the latest effort to restore the right of gays and lesbians to marry, 9th Circuit Judges Stephen Reinhardt, Michael Daly Hawkins and N. Randy Smith said they had reviewed the cases cited by the gay-rights advocates but decided to maintain the injunction against Walker's ruling.

The American Federation for Equal Rights, a party to the effort to resume gay-marriage rights pending the appeal, described the denial of that fundamental right "un-American."

"It is decidedly unjust and unreasonable to expect California's gay and lesbian couples to put their lives on hold and suffer daily discrimination as second-class citizens while their U.S. District Court victory comes to its final conclusion," said federation founder and board president Chad Griffin.

An attorney for the Proposition 8 supporters, Andrew Pugno, said the judges' ruling on the stay should keep it in force until the case is finally decided.

"It's a victory for Proposition 8 supporters and the initiative process as a whole," Pugno said. "People need to have confidence that their vote will count, at least until the courts make a final decision."

Equality in our immigration laws: reuniting all families

Ana G. White
Immigration and Refugee Policy Analyst
The Episcopal Church
Office of Government Relations

Family unity has been a central piece of our immigration system for more than 40 years. This is based on the idea that families, as the core of our society, should have the possibility of reunification in the migration context. Reunification for many families is a lengthy, complicated and burdensome process. For LGBT families this process is not even an option. The reality of the obstacles facing these families is sobering. Current immigration laws do not provide any avenues for LGBT couples in bi-national relationships to cosponsor their partners. In our fight for an immigration system that is fair and just, equality cannot be ignored. As a matter of our faith and moral values, how we can advocate for some families and leave others behind?

In 2006, the Episcopal Church, through its policy - “The Alien Among You” – expressed support for an immigration system that allows close family members to reunite, without undue delay. Last year, the Church passed a resolution in General Convention in support of immigration equality for same-sex couples. The resolution (Resolution D076- 2009) urges Congress to ensure fairness in immigration and specifically provide immigration equality for same-sex couples by permitting a citizen or permanent resident alien to sponsor an immigrant partner for permanent residence in the United States. Past congress introduced legislation that would address this issue, the Uniting American Families Act. We are hope that this legislation will be introduced by this new Congress.

The route to immigration reform is not an easy one. Divisiveness and extreme positions are hurdles that we will have to overcome. Many have argued that adding LGBT families to the mix is the wrong strategy and would divide the faith coalition that supports immigration reform. How can we compromise what is the right thing to do? Again, we are committed to policies that treat ALL with dignity. We call for a just world for ALL people and will continue to work for an immigration system that treats ALL families with respect.

Ana G. White
Immigration and Refugee Policy Analyst
The Episcopal Church
Office of Government Relations
110 Maryland Avenue, NE #309
Washington, DC 20002
202-547-6382 (office - direct line)
Fax 202-547-4457

Monday, March 21, 2011

Next Steps on the SCLM "Blessings Project"

by the Reverend Canon Susan Russell
Past-president, Integrity USA
Co-chair of the SCLM Task Force on Teaching & Pastoral Care Resources

Readers of this blog will know that the SCLM (Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music) has just finished a Church-wide Consultation in Atlanta on the implementation of General Convention Resolution C056 calling "for an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships."

You can watch webcasts of the plenary sessions of the historic gathering of deputies from 98 dioceses for theological reflection and consultation here.

You can read ENS reports on the gathering here and here.

You can also review the Reverend Dr. Caro Hall's excellent overview and analysis of the consultation here and here.

And then you can be part of what the resolution describes as "an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals who are engaged in such theological work."

As members and friends of Integrity, you have an important role to play as the work of the SCLM Task Forces complete the process of creating their report, submitting it to the Commission and then having it sent on to General Convention for discussion, debate and -- ultimately -- as a resolution that will move the Episcopal Church another step closer to the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments.
The theme of the Atlanta Consultation was "Inform, Engage & Equip."

•To Inform the deputies about the history of the work we've been charged to do and about what we've done so far in response to that charge.
•To Engage the deputies in dialogue and discussion about not only the work we've been doing but the resources they need in their contexts.
•To Equip them to go back to their deputations and to their dioceses and bring their colleagues and constituents -- as fully as possible -- into this church wide process of discussion and discernment.
And your job is to help your deputies and bishops live up to the charge of C056 ... to make this truly an "open" process and to see to it that your dioceses and congregations RSVP to the invitation to participate in this historic opportunity for church-wide theological reflection in preparation for the deliberations those elected to represent you will undertake in Indianapolis.

It is an historic opportunity -- not only because the issue is the blessing of same-gender relationships but because the process offers a new vision for accountability and transparency in how we do the work of the Episcopal Church. Dean Nicholas Knisely put it this way in his reflection on Episcopal Cafe:
I don't think I'm alone in the Episcopal Church in feeling a sense of frustration over the disconnect between the process and the reception of the process' results. I think the disconnect has led to a feeling of alienation on the part of the large majority of Episcopalians who don't have a chance to participate in the process and subsequently have little buy-in to the decisions that are made by Conventions as the national, diocesan and parish levels.

The Atlanta Consultation was one important step in breaking those old patterns and establishing a new standard of the whole church being informed, engaged and equipped about the work we are doing together as the Episcopal Church.

So visit the links posted above and get informed. Contact your bishop(s) and deputies and get engaged. And together let's get equipped to finish the work of securing authorized rites for the blessing of same-gender relationships in Indianapolis in 2012!

The Reverend Canon Susan Russell is Integrity's immediate past-president and the co-chair of the SCLM Task Force on Teaching and Pastoral Care Resources. She serves as a Senior Associate at All Saints Church in Pasadena and chairs the Program Group for LGBT Ministry in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Making “All the Sacraments for All the Baptized” a Reality in 2011 and 2012

A Three Part Series on Integrity USA

Max Niedzwiecki
Executive Director, Integrity USA

Part II. What We Have Yet to Achieve

Part One: What We Have Achieved

Integrity has been a strong social justice leader inside and outside the Episcopal church. Since 1974 when Integrity USA was first founded by our illustrious leader, Dr. Louie Crew, we have seen many changes in this church. Integrity has influenced those changes and in doing so, we have influenced other denominations as well. Some Episcopalians, not comfortable with those changes, have left, however, many, many others have been drawn to the Episcopal Church because of our achievements toward full inclusion. But, we are not done yet.

Integrity's goal of all the sacraments for all the baptized is first and foremost on our list of priorities. We still have much work to do with respect to the blessing of relationships, equal access to ordination, growing our membership, and sharing the good news of the Episcopal Church with the wider world. The words of former Presiding Bishop Edmund Browning still resonate: "There will be no outcasts in this church." But, there are still strangers at the gate. There are still places where LGBT persons do not feel welcome or included. We must create more welcoming environments for LGBT persons in every Episcopal church. Our transgender brothers and sisters need more pastoral care, understanding and equality. There is much left to do to educate and inform the church and community about gender issues so that transgender Christians are explicitly welcomed as full members of the Body of Christ. We must join with our allies at TransEpiscopal to effect these much needed changes.

Same sex blessings in all dioceses is our audacious goal. We hope for incremental victories at our upcoming General Convention in Indianapolis in 2012. We applaud and support the work of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music which is gathering theological, liturgical and pastoral resources to presented at GC12. We are optimistic that they will be adopted at that time, and we will lobby for a new edition of Enriching Our Worship, an addendum to the Book of Common Prayer. There are bishops and deputies and vestries and congregations with whom we must gracefully engage in dialogue. We share the stories of our lives and commitments in hopes to change hearts and minds.

Last May, 2010 saw the election of a lesbian priest, Mary Douglas Glasspool as Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles. She joins our beloved Bishop Gene Robinson as our second openly gay bishop. Yet, equal access to ordination in all dioceses is still a goal. We must identity, resource and encourage the consideration of LGBT candidates for ordination and placement in every diocese of the Church.

Integrity vows to grow the Church by proclaiming the good news that the Episcopal Church is increasingly a place where everyone really is welcome. However, our bold agenda for cultural change does not stop within the Episcopal Church. We must spread our good news to both the secular community and the un-churched.

Integrity has a global vision for justice We must strive to live into our baptismal promises to love our neighbor and respect the dignity of every human being. We must advocate for immigration rights and reform., We must be a voice for those who have no voice. We must protest human rights violations all over the world. We must offer a powerful witness for the global community.

Integrity opposes the Anglican Covenant as a dangerous effort to force the Episcopal Church to choose between inclusion all of God’s children and expulsion from the worldwide Anglican Communion. We must take part in the on-going church wide discussions on the covenant to make our concerns heard.

Yes, there is still much work to do. And we are ready to take it on!

The next installment of this three part series will outline our plans moving forward. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Working Out the Same-Gender Blessing Challenge

Part Two of a Report on the SCLM Churchwide Consultation on Same Sex Blessings
The Rev. Dr. Caroline Hall

If you missed Part One of the report you can read it here.

This morning the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) reconvened its consultation with General Convention deputies with Morning Prayer followed by a presentation by the task force responsible for educational and pastoral resources – which includes our very own past President, Canon Susan Russell. This task force is collecting and developing resources which will help dioceses and parishes in discernment about same-gender blessings and also provide resources for clergy preparing gay and lesbian couples for a blessing.

They collected information from across the church using surveys and table discussions at the House of Bishops. Of those congregations who responded, 23.2% had already held blessings and more than half of those ha d prepared the congregation beforehand with some kind of educational program. Just over 25% of the clergy said that they do prepare couples before a blessing; one third said that they do something different for lesbian or gay couples than they do for straight. Susan Russell said that they intend to provide resources that will help churches who have been doing same-gender blessings for twenty years or more as well as resources for those whose dioceses are not going to do them anytime soon, to help them understand the position of those who do.

Then the plenary session ended and the deputies worked in small groups. Since I was following on the live streaming webcast, I had no small group to go to, so I switched channels. Our friends at Stand Firm didn’t even bother to cover this consultation, having abandoned TEC, but they did cover Theo Hobson’s article in the Guardian. Under a not-so-great picture of the Bishop of New Hampshire, Hobson criticizes +Gene for overusing the language of civil rights, “as if the struggle for gay equality is just as righteous as the struggle for racial equality.” Mr. Hobson isn’t paying attention if he thinks LGBT people are not struggling for civil rights – even if in his own homeland of England things are looking pretty good, they’re pretty ugly elsewhere - especially in Uganda where the anti-gay bill looks set to come up again next week.

I do agree with Mr. Hobson that all forms of loving relationship should be celebrated (I would add the word committed). This is one drawback of the plan that has developed from the carefully worded Resolution CO56. It treats same-gender blessings as a stand-alone item, without any relationship to cross-gender marriage. The difficulties this perpetuates came up in the final session on Canonical and Legal Considerations and then later in the Press Conference.

Thank goodness there are lawyers and people in the Episcopal Church who seem to like this kind of thing! They are compiling information on the different laws in different states which apply to same-gender couples (not to mention the laws of the countries where there are Episcopal churches in Province IX). They seem to have reached two important conclusions so far; firstly that the first amendment protects clergy doing same-gender blessings even where they are state laws against same-gender marriage, and secondly that a trial basis rite for same-gender blessing will not require changes to the Constitution and Canons or the BCP.

In his remarks, Tom Little, Chancellor of the Diocese of Vermont, commented that we don’t often unbundle church marriage from civil marriage regulated by the state. I think this must have been the basis for a question from The Living Church reporter who thought that clear legal/canonical differentiation had been made between “Christian marriage” and same-gender blessings and asked Bishop Tom Ely about the theological differentiation. +Tom was quick to point out that although there are those who want to expand the conversation about marriage, it was not part of the task of the SCLM in this triennium.

It may not have been part of their task, and heaven knows, their task was pretty extensive for people who have day jobs, but it is surely part of the task of the church. I defy anyone to tell me that my marriage isn’t a Christian marriage. Rethinking marriage for our time is a vital task awaiting us, and the theological principles developed by the SCLM this year seem to be a great place to start.

The Rev Dr. Caroline Hall is the rector of St. Benedict's Episcopal Church in Los Osos, California. She is the former Vice President of International Affairs for Integrity USA. She is a frequent contributor to Walking With Integrity and is the author of the recent Anglican Covenant Series.

Friday, March 18, 2011

“Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” [1]

A report on the SCLM Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia Today (1/18/2011
The Rev. Dr, Caroline Hall

General Convention deputies gathered in Atlanta today for a twenty-four hour consultation organized by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM). Before we start yawning about yet another church meeting, let’s remember that they are talking about blessing our relationships. Not clandestine blessings in a side room, under cover of darkness or on the church lawn, but honest to goodness, center-of-the-aisle church blessed blessings of same-gender relationships.

This is history in the making!

Back in 1975 four intrepid Integrity members testified before the Standing Committee on Human Affairs and persuaded them to propose the 1976 resolution which declared “Homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.” Today they can see the fruit of their labors… today this resolution has been fulfilled in our hearing (by live webcast).

My hat’s off to the SCLM who seem to have left no stone unturned. Commissioned by the last General Convention to collect and develop resources for the blessing of same-gender unions, they identified four areas that needed work; theological principles, liturgical resources, pastoral and education resources and finally legal and canonical aspects. Then they convened groups to work on each of the four areas and set about to use all the resources available to create the widest possible conversation.

They called for liturgies not just from the Episcopal Church but also from other denominations. They set up a blog for discussion of theological and liturgical principles. They attended the fall 2010 meeting of the House of Bishops and got a great deal of input. Through the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP), they obtained a grant from the Arcus Foundation to bring deputies from across The Episcopal Church to this workshop in Atlanta so it’s not just the bishops who are involved. They also held a consultation in Province 1 as all the dioceses there are affected by domestic partnership and same-gender marriage laws.

SCLM is including other provinces in the Anglican Communion by asking bishops to get input from overseas colleagues, and they are on the agenda for the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation being held in Canterbury in August.

So here are the highlights of the theological principles as they were presented today by Jay Johnson:

Reflecting theologically on same-gender unions should be grounded in baptism and how we live out our baptismal covenant which suggests three key theological touchstones;

1) The loving faithfulness of faithful relationships exhibits the character of a sacrament;

2) Christian life generally, but in particular committed relationships, shares in God’s Trinitarian life characterized by inclusive, dynamic and mutual giving

3) Committed relationships can renew our hope – the gospel promise of union with God

Reflecting further on covenants:

1 Everyone is called to live out the baptismal covenant, but not everyone is called to do so in the same way… it is helpful to think of entering a couple commitment as a vocation;

2 Entering into covenant with another person can enrich our experience of covenant with Christ;

3 Covenantal relationships create households which require intention and discipline enriched by divine grace – thriving households don’t just happen on their own but come from intentional spiritual practice;

4 Faithfulness and love enable us to give to the wider community – to nurture our baptismal calling in the world. Within a covenanted relationship we can discover and nurture gifts for baptismal ministry. Covenantal relationships are blessed and can become a blessing to the faith community.

The group working on liturgical principles has sifted through a huge quantity of material, which they hope to make available digitally in cooperation with the Church Archives. Patrick Malloy explained that they have created an outline liturgy which follows the lines of most of our other rites, placing the covenanting between the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the table. They have also selected “liturgical units” such as collects or litanies which they particularly liked which might be put into the framework.

As the plenary session closed this evening (Friday) deputies are being asked to consider some of these liturgical units to see what works and what doesn’t work for them – and to explain why.

I wonder how long it would have taken Cranmer to compile and write the original Book of Common Prayer if he had tried to consult with the House of Bishops, the House of Deputies, and interested people across The Episcopal Church and beyond?

You too can take part in this historical consultation by contributing to the debate on the SCLM blog or watch it live streaming here.  See you there!

The Rev Dr. Caroline Hall is the rector of St. Benedict's Episcopal Church in Los Osos, California. She is the former Vice President of International Affairs for Integrity USA. She is a frequent contributor to Walking With Integrity and is the author of the recent Anglican Covenant Series.
[1] Luke 4:21

Monday, March 14, 2011

Making “All the Sacraments for All the Baptized” a Reality in 2011 and 2012

A Three Part Series on Integrity USA

Part One: What We Have Achieved
Max Niedzwiecki
Executive Director Integrity USA

Integrity USA was founded in 1974, and has been in the forefront of the fight for equality within the Episcopal Church ever since.

In 1976 the Episcopal Church first declared in a resolution by General Convention that “homosexuals” are “children of God” and “entitled to full and equal claim in the pastoral care, concern, and love of the church,"
Since then, Integrity and our allies have advocated for the Church to follow through on that declaration primarily in two major areas: the blessing of same-sex relationships, and equal access to ordination. We have championed the motto “The Episcopal Church welcomes you” and lobbied for it become a living reality for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, socioeconomic status, and other factors. We have worked to grow the Episcopal Church by spreading the good news that it is rapidly moving towards a full welcome for all people. And we witness to that the vision for equality to the wider world.

We have made great progress with respect to ordinations. In 2009, the Church determined at General Convention that people should not be barred from ordination as deacons, priests, or bishops simply because they are in “lifelong committed relationships ‘characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God” (D025). This lifted a ban on the ordination of people in same-sex relationships that had been imposed in 2006. We now have one openly gay bishop, The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, and one openly lesbian bishop, The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool of Los Angeles, and we expect to see many more in the future.

We have also made great progress with respect to the blessing of same-sex relationships. The church has stated that these relationships can enable people to “see the image of God” in their partners. In terms of the practices of the Church, General Convention arrived at two major decisions in 2009. First, Resolution C056 stated that individual bishops could decide whether they will allow the blessing of same-sex relationships in churches within their dioceses, “particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal.”
Secondly, General Convention charged the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to work with the House of Bishops and others to “collect and develop theological and liturgical resources” on the blessing of same-sex relationships, and report on those resources at General Convention in 2012.

The opening of the ordination process and the blessing of relationships to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have moved the Episcopal Church to a position of national and global leadership with respect to the embodiment of God’s inclusive love for all people. In many of the 110 dioceses of the Church, changes have taken place at the parish level: openly LGBT priests and deacons have been and continue to be ordained and placed, LGBT candidates are visible in bishop elections. In many dioceses, priests bless the unions of two men or two women.  We have come a long way since the inception of Integrity where in its early years Integrity chapters were places of refuge for people who felt they were not even safe to come out. It is truly an achievement that today, more and more, openly LGBT people feel welcome as full members of their congregations.

We celebrate these achievements and know we could not have done this without a wide range of collaborative partners, members and friends that have transcended boundaries of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, immigration status, socioeconomic status, and other aspects of diversity. We worked in partnership with other social justice groups, including  the coalition known as The Consultation to promote a shared agenda centered on inclusion and equality. We worked with these partners on all justice issues, not just those of interest to our community alone.

Integrity believes this broad vision for justice and  radical welcome for all people is one of the most effective tools for building the Church. Our chapters, partners, and members have been visible in Pride Parades and other community events. We have encouraged our allied parishes to proclaim their welcome boldly throughout the community. And we have offered communications support to members who give witness to the ways in which the Episcopal Church’s radical welcome has transformed their lives.

While Integrity’s work in the past has focused on transforming the Episcopal Church into a truly welcoming community, we have a growing vision for equality with the wider world. Our members and leadership have spoken out in favor of civil marriage equality, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the repeal of DOMA, ENDA and immigration equality (all of which are in keeping with the official positions of the Episcopal Church). We continually educate our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion about the importance of recognizing LGBT people as children of God. Our great witness at the 2008 Lambeth Conference truly changed hearts and minds and we continue to support people who are fighting for basic human rights in other countries such as Uganda through fundraising drives, advocacy and awareness-raising campaigns.

We have come a long way, baby! Tomorrow's blog will focus on where we go from here.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Services for Longtime Integrity Leader Larry James Donoghue

Larry James Donoghue
March 18, 1941 – March 9, 2011

Holy Eucharist with Burial of the Dead
Thursday, March 17, 11:00 am
At St. Andrew’s
Denver, CO
Bishop O’Neill Presiding

Dear Friends,

 We will gather here next week with many friends from the diocese to remember Larry and celebrate his life. A reception will follow in the undercroft; details will come later about how to participate in the potluck. Please remember Larry in your prayers, and pray for Bob.

For many GLBT Episcopalians and their families in Colorado, Larry Donoghue was among the first to provide a welcome. Larry was for a time in the early 90’s the convenor of the Colorado Integrity chapter. In his work there as in all he did, he was instrumental in providing continuing hope that things might change for GLBT Episcopalians, and was always in the forefront of that effort in Colorado. Probably his most far-reaching (and far-seeing) contribution to change was in spearheading the foundation of the Richard Hooker Forum in the mid 1990’s, along with a group of other clergy and laity who were committed to ensuring the full expression of moderate and progressive voices in Colorado.

Larry became the vicar of St. Laurence, Conifer. CO in March 1981. He was instrumental in its progress to parish status and was part of the purchase of the beautiful property the parish now occupies. After his retirement in 2000, he became a parishioner at St. Andrew’s Denver. He continued his leadership of the Hooker Forum for several years after retirement, and also served frequently at Sunday Eucharists at St. Francis Center, the Episcopal day shelter for homeless persons in Denver. He loved to travel and adventured happily all over the world.

Larry had a quiet way which belied his reach as a priest, a fighter for change, and as a person. Many have had the experience, over and over – talking with someone from another part of the diocese or even another part of the country, mentioning Larry’s name, and finding that he was an important part of their story. As priest, counselor, advocate, and friend, Larry was part of turning points in so many people’s lives. To quote one of those many friends of his, our lives would have been much the poorer without him.

Ronald Ramey

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Executive Council Adopts Resolution on LGBT Refugees & Asylum

From our colleague Ana G. White, Immigration and Refugee Policy Analyst, at The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations........

The following is a copy of a Resolution adopted by the Executive Council at its meeting from February 16 – 18, 2011 in Fort Worth, Texas, at which a quorum was present and voting.

Resolved, That lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons fleeing persecution in their own countries are among the world’s most vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, and face unique challenges and barriers in their countries of origin, countries of first asylum, and in the United States; and be it further

Resolved, That laws and cultural attitudes around the world contribute to this climate of persecution and obstruction for those seeking protection; and be it further

Resolved, That The Executive Council, meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, from February 16-18, 2011, directs The Episcopal Church to encourage the United States government to strengthen protection and assistance for refugees who flee based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and to intensify efforts to work diplomatically in the international community, to strengthen protections in all parts of the world and in all aspects of the refugee and asylum process.

For more information you can contact Ana at 202-547-6382 (office - direct line)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

SCLM Meeting on Blessings to be Webcast LIve

If you want to keep informed about what is happening in the Episcopal Church on the blessing of same sex unions, here's an excellent opportunity to be an eye witness to a historic meeting:

The Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music will meet in Atlanta on March 18th and 19th along with two deputies from every diocese to discuss the progress made by the SCLM in response to the GC Resolution CO56 passed in 2009 regarding resources for the blessing of Same Gender Relationships. This is a churchwide consultation about listening deeply, and reflecting together on what the SCLM is developing to bring to the whole church for its consideration at General Convention 2012.

The Office of Communication of the Episcopal believes this meeting is so important that it has announced it will live webcast the churchwide consultation. See the announcement below:

[March 8, 2011] The Episcopal Church Office of Communication will live webcast all the plenary sessions of the March 18 and 19 churchwide consultation by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM).

The two-day consultation will center on the 2009 General Convention Resolution C056 to collect and develop theological and liturgical resources for same-gender blessings. The plenary sessions will provide information about the work the SCLM and its task groups have accomplished to date in developing these resources.

The live webcast will be available www.episcopalchurch.org/live/sclm

Participating will be nearly 200 clergy and lay deputies from almost 100 dioceses of the Episcopal Church.

Webcast schedule

Plenary sessions are scheduled:

Friday, March 18: 2 pm to 3 pm Eastern and 4:45 pm to 6 pm Eastern (1 pm to 2 pm Central and 3:45 pm to 5 pm Central; noon to 1 pm Mountain and 2:45 pm to 4 pm Mountain; 11 am to noon Pacific and 1:45 pm to 3 pm Pacific)

Saturday, March 19: 8:30 am to 9:30 am Eastern and 11 am to noon Eastern (7:30 am to 8:30 am Central and 10 am to 11 am Central; 6:30 am to 7:30 am Mountain and 9 am to 10 am Mountain; 5:30 am to 6:30 am Pacific and 8 am to 9 am Pacific)

In addition, the media conference slated for 2 pm to 2:30 pm Eastern will be live webcast. (1 pm to 1:30 pm Central; noon to 12:30 pm Mountain; 11 am to 11:30 am Pacific)

The event will be held at the Atlanta Hilton Airport (Diocese of Atlanta).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Episcopal Women's Caucus Takes Stand Against Gender Violence

Episcopal Women’s Caucus marks 100th International Women’s Day with Plea to Church Leaders to Stand Against Gender Violence

The Episcopal Women’s Caucus is deeply concerned about the rise of sexism, misogyny, and violence toward women, manifested in the form of rape not only in our own society and military, but also as it is used against women and children as a tactic of war in other countries, the Caucus board told Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson, in a letter yesterday.

The Caucus Board called on Jefferts Schori and Anderson to bring these concerns to the next meeting of the Executive Council and to the Bishop Suffragan for Federal Ministries.

“It is our hope that the Executive Council would use its voice for the Episcopal Church to contact the President and those who hold governmental authority, calling on them to end the culture of rape in our military, create a climate of safety and equality for women who serve our country, and to speak out against the constant erosion of rights for all women. We would hope that the voice of Executive Council would take the form of a resolution at General Convention 2012,” the letter from the board said. To read the entire letter click here.

The Caucus board sent their letter to coincide with the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on March 8 because, while women have achieved much, there is still much to do to end violence against women in the many forms it takes.

Some examples:

1 out of every 6 American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

1 in 3 women report having been sexually violated while serving in the military – a number the Pentagon admits is probably 20 percent of the number that actually occur.

Female recruits are now far more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed in combat.

A bill currently in the House of Representatives, ostensibly aimed at reducing federal funding for abortion, seeks to do so by limiting funding to cases of “forcible rape,” (which leads one to ask, “When is rape non-forcible”?)

The House of Representatives vote to end federal support for Planned Parenthood, an organization that each year provides more than 800,000 women with breast exams, more than 4 million Americans with testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and 2.5 million people with contraception.

“There is no ‘we’ and ‘they’ as far as violence against women is concerned. We are all sisters to each other, regardless of where we are born, how we are raised, how we look, what we do, or how young or old we are,” the letter stated.

“We ask that together you make a strong statement to our church, country and, yes, the world, which decries the culture of violence and disrespect of women in this country that results in the staggering statistics about rape; the use of rape of women and girls as a weapon against a people during war; and the continued abuse of victims through legislation,” the Caucus urged Jefferts Schori and Anderson.

The Episcopal Women’s Caucus is a justice organization that has been advocating for women since 1971, spiritually, theologically, politically.

Contact: Elizabeth Kaeton
Episcopal Women’s Caucus Convener
973 464 8018 (cell)

Monday, March 7, 2011

David Cupps Reports on Lexington's Diocesan Convention

Bishop Stacy Sauls predicts same sex blessings will pass at GC12

Diocesan convention in Kentucky is like a family reunion. We are all deeply connected in many ways, with many friends across the years and miles, and it’s great to see everyone. My biggest takeaway was the strong support shown for LGBT people throughout the weekend.

This year's family reunion was a "working" one for me. I arrived the night before the convention started and assembled the beautiful display provided by Integrity USA’s national office. It always draws attention from the crowds.I also set out our fabulous buttons and literature. Integrity always wants to educate convention members about our great work.

The next morning, I distributed to each parish an invitation to become a Believe Out Loud parish, which if accepted, recognizes them as openly welcoming to LGBT worshippers. Our diocese had five BOL parishes before the convention began and I gave their deputations some Integrity buttons to wear, and many promptly put them on. In fact, out of the 100 buttons I arrived with, only 15 were left at the end of the weekend!

In some ways, the highlight of the weekend came when Bishop Stacy Sauls gave his annual address to the convention. In one significant section of his address (audio available here), Bishop Sauls told everyone that in 2012, our General Convention will vote to approve rites for blessing same-sex relationships, and he supports their passage. And if they pass, he will authorize their use in our diocese. While some dioceses are way beyond this point, it’s still a step forward for us, and from the crowd’s reaction, it’s a step we’re happy to take together.

Kentucky is a mostly rural Southern state and we are blessed to have so many people and parishes that are very open to marriage equality. One of our Believe Out Loud parishes has a new rector that said she’s scheduling gay weddings the minute that General Convention passes the rites!

So many positive things came out of the weekend – the many people signing up for our email list, the parishes newly interested in becoming officially welcoming, the newfound confidence that LGBT equality is really coming, even in Kentucky. But the best part for me was feeling supported by my family, blessed in my relationships, and moving forward together.

David Cupps
Diocese of Lexington
Treasurer, Integrity Board of Directors

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Integrity USA Announces Change in Leadership Team

"All things must change to something new" --   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

John Clinton Bradley, Administrator of Integrity USA, has announced his intention to leave the Integrity organization to resume his career as an Instructional Designer, a move he has looked forward to making for a long time.

John's master’s degree in instructional design from Florida State University equipped him to work as an Instructional Designer for over a decade before becoming a full-time employee of Integrity USA. His new job will be as an Instructional Designer II with Element K, a global training company based in Rochester NY. He will be developing online and traditional courseware for their customers.

"John's tireless commitment and contributions to Integrity have served invaluable over the years", said Max Niedzwiecki, Integrity's Executive Director. "Our strength as an organization and our witness for justice in the Church and beyond are a result of his very hard work and tremendous spiritual depth. We wish John the best in this new phase of his career."

John began his tenure with Integrity USA when he was elected Co-Convener of Integrity Washington in 1994. In 1997 became the chapter's Director of Communications. In the same year he served as Lead Information Technology Volunteer for Integrity USA’s Nerve Center during General Convention. In 1999, John was elected Southeast Regional Vice President of Integrity USA. In 2000 he served again as captain of Integrity USA’s Nerve Center team at General Convention.

After doing such a magnificent job, John was re-elected Southeast Regional Vice President of Integrity USA and went on to serve again as Captain of Integrity USA’s Nerve Center team at General Convention in 2003. He was also appointed Director of Communications for Integrity USA that same year. This was the year Bishop Gene Robinson was elected and communications were tantamount to Integrity's success at helping get consents for that election.

After many years as a very active volunteer, in 2005, John was hired as an independent contractor by Integrity USA to oversee membership and bookkeeping. In 2006, John was hired as General Convention Project Manager [a contract position] by Integrity USA and served valiantly yet another time, as captain of Integrity USA’s Nerve Center team at General Convention.

And, the story doesn't end there. In 2007, John was hired as full-time Administrator of Integrity USA. In 2008, he traveled to Canterbury, England, as Integrity USA’s Communications Centre co-manager during the Lambeth Conference . It was there that Integrity USA proved a tremendous witness for the LGBT faithful to all the bishops of the entire Anglican Communion. In the same year John was promoted to Acting Executive Director of Integrity USA—supervising a full-time Development Coordinator, half-time Field Organizer, and half-time General Convention Project Manager.

Integrity could not even think about General Convention 2009 without asking John to serve...one more time..... as co-captain of Integrity USA’s Nerve Center team at General Convention. 2009 proved to be one of Integrity's most successful General Convention presences with a historic Communication presence, a historic Integrity Eucharist and historic legislation voted in.

John then served as Acting Executive Director of Integrity USA until Max Niedzwiecki was hired in July of 2010 and John returned to his former role as Administrator of Integrity USA.

John will be leaving Integrity USA effective March 15, 2010. “Integrity has been a very important part of my life for the past 2 decades—and will continue to be in the future," he said. "It’s been a privilege to be an employee of an organization I love during a period of unprecedented growth and intensive programming. I rejoice that Integrity has advanced to the next level of organizational maturity during my tenure. I give thanks for the accomplishments our ministry has achieved during that time. I’ll continue to pray and work for the fulfillment of Integrity’s goal—all the sacraments for all the baptized—as a member and volunteer.”

It is a breathtaking resume of service, work and devotion to the cause that John Clinton Bradley leaves behind. Each and every one of us in this organization who have had the privilege to serve with him, or to know him, can never thank him enough for his good work. If you'd like to join us in wishing John well, please post a comment on this blog or send an email directly to johnclint@me.com. It will mean a lot to him as he moves on.